Shopping today and snow!

December 17, 2015

Woohoo!  shopping at Harbor freight today and I had coupons for several good deals on stuff for the house.

With the first good snow coming in I added a 24 pack of AA batteries and a 6 pack of D batteries for all the flashlights and the Ds work in my shower water pump and the smokeless ashtrays.  I really like the new LED type flashlights,  even most of the cheaper ones have a great battery life. The big hand held spot light is great as it has it’s own battery and can be charge via house current of via 12 volt cigarette lighter.  I filled up two of the railroad type safety lanterns and both of them leaked oil, not good! So the lanterns are empty and in the shop to have the wicks and glass globes parted out. I have two large hurricane lamp, several windup and battery powered lanterns along with mirrors to help augment the light. Once you add in Mom’s candle gardens, I can say the lighting is still in good shape after losing the use of those two lanterns.

I got a couple of the small ammo boxes at Harbor Freight. These boxes are a good size for grabbing a couple to go to the range or plinking. You could use these boxes for storing ammo in several locations/cashes. I have not tested the boxes for water proofing but they do seem to have a good lid to box fit and the box has a spot for a padlock.  The real nice buy I got was on a 4 tool boxes for just $20.00. The largest box is huge at 22 inches long by 11 inches wide and deep. The next box is 20 inches by 8 inches wide and 9 inches deep. I want to make one of the larger size tool boxes, a shooting range box for my pistols. It would be nice to have all my range stuff in on easy to handle box rather than have to make several trips or try and juggle my shooting supplies. With the three leftover boxes I can finally get all of my small hand tools organized so I can find them without a lot of searching.

I got a couple of the solar yard light string/tubes to test out for the front yard.  I want to add these lights along the handrails of the front porch and if the are long enough to add a light border to some of the sidewalk.  I want lighting for security as well as some that adds a little curb appeal to the house. I don’t want to add to my electric bill so all outdoor lighting must be solar powered!  Actually any additional items that need electrical power I am going solar or some other renewable/off-grid power source.

Shopping at the local True Value store I got a small wireless weather station for only $20.00. It has a very nice setup for tracking temperatures and  humidity though it is lacking a barometer for measuring pressure.  I like it, as I can sit at the computer desk and get both indoor and outdoor temps and humidity levels.  My analog type thermometers tend to vary a lot because one is in shade and one is out in the south facing sun.  I don’t have a wind gauge but I have a couple of pinwheels in the yard and they give me a good idea on the wind and direction.  I picked up a small utility knife that uses plain safety razor blades and is lockable at several angles.  After several box cutter type blades this utility blade is a joy to add to my tool box.  Plus safety razor blades tend to be a lot less expensive to buy compared to most box cutter blades.

Snowed most of the day but it looks like we will only get a few inches.  I put salt on the front side walk last night and it did a good job of melting the snow until the afternoon. I like putting down a layer of salt before any winter snow as it makes shoveling the snow off the sidewalks much easier.  We tried out the “pet safe” salt on the backyard sidewalk. The pet safe salt did not do as well as the regular sno-melt salt but I think overall it was a good trade off between safety for the animals and a safe walkway.  Both Mom and I cleared the sidewalks but her metal shovel seem to skim off the snow leaving a layer behind and my plastic shovel did a better job clearing the sidewalks. Mom thinks it might have been the loose nut operating the metal shovel, but I think it might be the difference of how metal and plastic conduct cold. It might be best to have a couple of different types of snow shovels.  A lightweight plastic shovel for moisture heavy, but warm snowfalls and a solid metal snow shovel that can stand up to dry snow fall and chip away at any ice build up.  This is the first year I have used a plastic snow shovel but the difference in results seem significant to me.

I have a bit more food shopping left to do as Albertsons has a good sale on chicken thighs and legs for $.88 per pound and Fred Meyers has a New York roast for $4.99 per pound that I’d like to add one roast to the freezer. This a great time to stock up on those loss-leaders in the mega-marts especially if you can hold back a little cash to take advantage of sales.

