Got more of the winter prep done

October 16, 2022

First fire of the season. My house has been staying in the 65-70 degree F. range the last couple of weeks even though the outside temps are dipping into the 40 degree range at night.  So it has not been cold in the house but I just felt like starting a fire and see how the wood stove operates after the cleaning and generally kick up the temperature average of the house a few degrees. There is a feeling of coziness you get with fire wood heat that electrical heat just can not match. Oil, nat. gas even propane heat seems warmer to me than most electric heat. Perhaps it is primal in humans to react better to heat with flames of some sort, rather than the movement of restricted electrons to generate heat.

I started cleaning off my patio cover. The cover is one of those metal covers with lots of “valleys” that collect all kinds of debris from the trees.  I had been racking my brain how I was going to clean out those dips without standing on the cover since I’m unsure about how much weight the metal will bear. I got out the snow rake I bought after Snowmegedon of 2017 and used the edge of the snow rake to drag off most of the debris on the patio cover. I used a little battery powered leaf blower to blow some of the debris of the roof but I could not reach all of the roof cover to get all of the debris off the patio cover. I have a telescoping hose attachment for cleaning out gutters I’ll try over the next couple of days to see how much of the patio cover I can finish cleaning.  I found a hose that will fit my home’s outdoor water spigot so I have outside water again!  Speaking of hoses I have started draining and storing most of my garden hoses for the winter.

Snomeggedon 2017 is a big reason I want to get my patio cover cleaned off since a lot of people in the valley had carports and patio covers that collapse under the 3 foot + snow load we had that winter.  Even if I can’t get all of the debris off the patio cover I have reduced the debris that could soak up a lot and I got in some practice using the snow rake. I feel a lot more confident dealing with removing snow from the roof and patio cover.  To give you an idea of how much debris I cleaned off the patio cover I filled the trash dumpster 3/4 full with just the debris.

While I was up on my ladder I started trimming up my apple tree since it was hanging over part of the patio cover. I cut down a couple of good sized limbs as well as some dead stuff that needed to get trimmed off.  It was amazing to see how much more sunlight hit the patio just removing those few limbs!  I have about 3-4 more limbs I feel I can cut safely. That should open up the lawn to more sunlight so the reseeded grass will grow and fill in by the spring.

I had a little bit of shopping to do this paycheck.  Cash & Carry had boneless NY Strip on sale for $4.99 per pound and the average chunk o meat was about 13 pounds. That is about $60.00 – $70.00 on a chunk of meat that you need to cut up and freeze.  I love these types of meats as you can cut up some steaks and roasts the way you like and you save money compared to buying the same item in the local grocery store. I like doing a Ribeye roast or steak for Xmas eve and a nice beef roast for New Years eve that people can munch on even after the meal is over.  If beef goes on sale I’ll buy more so I have not lost any value. I have a Turkey for Thanksgiving if the price drops I’ll buy a turkey for next year. I don’t think you will see Turkeys sold in grocery stores this Holiday season for less than a dollar per pound.  I suspect a Turkey less than $2.00 per pound will be considered a good buy this year.  I am glad to see the chocolate shortage does not seem to have happen in the USA. Prices are higher but you can buy Halloween candy and chocolate chips/bars. My worry is not so much about rising prices as things just are not available to buy at any price.

Boomer the dog and I have started walking the local neighbor  5 days a week. We are up to 3/4 of a mile and this week we will try and up the amount to a mile. Both Boomer and I need to work up out distance my goal is we get up to doing 2 miles a day but that will take some time.  Boomer just drops on to the grass when we get home after the walk but he recovers faster than I. This has been a great way for us to get to know people in the neighborhood and Boomer is doing much better socializing with people even allowing people to pet him.  When I got Boomer from the pound he was terrified of people and would just collapse if stranger came up to him.  Boomer is funny in that he has not peed or pooped on any of our walks. I carry poo bags just in case but I have never seen any male dog fixed or not fixed not pee on things when going for a walk.

Still perfect weather in SW Idaho. Next week we may get some rain and the overnight temps are staring to drop into the high 30’s with highs in the 70’s F.  I’m not trusting Mama nature because I think when she decides on winter she is going to hit us hard with the weather.  For now it has been great weather to do winter prep in such lovely weather.


Fire wood is stacked. Huzzah!

