The kitchen and laundry room is “Minty Fresh”.

December 14, 2015

Mice and spiders have been a major problem this fall. While the sticky traps are catching some of the mice, I know there is a much larger mouse population I’m not catching in traps.  Mom and I have smushed a couple of big spiders that seem intent on crossing into the house. With all the rain the DE barrier washes away and won’t stop insects entering the house.  I’m trying out peppermint essential oil in a couple of forms to get rid of the spiders and push the mice into traps. I hope the peppermint will encourage all vermin to stay out side of my house.

The two methods I am trying out:

  1. Cotton balls soak with several drops of peppermint oil.  The smell is pungent and the cotton balls can be placed in areas that are not easy spots to place traps.  My hope is the cotton balls will drive the vermin into traps or out in the open were the can be caught and or smushed.
  2. Peppermint spray: 1 cup of water, 20 drops of peppermint oil and a squeeze of dish soap to make it mix and that is easy to spray on walls/baseboards.

I don’t know if this will work but I have used crushed mint leaves to keep some insects out of the house.  The smell of peppermint is a bit over powering for a few minutes then it seems to dissipate quickly for my sniffer. I do not want to be cruel to mice or bugs. I would prefer to find methods that repel them rather than kill them. I won’t use poisons as Smokey the cat and Tucker the peke are mousers of a sort and I don’t want them poisoned if they catch a mouse.

Update on the rest of the critters: Diana the peke is finally responding to the steroid treatment. It would help if she would take it easy and heal up  before trying to keep up with the younger dogs. But Diana let me give her a bit brushing and did not growl when I picked her up. Early days yet on her healing but I think she is on the mend.  Sadie the schnauzer still is timid though we are trying to get her to interact with the pack and not be so sensitive.  I think Sadie was a bit neglected in a social way and never given any positive reinforcement nor was she encouraged to be part of a pack.  Dogs are social animals and it “breaks my heart” to see this little dog be so fearful.  Tucker the peke seems to have taken an interest in Sadie and Tucker loves life, so he should be a good doggie guide to bring Sadie out of her shell.

Speaking of Tucker the peke, he is finally getting the idea of chasing the cat is a bad thing.  It is a slow process but I hope we can break Tucker from chasing the cat and yet keep his love of chasing away the squirrels that attack my garden.  Tucker and Brodie were supposed to be Mom’s dogs but both have attached to me.

 


More Fall work done and a couple of new toys to try out.

November 20, 2015

While I don’t care much for strong winds, the black walnut trees and lilac bush leaves finally dropped to the ground today.  I got a bit frustrated by all the leaves and sticks the pekes always drag into the house via their “fluffy butts” so I got out the leaf blower and the leaf rake to try and stop all the tracking in of leaves.  My apple tree leaves are still green but by raking up the last of the walnut and lilac leaves we won’t have the pekes, or ourselves dragging in so many leaves and twigs coated with a sticky sap that clings to everything!  I don’t consider myself some sort of “neatnik” but I’m tired of vacuuming up leaves inside the house and combing or cutting leaves and twigs out of my peke’s fur.

I loaded up the wood rick today. This damp, windy weather has myself and Mom feeling a bit “chilled” and we used up a bit more wood out of the front porch rick this week than I had anticipated.  I filled the little garden cart with wood this last weekend so it was easy to top off the porch wood pile.  With this CIDP when and how much I can do physical labor can be a bit iffy at times. I was wiped out after stacking up the last cord of wood and filling up the wood buckets, but after a couple of days of rest I could get some chores done around the house.

Everyone has limits! Those limits might consist of time, physical energy or money but they are very real to each individual. I have lots of time because I’m disabled and SSD and VA provide my income. I’m not getting rich but I live a good life and can afford to buy a few gadgets and tools because I’m mostly debt free. I got a good deal on my house and my mortgage payment is lower than  most rent payments for an 3 bd. 1 3/4 bath home.

