New kittens are named and are settling in.

September 14, 2019

The 2 new kittens are named Ash and Teeg.  Ash is grey with some Tabby stripes but the reason for the name is that kitten jumped into the ash bucket by my wood stove. Teeg is fascinated by Tucker the peke.  Teeg has rubbed all over Tucker, walked under Tuck’s belly, ate the dry dog food and generally just disarmed most of Tucker’s anti-cat behavior.  Tucker will not share my bedroom or allow the kittens on my bed but over all integrating the new kittens is going much better than I had anticipated.

These kittens seem very smart and can be trained on basic behavior.  I’ve had the kittens for few days and both are using a small kitty litter box.  Ash is the “explorer” and jumped on my computer desk.  I removed Ash from the desk  to a chair or the floor and seemed to get the desk is off limits.  Of course Ash climbs my Computer chair and climbs on me, but in just a couple of days this kitten generally avoids climbing on my PC desk.

I’m keeping the “doggie door” blocked to stop the kittens from going outside.  I like having out door/indoor cats but the kittens are so small and don’t have a mama cat to train them about my yard and safe areas.  I’m going to give them a few weeks to get used to my house being the safe place, before I let them outdoors.  Smokey the cat is not happy about the kittens but she has ate the dry kitten food and is stand offish.

While I have had cats.  I have not dealt with 8 week old kittens in decades.  These kittens have been a great distraction from the death of Brodie not only for Tucker but for myself.  I miss Brodie but the kittens remind me life goes on.  Over all having 2 new kittens at Casa de Chaos is looking good.

 

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Working with tarps, helping with Mom’s wood pile. Clean up and some fall prep

August 13, 2019

Yesterday I got out to Mom’s place to replace the tarp over the chicken run. This one of those jobs that seems almost impossible to by yourself but is easy with two people.  Because of Mom’s location she gets a lot of wind blowing daily and often at a brisk 20-30 mph so if a tarp last a year in that type of breeze it is a good tarp.  We have noticed that the cheap “blue tarps” shred in a matter of months.  We suspect that the blue tarps are not UV protected.  We both have used the low cost brown and green tarps with UV protection and those tarps handle high winds/ beating solar rays.  Getting 9-12 months of use out of those type tarps very is doable.  Trying a new way of keeping the tarp on top of the chicken run in high winds.  I ran some rope through some PVC pipe and will place that pipe in the fold of the tarp and see if that keeps the wind from getting under the tarp and moving it around on the chicken run.

Mom stopped by today and got the rest of the mill ends, 2 old pallets for the base of her wood pile.  Mom’s wood storage area is a “Work in progress” but she is getting the the stuff needed to get the wood off the ground and the tarps to cover the top of the wood pile.  I was able to give Mom a couple of smaller tarps that I replaced with one larger tarp over my Doug fir wood racks.  I had a large tarp covering the mill end wood storage area that was a little worn around some of the edges, but is in good enough shape to keep rain and snow off the wood pile.

I got my Doug fir wood pile covered by tarps.  The wood pile is in old dog kennel and is a long but narrow space so a 10 x 12 foot tarp covers most of the wood.  A few of smaller tarps will cover the wood racks so the wood can dry/season but is also protected from rain and snow.  The carport  has over head cover and the shop and RV provide some protection from the weather.  One of the trickiest things about heating with firewood is exposing  fire wood to the weather/wind so it can dry/season but also protecting it from absorbing moisture while it is drying.  I’m hoping that I won’t use a lot of wood to heat this winter and I can build up a multi-year wood pile of dry and seasoned wood.

Lessons I have learned:

  1. I hate chicken wire!  I understand it works and is cheap but if I want a good fencing that lasts and is easy to work with I’d go with some sort of hardware cloth for retaining small critters of a larger panel square for larger critters.
  2. Even a cheap Dremal tool can sharpen tools and it is less intimidating than a grinder.  A Dremel is not a replacement for a grinder it is just a tool for stuff.
  3. Always try to repair things right the first time.  If you think the job is beyond you call in a pro.  I can replace a toilet.  I can’t replace a plumbing valve that is frozen that uses copper/ plastic/steel pipes that have galvanic corrosion.  I know enough to know I don’t know enough for that sort of repair.
  4. I’m learning a little bit about some electrical work.  I hate getting Zapped by electricity especially if that zap could stop my heart.  If I cut power all of my outlets installed seem to work without  electrical arcs.

I’ve rambled on a bit but replacing an electric plug really isn’t a big deal unless it is your first time and it works.  You need to smart and research how a repair job is done properly.  There is a “Fear Factor” of doing new stuff.  Unless you do new stuff you will not grow as a person or add new skills.  I was terrified of using a chainsaw. Now I respect the power of the chainsaw, I don’t fear using a chainsaw.


