Working with tarps, helping with Mom’s wood pile. Clean up and some fall prep

August 13, 2019

Yesterday I got out to Mom’s place to replace the tarp over the chicken run. This one of those jobs that seems almost impossible to by yourself but is easy with two people.  Because of Mom’s location she gets a lot of wind blowing daily and often at a brisk 20-30 mph so if a tarp last a year in that type of breeze it is a good tarp.  We have noticed that the cheap “blue tarps” shred in a matter of months.  We suspect that the blue tarps are not UV protected.  We both have used the low cost brown and green tarps with UV protection and those tarps handle high winds/ beating solar rays.  Getting 9-12 months of use out of those type tarps very is doable.  Trying a new way of keeping the tarp on top of the chicken run in high winds.  I ran some rope through some PVC pipe and will place that pipe in the fold of the tarp and see if that keeps the wind from getting under the tarp and moving it around on the chicken run.

Mom stopped by today and got the rest of the mill ends, 2 old pallets for the base of her wood pile.  Mom’s wood storage area is a “Work in progress” but she is getting the the stuff needed to get the wood off the ground and the tarps to cover the top of the wood pile.  I was able to give Mom a couple of smaller tarps that I replaced with one larger tarp over my Doug fir wood racks.  I had a large tarp covering the mill end wood storage area that was a little worn around some of the edges, but is in good enough shape to keep rain and snow off the wood pile.

I got my Doug fir wood pile covered by tarps.  The wood pile is in old dog kennel and is a long but narrow space so a 10 x 12 foot tarp covers most of the wood.  A few of smaller tarps will cover the wood racks so the wood can dry/season but is also protected from rain and snow.  The carport  has over head cover and the shop and RV provide some protection from the weather.  One of the trickiest things about heating with firewood is exposing  fire wood to the weather/wind so it can dry/season but also protecting it from absorbing moisture while it is drying.  I’m hoping that I won’t use a lot of wood to heat this winter and I can build up a multi-year wood pile of dry and seasoned wood.

Lessons I have learned:

  1. I hate chicken wire!  I understand it works and is cheap but if I want a good fencing that lasts and is easy to work with I’d go with some sort of hardware cloth for retaining small critters of a larger panel square for larger critters.
  2. Even a cheap Dremal tool can sharpen tools and it is less intimidating than a grinder.  A Dremel is not a replacement for a grinder it is just a tool for stuff.
  3. Always try to repair things right the first time.  If you think the job is beyond you call in a pro.  I can replace a toilet.  I can’t replace a plumbing valve that is frozen that uses copper/ plastic/steel pipes that have galvanic corrosion.  I know enough to know I don’t know enough for that sort of repair.
  4. I’m learning a little bit about some electrical work.  I hate getting Zapped by electricity especially if that zap could stop my heart.  If I cut power all of my outlets installed seem to work without  electrical arcs.

I’ve rambled on a bit but replacing an electric plug really isn’t a big deal unless it is your first time and it works.  You need to smart and research how a repair job is done properly.  There is a “Fear Factor” of doing new stuff.  Unless you do new stuff you will not grow as a person or add new skills.  I was terrified of using a chainsaw. Now I respect the power of the chainsaw, I don’t fear using a chainsaw.

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The washer has a little problem but good news Mom is doing good after the day surgery

July 27, 2019

The washer will not pump out water!  I have it level and that was a pain because most of the top of the washer has curves.  One of the plastic adjustment/leveling legs snapped so that made the task a challenge.  I will say that Samsung was very helpful online and via the phone on troubleshooting the washer, getting the machine registered for warranty and contacting a local repair company with a good reputation to service the washer.

I’m a little disappointed that I can’t use the washer this weekend.  I understand with an “Old Model”/ new machine that these issues can happen and it is not necessarily the fault of the machine, manufacturer or the shipper, especially if they all have good reviews.  Hopefully the tech will come and fix/replace the pump and the washer will be good to go.  I did not empty all of the water out of the washer. I left about 1-2 inches of water in the tub so the tech can see what I am dealing with as the problem.  I think I will get the big shop vac ready, just in case I need to remove that last bit of water in order to work on the machine.  The 6 gallon shop vac should be able to empty the washer in 1 or 2 fill ups.