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Snow incoming next week?

November 15, 2015

Saturday was a very nice day for getting chores done.  I got the front yard mowed and picked up most of the leaves with my mower. I dumped the mower bag in the front yard beds as plant protection plus add some “greens and browns” that I hope will break down over the winter and will add good stuff back into the soil. The white “flowering kale” is still doing great, the purple kale is doing okay but it did not put on new growth like the white kale this fall. My little front yard garlic bed has put up new shoots through the straw, so I think the garlic will be okay for next year even though I was a bit late getting the garlic in the ground this fall.

I topped off the wood rick on the front porch using the garden cart and we have plenty of mill end bucket ready to burn. I still feel a bit vulnerable about my dependence on others for wood.  I can’t change anything about my disability and I am somewhat dependent on others for my basic needs. If you are disabled or an oldster and can’t work 8-12 hours a day all you can do is stock up and try to get things correct for bugging in.  I have planned for a bug out, but I know my odds for survival will be very low.

The black walnut tree is done shedding leaves in the back yard. I put the last batch of “killer” leaf mulch down in the alley. A flat 4-6 inch layer of the black walnut “killer” mulch stays in place through 20-30 mph winds and the mulch looks okay when it spread in flat deep layer.  I don’t think the city will send me a nasty-gram about my pile of leaves. My goal this winter is to augment the soil for growing stuff in the raised beds.  Use natural methods to kill off weeds and add plants that augment the soil or thrive in poor soil of the alley way garden. I’m still working on types of crops to plant that thrive in the many micro-climates in my yard and start growing up/vertical rather than the traditional way of growing a garden.

I did a test of “Gorilla Glue” and so far it looks like a good replacement for super glue. I repaired a pepper mill and I like that Gorilla Glue does not set quite as fast as super glue, holds great and clean up is a bit easier compared to super glue.  I think super glue is great, but most tubes only give you one application and then the super glue clogs up and you have no other use for the tube of glue. The Gorilla glue sets slower and even if the small applicator clogs you can still use glue stuff by removing the “cap/applicator”tip.  I bought a small package of 4 tubes of Gorilla glue that came with applicator tips for each tube for $6.99. I’m pleased with the purchase as even if the applicator clogs the tube of glue still flows.

I am thrilled with my new payment system and building up an emergency fund. I even added a little bit more silver to my small stash this month. I have used my food storage when I got blindsided on a large vet bill to free up money to pay the bill without going into debt. Now that I have most of my basic needs covered in an emergency, I have stored some cash for a small emergency. I was a bit slow on on the storing cash idea but having emergency cash on hand is almost as important as having food and water stored. At this time, I should be able to buy and install an 18 inch dishwasher, a new ceiling fan in the kitchen and free up a lot of space for a real dining table and add extra storage space in the kitchen in December. My Xmas gift to myself and who could be more deserving LOL!

While I think some sort of economic collapse is coming to the USA, I am doing my best to try and insulate myself from any down sides. I think this Xmas season is going to be nasty economically as many average Americans are beyond broke and up their eyeballs in debt.  For example my “income” about $20,000  yet I got a credit limit on a credit card of $8,000. If I maxed out that card, there is no way I could pay more than the min. payment and the interest would keep me in perpetual debt. Now I will pay off the debt early and avoid the killer interest rate of nearly 26%. I can see how people become slaves to debt. The big Banksters get the near 0/.25% interest rate from the FED. Joe sixpack is doing well if he get can get a signature loan for 6-8% interest and a credit card under 20%. Plus it was not all that long ago a saver could get  5.25% interest return on savings. Now you are lucky to get 1-2% return and the banksters don’t bury you in fees so you actually lose money by saving money in a bank.

I think you are better off keeping cash at home rather than rely on the major banks “protecting” your cash.