Finally got most of Mom’s blinds done!

July 6, 2019

I have been adding/replacing Mom’s old blinds with my somewhat better shape old blinds.  I bought a couple of packages for universal fit blind brackets for Mom’s 47 inch blind.  The old blind brackets are so old the brackets are very brittle and tend to crack into non-functional pieces. While the new brackets are cheap at least they are made of a flexible, yet rigid material not prone the cracking under a little bit of pressure.  Mom’s windows are all dry wall casements not wood framed.  That adds another challenge installing blinds that fit within the dry wall window casement.  I think the correct long term solution for Mom’s windows would be a window casement that frames the windows, but that would probably require a custom built window blind to fit the new interior dimensions.  The windows sort of suck for installing blinds easily but the window casement dimensions currently can be fitted with standard blinds available at most Big Box stores at low cost.

I added one of those sort of cheap roller sunshade blinds to the outside of a small window that has the portable A/C unit. It took a little cussing but over all the blind seemed to cut the heat on that window with out blocking the light for that corner of the room.  You can see through the gaps of the blind from inside but you can’t really see into the house from the outside.  We added new curtains and curtain rod to the “big” kitchen window. The new thermal curtains in place of the short half window curtain rod seems to make that area feel bigger.  The new thermal curtains are a light color and I think having the half window curtains broke up the flow of the window and wall by divided the window in half.  I felt as if that side of the house and window were cooler.  That might have been a reaction to make my work feel worthwhile but Mom said she thought the rooms looked and felt “better”, more like it was her home and not just a house.

I did a bunch of little jobs around Mom’s house but those little jobs really made a big impact on the look and feel of her home.  I need to help Mom replace the guts of her toilet. Now that she has bought tools for the job it should be simple if not easy.  Mom wants to do the work and I’ll be offering “helpful advice” as she does the job.  This will be great for Mom to use her own tools to fix her own toilet.

I have great news!  My peke Tucker seems to adjusting/feeling more secure about load noises like thunder or fire works. He only freaked out during the 4th for about an hour and I gave him tight hugs.  On the 5th it only took about 15-20 minutes of hugging to get him to calm down. Tonight the 6th we had a bit of thunder and fire works and Tucker found his quiet spot.   Just having the little pup feel secure and safe is wonderful!

Next week moving and stacking wood, Huzzah??!!!  Also I got another new/used coffee pot and hopefully it it will work more than 3 days!

 


Finding a schedule that works for me?

June 23, 2019

Monday the 17th schedule seemed to work for me.  I got 4 wagon loads of wood move in the AM before it got to hot.  When I needed to take a break from moving wood I started watering the lawn and garden.  By about 11:30 AM it is hot in the ally so I started doing some yard work in the shade of the backyard trees.  After that it was nap time and do some little jobs inside the house during the hottest part of the day.  Around 6:00PM the alley and wood area is in the shade so I can get a few more wagon loads stacked without “melting” in the heat.  Over all this schedule seems to work.  If I stay out of the full on sun when it is hot out, a lot of jobs moving from the yard, shop to inside the house. Work gets done without wearing myself out.

The stacked wood pile is growing slowly.  It seems that the 6 cords of wood “on hand” goal may happen sooner than I thought originally.  I’m guesstimating the amount of fire wood I have stacked so far is about 4-5 cords.  Not all of the wood is cut to size or split. In fact there is at least a cord of wood that either needs cut or split and Mom is getting at least another 1 ton pickup load of wood that I have set aside for her.  Even with that caveat, the carport area is filling up fast and I want to keep a wide walk way area for moving my wagon and the large trash bins between the alley and backyard.  There is some room to stack some of the Poplar in the Doug Fir area and another spot that needs a bit of clean up, that will hold  a cord + of fire wood.  This was not an issue I expected to deal with in June of 2019.

I got behind on my garden stuff dealing with all this wood, but today I got to get some clean up work done.  The frost fabric is working great on the lettuce/kole crop bed.  Nothing has bolted so far though we have had many hot days.  It seems that direct sunlight causes the plants to bolt more so than the heat in the raised beds.  Another bonus of using fabric, my dog has not dug in those beds!  I added more manure/compost to the potato tubs along with watering and hopefully the red and blue potato harvest will be good.  The back yard lawn still needs work but I’ll add more soil to level and grass seed this fall.  That should finish up the last of the repairs of that lawn.  By next spring it should be only maintenance  and dealing with small lawn “repairs”.