New Toy first impressions: Mom is really having a bad reaction to my cigarette smoke since we are starting to close off all windows, leaks and drafts. I will not stop smoking in my house, even for my Mom. You can call me names, trust me it won’t be the first time.  Now I am taking steps to “mitigate” my cigarette smoke. Holmes smoke grabber ashtray $10.44 on Amazon. Upside of the ashtray is does grab smoke and run it through a small filter. Mom says my smoking area seems to lack a smoke cloud.  Downside it only grabs the smoke from a cigar or cigarette while it sits in the ashtray.  The ashtray I bought is only battery powered and has no A/C backup or recharging function.

On the Holmes smoke grabber ash tray. Many complain that the ashtray is small. The tray is a bit small but is larger than most bar ashtrays that get dumped by bartenders. The ashtray is about 4 inches  square and about an 3/4inch deep. This ash tray will not hold more 10 cigarette butts or 2-5 cigars before you have to dump the ash tray but that should not be a problem for most people. I don’t get folks complaining about the size of the tray if what they want to get rid of smoke and odors. It is not all that difficult to dump the small ashtray in the trash when full.  My wish would have Holmes/Amazon offer a battery powered smokeless ashtray that is rechargeable via both 12 volts or 110 volts AC.

The little air ionizer for a car runs  on 12 volts and has an electrical 120-240 volt adapter/converter. The specs on this little air cleaner is for only 12 square feet, or about a sedan. I have plugged the little ionizer next to my computer desk and the air feels a bit different, though I’m not sure it is working to eliminate smoke from the room. I bought a Holmes air purifier with optional Ionizer and it seems that the air is getting better/cleaner. Mom says she is starting to feel better,  even my sinuses are finally starting to drain/clear out and the air is less stuffy /feels better and the house smells cleaner.

A great thing about the Holmes HEPA type air purifier as it will accept a replacement of a true HEPA filter. On the Amazon reviews of the Holmes air purifier for $34.99, many  people complained it was loud. I have been running the air purifier on high for several hours and it’s about as loud as your basic 20 inch box fan on medium setting. The low setting on the  air purifier is very quiet, about “white noise” level. For a great bargain I would buy the discontinued Holmes HEPA type air purifier for $34.99 and install a true HEPA filter and not buy the new/ improved air purifier that is a HEPA type and costs  about $10.00 more at Amazon.

I know the “air purifier” is not equal to an over-pressure type air-exchanger but I hope to cut down on air borne type viruses, bacteria along with allergens and smoke in the house.

 

 


Thinking about human waste short term and long term

July 14, 2015

totalsurvivalistblog commented “As to sanitation. That is probably a week(sic) point in our current situation. Still we have enough space to run slit trenches and chamber pots for a really long time. This plan needs some work.”

That got me thinking about the concept of an above ground composting toilet as a solution.  Instead of building an above ground composting toilet/outhouse over sealed bricks or concrete base, couldn’t a person use water tight barrels to dump the chamber pots, 5 gallon buckets and or porta-potty’s that many of us plan on using short term?

My short term sanitation plan now:

  • Five gallon buckets/camp porta-potty to hold daily waste, I have straw, sawdust/wood chips and wood ash to cover waste as the bucket is used.  Note to self, I need to buy a toilet brush for cleaning out/sanitizing the buckets after they are dumped!   Waste is stored in a construction grade trash bag when full and hope the trash guys will haul it away before it becomes a problem.  Hope/trust in the government is not a very good strategy for a prepper.
  • The outdoor above ground composting toilet/outhouse has most of the work done in the chambers and the outhouse portion is based on the building materials of a 3rd world village, but we can buy used 15- 55 gallon barrels or 30 gallon trash cans for $50.00 or less.
  • For example you have a 30 gallon trash barrel placed on concrete. You put a 3-6 inch layer of straw in the bottom of the barrel. Add a screened vent for gasses to the trash can lid, then dump your potty bucket daily into the barrel.  Add the date when the barrel is full and use it for non-edible plant beds(lawn grass, roses or shrubs) after the 9 to 12 months of it breaking down. Switch to a new barrel and repeat the process!