Caulking the windows for winter and drying veggies.

October 19, 2015

My gosh, some of my windows had some big gaps and it is no wonder the house felt a bit drafty.  While caulking the windows of an older home takes some time and physical energy, I think it worth the effort.  Caulk is cheap and works great for all kinds of water/weather proofing jobs. Based on what windows Mom and I got caulked, you should be able to caulk the average size window exterior (30 in. x 36) with about a 1/3 of a large tube of caulk.  DAP brand caulk  was much easier and faster to use and get a clean “bead”, compared to the generic version caulk from Home Depot.  I recommend you spend the extra quarter per tube for DAP caulk rather than get the cheap generic caulk.   I used a cheap $2.00 caulking gun and Mom used a contractor grade gun and there did not seem to be a lot of difference in the quality of our work.

For me I got a bit better at caulking in practice and then my body got tired and I just wanted to finish the job no matter how it looked.  Cualking your windows should not be a huge job for some one that is physically capable and somewhat fit.  If you are disabled, caulking can be a bit of a challenge. Now we are looking for the correct paint color to touch up around the caulk.

True value has a great deal on some of that expanding foam $2.99 a can this week. I picked up 3 cans though I only used about half of one can filling in the bigger cracks around the house. One thing bad about the cans is they tend to clog up, I found using a bit of acetone to clean the nozzle worked very well. My hope is the can foam won’t go to waste.

A tool every prepper  needs is a good ladder you feel safe using!  While my multi-function ladder is a bit heavy compared to most ladders. I have used it cleaning out rain gutters to replacing light bulbs in my shop and I’m very pleased about the ladder’s functionality doing jobs around the house.

Dehydrating veggies: Mom got the roma tomatoes drying and I got all of the celery cleaned up and most of the leaves dying.  Home grown celery, knocks the socks off (flavor-wise) compared to any store bought celery I have used.  I dry most of the leaves and cut the celery stalks as needed through the summer. The new/old Magic Chef dehydrator is working great since we have learned it’s little bugaboos.

I know many people are afraid to try different methods of preserving food because they fear wasting food. I have screwed up on preserving many items and I have had a few little victories.  Now is the time to try new ways of preserving foods as you have the local mega-mart as backup. If you screw up and thing work less than well. Simply chock it up to learning and move ahead to the next thing.

I started out with food for two weeks goal at first, and keep slowly expanding my preps and skills. Now I spend more on tools and supplies to get repairs and maintenance jobs done around the house. Lumber is a low cost item to prep right now. Fiber/MDF panels are under $10.00 per 4 x 8 foot sheet and 8 foot 2 x4s about $2.50 each. My plan is to add a few full size panels plus have the big box store cut a couple panels same size as my windows just in case I need to do a quick window repair.

Last but not least, I’m trying to coax my cat back indoors and mouse the house.  Tucker, the peke is hell bent on chasing the cat. So far Smokey is starting to feel more comfortable and moving around the house at night, now that Tucker is restrained by the baby gate blocking off part of the house.  Between closing up holes in the exterior walls and getting Smokey the Cat patrolling the house, we can get rid of the the mice we have seen around the house.  I did catch one mouse using the sticky mouse trap.

 

 


Fall cleanup is happening this week!

October 6, 2015

I got things organized in the shop and found the wood base of my work bench. I got the garden tool organizer( Lowes $13.00) built, filled with my garden tools and I love it.  I doubt I’m the only person that stacked garden tools in a handy corner of the garage or shop. Speaking for myself, I often get pummeled by tools trying to get the tool  I want, plus the “wanted tool” is always at the back of the pile.  While I can only speak for myself,  searching for tools or fighting them when the tools go into “avalanche mode”  is  a mild pain in the butt.  I think it is critical to reduce all stressors now before any disaster hits. During this cleanup I found my small garden shears, but Mom’s trowel is still MIA.