May 8, 2021

It sure feels good to have all of this years firewood stacked!  I need to buy a few more tarps to cover some of the stacks but it won’t hurt this unseasoned wood to be exposed to the hot/dry summer of SW Idaho for the next few months.  I never thought about the space required  for firewood when I bought this house but I knew I wanted enough ground to put in a garden, a nice little lawn and having trees to keep the backyard cool in the summer was a huge bonus.  Well I have stacked this years wood in a few unused areas to make sure I have access to well seasoned wood.  That is not an easy task for people that have small lots with limited storage space.  It is easy to tell a person to store 2-3 years worth of wood and it is cheaper to buy multiple cords of wood in bulk.  If your wood storage space is limited to a couple of small wood racks. That is what that person must deal with despite all the wishes and  a person might want to have for heating.

I use firewood as my primary heat source in cold weather.  There are other options that have lower start up costs and can be at least as safe as using a firewood stove.  I like the Mr. Buddy heaters and most propane/natural  gas stoves/fireplaces.  Yes, there are safety issues storing fuel or gas lines getting cut during some disasters but I think this fuel has some upsides as far as the storage space required compared to several cords of wood.

I’m not a big fan of kerosene heaters as the fuel puts out some very dangerous gasses that are in an enclosed space.  Since most homes tend to be insulated. Those gasses will get trapped indoors without proper air flow.  In cold weather the last thing you want to do is open a window or door to let the gasses as well as heat escape.

Every type of alternative heating will have positives and negatives for short term and long term heating needs.  I recommend you only heat using propane or kerosene while you are awake and active.  Yes it can suck to wake up to a cold house.  Not dying in your sleep to carbon monoxide poisoning would NOT be considered a positive move for survival!

I have started making a new anti- pet fence for the 3 sisters garden using a PVC pipe frame and the left over plastic fencing material.  I think this pvc framed fencing might work to keep most of the critters out of the 3 sister garden beds but still be easy to access to do weeding, watering and other garden chores.  I doubt I can stop all critters. Hopefully I can at least keep any damage to a minimum.  In the elevated raised bed the radishes are doing great, the lettuce was was spread by the kitties (don’t ask) and I have 3 mini Bok choy plants coming up

Lesson learned staring plants:  Use larger pots to hold plants started early or they get root bound.  I’m sure more experienced gardeners are thinking to themselves “well duh”. Speaking for myself all those little cells of dirt are so tempting to plant at least a seed in in Feb/March and by the time May arrives the poor plant is root bound and not prone to grow.  The reason you start plants early indoors is to have a healthy and vigorous plant ready to grow after any frost danger passes.  I’d say you should use pots equivalent to the average “pony pack” that most garden stores/nurseries use for starter plants. I really love the heat pads, the new grow lights and staring boxes.  I just thing the 72 cell starter tray would be better for me as 36 size starter tray as the plants might need more time to grow and have strong growth for a May 10th planting, is along time from starting seeds in March.

Embrace “failure” as learning, don’t use it as excuse nor to to try or make yourself a victim. Be honest with yourself about what you do.  Is it I can’t or I won’t put in the effort?  Any answer is valid but you have live with the results.   Do what works for you. I have read many prepper blogs and I went in a different direction for many of my preps.  If it seems dumb but it works it isn’t dumb.

The big front yard tree is down

May 4, 2020

It took the guys from Tucker’s Timber about 10 hours to cut that big old elm down and they worked hard for all of those 10 hours. I think they did a great job with cleanup but they did have a limb bonk my neighbor’s fence and broke a section of that fence.  I liked how they pointed out this broken section of fence and tried to fix the fence right away rather than try and hide breaking the fence. The tree guys are coming back to my house to repair the neighbors broken fence and do some tree limb clean up on some of my backyard trees.  Based on seeing how full the truck beds are at the end of the day. I think the got about a cord of hard wood from the tree.  I’m getting a discount on the tree cutting service because Tucker’s will have around a cord of hard wood fire wood cut from this one tree.  The guys let me add a couple of my cut  limbs to the Wood chipper pile and gave me a new wood cutting stump that has both a flat cutting surface and a flat bottom for my wood chopping needs.  We had a big thunderstorm and rain about two days after the tree was cut down and I felt much better about cutting down the old tree after seeing the winds blowing through some of the big trees in my neighborhood.