Mom is doing good after last weeks day surgery.  She is mostly out of pain for her back though she says she is being careful not to re-injure that area.

Mom is keeping up with the housework, mowing the lawn with the riding mower and keeping the weeds whacked and under control. Her church is going to do some yard work and Mom is really trying to set up the Ryobi weed wacker work for her as well as the old B&D weed wacker.  This might sound a bit sexist and I don’t mean it that way, but I think the Ryobi tools are set up for a male to use.  That is not a criticism but an observation.

Men are taller on average than women and most of their strength/ Center of Gravity is in the upper body. Women on average are shorter, have less upper  body strength and the Center of Gravity is the hips.  That makes a huge difference between how a man or woman uses a tool or how comfortable it is to use a tool.  Do I expect companies to change how they make yard tools?  Nope, because most yard work is done by men and that is a tool maker’s primary customer.  Some tools will fit women better and we need to let those manufacturers know us women appreciate those tools that we like and work well for women.  Please no more slapping a bit of pink plastic or paint on a  “Womans” tool.  Women tool users is an under served  market plus those tools that cater to smaller body frames and hands, opens up that market to young people in their teens just starting out DIYing.  Most guys go for the most powerful they can handle/ afford.  Most women want a light weight and simple tool that handles simple jobs like hanging curtain rods of building a small shelf.

Speaking only for myself and I am a “Tomboy” I always grab my little 9.6 volt drill first on any job and only get the big drill after the 9.6 volt proves inadequate. Now I’m female and I’m disabled so my strengths are not top notch, but I don’t think that is an issue.  Using a small light weight drill for a small job is smart.  Sorry for the rant as the 3rd wave feminazis just annoy me.  I was the first girl to play flag football in Idaho in 1977/1978.  I think I was the second girl to play in Little league baseball the same year.  I wasn’t striking some blow for feminism I just wanted to play the game.  I was on the team because I was as good the boys, I started because I was better than some boys.  Did I work hard or harder to get on the team?  Of course I did. Males have more muscle mass than females. I lifted weights and could leg press almost 900 pound as a 14-16 girl.  I was also a slow runner and the had the leaping ability of a safe.  I had stamina and was strong but not really talented for sports ball.

A couple things I learned about sports is all the hard work in the world would never get me to slam dunk a basketball. As my physical attributes mean I have no “hops”.  It did not matter, if I could shoot 3 pointers.  It does not matter that I’m disabled doing a job “living” .  I fail/ succeed on my own.

The wood pile is almost finished.  I have another 3 garden wagon loads of poplar to stack.  I have to finish up the “kindling” wood rack and start filling it.  I have been waiting for paraffin wax to go on sale to start making fire starters.  Some Greenies might attack me for using a renewable source for heat and using a petroleum product to create fire starters. Despite the fact I use far less paper to start my fires.

It is simple for the left.  Use a wood stove and you hate the earth and you are a Nazi/racist scum.  For gosh sake an article said White people like having dogs because they miss having slaves.  I would never speak for any other ethnic group but who does not like dogs or cats?  I don’t think love of animals is just a white thing.

 

Sorry long post and I’m all over the place.  I’ll try to clean it up.


Great shopping this week end and trying to help Mom

June 30, 2019

Albertson’s had a good sale this week, but what it a great shopping weekend for me is the additional 10% off for veterans.  Oh and some additional coupons for chicken thighs at about 70 cents per pound. A couple of 3 plus pound packages of petit-sirloins and the freezer is about full of meat for the next several months.  True Value Hardware had a ‘pedestal fan’ on sale for $16.99 that I bought.  I like this fan, as the round pedestal is very heavy, so the the fan does not seem prone to tipping.  I prefer a solid sloping pedestal fan rather than a fan that sits on on a X of metal legs as the base of the fan.  No toes getting hung up/kicking the fan base. I will buy another of these fans for the living room to help circulate cool and warm air this summer and winter. Having the correct fan in place to circulate either cool or warm air is critical for me as I no longer use any sort of “Central Air/ Heating system.  Even with adding all the additional fans to move air my power bill is still much lower compared to using my old “central system”.

