Weather has been less than optimal but we still got a lot done.

May 22, 2016

We got hail this week but most of the plants seemed to do all right despite the pounding. Most of my plants are somewhat protected in containers, so damage was minimal.  We are sort of behind the power curve on planting the garden but so far that is not a bad thing as the weather has been a bit wonky this year.  So far the plants  seem to be doing well and my focus has been adding in grass, making my pathways and a backyard that works for me and Mom.  Mom and I are doing a lot of basic yard maint. and cleaning up the grape vines has been a challenge this year since I let them get over grown along with the lilacs and a couple of or bushes. We got a lot of of the overgrown stuff cut back but we still have a lot of work to do on cutting back the grape vines.  I’m a little behind on putting the garden and it is rainy so rototilling the soil is just not on until the soil dries a bit. I’m adding a new bed to the front yard for edible flowers and annuls that just add a bit of color. The flower bed will be done in red landscape timbers to sort of fit the “craftsman home” effect.

True Value hardware is having a great sale for most of the things I need. I’m buying up Semi-gloss paint for the house as that makes the walls easy to clean and they have tarps on sale that will finish up protecting the wood pile from rain yet the tarps can be folded up to let the wood pile dry. The wood overhead cover is rotting and boards that support the roof are warping big time.  Two more tarps will cover the firewood and I can start cutting out the the bad roof over the wood pile.  I will be able to afford enough paint to cover most of the house with colors that work with a Craftsman type house.

I just bought a 10 gallon air compressor/oil type from Harbor Freight and a basic tool set up. This air compressor should be a large enough for most basic jobs around the house. I bought a small paint spray gun for paint but until I test it, I’m not sure about trusting it despite the reviews.

Mom always see what has not been done. I see how much we have got done.  Actually Mom gets down on herself for not doing more around the place. I think she is outstanding in her work cleaning up the grape vines and helping me trim up trees and bushes.  I suppose it goes back to her being a recovering Catholic.  It’s guilt imposed via childhood. I see the glass always full, It just might be full of air which is not helpful at times. I think we are doing great! The little “Casa de Chaos” got a new roof, a lot of work on the yard.  Hell we can run my washer without running a garden hose to the shower. We have grass for the dogs and great paths that are a pleasure to walk rather than uneven dirt that could twist an ankle of knee. I think we are doing pretty well over all.


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.


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.

 

 

 


Plastic panels installed over the chicken pen, Update cutting mill ends via the circular saw.

November 6, 2015

I scavenged several plastic roof panels from a neighbor that were renovating.  The original plan was to cover the wood area but the panels were a bit old and heat cracked, plus the roof over the wood area needs to be re-built.  Mom and I decided to use the roof panels over the chicken pen and then place the tarp over the top of the panels to cover any gaps.  We hope having the roof panels under the tarp will eliminate water pooling, causing the tarp to sag and will keep the chicken pen area clear of puddles and ice this winter.  I think the pen roof looks much better for shrugging off the weather.  We had 30+ MPH winds for a couple of days few days and the “new” roof did very well in the wind. Now we are waiting to see how the roof panels hold up during the rest of the fall weather.  I was a bit surprised by how quickly Mom and I got the panels and then covered every thing with Mom’s big tarp. Overall the tarp is  taut covering the roof panels, we used zip ties on the sides and bungie cords on the front of the tarp.  Hopefully the roof will flex a bit in windy weather but have good strength shedding any rain or snow.

I used the little B&D circular saw to fill two of the wood buckets. I did a lot better physical energy wise as I’m learning how to use the saw properly. It has taken me a bit of time and practice learning the correct way to use some of my tools. A great side effect of cutting up mill ends is I am learning how to cut wood with out wasting  good lumber. Speaking for myself, I sort of thought you cut the wood you needed and never give a thought about working with the grain or against the grain cutting wood.  Yes, I was a bit slow on figuring this out.  I have a coupon from Harbor Freight for the 10 inch miter saw $88.88 and the 12 inch compound miter saw $139.99 double h recommended. Either saw should should be a good compound miter saw for cutting up my mill ends plus built in shelves to turn my front bedroom into a library.