Cutting down the big tree has already affected the “Front yard” ecology dramatically by adding a lot more sunlight.  The kiddy pool strawberry planter has exploded with flowers and the lawn is putting on more green growth in just 2 days.  I treated the lawn for bugs and added some spring feed to the lawn and now the grass is growing like crazy.  It is amazing how one change in your yard can have so many additional changes that can be both positive and negative for your plans.  I’m thinking about adding a couple of dwarf fruit trees  for a little shade or perhaps a shaded seating area with a pergola or patio umbrella/canopy that will make up for the lost shade from the tree.  I am taking this summer to see how much impact the lost of that shade tree will affect the home cooling costs and how it will affect the front yard flower/garden beds.

I attacked the overgrown grape vines so I could get three more raised beds ready for a “Three Sisters” beds of corn, beans and squash.  Cutting out the old grape canes went better than I anticipated.   While I did cut out some new runners and growth, most of the stuff I cut was old dried out canes that was messy and not productive vine growth. The three beds have been fallow for a year and I need to fork it, add some compost/manure but I think the beds will be ready for planting one bed of sweet corn and the other beds of dent corn.  After a couple of weeks  I can add the pole beans and week later the winter squash if I can find seeds for direct sowing. SW Idaho has a fairly long growing season for a northern state.  While we can’t grow citrus fruits on a large scale we have many orchards full of apples, apricots, pears and grow some of the best grapes. Idaho farms also grow a lot of onions, garlic, wheat, oats and corn. So I think I’ll do okay with fresh greens and growing some stuff in my garden beds as I live in a agricultural state. Our weakest link in Idaho is gasoline/ diesel/ fuel and carbon-based fertilizer and chemical pesticides.  While I may not like using chemical based poisons to eliminate insect in a large scale farming operation.  I can’t say the pesticide is ineffective.  I just think the cost/benefit ratio might be problematic.

Anyhoo,  if you are like me on Social Security and file taxes but don’t get a refund or have to pay taxes. The IRS web site now is “Updated” and I got an update on when the check was mailed rather than a webpage of the IRS doesn’t respond with a page of the IRS does not know!   I make under $20 grand a year and supposedly the IRS mailed out the check May 1st.  I don’t know if it is true but at least it is better than the “We don’t know” page.   If you got the IRS “We don’t know” page in the last month you might want to check back and see if the status has changed.  I hate this pittance giver to USA tax payers and the big banks get to hand out government backed grants in the billions of dollars.  Gold/money always runs up hill.  Give the poorest person a  $100-$1000 dollars and they will spend it right away!  I’m doubtful all would spend it wisely, but before a week is out that money will end up in a TBTF bank.  I think giving people “Free Money” is a bad thing but if the government is hell bent on giving away “free money”. They should make that money circulate as effectively as possible.  That means giving that free money to the people of the middle class and poor because they will spend the money to pay rent,mortgages,credit card payments, utilities, groceries, fuel/energy.  An Uber rich person might buy another Picasso.  Hell I love good art but how does that art create demand/growth of the economy?  Honestly how many pairs of pants can Bill Gates buy/own?

It is starting to warm up in SW Idaho

April 5, 2020

The weather is getting warmer!  Forecast are for a week of 65-70 degree F. days and the night time temps dropping only to the low 40 degree F. range.  Today was cloudy with some rain but it was warm enough for me to open a couple of windows and get some fresh air in the house.  Nothing like a warm spring rain to bring out all the plant growing aromas and wash the dust, dirt and  smoke out of the atmosphere.

I got most of my basic cleaning done of the bathrooms, vacuum the carpets and change and wash bedding and wash towels.  I got a little “burned out” trying to keep everything clean and slacked off on some of the daily/weekly cleaning chores. I have read about the cleaning chores of people in the 1800’s doing laundry by hand, sweeping floors and beating rugs. Rather than dumping clothes in a washing machine or dryer.  Having a vacuum to clean carpets or a quick mop to clean floors.  Plus I have hot water on tap at my sink to help with my cleaning!  It is not the end of the world if you don’t dust but you want to make your home a virus-free safe zone. Being human you may slack off a bit on cleaning. I know I did after 3 weeks. That is okay as long as you get back to work keeping your home a “Safe Zone”

Get those gardens and pots planting started!  My garden seeds seemed to have failed to germinate.  These were old seeds and if anything had germinated I would be ahead of the game.  Unlike some people think that think starting a garden only requires a bit of digging dirt, dropping a seed and some water.  A productive garden needs a little more effort, experience and knowledge.  Baking bread for the first time may result in flour bricks suitable for use as a door stop.  It is okay to screw up while you are learning stuff!  If you want to bake Whole Wheat flour bread for the first time after eating store bought bread.  Please mix white flour 1/2 with whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour can mess up your guts for several days if your guts are not ready for all that additional fiber.  It may seem counter-intuitive but moving to a non-processed food diet “might” mess with your digestive track until it learns to deal with your new diet.