I did not get to help Mom much this weekend.  I had about 4 hours sleep on Saturday.  My attitude and emotional outlook was “problematic”.  I had no desire to inflict my poopy attitude on Mom so I rescheduled for Sunday.  Mom did not feel good/tired and her attitude was not conducive to getting much work done on Sunday.  The day was not a total loss as I got Mom some sale stuff from Albertsons and I installed one of my old blinds in her kitchen window.  Mom wants to replace the guts of her toilet but did not get everything needed for a total replacement.  That is okay, as I did not bring all the tools needed to do the replacement of toilet “guts”.

Speaking of tools.  Having good hand tools for a variety of DIY jobs usually does not get much attention on prepping websites. It is all buy antique hand powered tools or battery power tools and we don’t see how multi-functional a good set of vice-grips, channel lock pliers or screwdriver set can be a critical tool.  I’d say if you are looking for 2nd hand tools check out your local Pawn shop. Most of the tools are “contractor grade” and can be had for a good price.

Last but not least.  I will say, you should try doing a few small DIY jobs.  Buy the tools as you can afford so you tackle larger jobs.  Also if you think a job “in home” may be to big to tackle in a 2 days get a good contractor to do the work. If you are working in the yard or your shop take all the time you need to do the job.  How do you find a good contractor?  Educate yourself about the job and ask questions of the contractor.  You don’t have to be an expert, just some basic knowledge about the work you want done and how that work “should” be done.

You will screw up and make mistakes, that is part of learning a new skill. Sometimes the difference between failure and success is 1/8th of an inch or less.


Working on the woodpile plus other odds and ends

June 3, 2019

I made a big dent in the wood pile under the carport. Some of my work today has been moving and throwing away “trash wood” that has been treated such as Fence and even old power Poles. The wood hasn’t been all bad.  I got quite a bit of hardwoods (white maple?) along with some elm.  While I need to cut and split about half of the wood I will have plenty of hardwoods for over night fires this winter and that is a very good thing!

Speaking of splitting, the little 3.5 pound splitting maul and 3 pound sledge hammer worked great on the hardwoods!  My 6 pound splitting occasionally just bonked off a chunk of hardwood. Having a handle on the wedge to drive into the wood then use the small sledge hammer to drive the wedge through the wood was relatively easy.  I recommend that small splitting wedge and sledge hammer combo for any one that has limited upper body strength or if you have problems swinging a heavier spitting maul.  This combo of tools might work great for people (me) that look like they are trying to scare a splitting maul into the wood rather than making good contact with the splitting maul.  Using an axe, maul and other wood splitting tools is a skill that takes time to learn.  While using smaller sized tools may seem a bit like using training wheels on a bike.  I think it worthwhile for several reasons…

  1. You get to accomplish your goal splitting wood as you learn. These lighter weight tools would be great for youngsters and women to start splitting fire wood!
  2. Using a smaller splitting wedge and sledge hammer is less intimidating.
  3. Less chance of smashing your fingers and thumbs trying to drive a normal splitting wedge into a chunk of wood.
  4. If you need to split the wood just a little you don’t have to use the big heavy tools.
  5. Using the lighter weight tools lets you slowly build your strength and stamina.
  6. If you ever become handicapped for whatever reason, such as a broken wrist/arm you can still keep the wood stove going.

Overall I’m very pleased with the 3.5 pound splitting wedge and it looks like more places/stores are starting to carry this or something similar to this tool.

