Demo and clean up of the woodpile area. Garden harvest and clean up done by Mom.

September 5, 2017

I got started taking down the rotted roof  that is over my woodpile.  I’m about 50% complete on the job as I  demo’ed the worst of rotted and warp boards first and now I’m moving my wood/ wood racks out of the way to finish up the demo of the last parts of the roof. My new wood racks made of pressure treated lumber seem to work great for getting the wood about 5-6 inches off the concrete slab and I’m going to use tarps to cover the wood this winter.  So far, I prefer the wood racks I made with pressure treated lumber compared the racks I made with the $20.00 metal brackets and regular 2 x 4s. Using the  4 x 4 pressure treated lumber as a base and then 2 x 4 on top of them gets the wood higher off the concrete compared with using the metal brackets plus the pressured treated wood racks are cheaper over all compared to metal bracket wood racks even with using more expensive pressure treated wood.  My wood racks are 18 inch x 4 ft. by 8 ft. and I believe that is what is called a “Face” cord of wood and not a “true” cord of wood which is 4 ft. wide x 4 ft. high and  8 ft. long.  I really like having a hard/soft wood mix for my wood stove and out here in the west usually means a mix of pine/fir and fruit woods like apple and cherry.   I got a my wood guy delivering a cord or so of some pine/ fir mix next week so now I can make some kindling for the stove.  I’m finishing up the last of the elm and while elm burns great it is difficult to split as the grain twists which makes it terrible for ax cut kindling.  For our kindling this year Mom and I want to get a load of actual “mill ends” and not “box wood” that I got to start this firewood adventure.  I got a small 6 pound splitting maul for those tougher chunks of wood, but I’ll have to re-learn how to use that tool.  So far the light weight ax has done a great job for making kindling.

I finally got to use the Ryobi impact hammer drill and my gosh I love it!  Okay it is a battery powered drill so I did not expect a lot but it did a great job on removing screws my basic drill could not remove and it was great on driving in screws that defeated my basic 18 volt drill could not handle.  I don’t think it would be great for concrete but for working on any wood job I think this little Ryobi drill would handle working with Hardwoods fairly easily.  Also this drill extracted screws that defeated my basic drill.

Mom got busy and cleaned up the garden and did some harvesting.  Big thing Mom wanted was the “rubber mallet” to re position stakes in the garden.  Well I had the ” mallet” in the basement breaking apart shelves and the trying to pound in garden stakes with a 6 pound maul was less than successful.  We found the mallet eventually but I learned that bigger is not always better.  I’m  going to get a small 2 pound maul hammer and a good 1 pound claw hammer.  You have to make things work for the job given and  some times you need brute force and sometimes you have to go small.  Good news we did have success with cantaloupes this year.

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Excellent shopping day

June 21, 2017

I got a great tool bargain at Home depot.  Rather than buying the drill and getting a free tool instead I bought the 18 volt drill + impact driver set for $99.00 and got the 10% vet discount! So the price was only $89.10 for both tools.  I got a 5/8 in. sheet of plywood cut into 2×8 ft.sections for $25.00 and add in eight, 1×3 inch boards to start the basement shelf building project.  At this time I’m working to re-enforce and add new shelves to an existing frame work hence the smaller dimensional lumber.

One thing I noticed today is the cashier at Home depot was sort of defensive or tried to explained that the 10% discount did not apply to all items.  I’m a disabled vet and I love how some companies give a vet discount but no company is required to give a discount to vets.  No cashier needs to be attacked if a vet discount is not applied.  If you don’t like the policy, write a letter to corporate or rant on the internet but, leave the cashier alone.

Most or the replacement garden veggies were available for the replacement plants that did not do great from my starts.  I bought some sweet corn, celery and sweet potatoes that Mom wants to try growing.  No luck so far with finding tomitillo plants but I know from last year those plant start off slow and then explode with growth so I have not given up hope yet!  The worst thing that can happen is that raised bed lies fallow and I build up the soil so it is not a bad situation.