I’m getting a local business to cut down my less than healthy elm tree.  This will be my use of the Trump bux coming in a month or two.  I’m going to ask my local hair dresser if she has a gift card option for hair cuts in the future? Paying a few dollars now for a “gift card/gift certificate might keep her business going during the “lock down”.  Small businesses need cash flow now!  Not two months from now, if/when the government decides to cancel it’s “shelter-in-place order”.  I’m not a fan of the “Lock Downs” though I understand the orders because many people are idiots.  The government can’t protect you from idiots.  You must protect yourself from idiots.

Wear a mask of some sort, protect your eyes from the coofers of all sorts. Make your home a Sanctuary/Safe place from the virus.  Stay at home and mask up when shopping isn’t hard it’s just inconvenient.

I’m having a great time playing Fortnite video game though I suck at it.  Play a video game, read a book, paint a room, learn sewing, plant a garden.  My gosh there is so much you can do if you think “outside the box”.

What Can You Do?   What can’t you do?

New ways to sanitize masks from MIT!

March 30, 2020

The Corona virus/Covid -19 can be eliminated or rendered (dead) with your oven set to warm/200 degrees F. for 30 minutes.  Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees F.  place the masks on a tray for 30 minutes and all virus particles on the mask are now inert/dead!  This great news for people that have a limited number of masks on hand.  Your masks can now be effective protection and reused a few times as long as the basic structure of the mask stays in good shape.  If a mask gets very dirty or the fabric starts to break down after use, toss the used mask in the trash.

Your mask should not catch on fire in a warm oven as it takes over 450 degrees of heat to get paper to burn.  I would use an oven safe pan like a pie pan to hold your masks and not place the mask directly on your oven grates/racks.  Using a gas/propane oven to sanitize masks might be an issue as gas ovens use an open flame but I think you should be okay as long as you pre-heat the oven and place the masks in an oven safe pan far from the gas flame.  Even a toaster oven on the WARM setting should work if the oven can maintain at least 170 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

There is some research that suggests 60 minutes under UV light might neutralize the virus. It is early days for this research and I can’t confirm that UV light kills the virus off of surfaces like a N95 mask.  I’m very excited to see a way to re-use masks and that a normal oven can neutralize any viruses on a mask.  I have a few masks on hand and knowing I can reuse my masks safely means I can give the neighbors a mask or two to help keep them safe and limit the spread of the Wu-Flu if they did not get masks a couple of months ago.

Most people will keep touching their face. I’ve probably reduced touching my nose, mouth and around my eyes about 25-50% less than I did in February and I still touch my face a lot!  ( I bet your nose itches now) LOL!   I don’t worry about my face touches at home as I am making my home a “Safe Zone”.  I spritz the mail box with a bleach solution, wash down the door handles and light switches with a anti viral/anti-bacterial cleaner. I need to add gloves to my shopping gear to minimize the potential of bringing the virus home. Because many people cough sneeze in stores and don’t wear a mask!  I have bought some plastic coated reusable bags that are easy to sanitize with a little Lysol/bleach spray.  I have only one person I interact with closely, that person uses a mask in public, and does not have a “cold/Flu/Allergies” so I’m not going doing a “Total Lock down” at this time.

What I’m doing my shopping to stop the spread of the virus. I don’t drive with a mask on as my vehicle is a bit of a safe zone because it is not used more than 1-2 times a week at most for shopping.

  1.  I clean my glasses before driving and before I go into the store I use hand sanitizer then put on my mask.
  2. After leaving the store I use hand sanitizer before I remove my mask and glasses and the wash my glasses.  I don’t know why but my nose seems to get all leaky after wearing the mask so I use a tissue to wipe my nose and hand sanitize again.
  3. It basically the same steps for every store I go to when shopping.
  4. When I get home I put away groceries, the mask gets sanitized, the grocery bags get a sanitizing spray and the glasses get a wash.  This is probably a weak point as I should spray everything with sanitizer before it comes in the house.

I don’t think you have to go all OCD cleaning everything all the time. A few spritzes with bleach, using a good anti-bacterial/anti-viral cleaner 2-3 times a week in your home cleaning, washing hands a few more times per day should be adequate for making the home a virus free safe space.  Getting out in the yard and doing some work growing garden is good and talking over a fence to a neighbor is a good thing!  I never cared for the High people density life-style of people that live in Urban areas.  I’m not sure how those people will cope with a Stay at home Orders that last over two weeks.



