Hoop jumping and more finishing up STUFF

August 30, 2017

My mortgage guy stopped by today and checked my paint job and recommended a couple of touch ups to the paint.  Over all he thought my job would probably work out okay with the VA Appraiser and the loan should get done after the re-appraisal.  The first coat Kill-Z is added to the bad spots and I’ll add another coat along with the touch ups for the appraiser who should show up around the first week in September.

FYI: if you are a veteran and want a cash out you will need a new appraisal.  If you are doing a straight re-fi for a lower payments, chances are you won’t need an appraisal.  Also the appraiser can not move stuff around, so it might be possible to “hide” some suspected problem areas with boards or things  laid against the sides of the house.

In a way everything is sort of working out as my “contractor” suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital over the weekend.  I got a call from him apologizing for not keeping in touch on the “potential” job.   I added a little extra cash to my loan just in case some thing goes wrong and needs some fixing.  I’m hoping not to use that money on the siding project and it will go straight into the “Emergency fund” for other projects/emergencies.

Carpets got cleaned, finally!  This was a tough job as the living room carpet was difficult.  The cleaning solution set on top of the deep pile carpet and never penetrated the fibers before the carpet cleaner pulled up the cleaning solution.  It took a little finagling but I got the soap solution on the carpet, and vacuumed up on the first try then the next day the carpet cleaner did a great job scrubbing the living room carpet.  Now on my low pile carpet the carpet cleaner did a pretty good job on the first try.  I’m glad I went to the extra effort on the carpet carpet cleaner as Mom was so peeved she wanted to chuck the machine into the trash after fighting with it on the first day.  FYI: Bissel carpet cleaner’s vacuum and spray pumps are connected and work in tandem. When pet hair gets up into the internal machine belts “slip” and can keep the machine from working.  It is a bit of a pain but always clean all hair from the beater brushes and around the spray nozzles.  Trust me it makes using a cheap carpet cleaner much easier to use the next time.

Did some shopping and have been adding to my hard liquor stock pile.  This will last a long time for me as I prefer beer for drinking but it is always  nice to have the option for a Margarita night.  I focused on whiskeys and vodka to begin with and now I want to stock up gin, rum and tequila mid-range of quality.  I figure get the booze for a “basic bar” at a reasonable price and then add in any Premium stuff as money allows.  Idaho has state liquor stores so there is no competition on price.  I don’t know what your priorities are for stocking up but hard liquor for any sort of barter should probably be bought is small quantities and for personal use in the bigger bottles.  Do not discount getting schnapps or flavored liquors as many people like a sweet flavor, especially women.  I’m not a big fan of sweet flavor alcohol but a bottle of Kahlua or peach/mint schnapps might make a good barter item.  If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody is happy!  You might also try out some cooking wines and sherries to cook with as they add lots of flavor to meals and marinades but are not so good to drink.  That will save your stockpile for barter.

I have bitched and moaned enough and have done a few things to make my life better for the future.  I need to add a few more 18 inch plywood boards and some additional Ideas but over all Mom and I are doing good though a bit stressed.  With a little luck we will clean up the garden and start on building the boardwalk.

 

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Working on loan paperwork, plumbing and a carpet cleaner

January 9, 2016

Things got off to a good start this Friday, first stop was Harbor Freight buying the green house.I was a little surprised that they only had four in stock for the sale. I am glad I got there early as I have missed out on several greenhouses “selling out” before I got to the store.  We now have two walk-in greenhouse though one of the “houses” is one of the cheap plastic over a metal frame type of greenhouse.  The two walk-in greenhouses should give us plenty of space to start plants for the garden this year. This will save us a lot of money compared to buying plant “starts” at the local farm store.