I had a kind of strange reaction to saving a bit of cash this month. I have been preaching about paying a few critical bills ahead if you can afford it.  I have worked hard to try and get a bit of ahead on paying my basic bills ahead and this month I finally made it happen. I have the cash on hand to buy the miter saw but I don’t want to spend the money on the miter saw until I have more cash on hand.

I’m saving a bit of cash, and it is simple if not easy. I’m slowly getting ahead of the power curve, paying my bills ahead of the due date.   I can’t say I’m free, as I still have my house debt, but I have broke free of living paycheck to paycheck  and paying late fees because of timing of my checks. Now I’m working on  cash for an”emergency fund” rather than just falling back on my storage if an emergency blind sides me.

The  50 cent, $10.00 rolls of coins are a great for my little “mad money” fund work great for yard sales and the Xmas bazaars, since most folks selling don’t have cash on hand for breaking large bills.  Plus 50 cent coin roll might contain a pre 1964 90% silver coin or a 65-69 40% silver coin. I have not got lucky finding a silver coin but I’m not losing out as all coins do have a face value of 50 cents.

 


Buying tools, cleanup, organizing and getting ready for fall/winter

August 31, 2015

I have been buying up a lot of basic wood working tools and home maintenance items. Yet at times I find my mindset stuck in the past when I did not have tools/knowledge to do basic repair jobs. It’s not enough for a person to have tools on hand, you have to learn how to use those tools, that can be a scary at times. You can lop off parts of your body or worse cut some lumber wrong and have to buy more lumber to fix your screw up.  Desperation might be a good motivator in the collapse but knowing you have a Emergency Room available if you”screw the pooch” on your DIY projects is better right now. Learn how to use your tools safely on DIY projects so you respect tools and not fear them.

I have a been a bit slow on creating more shelving for storage. Or as I call it being an acid minded moron. While I tend to like 55 gallon drums for storing “long term basics” like grains, beans and rice long term.  I have really dropped the ball on short term (2-5 year) food storage. Since most of my food storage is in my basement the shelves don’t have to be pretty, just solid.  My hope is that as I build the shelves I will become more proficient working with wood as I learn some basic carpentry skills. Worse thing that can happen is I  screw up a cut and have more kindling for the wood stove.

I called up L about some wood but it did not work out. Good fire wood but it need cut and split to fit my stove. While the price was great, neither Mom or I are physically capable of cutting/splitting wood this winter. While I’m not rich I can afford to buy a few cords of wood that is cut and split to fit my stove. Many people can’t afford split wood so getting free firewood of any sort will be helpful to them. I’m sure some folks will think I’m foolish passing up “free” fire wood of any sort. I figure God wants me to do my best and be honest with my need. Do I need fire wood? yes, I can also pay for it and other people can not pay cash.  If they are willing to sweat cutting and splitting wood, good for them!

I finally got a hold of the guys Mom suggested for firewood and have a delivery of 2 cords scheduled about the 16th of September. I have seen the wood they delivered to Mom and Dad for years and feel confident I am get a good bang for my buck. I have sort of bad feeling about the folks I called earlier as one cord of wood delivered for $100.00 is very low priced for this area. I think they might mean a “face” cord rather than a full cord of wood.  I hope I’m wrong as I would like to stock up on firewood and $100.00 a cord delivered is a bargain!