Broken PC and The Wuhan Flu/ global epidemic?

January 26, 2020

My PC has been down but I’m still alive!

I’m building a new PC and things are not working out the way I had anticipated.  I’m sorry to say I went OS 10 to get my PC hardware working.  Some good news is Office 2003 still works for Windows 10. I used a demo version of Windows 10 downloaded from Microsoft website.  FYI  don’t pick the N version of MS10.  If you do down load the Media center update.  You will need that software to get your AMD video drivers to work.

If you have upgraded to an AMD Ryzen capable mother board.  Windows 7 will not work, as all mother board USB ports won’t work.  AMD and Win 7 have not done any thing about backward compatibility.  I’m upgrading to about 2015 tech and Win 7 does not support my new mother board.  Windows 10 GUI is awful to use.  No program drop down via the start menu.  Evey thing is treated as an APP rather than a program.  I’m a geek and I don’t like windows 10.  If you prefer a PC that seems to act like a tablet or a smart phone, this could be the OS for you!

I’m a little concerned about this “FLU” coming out of the Wuhan province, but I’m not panicked, despite the symptoms seem to settle down into bronchitis/pneumonia in a couple of weeks. The Chinese government seems to be downplaying the illness, yet the government is being very heavy handed with “Quarantine Zones”.

What I suspect is a “Flu virus” escaped the level 4 bio-contain facility and mutated.  This might seem a bit contradictory to that theory as the pork prices have skyrocketed due to the “pig flu” going on in China.  People can’t afford pork, so they buy bats,rats and less costly protein.  You have a population struggling to buy safe/good protein that is no longer available  and a level 4 bio-containment lab working and living in this city.

I don’t think any of this is the result of a pre-planned idea.  Just a muddle that blows up with us humans that think we are super smart!

What should you do?  If you have been following this blog for awhile, not much!  I did a lot or prepping for any sort of Ebola outbreak coming to the USA a few years ago.  I have plenty of bunnysuits, masks, face masks, goggles and face shields  to protect from spewing blood rather than a cough or a sneeze. Keep clean, stop touching your face and treat this as flu/cold until the person has bronchitis/pneumonia.  Perhaps then take the person to the hospital.  I don’t have much confidence in hospitals treating people with diseases with simple support they could get at home.  Sure they have IV’s but hospitals don’t make a good Bone broth or Chicken soup!   What I’m talking about is supporting a patient, treating the symptoms at home. Be it a basic cold or the new WU FLU.  The medical community has not been a shining light.  The latest Flu vaccine is less than 40% effective combating this years flu in the USA.  The vaccine makers do their best, but it it is not a get out of being sick shot.

If you are wondering what you need to have on hand?  The list is very simple. I’d say you should focus on getting items for any very bad flu season.

  1. Bleach and other anti-viral cleaning agents
  2. Protective gear like masks but don’t forget protective goggles as this virus can infect via the eyes as well as nose and mouth.
  3. It might be to late to get protective respirators or masks unless you buy high end $75.00+ full face respirator masks.
  4. I have not check out protective “Bunny Suits” like Tyvek/Tychem but I expect those are in as low supply as protective masks.
  5. Treat the symptoms and support the patient with good foods, liquids, OTC medicines and good care.
  6. If things get out of hand with the WU Flu. Have the ability to stay at home for 2-3 weeks.

The odds are that you won’t see or treat the corona virus in the USA.  Use this as a test about the supplies you have on hand.  One thing I never anticipated is family members buying up medical supplies  in the USA and shipping those products to China.  People doing this makes a lot sense, though I’m not sure how the supplies will get delivered in cities that are quarantined.

I know Information is lacking but we need to watch how this works out.  Declaring a quarantine in a city of 11 million people in China is easy but how can that city function without food and energy deliveries?  Who is picking up the trash, maintaining the water and sewage systems?  Unless the population is prepared for an emergency, a couple of breaks in the “supply chain” could be catastrophic.

New York City has a population of 8.5 million.  Can you imagine the US government trying to close down all deliveries of food, fuel and people moving in and out of that city?  China is trying to do that for several cities with a total population of 56 million.  The corona virus will spread because the Chinese lost control and the ability to hide the spread.  How bad the spread and death count is yet to be seen.