I hauled four loads of the free rock/gravel to my driveway area, donated to me by one of the neighbors. First lesson learned, is I love my new square, long handle shovel for loading up rock. I noticed when Mom and I were loading up the rock that I moved more rock with my small shovel compared to mom’s big scoop type shovel.  Second lesson learned, make sure the tires of your wheel barrow or garden wagon are aired up before you start hauling rock or any heavy load! Mom and I want to add a real air compressor to our tools but you can get a small electric compressor for about $20.00 used and they are great for keeping all tires aired up.  That saves gas on your automobiles and physical effort using your garden haulers like wheel barrows or wagon.  I don’t want to be greedy but the neighbors will let me haul off  more of their excess rock so I can fill in in front of my little RV or add the rock to the alleyway garden to kill out the weeds.

I took Pam’s advice and added a few concrete pavers on top of the tarp/roof over the wood shed and added a few rocks and pavers at the bottom of the tarp to keep the wind from getting under the tarp and trying to carry it away. With one more cord of wood delivered this week I’m feeling confident about my winter heat plan.  I would recommend getting the Igloo insulated drink  5  gallon jugs on sale  this time of year and you add them to your water storage plan. These jugs will hold hot water for 18-24 hours can be filled at the last minute with hot water via the tub/shower for any minor/local disasters and they are a real physical energy saver if your water is cutoff for any reason.

I got my patio cleaned and organized. That is not a big deal for most people that do not cook a summer’s worth of dinners on the grill.  Or just added a new smoker. I used the leaf blower  and made quick work cleaning off all leaves, spider webs and dirt  and lots of dust on the patio.  I used two 15 gallon propane tanks should last via cooking one meal per day for about 65-75 meals this summer.  Now this a meal planning number and not set in stone. I mostly grilled over propane and did not use a lot of charcoal this summer.  If you plan to cook on a grill or propane gas cook stove as a backup cooking system I would plan to use at least one 15 pound propane for cooking one meal a day per 30 days in good weather. If you want to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner on your propane gas grill the 15 pound fuel tank will last about 10 days,  depending on your choice of meals.  I feel using grill cooking dinners this summer cooking  was a good test. Hopefully you will get some idea about how much propane you will need on hand  for 30 days worth of meals. Remember how I prep is not the same as how you prep. You might be concerned about food smells if you cook outdoors and a small Butane hot plate you use indoors might be your “cooking “solution.

I cooked my first meal in the Romertopf and it turned out pretty good. Mom had seconds on the chicken and saved the sauce for Chicken and dumplings later this week. I used Progresso recipe starter Garlic sauce, and I tossed in a can of mixed veggies and mushrooms. I thought it turned out okay and Mom really liked it. The romertopf chicken recipe recommend adding few bacon strips for flavor and I think that would have made the meal  pop!

 


Gosh I love people that are prepared!

August 17, 2015

There is a big fast moving fire in SW Idaho and while we got a lot of smoke here at Casa de Chaos, we are safe so far. I called S. Lynn to let her know we have a spot for her critters and family, right now she and her homestead are okay (no evacuation orders) she is  some distance from the fire plus the Snake River should act as a fire break.  S. Lynn told me she has the vehicle pre-packed with all important documents.  All she needs to load is all the critters  and have a place to land if the fire gets to close.  I am not worried about her because she is prepared and has a place to land if the fire starts getting close to her place. It was funny that she was more worried about the new fence rather than the house getting burnt down.

I can’t think of a major disaster that might happen in my area that would require me bugging out more than about 10 miles from the rail yards (chemical spill/explosions via a derailment). Most of the disaster that could happen are things like snow/wind storms that are more “bug in” type events rather than a bugout scenario such as a major earthquake, hurricane or your town is in the path of a tornado. I still have a bugout kits for myself and my vehicle that I can load quickly just in case I need to GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) quickly.

