Great shopping this week end and trying to help Mom

June 30, 2019

Albertson’s had a good sale this week, but what it a great shopping weekend for me is the additional 10% off for veterans.  Oh and some additional coupons for chicken thighs at about 70 cents per pound. A couple of 3 plus pound packages of petit-sirloins and the freezer is about full of meat for the next several months.  True Value Hardware had a ‘pedestal fan’ on sale for $16.99 that I bought.  I like this fan, as the round pedestal is very heavy, so the the fan does not seem prone to tipping.  I prefer a solid sloping pedestal fan rather than a fan that sits on on a X of metal legs as the base of the fan.  No toes getting hung up/kicking the fan base. I will buy another of these fans for the living room to help circulate cool and warm air this summer and winter. Having the correct fan in place to circulate either cool or warm air is critical for me as I no longer use any sort of “Central Air/ Heating system.  Even with adding all the additional fans to move air my power bill is still much lower compared to using my old “central system”.

I did not get to help Mom much this weekend.  I had about 4 hours sleep on Saturday.  My attitude and emotional outlook was “problematic”.  I had no desire to inflict my poopy attitude on Mom so I rescheduled for Sunday.  Mom did not feel good/tired and her attitude was not conducive to getting much work done on Sunday.  The day was not a total loss as I got Mom some sale stuff from Albertsons and I installed one of my old blinds in her kitchen window.  Mom wants to replace the guts of her toilet but did not get everything needed for a total replacement.  That is okay, as I did not bring all the tools needed to do the replacement of toilet “guts”.

Speaking of tools.  Having good hand tools for a variety of DIY jobs usually does not get much attention on prepping websites. It is all buy antique hand powered tools or battery power tools and we don’t see how multi-functional a good set of vice-grips, channel lock pliers or screwdriver set can be a critical tool.  I’d say if you are looking for 2nd hand tools check out your local Pawn shop. Most of the tools are “contractor grade” and can be had for a good price.

Last but not least.  I will say, you should try doing a few small DIY jobs.  Buy the tools as you can afford so you tackle larger jobs.  Also if you think a job “in home” may be to big to tackle in a 2 days get a good contractor to do the work. If you are working in the yard or your shop take all the time you need to do the job.  How do you find a good contractor?  Educate yourself about the job and ask questions of the contractor.  You don’t have to be an expert, just some basic knowledge about the work you want done and how that work “should” be done.

You will screw up and make mistakes, that is part of learning a new skill. Sometimes the difference between failure and success is 1/8th of an inch or less.

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Good shopping this week….

June 26, 2019

I did good overall on the grocery shopping this week.  Got a good price on some beef steaks and a roast at Albertsons Tuesday the 25th.  Albertsons gave me an “unlimited”  digital coupon for chicken thighs for 80 cents per pound so Mom and I will be stocking up this week.  Albertsons is having a special buy on seafood and additional 10% discount if you are a Vet, or Military member on the 28th and 29th of June.  This is a great time to get that shopping list ready for that additional discount for the military and Vets.

Some of the other shopping I got done is adding a few more of the cotton bath towels and wash cloths from Bi-mart in Caldwell Idaho. The towels and washcloths are very good though not not Extra-fluffy towels you can buy at a much higher cost.  I washed the towels before using them and the towels, wash clothes seem to be above average in quality to most towels.  Especially considering I spent less than $4.00 for a 36 inch x 54 inch long bath towel.  There is nothing wrong with paying a higher price to get a good quality product.  What I hate is paying a high price in stores when a discount store offers the same or better product and I pay for “Marketing”.

I stopped by on of the 2nd ha stores and got a “new” coffee maker.  The new Cuisinart coffee maker uses a Thermal insulated carafe rather than a hotplate to keep the coffee warm.  This is great as there is one less failure point in the coffee maker.  I can’t burn the coffee or anything else because I forgot to turn off the coffee maker.  It seems that this model of coffee maker costs about $72.00-75.00 new and has many good write ups and reviews. I paid about $8.00 dollars for it.   I cleaned up the 20 year old Procter-Silex simple coffee maker to stash in a cubby until need again as a backup coffee maker.