Pros and cons to this idea:

  • I have no real idea how much poo a person will generate daily. Nor how quickly human poo will become a safe fertilizer though 9-24 months seems to be the general answer. Overall most Humanure info seems to say composting at least 12 months is a safe minimum of time to kill all pathogens.
  • While you don’t need to dig for a septic tank or out house you will be handling human waste so there is a bit of danger for disease to you personally.
  • A good thing is you will not contaminate anyone’s ground water. Nor dumping waste down your local storm drain and contaminating  drinking water gathered down stream.
  • This composting idea probably won’t work for most apartment dwellers and if you have a septic tank in a rural area you won’t need this as a sanitation solution. But for homeowners in a city or suburbia tied into a sewer system that stops working in a disaster this concept could offer a workable solution to disposing human waste safely.

I’m sure homesteaders and others that have bought a composting toilet or compost humanure that have much more “real world” knowledge that I have and can troubleshoot my ideas.  Please, troubleshoot me, as all I know is theory and not the practical application of my ideas.  I would ask that you take into consideration that most of us city and suburban preppers are limited by how much land we have to use, zoning laws and how much we can afford to spend. I can’t speak for all, but telling me to move to the country is not helpful! If I could afford to move to the country I would have done it 5 years ago!


Nice to have the plumbing fixed, planning for fall/winter

July 8, 2015

It was so nice to wassh clothes and dishes without running a hose to drain the washer, have all the drains working properly in the kitchen as well as working bathroom faucet.  I have become very appreciative of modern plumbing and all the ways it makes daily life cleaner and requires much less work.   Because I have gone a week without tap water and had to use work a rounds for sinks, toilets and drains. I have gained a lot of respect for basic plumbing that brings in safe water to drink along with getting rid of waste that can cause disease.  I suppose my biggest fear in any disaster or collapse is lack of clean drinking water and sewage treatment.  After the storm Sandy hit NY people crapped in non-working toilets and then in the hallways/common areas because they could not get rid of human waste. Sewage treatment plants backed up and all of the waste flowed into rivers and low ground surrounding the city. Waste going untreated is all to common following most disasters and creates a breeding ground for diseases,  so it is critical that you have your own waste disposal plan and a way to create more safe drinking water in addition to what you have stored.

Speaking for myself, I underestimated the physical energy required to move water using muscle power during my no tap water/ no water heater tests. A great test is do all your basic chores but use only your stored water rather than your tap water for a day.  Are you planning to use a “water bob” in the bathtub for your emergency water supply? Then use only that water for everything that requires water for a day. Washing dishes/ clothes, drinking/cooking, clean up,  watering your garden, pets and plants.  In winter heating water on a wood or gas stove inside is easy, in the summer you will also heat up the house. Having a way to heat water and cook outdoors will keep the house cooler and more comfortable.  Do you have big pots capable of heating 2-5  gallons of water at a time and are you strong enough to move that much water where you need it?  I recommend getting several of the big 5 gallon Igloo drink jugs for your hot water storage.  These jugs are great multi-taskers that can store cold water and keep it cold or hot water and keep it hot. Also these igloo coolers can store ice and food “in a pinch”.  Almost any insulated cooler with a spigot will work for store hot or cold water but I like the 5 gallon/20 quart type as 40 pounds is about my limit on lifting water.

Dealing with waste I’m planning on using my compost pile and burning “trash” via a “burn barrel”. I am buying “compostable” paper plates and cups to help deal with the waste issue.  I have plans for a small septic tank/field and outhouse for a long term “emergency” but they can’t be done now under city code. If the SHTF and it is a long term “emergency  I will implement stage 2 of my sanitation plan.

It is July and for me it is time to start thinking about getting ready for winter. Things like getting the wood stove cleaned and inspected and start saving up cash to pay for fire wood.  I have some scavenged materials on hand that need to be installed to make my wood storage area a bit drier.  This is a great time to start on your Xmas shopping and getting all the fixings you want for your holiday dinners.  I don’t know about you but I have never cared for the “Holiday rush” nor the full- contact shopping that seems to be a thing these days in the USA.  If you are wondering about a gift for a person you might try a a cool idea of telling that person you got them the perfect gift and have them guess what it is. That way you will have a couple of months to get them a gift they really want, rather than what you think they should want.  If they go a bit to expensive you can always shake your head, say I wish I could give you that gift and say you have a budget  of $…for the “perfect gift”.   Budget for Xmas gifts now in July and you will have lots of time to get the gift and the holiday season will be much less stressful.

