Not to Breezy but it did get cold! Mom bought a load of wood from me. Kittens!

November 2, 2019

The wind storm wasn’t that bad and it the winds died down quickly after the early morning blow.  I had a couple of large branches come down but nothing was damaged around the house.  It did get into the low teens some where around 10-14 degrees F, a couple of nights this week.  It was a nice little cold snap that got me motivated to fill up the porch wood rack and get both Mom’s and my own kindling boxes filled up for the week of cold weather.  I had one night of a successful “banking” of the fire and one night that I smothered the fire in ash with very few coals alive in the morning.  I know the theory of how to “bank” a fire overnight.  The practice of banking the fire, needs more practice by me.  It is early in the fire wood season so I have plenty of time to perfect my “banking” the fire overnight technique.  Plus every fire I can start from coals means I use one less fire starter.

Mom bought a load of poplar wood from me.  We loaded up the Chevy one ton dually in about an hour with Mom stacking in the truck bed and me using the garden wagon to move the wood from stack to truck.  We stacked a little more than a 1/2 cord of wood up to the top of the bed and all the way to the end of the truck bed.  This is a guesstimate based on the dimensions of the truck bed, we probably loaded about 70 sq.ft. of split fire wood, or about .55 of a cord of wood.

Mom and split the cost on a load of fire wood in June. I never felt confident that Mom got her moneys worth from that load because the wood was dumped rather than stacked in my carport.  So I tried to pick out smaller chunks/rounds of that wood  pile so Mom would not have to split that wood in order to burn it.  Now I feel confident that Mom has in the two loads of wood she has bought from me, she got a true 128 square foot cord of fire wood from me.  A bonus for me is I’m getting much better at seeing how much wood is a true cord of fire wood.  Over all I think I’ve broke about even of being “played” and a few giving a cheap price for a “cord” of fire wood.  If you are in the Treasure Valley of SW Idaho Tuckers Timbers has always given me a full cord of fire wood at the price agreed.  Heck the first year I bought wood from Tucker’s in late Oct.-Nov. the told me the was still green and asked if I wanted to buy a load of wood.  This summer Tucker’s Timbers asked if I’d take a load of fire wood early as they needed to get more room for new wood.  Well I paid for half of the load of firewood and paid off the rest the next month.  That is the best example of how customers and businesses work in a symbiotic relationship.

The Kittens have figured out how to use the doggie door to the back yard.  The kittens are exploring around the yard but they seem to prefer staying indoors during cold weather.  Tege, the dark striped kitten loves climbing the fruit trees and the more adventurous kitten.  Ash tend to stay close to Tucker the peke or myself in loose sort of definition of close.  This month the kittens will be getting “fixed” and start getting the shots they need.  It’s a little iffy that the kittens will get the rabies shot as they need to be over 6 pounds to receive the rabies shot.  The kittens are eating more of the dry cat food, more of Tucker’s wet food and less of the wet cat food.  FYI: non clumping cat litter is not the thing for a cat litter box.  I’m not sure how a company can claim that clumping cat litter has more “dust” than non-clumping cat litter.  Trust me it is much easier to scoop clumping cat litter daily into a trash bag than the non-clumping litter.  Plus I tend to dump the all the non-clumping cat litter in the trash bin.  With the clumping cat litter I only dump the poo and urine clumps in the trash.  Is this a Marketing ploy?  Hell I have sandbags, I could use that sand as cat litter and it is not dusty.

The local Pet Haven will be doing my kitty’s shots and fixing.  I dropped off 2/ 20 pound bags of kitty litter and about 16 cans of wet cat food.  My cats don’t like the pate and prefer a more meat like looking product.  It is tough as an animal lover not to help animals in the day to day lives. I think that Nampa has good plan of trapping feral cats by the community and then spay/neuter those cat and inoculate the cats and then let the community release the cats as barn/outdoor cats.   Of course it is not perfect, but it will help stop feral cats over breeding and vaccinate the feral cat population against the worst spreading of disease.  It is not a perfect solution but it is a good solution.

I don’t have a good answer to so many feral cats and dogs.  I wish many of the Humane Societies did not treat puppies as a commodity and make them more expensive to adopt.  I could see paying up to $100.00 per pup for shots, Spay/neuter but if you are charging $300.00 + for adoption of a puppy you are looking for profit,  not giving a puppy a home.


It’s gonna get cold and breezy!

October 28, 2019

Winter is coming to Casa de Chaos! I was just puttering around getting wood on the porch fire wood rack.  I raked up some leaves and saw this weather warning.