This may sound a bit strange but I am more interested in learning how to grow a garden rather than what food a garden can produce.  Many people that never had a garden think growing a good garden is easy.  It is not easy at all and requires a lot of effort.  For me any veggies I get is a bonus, my focus is on building up a sustainable garden out of my own resources.  Learning to work with my land and then improve it as much as possible before the need to grow a garden is upon us.

It is very easy for a government to mandate everyone must grow a garden,  (ala Venezuela) for food but we all know that just tossing out a few seeds and hope for the best is a terrible way to grow a  good garden.

Thursday and Mom does not have a master gardeners BS class to go to so the plan of attack is trim up and perhaps cut down the dead cherry tree and finish up building the stuff needed for the properly built compost pile.  My carpentry skills/knowledge are mediocre at best but I have built a few simple things and now I can build “larger” simple projects.  I can’t say you can succeed on trying new project.  I can guarantee if you never try doing anything new you will fail.

 


Tools and stuff I using for cleanup. Another cheap solar solution

June 12, 2017

This winter I bought a large 5 gallon shop vac for dealing with the flooding in my shop.  With the addition of some bags and some brush tools the vac works great for getting up the mouse droppings, plus we don’t have to worry about the dust or spreading anything via the shop vac exhaust.  I have a small 1.5 gallon Shop vac that has worked out great cleaning the laundry area and closets where the big shop vac is difficult to maneuver around in tight quarters.  My only complaint about the Shop vacs is the power cords are too short and I have to use an extension cord for almost every job. I don’t think using your regular vacuum to clean up a vermin infestation is a good idea.  Save that house vacuum for your everyday cleaning chores and get a cheap shop vac for around $20.00-$60.00 depending on the size and features.

Cleaning off the existing shelves I have been using a “Shop brush” ($2.00 Harbor Freight) and an oversized dust pan ($1.00) Dollar Tree.  These tools work great for cleaning  shelves that have open areas between the slats.  You can place some newspaper below the shelf and just sweep everything onto the paper or into the oversized dust pan.   I am looking into building some of my shelves with smaller 1×2 or 1×3 and painting all shelves with a semi-gloss paint so they will not absorb odors and will be easy to clean in the future.

Cleaning solutions:  The Clorox urine remover is working out great! I bought a spray bottle to try it out ($5.00 Lowe’s)  but I will be buying the large jug ($13.00 Lowe’s) for my cleaning supply.  What I like most is this cleaner works on all surfaces and has not bleached or discolored my furniture or carpets.  I’m using a mild bleach solution to clean the cement/concrete wall of my basement area. The mice don’t seem to care for bleach solution or it disrupts the scent pathways they establish.   Mom and I are cleaning the buckets with the mild bleach solution and so far we have not found any mouse dropping on those cleaned buckets.  The basement is smelling better overall and in the area we have cleaned still smells clean after 5 days.

Traps:  Tom, I have added one of those Victor Tin cat traps in the basement and using a bit of grain rather than peanut butter as bait. In the last four days we have caught 10 adult mice.  I’m using a lot of sticky traps in the house as Snap traps are difficult for me to set and use.  Heck even the local Dollar store has those sticky traps though it may take laying out the traps in groups of 2 or 3  traps to catch the mice, they do work.  One thing I have learned about sticky traps the more surface area the trap has the better it works for catching mice.   Over all I think the Tomcat metal re-usable traps are a better solution for a prepper.  I think adding sticky traps when you find them on sale are great and should be added to preps.

Last but not least clean up item, construction grade trash bags.  These bags have a heavy mil of 2-6 depending on on what you buy and are great multi-taskers.  This last winter we did not have trash pickup for over 6 weeks.   I do have a bit of an advantage with the wood stove to burn most paper trash.  While I had extra cans on hand for trash I was ready with those super thick bags to hold trash. I live in a small city and if my neighbors don’t contain trash properly the vermin will affect me and not just them.