I need to add a four more heavy duty tomato/potato cages for my growing vertical experiment. These cages should also work for any garden out in the alkali/hard pan soil of Owyhee county.  Based on trying to grow stuff on Mom’s first place, it will much easier to start with raised bed gardens and then work the slow process of improving soil naturally.  One of the big reasons I need a pickup and ATV is to haul a lot of compost and mulch around any future homestead. Trying out a few hugel-culture raised beds could be a worthwhile experiment to direct water as well as add more growing spaces.

About the March time frame a 300-500 gallon cistern should be do able. I already have several rain barrels, though my water delivery system needs work.  Now theoretically a 1000-1200 square foot roof should “capture” nearly 3000 gallons of water per year based on average rainfall here in SW Idaho.  The problem is not lack of water, but getting water at the right time and having a way to store it safely until needed. Stagnant pools or ponds are a no-go because of insects breeding and West Nile virus in the area.  The only solution I see is a rain catchment system that can be closed to prevent any insect breeding. Especially since many of the properties I have looked share a well and drilling my own well would break my budget.

That is a start on the food and water problems my homestead will face. By starting small, making effective use of my city lot, I am gaining equipment and skills that will transfer to the new homestead.

I had to fix a leaking bathroom drain. I had installed a “modern” drain and plug, what was needed was old school plumbing.  I still don’t trust the concept of compression fittings, but so far so good. No leaks and I think the old fashion type drain and plug will be much easier to keep clean.

Mom’s Bissel carpet shampooer died but I was able to fix it.  The problem was the water pump stopped working, it seems the belts that move the beater bar also help pump the cleaning solution. Once we cleaned out all of the hair on the pulleys the belts attach the pump started working again.  It seems the hair allowed the belts to slip.  When things break I try and fix them. Since I can’t really break it more, I might as try to fix it. I can always throw it away if I can’t figure out how to fix it.

 


Finished up insulating the chicken shed.

December 11, 2015

I noticed some very significant drafts while installing the radiant insulating barrier.  One draft was along the bottom wall and close to the laying boxes and the other drafts were high, along where the roof/walls meet. It seems that the shed was water proof but not wind proof.  The shed seems a lot less damp feeling and drafty since we installed the radiant barrier.  My hope is the birds will be more comfortable and will lay more eggs as they are no longer fighting drafts and the shed is a snug place for the birds.  We left the high vent exposed as well as the chicken door open during daylight hours so the shed can breathe and not build up moisture.  It has been warm with lots of rain but next week it will get cold and we will have a good test on how well the radiant barrier works on keeping the chicken house warm this winter. Yes, we are that anal-retentive enough to put a thermometer and test our theories, even if we are talking about a chicken shed.

Lessons learned: It hurts a lot when you shoot a 5/16ths staple into the palm of your hand.  I encouraged bleeding , washed with soap & water for a minute and then rinsed the hand in antiseptic. I did not bandage the puncture wounds  but placed a medic type glove on so I could work and the glove would contain most excess bleeding.  I need to get a tetanus shot from the VA.  The pain relief salve did great relieving pain as well as most of the swelling from the staple. Being smart on how to treat small wounds should be a big deal for most preppers and survivalist types.  I was a bit surprised that after stapling in the middle of my palm, my middle finger from the 1st to 2nd knuckle got swollen and very sore, though not the palm.  I must have caught a nerve or tendon with the staple.  I’m fine now and finger is working good enough to cut up 5 buckets of mill ends and the last of the panels for the chicken house.

Having a good working staple gun makes installing any roll or bat insulation very quick.  Mom and I worked about 7-8 hours over 2 days on installing the radiant insulation and putting up underlayment  board.  Insulating a shed over a weekend should be doable for most people. Total cost around $200.00 we have left over radiant barrier and two new staple guns purchased, that can be used for other project.

I have learned a lot about adding insulation/ foam and caulk by just doing these jobs. The chicken house is the first time I did insulating and adding panels from start to finish.   The chickens haven’t complained about the the “house” walls having a bit of a rough finish, but I have learned the value of using molding and caulk to give a nice clean finish. I can’t say we are close to the professional type contractors but overall I think we are doing a good on most simple jobs.