IDZ012-014>016-029-030-290530- /O.NEW.KBOI.WI.Y.0013.191029T1000Z-191029T1800Z/ Lower Treasure Valley ID-Upper Treasure Valley- Southwest Highlands-Western Magic Valley-Owyhee Mountains- Southern Twin Falls County- 209 PM MDT Mon Oct 28 2019 …WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM TO NOON MDT TUESDAY… * WHAT…Northwest winds 25 to 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph. * WHERE…Portions of south central and southwest Idaho. * WHEN…From 4 AM to noon MDT Tuesday. * IMPACTS…Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Small tree limbs could be blown down. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Wind chill will be near zero Tuesday morning. Light snow is also expected with local blowing and drifting snow, slick roads, and reduced visibility. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects.

SW Idaho tends to get unpredictable weather being a convergence zone of three different wind patterns.  Warm weather coming up from SW/ California.  A Pacific wind/moisture pattern from the west that is absorbed by the Blue Mountain range in Oregon and Washington. We can get cold weather that comes out of the Arctic and travels down the West side of the Rocky Mountains. It all depends on pressure fronts and how the high Jet stream winds are blowing.  This is the biggest reason it is so hard to predict local weather in Idaho.

Normally I don’t worry to much about wind storms, as my home is well protected by the homes and trees in my neighborhood.  The last little wind storm that blew through last week had a minor affect on my home, so I got all the wood tarps tied and weighted down.  I filled up the wood rack and got some of the raked up leaves into the garbage bin rather than wait to see how the storm would blow the collected leaves around the yard. There is a feeling in the air with a storm is coming and you need to stocked up and get a little bit better prepared for a few days.  Not because the storm is all that dangerous, I just don’t want to have to get fire wood when there is 0 degree F. wind chill.  I don’t expect any problems as the wind will end early in the day and most of the snow will melt off this week.  It is always nice to have a little storm to test your basic winter preps.

It seems I have under estimated the amount of fire starters needed by myself and Mom this fall.  Both of us tend to start a fire as  needed as the days cool down, rather than keeping the fire going all day in the Fall.  Not a huge problem this early into the fire wood season.  Mom has over 45 fire starters and I have about 60 on hand so I have at least 30 days to make more fire starters.  Worse comes to worst,  we can start fires with a bit of news paper like we did before I made the fire starters.


I love/hate the seasons of Spring/Fall

October 21, 2019

I love Spring because of the days getting longer. Actually about January I notice the days getting longer but by about March I have days that I feel, like I can get some outdoor jobs done.   Given my stamina levels I work about the same couple of hour blocks.  But I feel like I can get more work during daylight hours. Now in Fall the hours are shorter but the temperature is dropping and it is a relief from those hot summer days.  So it is easier to work during the “heat” of the day.

One of the biggest reason I hate Spring and Fall is the Weather systems and pressure changes that come from all those weather changes.  I have had quite a few broken bones growing up and smashed my body more when I was in the Army. So needless to say I feel those changes in the weather and my CIDP seems to make me even more sensitive to the pressure change, but not the so much the when “storm” is happening.  It’s the change in weather not the weather itself that cause me a bit of physical discomfort.

By golly we did have a heck of a storm blow through a couple of days ago.  I seldom get a lot of noticeable wind at my house even during high wind watch advisories for my area.  I had a lot of wind despite the fact that my county was not under a weather watch. I think every single Walnut was blown out of my two walnut trees and hit my roof, patio and yard like a bucket of hard ping pong balls.  My apple tree got emptied a bit but there are still a few apple still hanging on the tree.  I had a couple of tree branches fall but they were light weight and I could cut up the branches with a limb lopper so no damage occurred around my place.

These two kittens are wearing me out.  Overall they are not bad but they get in play mode or snuggle mode when I need sleep.  I have set up the front bedroom for the kittens and they will be shut in that room so myself, Tucker the peke and even Smokey the cat will have a kitten-free night.  I have not been sleeping well due the the weather changes and the kittens have made the not sleeping at night or getting my nap almost impossible.  The kittens do love the heat of the wood stove and tend to play around in front part of the house when the wood stove is burning.

The next couple of months will probably be the worst of “kitten mode” and keeping them contained at night in a bedroom with food, water and litter box should work better than just shoving them into a pet crate or pen.  I have a cat/doggie door to the backyard and once the kittens figure that out they will work off some energy.  I want the kittens to discover the doggie door themselves and have the ability to push the door open to give themselves access to the backyard and come inside the house without any input from me.

On to the things that are working out good. While getting a lot wood in May sort of screwed up my concentrating on my garden. I think having the wood stack will be very helpful to myself and Mom this winter.  Mom wants to buy some of my poplar this week and I’m good with that idea.  I’m interested about how much wood in my stack is needed to fill the bed of Mom’s  Dually one ton.  I have stacked my poplar wood in 12 feet long  and 5 feet tall stacks.  Given an 18 inch or 1.5 ft. row of stacked wood that is about 90 cubic feet of fire wood. Or about 3/4ths of a cord of wood.