Just so I can undo all the good I just mentioned about planning ahead, I want to remind you all about also living in the moment!  This is something I have to work on as I am often mentally somewhere 3-6 months in the future and I forget to enjoy life  in the “here and now”.  Planning ahead and setting goals is important but enjoying what you have and being grateful for the everyday things is also important!


Plumbers fixed clogs, bathroom faucet installed.

July 2, 2015

The kitchen clog was fixed with a powered “snake”, the washer drain was much more difficult.  In fact the plumber pulled a short length of smaller diameter pipe out that I did not know was in the washer drain pipe. The drain pipe going to the sewage main needs to be adjusted from level to more of an angle so gravity can help drain the water and we aren’t sure how the Stack pipe runs to ensure enough air enters the drain to keep the water flowing.  Some good news is I can use drain cleaner once a month to keep the drain pipe clean until I can afford a long-term fix.

The new bathroom faucet was installed by the plumbers in about 30 minutes. Thank goodness I did not try that job myself as the setup is a copper pipe with an iron connector and none of my valves or fittings would have worked and we would have been without water because I would have had to leave the water main turned off.  The kitchen sink faucet has the same feed pipe setup so I will buy the faucet I like and call the plumbers again to have it installed correctly.

I got to learn a few things from the plumbers about clogs and got some recommendations on parts that I can buy that need to be replaced in the future.

  • Do a load of laundry using hot water a couple time a month or pour hot water into the laundry drain to keep grease/hair balls from building up.
  • Don’t use a caustic drain cleaner if you have a solid clog.  A drain cleaner works best when you have a “slow drain” but water is still flowing.
  • Get a “Drain King” that uses water pressure to blow out clogs and add a 15-50 foot plumbing “snake” to your tool kit for cleaning out most small clogs before they become a big problem.  Cost for those tools is about $15.00-$25.00.
  • Buy and use mesh strainer baskets in your sinks. I got a package with a large strainer for the kitchen sink and a small on for a bathroom sink at the local dollar store.  I need to add another strainer basket to my kitchen double sink.
  • Make sure all shut off valves are in good working condition and check them yearly.  My house has one full bath and small 3/4 bath. While inconvenient to use only one bathroom or dumping water from wash tubs from the kitchen into the toilet it beats the heck out of turning off the water main and having no tap water!
  • Try and setup getting several jobs all done at one time as you pay the “house call/travel time” once.  Try to give the best description of what you want done and be honest about what you tried to do to fix the problem!
  • Learn to do some basic home repair yourself and educate yourself via classes at your local home depot/lowes and how to repair stuff youtube videos/ the internet.  Trust your gut if you feel you need to call in a pro for some help! I have replaced everything in regards to a toilet except the pipe going to the sewer line.  I cracked/replaced toilet tanks, replace all the guts and even add a new toilet bowl correctly.  I waited on adding the bathroom faucet because I felt I might be missing some knowledge.
  • Ask questions about maintaining your home. Don’t try and troubleshoot the professionals but educate yourself  how to correct small problems before they become big issues. If your contractor won’t answer your questions, I would recommend finding a new contractor/handyman.
  • Last but not least be ready with buckets, tubs, towels and mops when dealing with plumbing.  Get everything out from under the sink, be ready to move appliances or whatever it takes to give them a good work enviroment.  I’m sure the plumbers would be willing to move all those items and charge  time + just to do the job.

I got 3 jobs done, clearing the clogs in the kitchen and laundry room drain along with installing a new bathroom sink for under $300.00 and everything was done in about 2 hours. The plumber recommended getting a new laundry/washer box kit installed with new valves and hoses and those items are starting to wear out.  While I may hate it, all homes need maintenence to keep small problems from turning into big problems. As a prepper I will do the jobs I can and call in the pros on jobs I don’t know how to do yet.