Simplicity not only has it own charms, it can save you time, effort and money.  Now I have a coffee maker with no hot/heating plate,  a thermal insulated carafe that will keep stuff hot without using electricity.  Perhaps the electrical savings is small but it’s money in my pocket and not in the electric company.  I don’t have to worry about the coffee pot being “on” and perhaps creating a fire hazard.   I will have to twist the lid of the carafe to pour a cup of coffee.  THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!  : )

It has been brutal to watch Mom struggle with her back injury. Mom is no wimp and she looked so devastated at the prospect of just getting her basic shopping done it just wrenched my heart!  So I played driver and got her to the shopping areas she needed to hit, and I got some items I have been going without so it all even out.  I’m going to try and give Mom at least one day a week to get jobs done around her place.  Getting the wood off  the dually, stacked and covered should be doable this weekend.  I bought Mom a little digital camera and a mouse as her mouse was acting a wonky.   The mouse probably needs a good cleaning and I can handle that job.  The replacement mouse just makes her life a little easier.

Speaking for my jobs around my house.  The wood pile in the alley can wait to be moved as it mostly cleared for any city services or blocking the alley.  I can help Mom unload the wood out of her truck this weekend.


I filled the last wood rack with Doug fir!

May 26, 2019

The last rack is filled with wood and covered with tarps.  It has been very rainy in my area so getting the fire wood covered and drying this summer is critical.  I’m finishing up the last small pile of Doug fir I’m stacking on the concrete walk way between the wood racks.  This wood I’ll add to the porch fire wood rack first to burn and start cutting into kindling this summer to fill the new kindling box.  It is tempting just to chuck the last of the firewood into the open section between the wood racks but I have done that before and found the stack wood dried better plus it is easier to gather stacked fire wood when the weather gets cold and blustery.  I was a discouraged for a time moving the wood Sunday but after that pile wood was stacked the remaining pile of wood went much faster as I was only walking about 16 -24 feet with each arm load of wood.

My wood racks are 8 ft. x 4 ft. by about 18 inches deep so they only hold about a “face” cord rather than a true cord of wood.  I can stack wood between my wood racks on a concrete base over 24 feet long, I’ll stack the remaining fire wood so I know I’m getting delivered about a cord “128 sq.feet” of fire wood.  There will always be a few gaps when stacking wood, but if you come out with 128 sq. feet of wood you have a “cord”of fire wood.  If you use tarps to protect your wood I’d recommend buying tarps at least 10 ft x 12 ft. long.  With 8 foot long tarps you don’t have any overhang to cover the fire wood racks.

The wood under the carport is a jumble right now but with the wood Mom hauled away I have room to work stacking the remaining fire wood.  Most of this wood is cut to length for a wood stove but will need to be split to work in my wood stove.  Mom filled her truck with the smaller/split wood to fill her truck as well as fit her little wood stove.  I am okay with that as I have more tools to cut and split wood plus my wood stove has a larger firebox.  I’m still digging around this wood pile but it looks like we got some elm, white maple along with a mix of fruit wood, pine and some poplar.  Mow I’m no expert on fire wood but in the last couple of years I hope I have gotten a bit better at identifying wood.  I’m not a big fan of elm but I love white maple.  Fruit woods like apple and cherry burn clean, hot and long but are almost impossible to split with an axe. I’ll be doing a lot of cutting with my little chainsaws getting some of the wood into usable sizes.

I got a 3 pound splitting maul that should help split and stack the wood under the carport.  I have to sharpen all of axes and mauls, but I have all of the tools to cut and split all of my fire wood.  I think I will get another 2 cords of poplar around August or September.  I know many people poo-poo pine, fir or using poplar as firewood.  I really like poplar as a fire wood.  Poplar burns clean, is easy to start and burns about as long as Doug fir and poplar cheaper about $100.00 per cord than Doug fir, from my supplier. It seems that poplar has a straight grain though many knots/ branches in that tree.  The little 3 pound maul cut trough a small bit of poplar easily even using a dull edge maul.

Stay away from using a Star type maul unless you are using a hydraulic or powered wood splitter. If you are splitting wood using muscle power a simple wedge type maul will take less effort to split wood. I suspect I’ll be using my 3 pound splitting wedge to start on the wood and then use my 3 pound sledge to drive the maul through the chunk of wood. It will be slow,  but it is what I can handle with my physical limitations.  I bet there are a lot of people that have the stamina to swing a 3 pound sledge for several hours, that would be worn out swing an 8-12 splitting maul for an hour or 2 especially if they never split fire wood in their life.