I mowed the backyard grass area and there is still one one semi-bare spot but I’m very happy with spring grass seeding experiment.  I doubt I’ll win awards for the best looking grass patch in the neighbor hood. The grass area looks 100% better than it did in early Spring.  This Fall I will be able to fill in those thin spots if the grass does not fill the spots this summer.  I added some soil and compost to the back alley mulch area. I’ll add the mossy rose to a small area I hope won’t get crushed under a wood delivery and I have ran a hose so I can start watering that area rather than just depend on Mother nature.  I have a plan for the alley area, until all of the wood is stacked I have to wait to plant, as well as move the gravel  and lay down cloth/cardboard to block weeds…..

I lent a sprinkler to a neighbor to water the garden I gave them starts to grow.  Every person you help is a potential ally. It could backfire but so far it has not for me.  Something as little as giving out starter plants or lending a sprinkler might make a difference in a person’s mind.

I got a good 4 hours of work today and that felt great.  Yeah I had a couple of twinges of pain but I think I have moved beyond my CIDP flare.   I have a little muscle fatigue from playing in the wood pile but I should be able to mow the front lawn and keep up appearances.

 

 

 


Douglas Fir is all stacked! More wood coming in June. Arrrgh!!

May 28, 2019

I finished stacking the last of the Douglas fir.  I’m a little sore and tired, but it sure feels good to have all of the wood under cover.  I have never had a problem with theft here and fire wood in May is not a high value item subject to theft.  It just makes me feel better, when a person can’t see wood lying around the alley.  Another advantage of having the wood stacked is I can start planting the Mossy Rose/Portaluca and sedums in the alley area I have been covering in wood mulch.  I have had some success growing sun chokes and the sedums in the mulched areas of the alley.  I have seen Sunflowers grow along the border areas of the alley and fences. So there are a few plants I can plant that hopefully will start replacing the the weeds.  This year I’m going to add some dirt and compost to those alley planting areas and I can water those areas through out the summer.  The weeds this year seem to be bad along the edges of where I laid down mulch and rock.

It might be Karma, now fire wood suppliers are calling me to take loads of wood.  I got scammed a few years ago on a fire wood delivery when I paid cash up front.  I learned and usually do a pay half now and pay off the delivery in cash when delivered. Today I got a call from my primary wood supplier to take early delivery of 2 cords of poplar.  I suspect the supplier has a lot of poplar and needs to free up some work space as many people don’t buy poplar or any kind of firewood in May or June.  Any hoo I have another 2 cords of cut and split poplar to be delivered on June 7th but I can’t pay for the wood in July. It really feels good that my wood supplier trusts me to pay after I have the wood delivered to my home.  This capitalism at it’s finest as both the customer and the business work with each other for mutual benefit.

As for the other wood delivery it was cheap wood because of the price and they were honest about the wood being delivered was not a true cord for $125.00 per “cord” nor was all of the wood cut and split to fit in a wood stove.  While I don’t think I’ll buy more fire wood from that supplier.  I will say they were very honest about the firewood quality and why it was offered at such a cheap price.  This person also called me back to take another delivery of their fire wood.  If someone asked me about getting some cheap fire wood fast I would show them the wood and let them decide if it worth $125.00 a “Face Cord” delivered.  I don’t think I got screwed on this wood delivery.   It is just a bit daunting the work I have to do to get Mom her wood and get the carport area prepared for 2 cords of poplar in about 2 weeks.

With all those caveats stated I’m sort of looking forward to splitting that wood and stacking it.  While there are a few chunks of wood that need a chainsaw to cut to length, there is a lot of hard wood that just needs to be split to make a long burning fire.  My “redneck” is coming out as I have a new splitting maul/axe in the 3.5 pound range that I want to try out splitting those hard woods using a 3 pound sledge. I tried out the 3.5 splitting wedge on a small piece of poplar and it split the wood.  The wedge will do better when sharpened.

Some times you can get screwed and all you can do as look at that situation is a learning experience and not do that thing again.  I’m a firm, believer in “what comes around goes around”.  Learn from my mistakes but don’t think all people are evil because some people do evil.  Also don’t be dumb like I was, and always hold back about 50 % payment on any job.  It does not mean you won’t get screwed but at least the cost is lower.  80% of all people you meet are great, that 10-20% of assholes are very annoying.