Okay now the fun shopping stuff for the day.  I bought a small under counter LED light that runs on rechargeable batteries for $20.00 at Home Depot.  What is great,  is the light is recharged via a USB cable and all of my power packs and my fold able 15 watt solar panel has USB connection for power.  This a great way for me to start a solar powered light system for the kitchen via a solar panel/ power pack but still can be recharged via the electric company’s outlets.  No direct wiring is need to install  this little LED lamp. You don’t need a large solar array to take advantage of solar energy.  A small solar panel system that charges a small battery bank can be a great start.   I have a small power pack that that can jump a dead car battery though I have not tested it for charging via my little solar panel.  As soon as the sun comes out in SW Idaho I will test it out.

I forgot I’m adding a bug barrier insecticide as we clean the basement.  I’m not sure how the insecticide is working but I do have a great system of battery powered pump sprayer now. I think it is helping but it is early days of testing.

 

 


New Scissors and getting the dogs ready for summer

June 1, 2017

I’ll admit I never thought about scissors as a tool.  I have to say having a several good sets of scissors has become very critical tool to have on hand around Casa de Chaos.  So today Mom and I bought a couple of sets of Fisker’s everyday /craft scissors via BOGO free sale and gosh they are wonderful to use!  Like a good sharp knife, sharp scissors makes your cutting jobs easier and faster.

I know that Fiskers is a quality mid-range brand and for specific applications they may not be perfect but when I can get them on sale they are great tools.  I bought  Fiskers Kitchen shears a year ago and love how I can cut herbs with them and the blades break apart for easy cleaning.

I’m using an older set of scissors to practice my sharpening skills.  I am using an oil stone and have put a good edge on the first part of the blade but I will need to take the scissors apart in order to get the cutting edge sharpen for the entire length of the blade.  I suppose what I’m trying to say is have good scissors on hand is a tool for my prepping.  Being able to sharpen scissors is a skill I am trying to add to my prepping skill set.

Brushing and cleaning up the dogs for summer.  I’m ashamed to say I did not keep up with the grooming of my dogs this spring when they are shedding like crazy.  Pekes under coat is almost like down and mats like crazy when not combed out and I dropped the ball on brushing the little critters out.  So how do I fix the problem?

  1. Get rid of the big mats of hair.  I’m cutting them out as much as possible (hence new scissors) without hurting the dogs.
  2. Using brushes and combs in short time frames of brushing that get the dogs back in the habit of being brushed regularly.
  3. Cutting the hair between pads and cutting dogs nails.  This is taking a bit more time to rebuild trust but Mom and I have had some some success.  I use a a nail cutter that is not spring loaded and resemble scissors.  Once I cut hair around the paw I simply cut back the extra nail that keeps the paw from resting flat on a solid surface.  This is easier for me compared to finding the quick and trying not to cut into it. If you cut in in to quick Witch Hazel is great for stopping the bleeding.
  4. Using treats to reward good behavior of your pets getting groomed.

I won’t say it is okay to drop the ball in caring for your pets, but I do understand how it can happen.   Start off slow and take care of the of the worst issues first even if the hair cuts look sub-optimal.  Then start a normal grooming schedule slowly so the pups don’t fear but like the attention,  and try and make it as positive as possible for the pet.

Jackson the terrier is very fearful of combs, brushes and scissors.  We are going to try using rags to get him use to the motions of grooming.  Thank goodness he has a short/wire haired coat so we have a bit of time to work on him.

The portable 8000 BTU AC unit is supposed to arrive on  Friday and the temps are supposed to hit the mid 90’s F. I’m not sure how to “vent” a portable AC unit or how to deal with the moisture with the unit being inside.  Gosh we are all going to learn new stuff!  Even adding another 8000 BTU portable AC unit the wattage/ electrical use is still lower than my “Central air” power usage.  But we shall see if the portable AC is worth the cost in electricity.

Last, but not least I think I can afford another Ryobi mister fan for the yard.  In a dry climate these misters are wonderful for both humans and critters.  I want to add some mulch and Mom has some offering sedum starts for the alley garden.  With the people that are ignoring weed growth in the garden I need more plants and more mulch to stop the spread of bad weeds.


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.