I just want split fire wood ready to burn for winter.  If I work 20 minutes a couple time per day every other day for the next 5 months and I have my fire wood ready to burn by October.  I’m good to go this winter.  If I could do the same job in two weeks in June it would not change the fact that the wood is ready to burn in October.

I’m a little peeved I got a nasty gram from the city about weeds in my alley area when we have had almost daily rain and they demand I kill the weeds that no one in Idaho has every proven capable of killing.  It is annoying as I have added a lot of rock and mulch to add drainage and I’m trying to build the soil that won’t give weeds good growing area.  I don’t use weedkiller/Roundup because I’m trying to build up the soil to support good plants.  Building soil takes time, even years and my weeds are not that bad plus weeds can be good as the hold bad soil in place.  I hate cheat grass and goat heads but until you improve the soil and replace the bad plants, the weed problem will remain a problem.  All the city of Nampa is the weeds are not tall of unsightly.  Making good soil or growing healthy plants is far down on the list.

Sorry for the rant, I got some mossy rose/portaluca to add to my alley way garden bed.  I have a bit of good dirt and the sun chokes are doing okay coming back.  I’m a bit pissed about the edicts from the City of Nampa but I’m still trying to make the alley way garden the best it can be as a healthy garden.

 


Plants are going into beds. Huzzah!

May 18, 2019

I think I suffered a bit of a CIDP flare this last week and did not get much done as I felt less than chipper, during the good outside working days last week.  I was able to run my errands and get a bit of shopping done but until today I was down, and in recovery mode.

I did get a lot of great buys via Fred Meyer’s Founder’s sale this week as  Pet-it Sirloin steaks are $2.69 per pound and 70/30 Hamburger is only $1.79 per pound.  With all the flooding in the midwest and the crazy trade war talk, Stocking up on beef/meats  is one of my missions this spring.  Getting the freezer full is high on my to do list this spring.

We got snow in the mountains around the Treasure Valley and the weather went from 85 degrees F. for a high to 55 degrees for a high in less than 24 hours.  Saturday the 18th was about the only dry day to get much work done in the garden or on the yard.  I finished mowing the front lawn about 9:15 pm while my solar lights were on.  Thankfully my electric mower is somewhat quiet and I did not disturb anyone partying on a Saturday night.  I normally would not mow so late but this is the last dry day for the next 7-10 days.  May tends to be a “wonky” weather month around here,  as I have seen 100 degree days as well as snow in the valley as late as May 18th.

I did get one of my garden beds full.  I added two types of romaine lettuce and Napa Cabbage starter plants to my “Cole crop” raised bed.  The broccoli and cauliflower plants that have been under the Agri-born frost cloth are growing very slowly and may need a little more sun though the onions seem to be to be doing well  for “scallion” type growth.  The Agri- born cloth seems to inhibit sunlight a bit more than I anticipated so I have cut the cloth in the middle to allow more mid-day sunlight to hit the crops in the raised beds.  One of my biggest problems with my past gardens is crops bolting, if the Agri-born cloth helps mitigate that issue I will be extremely happy.

I finally figured out what to grow in the former tomitillo raised bed.  I’m going with melons and flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums.  I want to play around with natural bug control and edible flowers/landscape plants.  Plus I’m growing a very  different plant/rotating the crops so that should help mitigate any bug or soil problems.  While I want to go vertical via trellis with the small melons,  this bed has the most area for plants that tend to spread out.

Great news my blue potato buckets have a few plants are starting to come up and put on some greenery.  I was about to give up on those plants but that is the best thing about using big planter buckets/pots as you can try new stuff and give the plants time to grow or fail, without affecting your main garden.  City gardeners like myself that use raised beds or containers always seem to find others that want to know how plant experiments work out.  It’s not snark when some people have great success or another person has a less successful growing of a plant.  It is about finding what worked, and did not work for each individual garden.

Last but not least I had some quail wander through my backyard and it was wonderful watching those little birds check out the backyard.  I’d love to expand my backyard into an urban wildlife habitat. Yeah, some critters are annoying, but there are many bonuses to having wild critters around to eat insects and such.  Never discount a potential protein source in your preps.