My big A/C window was not blocking the hot outside air coming through the open window.  So I built a 6″ x 38 ” frame out of 1″ x 3″ lumber, to hold the air inlet for the A/C in the window and then added 2 layers of thermal bubble wrap staple to the wood frame.  This little bit of framing has made a huge difference in keeping the hot air out and it makes installing the portable A/C air inlet very easy in the future.  I can store this window bracket with the A/C unit when not in use and installing the A/C next summer will be so much easier without fighting gravity and the crappy plastic fittings that come with the A/C unit.  Using two layers of the thermal bubble wrap with a one inch air gap seems to be better insulation than a thin piece of plastic.  The top part of the frame needs a tweak/adjustment for the new window blind I want to install but the basic frame idea is solid.

Speaking of window blinds. I went to Mom’s place to try and fix the blinds on the window that now holds the small A/C unit.  The blinds are old and the plastic brackets were so brittle that they just cracked when installing the screws.  I’m using a 1″x 3″ bit of lumber and pre-drilled all the holes and it was very frustrating to do all the right things and have the brackets just crack because of age.  It is not all bad news as I found some good blinds that should work for my windows that have no cords but move up and down by hand rather than using cords to move the blinds up and down.  I bought the blinds at Family Dollar and they are China made and cost only $8.00 for a 35 inch wide blind. Guess what these new blinds feel heavier and better quality than the cheap China made blinds I bought from Big Lots a few years ago.

I have been wanting to upgrade or at least replace many items around the house to make life more comfortable as well as replacing items that are just getting old and worn out.  One of my carpets is wearing out and it will need a new sub floor at least because of a squishy spot.  I have a peeling linoleum in my kitchen and the small bathroom.  My kitchen faucet is on it’s last legs and because the previous owner did not install proper water cut off valves or good plumbing pipe, it will be a more costly job for me.  Getting the shut off valves for the kitchen sink is the last of  repairing the “stupid plumbing” done by the previous owner and all of my plumbing will be straight forward and easy to do DIY repairs when things go wrong in the future .

 


Adding in new clothing items…. and I repaired a bird feeder.

February 14, 2019

I’m a firm believer in prepping/storing clothes especially underwear, socks and basic work clothing.  One Item I seldom read about storing is foot wear.  Many people talk about buying, care of good work/cold weather boots and I’m not knocking that as good foot gear makes doing out door jobs safer and more comfortable.  But what about people like me that wear sneakers most of the time or prefer a pair sturdy sandals in summer. I’m am biased about garden working foot wear as I hate Uggs or any sort of enclosed clog-like shoe.  If you like them great but (My) feet get all sweaty feeling and the clog slips around… So let me say I won’t be covering any clogs.

I have needed to replace my sneakers for awhile and I’ve been wanting to get a little higher quality shoe rather than the $25-$35 dollar special of the week.  Well today I had great luck as Fred Meyer had a 50% sale on marked down $70.00 sneakers I picked up for about $32.00 per pair.  Now I have big foot for a women so I can usually get the men’s small sneaker or the women’s large sneaker on sale as those are the leftovers.  Are Men’s feet shrinking in the USA?  I used to get a 7 size men’s shoe and now I need a 8 1/2.  I’m in my 50’s so I think my feet have stopped growing and I have not outgrown any of my old boots and shoes. I got a nice pair of light weight Asics running shoes and New Balance sort of cross training/walking shoes for about $65.00 total for both pairs.  The trick of wearing sneakers or any shoe you wear regularly is to trade off wear of the shoe daily.  That way the two pairs of shoes will last as long as if you bought 3 pairs of shoes in succession.  For example: If one pair of sneakers lasts you 3 months.  If you buy 2 pair of sneakers and wear them on alternating days those two pair of sneakers will last 9 months.  It’s the same thing for Boots but the timeline is usually a bit longer.

Sandals:  I’m not a big fan of flip-flops or light weight sandals.  I have a pair of Columbia “River Sandal”s that are in great shape after 5 years of limited wear.  I really like the thick Vibram sole and the velcro tabs for securing the sandal.  My feet don’t get as sweaty compared to clogs and it super easy to spray off the dirt gathered when gardening.

That is the footwear I use.  Yes,  I also have boots and slippers but what I’m saying is many people do most of their prepping in sneakers and don’t always need specialized foot wear. They do need to have a good fitting pair of sneakers and know how to make them last and what sort of sneaker to store for the future.