Don’t panic!  Just use this time to fix any areas of preparations you are lacking.  Remember when Fukishima Melted down and Iodine tablets sold out and no one really needed to take Iodine tablets because the radiation level dropped quickly a couple of hundred miles outside of the Fukishima zone?  I think concern is warranted, panic seems unwarranted at this time. You don’t have to build a Biological containment lab, just take a few simple precautions.

News hyperventilating over an 1-3 inches of snow in Idaho in January!

January 12, 2020

This a bit embarrassing about how a this massive snow storm was going to hit SW Idaho and the news blew it all out of proportion again!  It snowed most of the morning in the Treasure valley and did not even stick to the sidewalks or roads because it got so warm (40 F.+) by 3:00 pm.   The mountains got a lot of snow which is normal and needed for the spring and summer irrigation season.  This is kind of the norms for winter snowfalls in the Treasure valley.

The over the top hype that any sort of weather event makes it very difficult to make plans to prepare.  I’m sure you see the same sort of “Cry Wolf” type of hype in your area be it rain, hail, thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes.  The weather service is naming snow storms,  rather than how we named the winter of 1977 or that cold winter back in 1983.  Heck even the Snowmegeddon of 2016 gives a good idea that we had a tough winter.  I have no problem with informing people of bad weather and to be prepared and careful.  This sort of hyperbolic scare tactics via the media just serves no purpose other than to scare and stress people.  Then again perhaps that is the purpose of those “Headlines/Warnings”.

I have to say I like my little weather station with barometer.  I won’t say it forecasts the weather, but between that station, my arthritis and my nose smelling rain or snow I’m probably making as accurate guess as the local news weatherman up to 48 hours out. Heck I can download the same radar/satellite cloud cover that the weathermen get daily.   Oh I want to give some love to the Old Farmer’s Almanac folks as they have correct about the general weather for this winter across the entire USA.  It’s amazing how 150-200 years of written observations might have some insight about forecasting the weather long term.  You think the “Climate Change” folks would want to look at that data set.

I did prepare for this “storm” in making sure my front porch wood rack was full.  That is about it as there was no forecast of several days of below 20 degree temps. I did not salt my front sidewalks.  The wind is blowing in the 30-40 mph range and that could cause a power outage with downed lines so I’m getting laundry and vacuuming done. I have a fridge and 2 freezers out on the porch or in an non insulated shop so all food that should be cold should stay cold with little input needed from me.  Heck I have been preparing for almost a decade, so a normal snow storm in winter should a non-event.

How many of you have noticed the Weather service, local news weatherman hyping any sort of “Weather” like it is the end times and not like the weather you saw as kids or from parents/grandparents?  The Dust bowl of the 1930’s was brutal and it was not all caused by farmers.  I remember back in the 1980 that the Mt. Ste. Hellen’s volcanic explosion would kill farming in the PNW and all that ash killed the bugs and Eastern Washington had a great wheat harvest.  I wonder how many people benefit from adverce weather in a couple years after the EVENT. I understand the early Freeze was bad.  I understand Midwest rivers flooding was bad.  Is there a good side to the flooding? Is the adding silt from the river banks over flowing a good thing in the long run?  I’m just asking because I don’t know that type of farming.  I know flooding is generally bad in the short term of 1-3 years.  (For every for a small farmer in debt) Is the land coming back and starting to produce?

Sorry this post is getting into the TLDR area.  Start getting your seeds and planning your garden.  Depending on your general frost date,you need to be starting those seed to start those “Cole Crop seeds” indoors in February/March.

I have sharpened my axe but I can’t seem to put a good edge on my hatchet.  I think my sharpen angle is wrong for the hatchet.  I have a ordered a new stone that has a guide to use for creating/maintaining a 15-20 degree angle.  Not perfect but that new stone should help me in making a good edge on both knives and axes.

Shortest day of the year was Beautiful!

December 24, 2019

There has been a warm breeze blowing and the temp. hit a high of 60 degrees F. at my house.  This day was a treat for getting firewood stacked and getting some of the firewood split into smaller chunks that can then be split into kindling.  The axe finally has a good cutting edge. The new hardwood stump makes splitting firewood much faster and easier compared to the first sharpening attempts I made on the axe when I bought it.   I have to work on the hatchet edge as I must have screwed up the angle of the blade edge during the last sharpening session.  The hatchet edge is not terrible for cutting kindling but it cut a lot better before the last sharpening session I did before cutting kindling a week or two ago.