Mom got her tomato plants

April 22, 2019

I’m learning when you get “pony pak” vegetable need to go in the garden beds or transplanted into larger pots within a day or two of purchase because the plants get root bound quickly in those small pots.  It was amazing to see how much the Sun Globe cherry tomatoes perk up after moving them into 3 inch pots. I’m going to have to invest in getting some of those small 3-4 inch small pots for succession and starting plants for a fall crop.  I did not consider how I would plant crops in the Future green house.  I’m going to need a lot intermediate size pots and many large pots to grow plants nearly year round.  Yard sale season is starting so I’ll keep my eyes open to getting pots for the green house plants.

I’m holding off planting any Brussels sprouts as we are already seeing 70 degrees F. this week and I’m afraid I’ll grow a huge plant that will have no actual sprouts to harvest.  The broccoli and cauliflower plants seem to be suffering from transplant shock but I hope they will recover as the frost cloth provides a little protection from the sun and the plants are getting watered in the garden beds.  I’ve never used a Frost Cloth cover before so this is a learning experience for me.  My hope is the white cloth will reflect some of the heat away from those cole crops and help keep the plants from bolting in the garden bed.  I bought more seeds so I’ll do starts of those cole crops in late summer indoors and try for a fall harvest this year.

I started de-thatching and adding grass seed plus compost to the front yard grass area.  I got about of 1/4th of the front grass area done as de thatching by muscle power is a challenge for me.  I reseeded grass with a drought tolerant fescue grass seed mix then added compost and water.  The compost areas sort of stand out in the formally bare patches of grass but whether is the dark color compost or adding water that area of the yard is looking a bit better/greener already.  The backyard grass area has some new grass sprouting up and I’m hoping the grass will fill in that area.  I have not had to fight many weeds in the back yard area so I know good soil does help stop bad weeds.

I was darn happy to see one of the strawberry plants in the front yard kiddie pool bed has a couple of little flowers after the massive weed clean out and adding new soil I did last week.  If I remember correctly this Strawberry plant is an Ozark and while all the plants are greening up I was surprised to see flowers so quickly after the plants being manhandled so recently.  I have some critters digging into this bed (squirrels) but I have a home made hot pepper spray mix I’ll spray on the straw mulch in the bed.  I used a Tabasco pepper spray mix a few years ago to discourage squirrels a few years ago that was effective keeping those critters from chewing on my wood eaves and setting up nests in my attic.  The hanging bird feeder hooks have worked great.  The birds are messy eaters and squirrels have been happy to feed on the seed that falls to the ground.  Unlike many people I like watching squirrels even though they can be a little annoying at times.  A little spray bottle of home made pepper spray tends to make the squirrels go to the area I prefer in my yard.  Especially if the squirrel can find an easy meal there.  It is funny to watch a squirrel  reach for a suet cake that is at least 3-4 feet beyond his reach.

I’m often surprised by what people consider “good animals” and repelling the “bad animals”.  I think the brown little sparrows and larks are great bird watching.  Oh, the birds don’t have showy plumage but they are a study in and of themselves as “survivalists”. Squirrels are much the same as being survivalists.  I don’t mind animals that are opportunistic for a free/good meal.  I do the same thing when trying to survive  winter!   I’d shoot coyotes around the ranch that killed a calf.  I did not blame the coyote for trying to eat the calf but the cow calf was needed for me to eat in the future.   We were fellow Apex predators competing for food.  Even if you are a vegan you compete for food with other Herbivores like birds, deer and squirrels.  Trust me a deer, few rabbits, gophers, moles and voles can reek havoc on a garden.

I like wild life in the city and in my yard.  That is why I use a little pepper spray to encourage some critters to go elsewhere to feed.  But I would have no problem shooting an animal feeding on my garden nor a predator hunting my dogs and cat.  Thankfully this not a problem I need to deal with very often.


Feeling good today

December 11, 2018

I had a very good day today!  I got an 18 gallon bucket full of kindling today. I feel it was via improving stamina and working more efficiently.  I’m getting a lot better at picking straight grain chunks of wood for my kindling.  The axe is great for splitting wood into smaller chunks and then using the hatchet to make the actual kindling.  I’m trying to be conservative in my estimate on how much kindling I need to stock up on but I’m feeling very positive about how much kindling I have cut and how long it will last this winter.