 


I filled the last wood rack with Doug fir!

May 26, 2019

The last rack is filled with wood and covered with tarps.  It has been very rainy in my area so getting the fire wood covered and drying this summer is critical.  I’m finishing up the last small pile of Doug fir I’m stacking on the concrete walk way between the wood racks.  This wood I’ll add to the porch fire wood rack first to burn and start cutting into kindling this summer to fill the new kindling box.  It is tempting just to chuck the last of the firewood into the open section between the wood racks but I have done that before and found the stack wood dried better plus it is easier to gather stacked fire wood when the weather gets cold and blustery.  I was a discouraged for a time moving the wood Sunday but after that pile wood was stacked the remaining pile of wood went much faster as I was only walking about 16 -24 feet with each arm load of wood.

My wood racks are 8 ft. x 4 ft. by about 18 inches deep so they only hold about a “face” cord rather than a true cord of wood.  I can stack wood between my wood racks on a concrete base over 24 feet long, I’ll stack the remaining fire wood so I know I’m getting delivered about a cord “128 sq.feet” of fire wood.  There will always be a few gaps when stacking wood, but if you come out with 128 sq. feet of wood you have a “cord”of fire wood.  If you use tarps to protect your wood I’d recommend buying tarps at least 10 ft x 12 ft. long.  With 8 foot long tarps you don’t have any overhang to cover the fire wood racks.

The wood under the carport is a jumble right now but with the wood Mom hauled away I have room to work stacking the remaining fire wood.  Most of this wood is cut to length for a wood stove but will need to be split to work in my wood stove.  Mom filled her truck with the smaller/split wood to fill her truck as well as fit her little wood stove.  I am okay with that as I have more tools to cut and split wood plus my wood stove has a larger firebox.  I’m still digging around this wood pile but it looks like we got some elm, white maple along with a mix of fruit wood, pine and some poplar.  Mow I’m no expert on fire wood but in the last couple of years I hope I have gotten a bit better at identifying wood.  I’m not a big fan of elm but I love white maple.  Fruit woods like apple and cherry burn clean, hot and long but are almost impossible to split with an axe. I’ll be doing a lot of cutting with my little chainsaws getting some of the wood into usable sizes.

I got a 3 pound splitting maul that should help split and stack the wood under the carport.  I have to sharpen all of axes and mauls, but I have all of the tools to cut and split all of my fire wood.  I think I will get another 2 cords of poplar around August or September.  I know many people poo-poo pine, fir or using poplar as firewood.  I really like poplar as a fire wood.  Poplar burns clean, is easy to start and burns about as long as Doug fir and poplar cheaper about $100.00 per cord than Doug fir, from my supplier. It seems that poplar has a straight grain though many knots/ branches in that tree.  The little 3 pound maul cut trough a small bit of poplar easily even using a dull edge maul.

Stay away from using a Star type maul unless you are using a hydraulic or powered wood splitter. If you are splitting wood using muscle power a simple wedge type maul will take less effort to split wood. I suspect I’ll be using my 3 pound splitting wedge to start on the wood and then use my 3 pound sledge to drive the maul through the chunk of wood. It will be slow,  but it is what I can handle with my physical limitations.  I bet there are a lot of people that have the stamina to swing a 3 pound sledge for several hours, that would be worn out swing an 8-12 splitting maul for an hour or 2 especially if they never split fire wood in their life.

I just want split fire wood ready to burn for winter.  If I work 20 minutes a couple time per day every other day for the next 5 months and I have my fire wood ready to burn by October.  I’m good to go this winter.  If I could do the same job in two weeks in June it would not change the fact that the wood is ready to burn in October.