I finished up mowing the other half of the yard. This 100 degree heat sort of kicked my butt last weekend, though I feel like I’m adapting some what to the heat now.  The mister/fan combos are working out great in the yard for cooling spots for all the critters. The new pekes are starting fit in though Smoky the cat has a few reservations about Tucker who loves playing “chase the cat”.  I think Smokey will have to pop him a few times to let him know chasing the cat is a “bad idea”.

Overall things are going well here at Casa de Chaos. New pekes are settling in, all critical plumbing issues seem to be under control. All the freezers are stocked up on veggies and meats/holiday meal. Mom and are working testing backup power sources. Next big item is stocking up on firewood and getting ready for winter. Could the economic collapse happen this year?  Of course it can happen at anytime panic hits,  but the PTBs are working very hard kicking the can down the road.  So I’m not getting all worked up about what might happen other than making sure I am prepared for the worst I can imagine and putting the finishing touches on all of preps both mental and physical.


Spring time in SW Idaho

March 22, 2015

Overall it was a mild winter and we are having an early spring. The swings in temps of 20 degrees or more for the daytime highs and rain/spring storms have made me a little achy and sore during the weather changes.  Saturday was a tough day so I worked on my little laptop cleaning it up and reinstalling Comodo anti-virus and firewall and getting the old thing running the to the best of it’s capabilities. I want to get a new laptop with Windows 7 and multi-core processor via newegg.com in the $200-$300 dollar range as an upgrade around May or June for a laptop that will be a bit better for web browsing and some other tasks I want it to preform.  For now the old laptop is doing okay for what I need from a computer.  I’m looking towards the future of building a small chat/email server and nodes for mesh network this summer. I have done a little linux/unix coding but I need to learn more before I make a neighborhood server and routing network.

On to the yard work, I finally got the grape vines cut back from my gutters. Yes, I have let the grapes run rampant and they need to be cut back rather severely because of my neglect.  I only cleared one corner of the front yard this weekend as all of the big trash bins were full of large items like the toilet. Good news is my herbs did pretty good over winter and the sage and oregeno survived and are growing. This a big “deal” to a tyro gardener that usually kills plants or has them die via a lack of knowledge. Mulch of leaves and straw  deep (3-6 inches) seemed to work for me. Mom and I raked the back yard for doggie poo and plenty of other yard trash. The yard is cleaned up and ready for my next project.

The small bathroom is fully functional and I have not found any drips or wet spots on the floor after the toilet fix. I have to take these maint.  plumbing jobs one room at a time. The washer drain looks fairly straight forward replacing pipes to code rather than adding angles that create clogs.  The bathroom sink faucet replacement has me a bit “spooked” because of the bad valves and I need to shut off all water in the house until it is fixed.  I have plenty stored water on hand but I also know how much work transporting water without a tap can be daily. I think I’ll get the washer drain pipe done first then prep ahead of time on losing water for 24 hours with the igloo jugs and camp shower before the sink repair. Replace the hot water line first because I can cut the hot water off at the tank and once that valve is good to go, I can cut all water off to replace the cold water line. I suppose some people may think I’m being a bit silly about access to tap water.  But moving water by hand takes a lot of physical energy. If you are disabled, you may not have that energy too expend. Please do not think you will find some sort of motivation or energy based on need, that makes you move 15-20 gallons of water quickly or easily. Moving water by hand  is doable, it sure isn’t easy. Please practice you water plan! If you are like me you have underestimated your plan via real world scenarios.  I had plenty of water for me, though I underestimated cleaning, my use and flushing toilets and other little jobs.

Most thing in life are simple, that does not make them easy. There is nothing wrong with calling in a plumber on complex jobs if you can afford paying the plumber. A good plumber could do in less than two hours what took me about two weeks on replacing the toilet. The only difference is time and I learned how to fix everything on a toilet. If things go wrong can you afford to call a plumber, plus there is no reason not to learn how to do simple plumbing jobs yourself and save money and hire the plumber for the complex jobs.

 


Home repairs and cleanup is prepping!