Mom says she has plenty of kindling and fire starters. I have found that using a page of news print under the egg carton fire starter as the 1st layer of fire starter and then add kindling, I can start a fire in less than two minutes.  Overall I’m very happy that I could help out Mom with giving her a little kindling and fire starters.  I’m not sure how long the wood in my racks will last during winter and I want to buy  more wood because I want to over prepare for heating over winter.

I still think a Depression/inflation is coming and we have been given a long time to prepare.  That long time to prepare was what I wished for myself.  Trust me I thought the crash would come in 2011 but the power of mass delusion kept the stock market /globalism working.

I can do few jobs around the house but I can’t go and cut wood in the forest.  Hell I’m doing good if I can cut kindling for 30-45 minutes in a day.  How much can people do to prep when they work 40 + per week and try growing a garden or stacking wood just to stay warm or preserve food?  No, I don’t want US government help. I just want everyone to have the option of growing a garden or putting up a greenhouse if they want to grow a few veggies.


More chopping wood and snow in the forecast.

December 9, 2018

The last couple of days went great cutting up kindling.  I spent the first day using the 3.5 pound axe to split wood into smaller chunks.  Then I filled up my box of kindling using the hatchet.  Today I still had many of the smaller chunks of wood, so I cut it into kindling for Mom.  I didn’t fill the big 18 gallon bucket with kindling but I got the bucket about 1/2 full.  Mom is going to stop by Tuesday this week so I have at least a day to get the rest of the big bucket filled with kindling.  My hope is that my kindling box will hold enough kindling to last about a week and the big bucket of kindling will last Mom about two weeks.  With the fire starters and  a couple of weeks of kindling Mom should have time to heal up before she needs to worry about how she will start a fire.

Great news for making my fire starters.  Mom has a bunch of old candles she found in her stuff and will donate to the fire starter wax fund. I have a few more egg crates and plenty of wood chips so paraffin wax is what I need to make fire starters.  I figure about 10 egg cartons worth of fire starters will start a fire everyday for 4 months should cover most of the wood heating season from mid November to mid March.  Of course your wood heating season may start earlier or last longer but there is using paper or other fire starters when you want just a small fire to take the chill off the house in the late fall or spring.

Snow is in the forecast and I don’t really mind driving in the snow. I know to slow down, leave a lot of room for braking and sliding on slick roads.  I try and find a safe place and brake hard to make my mini-van slide to test my traction level.  (Empty parking lots are a great place to test your traction, braking and learning to recover from a slide!) My problem is all the other idiots that don’t know how to drive in snow or ice and assume either 4WD, AWD or anti-locks brakes make skidding or sliding impossible.

Any hoo the best place to be when the first couple of snow falls hit, is at home and let the idiots get all the stupid/ignorant driving out of their system.  I stopped by the the grocery store and picked up some tissue paper on sale as I need to replace my stockpile.  I topped off the gas tank in the mini-van with Ethanol free gas.  Great news it is finally under $3.00 a gallon in SW Idaho.  Honestly it should be closer to $2.25-2.50 per gallon given the per barrel cost of oil but the price is the price and I won’t by ethanol fuel if I can avoid it.

The porch wood rack and kindling box is full. I found one of my “kennel” wood rack is full of last year’s maple and cherry wood logs all dry, seasoned and ready to burn over night.  I may give Mom some of the Poplar and see how she likes it compared to the lodgepole pine she bought for her wood pile.  Don’t get me wrong I think Doug fir is one of the best fire woods you can get here in the west.  I also think it would be best to have a hardwood like fruit woods that grow great here in the west. Oak, maple and hickory don’t grow well in the local climate.

I’m starting to get how to use the wood stove since the installations of new windows and siding and losing Mom as the early morning fire starter/wood stoker.  The house really holds heat much better compared to before the new window and siding installation.  I knew my old windows leaked air badly in spite of my caulk/silicon fixes.  Depending on the type of wood I burn the fire will last about 6 hours with the pine.  I wake up to the main part of the house in the low 70’s and the back part of the house in the mid 60’s.  These temps are very comfortable to me though I don’t get a long overnight burn in the wood stove.  With the kindling and fire starters I can get a new fire in the wood stove easily.  If you want to save energy costs and be warm in winter and cool in summer.  You own an older home like I do. I think you should insulate, get energy efficient windows  before you consider any sort of Green Energy solutions.  It is not a sexy solution you will see everyday but you will see it every month in your energy cost.