Albertson’s is having a great sale on snacks. 16 oz. Planters peanuts $1.49.  I know that peanut butter is one of the prepper shelf stable proteins.  I don’t care for the taste commercial peanut butter. I love salted peanuts as a quick snack or to add flavor to meals and deserts.  This a great time to add snack cracker, popcorn, chocolate, hard candies and nuts to your stock pile. I know I really missed having those snacks when I lived off my pantry foods.  I like to store snacks in metal popcorn tins with just a dusting of DE in the bottom to keep the snacks fresh.

I think for December all we have left is putting up/replacing the tape and plastic on the house windows. I want to add a few Xmas lights to the house to feel a bit festive.

Oh my gosh!  We found a house for Mom!  Just under a .25 of an acre on the edge of Nampa and shelves that would make any prepper drool. It has a city hook up for water and sewer, plus a  working well and septic tank.  It would need a wood stove but otherwise it is a prepper’s dream home.  Darn it, Mom has another divorce court date  in March of next year and she can’t do anything until the Divorce is settled. The house is $104 grand and she must have at least 20% down, to have equity and not pay mortgage insurance.  I would love for Mom to have this home and I can’t help make it happen!  Just a bit frustrated, I have gained so much by having Mom around. While at times things seem a touch difficult, mostly it is a good thing for me.  I think Mom deserves a home of her own and I will admit I’m biased.  I want Mom to have her own place, not because I want to kick her out, but because I want her happy in a home that she can do her own thing that makes her happy.  It is not easy for Mom being in one bedroom for “her” stuff and sharing other parts of my house that we can fit in. Please excuse the whine as we are fortunate in life. Just needed to work it out of my system.

 

 

 


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

November 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


Cutting up wood for the fireplace. Shopping some good and some bad

October 31, 2015

It has not been all that cold yet, but both Mom and I like using the “mill ends”/box wood for a hot, fast fire that takes the chill off in the house. I filled up the porch small wood rick/wood pile with a mix of the old and new wood. I cut down a few older chunks of wood that were a bit large for the wood stove using the electric chain saw. I replaced the old circular saw blade on the Black and Decker circular saw and it work darn good on the “mill ends” filling up the 18 gallon buckets of wood.  Your saw should cut wood without a lot of pressure applied.  If you are forcing the cut it is time to buy a new blade or sharpen the blade. I filled 2 of the 18 gallon buckets, but I’m feeling the extra effort using the circular saw compared to a table saw.

I used the electric chain saw to cut down a few over sized chunks of wood.  I filled the little wood rick/ holder to the top and then some as well as two 18 gallon buckets of cut mill ends. Mom makes the fire first in the morning.  I tend to top off the fire at night if needed. But I need to find the “sweet spot” on burning wood.

Dad gave me a great Hobart table saw from his Dad.  It is great, but I’m having a   heck of a time finding any info, about proper blade  replacement. I can’t find a model number because of age. The blade is a circular 8 1/4 inch blade but the arbor is well above the  standard5/8ths arbor. My guesstimate on the arbor is in the 3/4 or 7/8″ range.  I know it might seem another “duh” moment but a sharp blade/chainsaw is something you need on hand to make quick work of your cutting jobs.  I really want to get a good miter/table saw for cutting the box wood quickly and for my future wood building projects.

I stopped by the local Ross store to see what they have and I was a bit surprised by how they have expanded from just clothing.  I picked up a set of those little doggie steps ($10.00) that help older dogs get up on beds or a couch as they get older and less mobile. I did not find the flat sheets I wanted, but Ross did have some nice sheet and blanket sets for a good price.  I found a couple of the larger jute/rubber door mats I  I got a jute/rubber mat for the backdoor and a rubber sort of an open mesh mat that I placed over the sand area in front of the chicken gate so the area drains. Each mat cost about $7.00, which is a pretty good price. Getting the door mats should give us a place to get rid of most the leaves,  dirt and other unpleasant items without having to “deface” some of my big decorative rocks by the back door. I don’t have pics but I think one of the bigger rocks shuddered with revulsion when we used it to scrape our boots.