I will get another 3 bags of mulch for the alley way garden. My sunchokes and mossy rose put on a lot of new growth after adding a thick layer of wood mulch around the plants. Plus it seems that the weeds are not growing back as quickly. It seems that using the wood ash, a thick layer of wood mulch and adding in more layers of rock is helping to kill out the weeds naturally.  While not as fast as using a weed killer, I have been a bit surprised that many of the weeds I dug out in mid July have not made a come back going into fall. I added a 2 light weight garden hoses and a new oscillating sprinkler that were on sale. I need to call the water dept. for a leaky irrigation valve to find out who is responsible for it and how it should be replaced. I recommend every prepper with a yard/garden have a couple of backup hoses and a few hose repair kits on hand.  Moving water by hand is a lot of physical work.

I don’t think you need to panic unless you are still in the “Market” or a TBTF (To Big To Fail) bank. If you have not moved your cash accounts into a local bank or credit union that should be a priority. Start saving about one month’s of bills as cash on hand and pre pay any reoccurring bills you can afford to pay, such as insurance, electricity and what ever utility that will allow you to pre-pay. You might be like me and suck at saving cash but don’t mind being cash poor if all the bills are paid. So pre-pay utilities now and your utilities are covered somewhat this winter.

I think an Economic collapse of the USA is the greatest disaster we may face. That does not mean it will happen, just that it could happen. If you are ready for an economic collapse you are ready for most local and regional disasters.

  • Food for 3-12 months
  • Water on hand for at least 2 weeks and filter plus water source for additional water needs
  • Shelter and energy that is not grid dependent for at least a month
  • Security via lighting or alarms along with security measures to protect you, your family and others
  • First aid and sanitation

Prepping and self reliance is not a zero-sum gain. While you might have start off slow depending on your budget. The effort you put in is good for all kinds of local disasters up to so big disasters like an economic collapse. I did not add fire extinguisher to my home because of an economic collapse. I added them because of how often house fires happen!

This prepping and self reliance stuff is usually simple. That does not mean it is easy!

 

 

 


Totally Awesome Friday! Saturday started off less than well.

August 8, 2015

I felt a bit under the weather this last week and did not get much done, but today many things came together.  Mom and I got to meet/visit with S.Lynn at her yard sale. Her place looks great! If I could afford a little homestead I’d want it to look like her place. I missed out on the yard sale walkie-talkies but I got a great table top Weber kettle grill and charcoal “chimney”.  Plus several of the tools I have been wanting were at her yard sale. I got a miter box and saw, a rechargeable spot light along with a caulking gun. Mom got 3 really cute summer blouses and some lovely wine glasses.  Best of all we had a nice drive in the country stopping at a few little roadside farm stands.

One of the farm stands sells garlic that is approved for Idaho. I got a couple of different types of garlic to test to see if I like cooking with them and if they taste good I’ll  buy some for planting this fall. Mom got some sweet corn (ambrosia) and a couple of zucchini at the same little farm stand.  I planted butternut squash and my patty pans volunteered but I did not plant any zucchini that mom likes so much. Luckily I have neighbors that planted zucchini and I can trade other plants in my garden for what they did not plant.

Speaking of neighbors,  good neighbor L got a 1/2 yard of gravel for me while she was at the local farm store.  I was a little surprised how much area a half a yard of rock covered and that it only cost $10.25 for the load. L and I got Mom’s parking area under the carport covered with this first load. (S. Lynn if you did not sell the scoop shovel I want it!)   After seeing the coverage  looks like I will need about 2 yards of rock total, to cover the rest of my alley way parking area.  I’m hoping for one last sale of the wood mulch and then the alley way should block the growth of most of the bad weeds, then sun chokes and mossy rose can start replacing/choking out the nasty weeds. A very good thing is Mom feels much more confident exiting her vehicle as she tends to drag her foot(bad knee) at times.

Saturday started less than well as my old router died.  I thought I had a bad network cable but Mom’s connection was “toasted” this morning.  I can live without internet but my phone and my TV’s Roku and kindle library is some what dependent on a solid internet connection. Plus I want a solid router for a Local Area Network or LAN that I can build a Mesh wi-fi network in the future.  I installed an old model Linksys WRT 54 G and once I got it reset to factory defaults the router worked out great. I made a batch of the Bellma hops black ale and I hope I’ll add another “Falconer’s hops Amber lager this weekend while it is semi-cool.