I can do that for Mom.  I worked very hard this year to get firewood and don’t mind selling Mom a bit of fire wood she can pickup and saves her a  gallon of two of gas for the one ton dually.

If your home does not have an open floor plan and you are using a wood or gas stove for heat and want a fan to push the warm air.  I recommend The Hot point 12 inch and 16 inch oscillating floor fans. I have a few ceiling fans to circulate air and have used 30 inch tilting fans, 20 inch box fans and none of them have worked as well as a small 12 inch oscillating fan behind the wood stove and a 18 inch fan blowing the warm air to the back part of the house.  Last year I used all types of fans to blow warm air into the backside of the house and nothing did a very good job.

I have one 12 inch oscillating fan just behind the wood stove about level with top plate of the wood stove blowing air into the living room.  I have another 18 inch oscillating fan blowing that warm air into the kitchen and  towards the back rooms of the house. This has been much more effective on moving heat through the house than using 30 inch fans or even 20 inch box fans.

TL:DR

Spring and fall sucks if have arthritis of other medical issues.

Kittens will disrupt your life and your sleep cycle.

Buying good fans and working out the placement of fans is a good thing. The placement of fans takes some adjustment.


Got some yard work done and a prayer request

July 22, 2019

The front yard has been been mowed!  I got a bit lazy as I did not want to pick up all the sticks from the high winds that blew thru last week. Today I got all the sticks picked up mowed and gave the front yard a “good watering” of several hours.  It felt good to get some outdoor work done after helping Mom with her surgery recovery and getting enough shopping done to top off the big freezer.

While I was mowing my neighbor was working on getting a mid size fridge in to his house up the front steps that have at least 6 steps and about 5 feet to the porch front door landing.  The neighbor had a dolly and did most of the heavy lifting but I helped keep the fridge on the dolly and assist with guiding , or adding a little extra ooomph to get the fridge in the house can make that job a bit easier.  The neighbor said he will help out with moving the old washing machine out or getting the new machine in my house. Should be be easier to move my washer as I only have a couple of steps to deal with getting the washer in the house.  Once the new washer is indoors and close to the Laundry area I can “walk” the washer into place.

I got the old washer out of the laundry area and strapped to the big dolly Mom loaned me.  Mom has offered to assist moving the old washer to the alley, but I want to test out how much effort she will need to help move the washer.  Mom was not given any weight restrictions for her recovery and she has kept up cleaning her house and taking care of critters.  I don’t want her to re-injure her back by helping me.  Getting the washer on the dolly, strapped down, I’ll do most of the weight bearing work and Mom will guide and any weight lifting should be minimal.

Onto the prayer request: My Mom’s new church has been hit with several small disasters. From flooding of the church basement to shingle/parts of the roof being torn off in a wind storm.  The pastor was diagnosed with prostate cancer that may recurring and perhaps the cancer has moved to his bones.  The church congregation is older and many are on Social Security and disabled so the can’t physically do much work around the church or donate to get needed work done.  The church needs to an Asphalt parking lot to replace the gravel parking lot they currently have in place.  The new parking lot will help those people that use walkers, wheel chairs and “scooters” get into the church.  I don’t want to add more info as I don’t want to ‘dox” the church.  Your prayers for the pastor and the church would be appreciated.

I use a walker when I’m shopping or going long distances walking(1/4-1/2 mile).  Trust me if you use a walker a gravel parking lot is some thing to be dreaded/ avoided. If you use a wheel chair thick gravel is impossible to navigate without help.  Heck, when I was in a wheel chair I avoided deep pile carpet,  gravel parking lots, forget about it!


It stopped raining so I moved wood around

May 20, 2019

The skies cleared and I had about 3.5 hours of dry weather this afternoon to move the wood in my wood pile.  I’m  moving the older, over sized dry wood (for my wood stove) under the carport to stack and will be cut to size, too fit my wood stove.  I moved the wood racks around to make stacking the wood for easier access and set up an area for cutting and storing kindling.  I have 2 cords of Doug fir incoming  this week so getting the wood racks prepared for incoming fire wood is important for my heating plan this winter.

I’m trying a new supplier of wood and paying as I go.  Mom says she will buy up some of the wood to mitigate my initial cost for wood.  Over all I feel okay about the wood buy, but we will see if the wood is worth the cost.

Just took delivery of the wood and the carport is darn full.  I suspect I got at least 1.5 + cords of mixed fire wood mostly cut /split and ready to burn.  Perhaps it is Karma helping me on the good side since I got screwed on wood deliveries a few years ago. I’ll need to stack the wood to see how much fire wood I have on hand.  Money is going to be a little tight getting this fire wood delivery before I planned for getting wood this year, but getting stocked up on wood this early will pay off this summer and into winter.  I’m good on money, as I can deal with taking a hit of $250.00 either good or bad easily.