Buying/storing footwear:

  1. When you find comfortable and sturdy  footwear buy at least 2-3 pairs of what fits you and what you are doing.
  2. If you like that foot wear buy more pairs to have in your storage.
  3. Always buy the best foot wear you can afford!  An ill fitting shoe or boot can give you blisters and even affect your foot bones after a long time.
  4. Take off your shoes and walk around barefoot or in slippers when at home.  Try on shoes late in the day to see how your foot fit in the shoe
  5. Care for your footwear, leather needs oil, waterproofing and find a local guy/cobbler that can replace a heel or sole. Twenty or thirty dollars is cheap to refurbish a pair of $200.00+ boots.

I have to say that Army combat boots are one of the greatest work boots ever.  The Gore tex winter boot sucks if you have to work at doing anything.  Don’t get me wrong the Gore tex boot is great.  If you are sitting for hours in the cold.  I stayed warmer by using my galoshes over my sneakers when I had to work. When I bought the first generation Army Gortex boot.  I would often patrol, help dig a foxhole and then sit and when I sat those boots felt like an Ice block enclosing my feet.  I’m not knocking Goretex as a product.  It just is not the solution for every environment.

Don’t preppers have access to gloves? I have seen many preppers on youtube get sliced and diced by just not having a pair of good leather gloves. I’m reminded of a old story that a man says his scars means he lived life dangerously and his wife says his scars means he led his life stupidly.

Get good gloves of leather gloves.  Hell I’ve bonk my hand with my hatchet cutting kindling and it is no big deal.  If I had not used leather gloves, I’d have a deep flesh cut to deal with if not worse.  Hell I don’t even go into Homedepot  of Lowes without at least a Jersey gloves to handle the wood. You ain’t tough dealing with splinters, you are an unprepared idiot.   Also good to know Scotch tape is great at removing small wood splinters.   Just an FYI!

End of rant.

Gosh I did not cover the bird feeder repair. I used a couple of larger tongue depressors to support the repair.  I got a little bit better at using the glue gun.  It was not a big deal as I glued a couple of tongue depressors to support  the roof of the bird feeder and it worked.  I’m glad I’m getting better using the glue gun and not a complete spaz job I did at first. The roof did end up with a bit of a flare rather compared to the barn  outline. If this repair lasts the roof line on the feeder should protect the feed/seed much better than the original design.


I cut kindling for Mom and myself.

January 5, 2019

I’m working on making kindling cutting easier for me and I’m getting a bit more efficient cutting kindling.  Trust me, starting a fire just using a match is nothing to be sneered at.  It really does not take many Doug fir logs to make kindling.  I am getting better about using using the hatchet to easily to split small chunks of wood into kindling.  I think with the big 18 gallon bushel bucket of kindling and another couple of egg cartons worth of fire starters, Mom should be “good to go” for starting wood fires through the month of January.  Now both of my wood boxes are full and I have a large box of kindling from my wood supplier as backup along with all the wood trimmings I collect from my trees. For me being able to start a fire quick and easy, ranks right up there with the new windows/siding for making this winter more comfortable.  Also if you pair a poplar chunk of wood in your stove with some Douglas fir prepare for a very hot fire box!  Overall if you live in the Pacific NW Doug fir is probably the most cost effective wood you will find for heating your home. You can also find black walnut, elm, lots of fruit woods and even some maple.  But most of those hardwoods also have a Premium price.  I think poplar is an good wood choice when paired with another wood and I have been very happy with my Doug fir/poplar wood mix this winter.

Personally I’d like to have at least 4 cords of wood on hand. It looks like a mild winter for heating for me so far. I have probably burned about 3/4 of a cord of wood through the fall, perhaps a full cord. I also gave/sold  Mom some of my Doug fir and she has received a little doug fir via kindling so I’m not sure about how much wood I have used so far this winter.  I could say I have emptied at least one of my wood racks that are 4 ft x 8ft x 18 inches, I think that is called a “face cord”.  Now I have also used quite a bit of my poplar wood. About another “face cord” of that wood.  I guesstimating, but I have used about 1 cord of wood so far this winter.  This has been a relatively warm winter so far as the coldest temps. in SW Idaho have been in the mid teen F. range.  So far I have not seen any 0 degrees F. at all this winter.  Next is learning my new windows and insulation. My house now holds in heat much better than I ever expected. I don’t concern myself about the wood stove burning over night.  Will the house hold the heat till morning from the wood stove heat is the thing I want as a result.

My stamina and physical strength still need some work.  I’ll never be as strong as was before I got disabled, but I can build up and be stronger and have more endurance overall. What I want to do, still has not caught up with what I can physically do.   That dichotomy can be a bit difficult to process when making plans for the future. My physical abilities is what it is but I think I can improve that base line in 2019.