So goes life

 


Odds and ends…

July 21, 2015

I did a bit of work on the bugout bag (BOB) and reduced the weight another 3 pounds emptied an exterior pocket for some supplies that might need quicker access rather than buried in the main cargo area. I’m sort of torn about using a 1 quart military canteen and the metal drink bottles as each have limitations.  Using multi-tasker and keeping the BOB as lightweight as possible is a bit of a balancing act that I have not managed yet!

I did a couple of tests on striking a spark on bars of flint and what I found works best is not a knife blade but the file “blade” on my “Leatherman” multi-tool.  I have no problem if a person wants a big fixed blade knife but I have always carried small pocket knives or muti-tools like Letherman/gerber or Swiss army knife and using a blade as the “steel” part of steel and flint always bothered me because that can ruin your knife’s edge and sharpness. I can sharpen a knife’s blade but why do that when the “file blade” creates more sparks on flint/sparker stick?

In the alley way beds the moss rose that got the latest wood mulch has really taken off adding growth and blooms. The sunchokes are also looking much better since I added the wood mulch.  As far as cleaning up the nasty weeds like goatheads/puncture vine, I’m digging them out using a shovel and I filled a 30 gallon trash can full of mostly goatheads.  I know I could kill the weeds at anytime but most of those products kill the soil as well as the weeds.  I’m trying to build some good soil and add plants that will crowd out the weeds not kill the soil.  The wood mulch has really done a great job choking out many weeds and giving the new plants a good growing medium. Most of the nasty weeds are happening along the borders and between property lines.  Mama nature does not recognize property lines and if I can dig up a few weeds with the help of a neighbor I will do it.  One neighbor killed the weeds and killed the soil so there is nothing to hold the dirt in place.  One thing I have learned about the alley way beds is you must block new weed growth and you must have new plants that work with Mama nature to start replacing those weeds.  I really think that weeds are mama nature’s paramedics for poor and neglected soil. make the soil healthier and you will stop having weeds you don’t like having around your yard.  It is a slow process and a lot of work building up your soil, but I prove it is doable with a bit of effort and adding just a bit of natural products as you can afford it.

I totally scored today as some on put a grill in the alley along with the trash.  I did not need a grill but I got another propane tank I can use. Perhaps many people think nothing of the cost of an empty propane tank in the store ($25.00-$35.00) or buying a tank from the local mega-mart ($46.00-$50.00) or empty tank replacement ($17.00-$20.00) I do think about those costs. I’m cooking nearly every meal this summer over a gas grill/outdoor kitchen and that takes propane or charcoal.  Even if the propane tank is old style, many places will replace it with a new “safety/government approved” type tank.

Some sad news Mom is having Bear the peke put down. He lasted a bit longer than the vet forecast last year but the guy is starting to go downhill fast and it is time. Mom will hold him until Bear’s final goodnight and he will be pain free. Mom is very strong that way.  The new pekes will help with minimizing the hurt and will build a new pack dynamic and both Brodie and Tucker are a hoot.  Those pekes have let me know they must go for a ride, so when I get gas this week they will get their ride into the country!

Life goes on, we live and we die, we win or we lose. Sometimes we get caught up in the ‘game” and a new dog who sees a backyard as a new playground can ignite in us what life is about. You are not your car, your house, or your stock portfolio. You are a human made by the grace of God and flawed by the choices you make via freewill. I don’t worry anymore about Presidents or politicians, Bankster or corporations. Oh I tried to change the system but I can’t do it so why try the impossible when I can do more good locally via my garden than an Congress critter pontificating in the media?  You can play the “game” and bang your head against the wall.  Or you can remove yourself from the game of wall, save yourself headache and stop annoying the wall.