Mom got another box of kindling last week so I’m staying ahead of our kindling needs this winter burning season.  Mom had a small problem with her wood stove chimney not working and her house filled with smoke!  No casualties and the worst that happen is Mom got some excitement, learned her smoke alarms need to be in a different location and she met some nice boys from the local fire department.  It looks like the so called “Chimney Sweep” did not clean the Baffles/secondary combustion area of her wood stove.  She got a recommendation for a new Chimney sweep and was very pleased with the quick service she got from this new company.  I’ll be using this company to clean my wood stove next year as I have not been pleased with my most recent chimney sweeps.  People get dead, homes get damaged from chimney fires and clogged chimneys!  I went through a chimney fire back as a child. No one was hurt but it made me very “anal retentive” about having the safest firewood stove possible.  I have the chimney swept every year.  I have two fire extinguishers in my house that are in exit ways from bedrooms to the exit doors.  You must have safety measures to prevent house fires and if the house fire happens, you are alerted and you can fight your way out of the burning house.  The more effort you put into ensuring BAD Things don’t happen often makes those BAD Things not happen!

I have cleared all wood from my Douglas Fir, walk/breeze way firewood storage area.  So far this winter I have not used a lot of fire wood even with helping Mom out with some kindling every couple of weeks.  January/early February  tend to be the coldest winter months and is when I used the most fire wood.  So far this winter has been relatively warm.  There is a lot of difference between 10 degrees F. being your low or your high temp. for the day!  So while we did get an early frost and snow.  This winter has been mild,  with temperatures in the 20’s and 30’s for highs this winter.  It seems that my planning for a Snowmeggedon event like 2016/2017 winter has paid off with no 18 inches + of snow for the last two years. City roads not plowed or watching cars literally buried in snow along the street.  It often seems if you are ready for the “worst”.  The worst doesn’t happen!  Then again if you are prepared for the worst, you already have a plan in place and it’s no longer the worst thing ever to happen to you.  This warm day was a gift and it will get a bit snowy and cold by Xmas.

I’m trying something new for Xmas dinner of a rack of pork loin/chops and roasted brussel sprouts/sweet potato veggie mix.  I can cook a good BBQ turkey, my Prime ribs seem to be good tasting to most people.  Why not try something different? I’m roasting a pork loin/chops this year.  We will see if it a good holiday meal.  I doubt it will be bad as my Rotisserie cooks meat well without over cooking it.  Roasting veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts in a toaster oven add a bit of crunch/texture and the high heat of the oven releases the vegetable’s sugars and flavors without the veggies getting mushy or over cooked via boiling in water.  Never pass up an opportunity to add flavor to food via a cooking method.  Also be careful not to over season your food.  Sometimes less is more especially with vegetables.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Fire wood area cleanup is done and chopping kindling

December 13, 2019

The Doug fir area cleanup went much faster than I had anticipated. Some firewood  is still in the walk way, but it is less than 4 feet high and two layers deep.  I suspect most of that firewood will be on my porch wood rack or cut into kindling in the near future.  I got rid of the oversized tarp that was great at capturing leaves and water. Somewhat less effective on keeping the firewood dry.  While large tarps can be attractive to cover stuff to keep dry. The tarps are also good funneling that water onto firewood or other things you want to keep dry.  In my experience using smaller tarps covering firewood is  better compared to large tarps that are difficult to work with, can be caught by the wind and can hold a lot of water/debris.  So far the carport/ awning area has been the best area for storing and seasoning wood.

I got some more kindling cut for the kindling box.  Now most of my  cut kindling sized wood is around a 1/2 inch thick or less in diameter.  I’ll be adding a few thicker chunks of wood in the 1-2 inch in diameter range. For that sort of in-between stage from kindling to larger chunks of split firewood.  This is a much easier task with the hard wood stump Mom gave me and I finally got the axe sharpened properly to cut wood.  Now I can split that fire wood in a stroke or two of the axe. It has taken a bit of effort to sharpen the axe.  I’m not quite there, with a sharp hatchet.

It might seem a waste of time sharpening a tool first,  rather than get to cutting right away.  Even 10 minutes of “proper/correct”  sharpening an axe, hatchet or chainsaw will make you much more productive by the end of the day. My hatchet is no longer sharp.  It is sort of bonking off wood rather than splitting wood because it is a wedge, rather than a “cutting” tool.

While cutting kindling is not one of my favorite things to do.  I sort of like splitting fire wood into smaller, more easily burnable chunks of wood.  It might be I like splitting wood because my sharpened axe is good at cutting wood. also I can split more wood quickly compared to cutting kindling!