I’m changing up the doggie food diet and adding a little greek yogurt and a little cheese to give the pups a little more calcium.  The pups actually seem to like a bit of variety and don’t mind a different menu as long as it isn’t to drastic of a change making wet food for the dogs. One of my dogs devoured the new wet food, one seems to need a bit more coxing.  I can’t say it a raw meat diet because I don’t trust  serving raw meat from a grocery store to my dogs. Not feeding my dogs canned dog food does cost a bit more but overall the dogs seem to be doing better and I know what food they are eating.

 


Cooling off, removed the Window A/C and started on the kindling. Hurricanes

September 11, 2018

It looks like Fall is coming into the valley with a very rapid drop in High temps this week.  We have gone for 95-100 degree highs down to 75-80 degree highs in less than 2 weeks.  I’m loving the cool off because I can remove the window A/C units and start saving money on that electric bill.  With the new windows and siding I had one very high cost month for electricity this summer.  August was a very hot and smokey month, so I often ran the A/C units 24/7 for cool as well as filter out some of the smokey air.  In September most of the fire smoke is gone and with it cooler I can get away with using fans during the day.

My overall assessment of the savings from the siding and new window installation, saved at least $200.00 on electrical costs over the summer months.  That is not a lot of money but the wood stove has saved a lot of money on heating costs.  With window install and having good firewood for this winter heating season I can give a solid report next spring on the total savings on energy costs since the siding and new windows were installed.

One very nice thing about the new windows is installing the window A/C unit and not have the window try and slam shut on me or the A/C unit before it was installed.  The unit was very easy to remove today and re-installing the screen was simple with no tools required to get the screen in place.  The larger ‘portable’  A/C unit did not require removing the screen and kept the front part of the house cool during weeks of 95-100+ degree heat this summer.  Overall I’m happy with using smaller/ room size A/C units to cool during the summer rater than using the old whole house system.  Of course I prefer wood heat to heat the house compared to an electric forced air system.

Cutting up kindling today and loading up the porch wood rack.  I made two trips with the garden cart and almost filled up the ‘porch’ wood rack with a mix of lodge pole pine, Doug fir and poplar. My wood piles are divided as one is mostly poplar under the carport and the Douglas fir is in the original wood storage area.  I need to burn both woods in my wood stove.  On to cutting kindling I’m focusing on the Doug Fir wood pile as I stacked mostly small and I hope easy to split fir for kindling.  My 1 1/4 pound hatchet blade needs a lot  of sharpening to cut kindling.  I should not be surprised as my ax needed a good sharpening before it could cut wood rather than split wood.  I’ll sharpen up the hatchet and get to work on the kindling.

Hurricanes:  I have to say that people are “panicking” four days out rather than 2 days before the storm hits.  That is progress I guess….?   Is tap water undrinkable for a few days in the Carolinas?  I mean fill a few water jugs, fill up the tub to flush the toilet should take care of water needs.  I figure getting a generator/solar power to charge electronic devices, lighting. Sandbags and lumber would be the items to get on hand and storing all frozen food in a garbage bag in case you lose power you could clean the freezer easily.

Can you buy Quick concrete bags to build a wall against flooding?  Sure it would be a pain to remove but if it protects you from flooding could it be a good back up?  For all of you not in the storm zone you should test your preps.

Disaster Test: This is for those outside the disaster zone.

  1. How much drinking water do you have stored?
  2. Lighting,  Solar camping lights, Solar panels, candles, flashlights or lanterns.  Have you tested those batteries?  Do you have fuel for lanterns?
  3. Cooking when the power is gone.  A little grill via charcoal or propane can at least boil water and heat canned foods.
  4. Food: That garden is probably gone if flooded do you have canned goods for at least 2 -4 weeks?
  5. Power: Do you have a generator that can power a freezer?  Do you have fuel enough to power a freezer until you can preserve what is in the freezer?  Could you preserve what is in your freezer in 2-3 days?
  6. People:  They will get a little crazy in about 2 weeks and they will need diversions. When you fire up the generator let people charge the tablets, phones and laptops if possible.  Have dice games like Yahtzee, cards and if possible low energy cost TV movies or video games.  Are YOU ready for a local disaster?
  7. What will you do with you poo if the local sewer system is compromised? What will you do with your trash if the trash guys don’t show up the next few weeks?

Most people have only 2 options.  Get out now if you are not prepared and that is a smart thing to do if you are not prepared.  Go visit family or friends inland and have a little vacation.  Photograph everything before you leave and not deal with the storm.  If you are prepped you could stick out the storm, realize you are on your own.  If you think having an ax to chop through the roof makes you prepared please evacuate now!