You need to take in consideration your health and fitness level when bugging out. I still tend to think of myself as that “buff army chick that could ruck for 25 miles”. But, I’m almost 50 years old and disabled. I can walk about 3-5 miles with a walker in the morning and do about 1-2 hours physical work after my nap in the afternoon on a “good day”!  Everyone has limitations so you just do the best you can to mitigate any weakness and push hard on making the most of your positive attributes.

Most disasters tend to be short-term and local or regional. So your Bugout/Bug in plans should work if you get some time to implement it.  You just may or may not get all that much warning for your local disaster.  I don’t think all cities are “death traps” though many metro areas have weak points as far as survival. While I don’t think survival in a major Metro are will be easy. I don’t think going rural will all that easy either. I think the best option is have a city person with a bit of land for a quick landing in the event of a rural disaster and have a rural spot to land if cities get all crazy. I’m not saying a person doesn’t need a spot to land that is a a couple of hundred miles away. Just that having a bug out spot 5-20 miles away with friends or relatives is a good place to start!

The great thing about prepping to become self-reliant is your basic short term preparations feed into your long term goal of becoming self reliant. One of the most common disasters people face is a house fire. Grabbing your BOB and leaving your house works the same for a house fire or if a nasty riot happens on your street with cars burning!  A rain barrel that you use to water your plants can also be used as a backup water supply.


Another hot week coming up, tested the garlic and learning to embrace failure

August 10, 2015

It looks like 100 degree + temps this week and then a nice cool down into the 80’s-90’s next week along with cool evenings around 55 degrees F. that will help cool down the house over night.  I have never seen a weather forecast for “Gradient Winds” before and while I looked up the definition I don’t understand how they might affect me.  If any one out there has some experience with this sort of wind I would appreciate any comments about how I should prepare for them compared to straight wind storm of 60 mph or gusty winds in the 45 mph range.

I tried some of the garlic with dinner tonight in a saute with onions and swiss chard and while the aroma was powerful, the taste was quite mild and did not overwhelm the greens. Sorry I did not write down the name of the garlic but I will get a name when I buy garlic this fall for planting.  I read through Mom’s Sunset cookbook of garden vegetables and I got some great ideas for meals. I really like how the book covers charcoal grilling veggies and storing both short and long term.  I’m learning a lot of new ways to cook veggies that are tasty and use alternative cooking methods besides my electric stove.  I’m becoming a big fan of summer squash and greens like chard that hold up well to cooking with direct heat and going savory with the squash rather than sweet.  I know the that trying new ways of cooking can be scary because you are afraid of wasting food if you don’t like the results.  But I think you should learn new ways of cooking food now when you can replace the food, rather than try and cook in new ways in a disaster.  Any mistakes can be counted as the “tuition” of learning new ways to cook and bake.  Now is the best time to learn and practice new things!

Failure is a good thing, as you tend to learn more from your failures rather than your successes.  Here in the USA we seemed to value “not screwing up” and maintaining the status quo more than we value innovation.  To paraphrase a military axiom “He who will not risk, can not win”. Trust me you will have failures and some of those failures will be happen because of things you can not control.  Some of those failures will be on you because you just simply screwed up or you are still learning. None of those things are not what I consider failures but they are teachable moments.  Sometimes the best lessons learned is learning what not to do in any given situation. For example I have been baking bread for years and occationally I will make a lousy loaf of bread. It happens to everyone and you try and define what went wrong and go on with your life. Failure it not a big deal if you are willing to learn from it.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, and most of it is small stuff.

 

 

 


Been busy around Casa de Chaos

June 6, 2015

Mom’s divorce thingy has been moved out to mid-July which sort of sucks. Though it seems that the settelment is getting a little closer to locking in.  It looks like both parties will end up pissed off, but I suppose that is very common in a divorce.  It makes it tough on Mom as she wants to get her own place and have her own stuff around her. She can’t do that as all my extra space is filled up and all we can do is add some smaller items she will need here and there.