They kittens were busy climbing trees, getting on the shop roof and figuring a way to get off the shop roof. Ashe the kitten relaxing in front of the wood stove.

Ashe warms the tummy

tired kitten

Ashe still warming the tummy

Tege the kitten  has a bit darker coloring and more spots along with the Tiger stripes.   Tege the kitten is a bit more proper in following cat protocol.

Tege sits on the warm Computer box








I’m trying to get better pics of the kittens but I’m terrible at photography. There might be a a bit Bengal genes thought the Mama cat was a solid gray color.  All of the kittens I have seen from this mother cat tend to have higher shoulders that slope down the spine to the lower hips.  It gives the kittens a very panther/jaguar, wild cat sort of look in profile. While ocelots have a tan/tawny coat  along with stripes and spots.  Both of my kitten are a mixture of shades of black and grey, with a bit of Tan belly with crazy spots on the belly mixed with stripes.   I’m very pleased with the kittens though I have been a bit bloodied by the kittens climbing me.  A little spray bottle of water as a deterrent seems very effective for correcting.   unacceptable behavior.


Gosh the fire feels good….

December 9, 2019

The Treasure Valley has about 3 days of dry weather and cool nights happening this week.  I am getting to work  fixing the Doug Fir wood pile as my tarps got blown off the wood pile and is not keeping all the wood dry. It seems the a couple of tarps are funneling rain water down on to part of the wood stack.  I pulled off the big tarp that did a great job catching leaves and water.  Not such a great job keeping the fire wood dry.   I’m going to clear the firewood from the walk way between my wood racks, then cover the wood with smaller but more closely fitting tarps across the top of the  wood stacks.  My hope is that having the walkway area clear of wood will create a breezeway so the wind keep the firewood drying to help “season” the fire wood long term.

Mom picked up another box of the Doug fir kindling.  She wants to pay me for the wood and the effort I make cutting kindling but I have no idea what to charge or how to cost it out.  She is my Mom and I want her to be warm and have fairly easy way to start a wood fire.  Now the basic box of kindling  should last about 7-10 days worth of starting a daily wood fire.  It takes cutting about 4 chunks of the split Doug fir to fill the kindling box.  Plus about 30-45 minutes of splitting the wood into kindling size pieces.  Perhaps about $10.00-$20.00 per month to keep the kindling box full?  I  don’t charge Mom for the fire starters as she assisted with the wax for making the fire starters.

I used my little battery powered chainsaw to try and “level” my wood stump.  It sort of worked, but my hands gave out after a few minutes of the vibrating chainsaw skimming along the top of the stump.  It is a first trial but I think a few more passes with the chain saw will get into the good solid wood of the stump.  This a tall and somewhat old stump I’m using the chainsaw to try and make the top of the stump a bit more flat to cut kindling.  The wood cutting stump Mom gave me is working great with just a couple of 3/4 inch shims of lumber.  With the shorter cutting stump and the sharpened axe I’m cutting through wet and knotty Doug fir in one or two strike of the axe.  The wood I cut is not always the best for kindling but in about 45 minutes worth of work I can split the firewood into pieces then use the hatchet to cut kindling for 7-10 days.  If I ever fill that kindling box. I’ll have at least a one year’s worth of firewood stove kindling for both Mom and myself.

A report on the new muffin paper cup fire starters:  The muffin cups are a bit larger/fuller of the sawdust and wax, but don’t have the cardboard egg carton paper to assist with starting a fire.  Overall I consider the standard size muffin papers fire wood starters a success.  I’ve tried using old candles, “white wax” candles from the local dollar stores making these fire starters.  What seems to work best is paraffin wax from the canning section.  Will old candles work?  Yes, but not very well even with mixing with clear paraffin wax. I recommend buy the “canning wax” for making your own  fire starters.

Back to the title of this post the warmth of the wood stove feels better to me after doing work on the wood pile.  The satisfaction of cutting your kindling, making “firestarters” , stacking fire wood and bringing wood into the house to burn is so satisfying.  I buy split fire wood and have it delivered but I stack and often re-stack that wood to get the best output of heat.  Now I am getting better at controlling that heat and now my whole house is warm.  It is a great feeling!  The fire feels so much warmer because of all the effort.

I can’t say enough good things about the Hotpoint rotating fans of 12′ behind the wood stove and the larger 16′ fan pushing the heat through my house through door ways and around walls. Just 2 fans now push the heat to the backside of my house.  Great fans get them on sale if you can afford it!  I’m excited to see how well the fans work moving air next summer.