The $4.99 can of coffee at Fred Meyer’s was a bust as they have shrunk the cans again, this time down to 24 oz. I’m so peeved by this nonsense, as a big can of coffee used to be a full 36 oz.  I had a feeling that last month’s sale of coffee was a setup/clear out of old cans to introduce “a new and improved” smaller can of coffee.   I understand grocery stores operate with razor thin margins but this sort of pricing irks me and it feeds into the US government paradigm that there is no inflation because a can a coffee only costs $4.99 yet that can of coffee is less than 2 pounds now compared to 2.5-3 pounds back 2-4 years ago.  Yes, I am that anal-retentive that I notice how all the packaging has shrunk, then we get a “sale price” on the new and improved item and in about the month the price will hike again to the “new” normal price.

I’m starting to get ahead of the power curve on the house payment and having a bit of cash on hand. Mom has been great for motivation on saving money for the “emergency fund.  I’m buying  $10.00 rolls of 50 cent  coins as my cash savings and hoping for a silver coin year of 40-90% silver.  So far no luck on silver but saving the coins is helping me to save cash for the future.

Great news Smokey the cat is coming  out more and Tucker the peke is starting to follow verbal commands. It’s not perfect yet but things are getting better via the pets behaving.

 


Big score at the thrift shop and shopping this week’s ads

October 1, 2015

The local thrift store did not have any sheets, but I finally bought a Romertopf, terracotta casserole dish/cooker.  The Romertopf is a an unglazed terracotta cooker that sort of recreates cooking foods wrapped in clay and tossed on hot coals of a fire. It is a slow cooker that works in an oven. What is great about using a romertopf is most meals require very little oil or water to make a dish and a make and forget sort of meal that can cook slowly in an oven.  You have to heat the terracotta slowly but the energy use should be very low for the pot.

I got a Magic Chef  dehydrator and need to get busy on drying the tomatoes and other veggies.  Mom did not have much luck dehydrating tomatoes.  With the new “Magic Chef” fan driven dehydrators, drying  the harvest should work faster/ better for storage.  I am learning and sometimes that includes wasted food as I learn.  Since I grew the plants,  I don’t have a big problem with it getting “wasted” and chucked in the trash/ compost bin if I screw up on preserving it. I screw up a lot and that is how I learn.

Albertsons has some great buys this week.  I picked up some shrimp, two pound bag for $10.00 and I had a coupon for butter $1.88 per pound with a limit of 2 pounds per coupon.  I have to make a few more trips to Albertsons to stock up on butter at this price. I’m not sure of why, but wholesale butter prices are starting to spike up.  Last week,  zerohedge.com reported that butter “futures” were up to $3.10 per pound. I think that butter is a great prep item to stock up. You can freeze it, bottle/can it for longer storage. Butter is natural fat plus a little bit of butter adds a lot of flavor to meals or bake goods.  Albertsons now has the tall bic lighters 5 for $5.00. I love bic lighters and from what I have read from  Selco (Survivor of the 1993 Bosnian war) and ferfal (surviving the economic collapse in Argentina) good lighters tend to be a great barter item.  I want to stock up on the lighters just for my own use and have plenty of extras for possible barter.

My sister loaned me a super sized tarp to cover the wood pile this winter. The tarp covers the wood pile area and will give me time to buy all the materials to replace the roof properly for a long term fix. I complain about how the roof was installed but it did an okay job protecting the area from rain for almost 10 years. Once I get the new roof installed it should last for another 15-20 years.  I am looking at adding a rain gutter system to keep the water run off out of my neighbor’s yard and should  re direct water part of my alley garden I have been working on this year. I ordered one more cord of wood to be delivered next week since I’m not sure how much I will use of this new wood if the winter gets cold.   Worse thing that could happen, is I have enough wood for a cold winter. Best outcome is I have a nice stock of seasoned wood for next winter. One of the things I did not think about heating with my wood stove is how much stacked wood I need to have on hand for a cold winter because I went cheap to start with the mill ends, augmented that with buying a quarter cord “box” of fruit wood and last year my aunt gave me free elm wood that Dad cut and split but I got a literal wood pile and I did not make a good stack of wood to estimate my usage over the winter months.