Physically I’m going to be toast Tuesday, after moving the fire wood and wood racks around the yard.  I have a 2 cord wood delivery on the 22nd so I’ll be in  recovery mode the 21st.

The cole crop garden beds seem to be thriving after opening up the Agri-bon frost cloth.  It seems that this week is going to be good for cool weather crops getting a good start for growing.


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!

 

 


New pressure cooker and more mulch!

May 31, 2018

I bought an electric pressure cooker from newegg.com last week and today I tried it out.  The pressure cooker is an Ewant Model BD-QJ . 7 in 1 programmable for everything from yogurt and a slow cooker to a pressure cooker for beans,  rice even sauteing in the stainless steel pot/liner.  There are 3 reasons I bought this  new pressure cooker: #1 I needed a new pressure cooker for my kitchen. #2 It was on sale for $45.00 at newegg.com, which isn’t a bad price for a large 12 cup pressure cooker. #3  I have been cooking a lot of grains (brown rice/barley) for the homemade doggy food and wanted something that cooked grains  faster and meats ‘fall apart’ tender.  I made my first batch of brown rice, chicken thighs with peas and carrots doggy food and it worked out great!

Recipe: Brown rice, chicken thighs with peas and carrots, doggy food.

3 cups of water

2 cups brown rice

4-5 chicken thighs

8 oz. frozen peas and carrots

Optional 2 tablespoons of Coconut oil

Add the 3 cups of water, 2 cups of brown rice and the coconut oil, place the small steamer grate on top of the rice and add the chicken thighs. Select Multi-grain or the Brown rice setting for 20 minutes and walk away… At the end of the 20 minutes release the pressure. While the rice and meat are still hot,  add the frozen veggies then stir so the residual heat thaws the veggies. This also helps stop the cooking process and cools the pot of dog food quickly.

The rice has a creamier consistency and the chicken thigh meat almost fell off the bone. This recipe makes cooking up a batch of dog food easier and much faster compared to cooking the brown rice on the stove top and then baking and cutting up the chicken thigh meat.

I also tried out a new white long grain rice recipe that is awesome!

White rice recipe:

2 cups of white rice

3 cups of water

1 table spoon of coconut oil (Replaces butter)

Rinse off the rice until the water runs clear. Place the water, rice and coconut oil in a large 6 quart pan and bring it to a boil.  As soon as it boils place a tight lid or tinfoil over the pot and turn the heat down to a low simmer then walk away for 12-15 minutes. When the is no standing water in the pot, set the rice off the heat, leave covered for 10 minutes and walk away again. Fluff the rice with a fork or wooden spoon and you will have great white rice.

I made good white rice before adding the coconut oil but that oil really makes a huge difference with the rice’s look and mouth feel.  The individual bits are soft and chewy without any gluey/starch affect.  I did not add any salt or stocks as these test were for doggy food but I taste test these recipes.  They are a little bland, but you could easily add herbs and spices and make a good human meal from these basic recipes.

Things I have learned so far making homemade dog food:

  • The internet is a great resource and it is also full of bad info for making dog food so check with your Vet. and always start with what you know is safe and introduce the food over time.  Also dogs have likes and dislikes so one dog may love white rice, some like beef or like chicken. Peas and carrots seem like the most popular veggie for my dogs but broccoli or green beans will do in a pinch.
  • Adding herbs for flavor,  Many herbs are safe and very beneficial to dogs such as oregano or mint.  Garlic, onions and chives are not doggy friendly flavoring so keep those away from your dog food.  White flour is very bad for dogs and wheat flour is not much better but many dog foods use wheat grains.  Think of your dog being somewhat ‘Gluten-Intolerant’ when you make the dog food.  Corn, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, steel cut oats can make would be a better carb. than any wheat product. Barley and I have read that corn meal are safe to feed dogs but I have not confirmed using corn meal.
  • Using coconut oil in place of butter for cooking rice is something I never considered but there is some preliminary research that coconut oil ‘might” reduce the bad bacteria that causes tooth decay/gum disease in dogs.  Since coconut oil is safe for dogs I have added it into the rice for dogs but it made the white rice so much better I have added coconut oil instead of butter to my white rice recipe as a safe fat to add to doggy food.

More mulch needs to be added to get a deep layer to kill out weeds. I went out the other day to prep the Three sisters beds and I used the D-shaped hoe to get a few weeds in the beds and around then and that tool worked very well weeding the mulch pathways.  I’m not so sure about the garden beds.  I’m not sure I’ll see more production for this year’s garden as I’m trying so many new beds and money and timing has been a bit problematic.  I think I’ll be okay if I get everything in by the weekend of June 2-3 and the latest with starts by the 9-10th of June.  That still gives me 120-150 days till harvest planting from seed.