March 3, 2015

One room is clean! I got started on cleaning the rest of the living room walls and Mom got home early from court so she jumped in and helped me Big Time! I am a smoker plus I have a wood stove in the living room so the walls get covered in smoke and tar that can be tough to clean. A few tools and cleaners really helped Mom and me get the walls clean:

  • Magic Eraser sponges: You can get generic “magic eraser sponges” cheaper at Big Lot’s or the Dollar Stores compared to the cost of the Mr. Clean magic eraser sponges. These little sponges do a great job on textured surfaces, bathtub rings and the glass on my wood stove.  A big plus for these sponge clean very well using just water.
  • A big car washing  sponge: I get these at the local dollar stores and they work great for cleaning off dirt efficiently.  These sponges also work great for cleaning pet hair off furniture and carpets when you use them slightly damp.  They work better than any lint brush I have used. When the sponge collects up hair just give it a rinse and most of the hair will fall off the sponge.
  • Get both a soft and stiff bristle scrub brushes at the dollar stores. These are cheap and you should find many ues for them around the house.  The soft bristle brushes tend to work best on hard surfaces like walls and the hard/stiff brisle brushes tend to work better on soft surfaces like rugs and fabrics.
  • Mom’s Carpet cleaner is a Bissel “Deepclean essential complete” and looks like a beast of a machine but is very easy to use with my disability.  My favorite feature besides it doing a great job cleaning a carpet, the machine is super easy to clean up after you are done.  My old carpet cleaner had all kinds of nooks and cranny’s that were almost impossible to get clean without dismantling it. This carpet cleaner is a breeze to clean the tank, the beater bar and where the dirty water is sucked into the machine.  I also recommend the cordless bissel spot bot if you have pets or kids for small little carpet messes.
  • Dawn dish soap: This is about the best multi-surface cleaners I have used. From dishes to a fabric spot remover to cleaning walls it is great. If you find the concentrated version buy it!
  • Spray cleaners: I used First Street Degreaser that I bought at Cash in Carry for around $4.50 per gallon. Mom used Lysol Lemon scent multi-surface cleaner/anti-bacterial, she can buy for $2.00-$2.50 per quart. Both worked great on cleaning the tar stains on the walls but the First Street degreaser was a bit cheaper by the gallon.  I have tried both Bleach and sudsy Ammonia to clean my walls and both the Lysol and First Street cleaner did a better job without all of the fumes or smell of bleach or ammonia.  Always follow the directions on the cleaner as adding more cleaner will not make it work better. Heck a few times I was driven out of the barracks in the Army by simple pine-sol becuase some idiot figured if a little works good more will make it clean faster/better! Trust me it is not true of Pine-sol and playing that game with ammonia or bleach can seriously harm or kill you.

Some people claim “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. I looked it up in the dictionary and cleanliness is next to cleavage. LOL Seriously, having a clean home is a very good idea for preparedness. A little dust and dirt will not hurt you normally but if the grid goes down for a couple of weeks.  I know I want every dish and pan in the house clean, laundry is done, bathroom is clean, floors are vacumed/mopped. If you do a deep clean in Spring and Fall and keep up basic cleanliness every week, you can let indoor cleaning slide for a week or two in a disaster. Since I usually have no  idea when a disaster will hit I do normal cleaning, If a storm is coming I clean everything that requires power such as vacuuming or washing clothes prior to the storm.  I have a couple of good size generators with fuel and oil so I can run my fridge and freezer for a couple of weeks and perhaps run a couple of other appliances. But fuel will run out eventually and giving yourself some time to adjust to the new normal is well worth the work.

As you deep clean you start to notice things around the house that need fixing. Perhaps it is simple  little water leaks/dripping faucets, paint, caulking or somewhat major like a cracking foundation.  This is a great time to try DIY type projects and the internet is chockful of instructions for simple plumbing or carpentry jobs. I will admit I’m a bit skittish on any DIY  plumbing job that requires turning off the water main. I have plenty of water stored, but I also know how much effort is involved to move/heat water. Trust me it sucks even with practice!

As a prepper you should learn basic home repair skills, have the tools needed to do the job. Because if tshf you may be on your own. But putting off a plumbing job long enough for the apocalypse is probably not wise idea!  While you may not be able to pay off your home, you can make basic repairs and improve your security a little bit each month.