I got Mom’s laptop loaded with a nice bit of anti-virus software from Comodo , updated her  email contact list and updated to Service pack 1 finally on both laptops without a glitch.  So far, I really like Windows 7 OS as it seems to work well with my old Office 2003 install. Plus the desktop is not all that different compared to Windows XP. As far as I know I can’t create my own restore point in  Windows 7 like I did in Win XP. But the Win 7 software seems to create restore points that are solid. After using the laptops for a couple of weeks I would recommend both as good buys as a laptop for prepping/survival as well as a basic PC for most people.

 


Wood delivered today!! Huzzah

September 25, 2015

I am so glad that I got the wood area cleaned up last week!  Off loading the wood and getting it stacked only took about 2 and half hours with Mom and I working.  A huge bonus, I did a lot better job stacking the wood correctly this year. Last year Dad chucked in the wood and I had to burn, then  I stack the wood as space became available. I might order another cord of wood to finish filling up the wood area since I’m not sure how this wood will burn in my fireplace.  I have never started a winter with a neatly stacked wood pile so I’m not sure how much “neatly stacked” wood I will burn over the winter.   Over all Mom and I have done most of the winter prep, though we need to caulk the windows in October and will put up plastic to seal the windows and then all winter prep will be done.

I did not have much of a “last minute shopping list” for the Government  budget shutdown as I stocked up last week via sales.  I added a few items to this week’s shopping list as I had the cash on hand and a bit more motivation to stock up on some trade goods.  I had to ration myself as I have sister on EBT and she might need a “care package” if the government shuts down. Luckily I have several types/ levels of care packages on hand. I think the PTBs will pass a CR or Continuing Resolution and we can face this again in December. Just so we know how much we need those “Congress critters” and government workers.

I don’t suggest anyone panic, as I see the point of prepping is to avoid any panic. If you prep you should be ready for not shopping for at least a couple of weeks or more.  You have nearly a week to add a few last minute items if the government shuts down and EBT cards are  not refilled October 1st.  An event that probably won’t happen in October, but some day soon I think if “SHTF”  happens and you should be ready to stay home and to protect you and yours.  I got a couple of bottle of booze today at the liquor store and I had no idea about prices, because I seldom buy liquor.  I got couple of a pints/fifths and saw the prices for stocking up on booze. Whining about the price of stuff is not helpful. Get the stuff stored and then complain about the cost of stuff!

What I recommend is you keep stacking and learning new skills as many of my readers have already built a good stockpile of the basics , before I got a clue about prepping.  If you are prone to panic, stash away any credit cards and go to cash or stack more PMs (Precious Metals).  Have cash/emergency fund on hand to pay the bills for 1-3 months at a min. Get into a local bank or Credit union for any “direct deposit”  money and keep cash on hand for any small bills or basic shopping.

I think you should protect yourself buying goods with no counter-party risk.  You will always need food, water, energy and security.  Get out of all debt other than your mortgage if you have low interest rate first and do not take an interest only ARM/ HELOC.  All credit/debt must evaluated critically if it is the right move for you.  Debt can make slaves of us all, but you can use a bit of debt to improve your economic position. By used cars for cash, don’t pay interest on credit cards and pay all bills monthly.

I bought two refurb. laptops on credit and it is so tempting to get stuff now and pay later but I can’t call the economy in 2 weeks little lone in 2 months.  I’ll pay off  debt as quickly as possible (October) and if the stars align I’ll buy a bit more on “credit if I don’t pay interest.

Overall we have a great setup going into winter.