Neighbor N and L got started cleaning their front yard to sort of help Don & Sarah sell the home. I walked over a set of very good “loppers” and we filled their little truck with branches from their maple tree.  I got my front lawn mowed and most of the weeds pulled in the front yard rose beds. I trimmed my big elm tree a bit and swept in the front sidewalk and curb in front of my house so my place is looking better overall.  I still need to add the plastic border around the mulched rose beds and my holly bushes but overall the front yard looks good. My golden raspberry and black berry bush are doing very good this year. In fact I think the golden raspberry bush has added nearly four inches of new growth since Mom hit it with a little Miracle-gro and I moved the plant to the front yard.  The blackberry is growing a little slower but it is green and vibrant and seems to be bushing out horizontally rather than going vertical.  I was able to add two of the cracked glass globe solar lights to my front yard.  I think they look great and I will add a more when they go on sale again.  While I can’t say it is a conspiracy, most on the block working to make yards look good this summer and if it helps Don & Sarah sell their home so much the better. I hope I’m not going into “Gladys Kravitz” mode, I was stunned by how many people stopped by Don and Sara’s home last weekend.  About 30 people  stopped and checked out the house, and I think the crazy green and yellow paint job really makes the house stand out. I would not be surprised if they get a few offers at their asking price soon.

In my back yard I added six of the cracked glass globe solar lights. These lights have the option of a white light or a changing color light and I like the changing color mode the best.  I got the backyard raked, cleaning up dog and chicken poo along with some leaves and little green apples.  The chickens seem to be doing a good job of working the back yard and keeping the grass sort of trimmed up.   While I never thought of chickens as a natural lawn mower. They do seem to keep down grass growth without taking the grass to bare ground. At this time Mom lets the bird free range for 1-2 hours per day but the neighborhood has a couple of other homes with chicken that seem to free range longer and their lawns look great and they can keep the lawn looking great with just a weed wacker or a small lawn mower.

Speaking of Chickens the bird flu has a mutation and has shown up in Idaho along with a few other states in the west. I don’t think average homesteaders or urban chicken farmers needs to panic. I do think if you eat chicken or want a turkey for Holiday meals you should stock up now while the prices are low.  I know that paying $1.59-$1.89 per pound for turkey sounds crazy but I expect that may seem cheap in a few months.  I bought a small 14 pound turkey for $1.59 per pound and stashed in the freezer. Gosh I hope I am wrong about poultry prices and this avian flu thing. Perhaps the cost will drop in the future and your “dollar cost averaging” will make up the difference. Pork and beef prices are dropping now so getting a Ham or Prime rib is a more affordable now. I can only tell you what I think may happen and what I’m doing to mitigate the cost hit.  On Monday I will go an buy a 10 pound deli style turkey for $1.88 per pound and I consider it a good deal.  If I find chicken for a dollar a pound or turkey under $1.60 per pound I will consider it a steal!

Last but not least Diana the peke was really a hurting unit.  I got her to the vet and we tried another steroid course of treatment.  The results are almost instantaneous of how she recovered.  Even her limp in front paw is almost gone and we did not have to give her pain killers!  I’m going to ask the vet. for a backup course of steroids just in case Diana has another episode. Hopefully steroid tablets for dogs is not a drug that gets a lot of scrutiny by the government.  She is a dog with a limited life span so if she gets another 2-5 years relatively pain free I will be very very pleased. I can’t afford to put a few thousand dollars for surgery into a 12+ year old dog.  But if I can afford to buy a few drugs that make her mostly pain-free and she has a good quality of life… I’ll try and get them!  If I can’t do that I’ll have her put down.

For all you idiots that try to equivocate putting an animal down is the same as assisted suicide. Humans have reason and can think, animals are a bit more basic. Perhaps I’m a tad more sensitive to the argument as I got smashed to rock bottom but I always thought my life had value.  I would not want some bureaucratic pinhead in charge of valuing my life via some profit and loss statement.