I’m a little peeved I got a nasty gram from the city about weeds in my alley area when we have had almost daily rain and they demand I kill the weeds that no one in Idaho has every proven capable of killing.  It is annoying as I have added a lot of rock and mulch to add drainage and I’m trying to build the soil that won’t give weeds good growing area.  I don’t use weedkiller/Roundup because I’m trying to build up the soil to support good plants.  Building soil takes time, even years and my weeds are not that bad plus weeds can be good as the hold bad soil in place.  I hate cheat grass and goat heads but until you improve the soil and replace the bad plants, the weed problem will remain a problem.  All the city of Nampa is the weeds are not tall of unsightly.  Making good soil or growing healthy plants is far down on the list.

Sorry for the rant, I got some mossy rose/portaluca to add to my alley way garden bed.  I have a bit of good dirt and the sun chokes are doing okay coming back.  I’m a bit pissed about the edicts from the City of Nampa but I’m still trying to make the alley way garden the best it can be as a healthy garden.

 


Kind of lazy plus some updates

May 8, 2019

This new spring/summer has really screwed up my sleep schedule. I have been coming up about 2 hours short on for the last few nights.  That has sort of worn me down and I’m not getting all the projects done daily.  But I’m going to darken my window blinds tonight and see if the morning sunlight is waking me up early.

I got a start moving some of the older wood to it’s new spot under the carport. Organizing the wood racks for the wood delivery in a couple of weeks is one of the bigger jobs that needs to get done.  Some of last year’s wood delivery was stacked on topped of the older dry wood that I need to cut and use up this winter. Having the older seasoned wood ready to use will help make my wood pile easily accessible will give me a better idea about how much wood I need to burn during a “Normal” winter.  I need to move the wood racks a little bit so I get good rain coverage with my tarps but the wood can season naturally this summer/fall.  I got the final design of my kindling box finished and I just need to finish adding the cedar wall slats and top so the kindling can season and stay dry.  I know this is a simple box with an angled lid but it is also my first try at constructing something like this, so a few mistakes is part of my learning process.

Much like the wood racks I’m adjusting the raised bed gardens and the use of the frost cloth.  I have heard that some people cover their gardens through the summer but I’m going to open the tops of the frost cloth for natural pollinators to do their job. I just hope the little bumblebees will come in and do the hard work.  I have to say this is the first year in five years that I saw the fuzzy little bumble bees in my apple tree blossoms and among the flowers.  I hope this means that the bee population is starting to recover.  I’m also using my frost cloth as a barrier around my raised bed gardens to keep my Peke Tucker from digging in the beds and so far it seems to be working.  Tucker has his little swimming pool of dirt and a couple of places in the yard to dig. So he is happy and has not dug in the raised beds.

I used some 90 degree elbows to make pvc square over the raised garden beds. For my garden I think this set up will work best for most of the summer.  The wonderful thing about pvc pipe is you can adjust it, change configurations very cheap and easily.  One thing I noticed in myself using the frost cloth is I don’t see the garden beds daily So there is tendency in myself to assume the plants are fine and don’t need weeding.  So far my bed is okay but that sort of “out of sight, out of mind”  is something I need to avoid.

Went to my local garden store and got some winter squash plants for the 3 sisters garden.  They had a Sedum tray on sale that I got a rain check on to start planting in the alley garden.  I need to add more plants in the alley way garden to drive out the nasty weeds.  I need to adjust my rock and mulch and add a different water plan.  I’m not sure trying to drown weeds is a good plan. LOL

Updates:  The Homemade pepper spray appears to be a success!  I have had no squirrel size hole dug in my berry planters. I’ll add another spray coat to the straw mulch this week but so far I’m very please with the results.  The red potatoes are putting on a lot of new growth so this weekend I’ll add more dirt to the buckets.  Mom tells me the blue potatoes tend to grow a bit slower so I have not given up on those taters.  The Starting plants are ready to put in larger pots.  I want to grow every plant but some times you just have to thin out the starts.  I am excited as I will have starter plant to give Mom and my neighbors.  Once I give away the plants, I don’t have to see the plant carnage !  Last but not least I have saved the “burnt” cast iron pans and I’m building up the non-stick coating. Scrambled eggs are not sticking much to either pan so I think the pans are as good as they can be.