More chopping wood and snow in the forecast.

December 9, 2018

The last couple of days went great cutting up kindling.  I spent the first day using the 3.5 pound axe to split wood into smaller chunks.  Then I filled up my box of kindling using the hatchet.  Today I still had many of the smaller chunks of wood, so I cut it into kindling for Mom.  I didn’t fill the big 18 gallon bucket with kindling but I got the bucket about 1/2 full.  Mom is going to stop by Tuesday this week so I have at least a day to get the rest of the big bucket filled with kindling.  My hope is that my kindling box will hold enough kindling to last about a week and the big bucket of kindling will last Mom about two weeks.  With the fire starters and  a couple of weeks of kindling Mom should have time to heal up before she needs to worry about how she will start a fire.

Great news for making my fire starters.  Mom has a bunch of old candles she found in her stuff and will donate to the fire starter wax fund. I have a few more egg crates and plenty of wood chips so paraffin wax is what I need to make fire starters.  I figure about 10 egg cartons worth of fire starters will start a fire everyday for 4 months should cover most of the wood heating season from mid November to mid March.  Of course your wood heating season may start earlier or last longer but there is using paper or other fire starters when you want just a small fire to take the chill off the house in the late fall or spring.

Snow is in the forecast and I don’t really mind driving in the snow. I know to slow down, leave a lot of room for braking and sliding on slick roads.  I try and find a safe place and brake hard to make my mini-van slide to test my traction level.  (Empty parking lots are a great place to test your traction, braking and learning to recover from a slide!) My problem is all the other idiots that don’t know how to drive in snow or ice and assume either 4WD, AWD or anti-locks brakes make skidding or sliding impossible.

Any hoo the best place to be when the first couple of snow falls hit, is at home and let the idiots get all the stupid/ignorant driving out of their system.  I stopped by the the grocery store and picked up some tissue paper on sale as I need to replace my stockpile.  I topped off the gas tank in the mini-van with Ethanol free gas.  Great news it is finally under $3.00 a gallon in SW Idaho.  Honestly it should be closer to $2.25-2.50 per gallon given the per barrel cost of oil but the price is the price and I won’t by ethanol fuel if I can avoid it.

The porch wood rack and kindling box is full. I found one of my “kennel” wood rack is full of last year’s maple and cherry wood logs all dry, seasoned and ready to burn over night.  I may give Mom some of the Poplar and see how she likes it compared to the lodgepole pine she bought for her wood pile.  Don’t get me wrong I think Doug fir is one of the best fire woods you can get here in the west.  I also think it would be best to have a hardwood like fruit woods that grow great here in the west. Oak, maple and hickory don’t grow well in the local climate.

I’m starting to get how to use the wood stove since the installations of new windows and siding and losing Mom as the early morning fire starter/wood stoker.  The house really holds heat much better compared to before the new window and siding installation.  I knew my old windows leaked air badly in spite of my caulk/silicon fixes.  Depending on the type of wood I burn the fire will last about 6 hours with the pine.  I wake up to the main part of the house in the low 70’s and the back part of the house in the mid 60’s.  These temps are very comfortable to me though I don’t get a long overnight burn in the wood stove.  With the kindling and fire starters I can get a new fire in the wood stove easily.  If you want to save energy costs and be warm in winter and cool in summer.  You own an older home like I do. I think you should insulate, get energy efficient windows  before you consider any sort of Green Energy solutions.  It is not a sexy solution you will see everyday but you will see it every month in your energy cost.

 

Advertisements

Leaves and outdoor clean up

November 14, 2018

This new recovery system is working out better than I originally anticipated.  A huge bonus for me has been getting more stuff cleaned up in the house during my “rest periods” from the outside jobs.  Sometimes it is getting my shopping list and coupons ready to go for the week.  Doing a little dusting or getting the dishes soaking to wash on my next break before going out and doing more physical work outside.

Toady I was a little surprised by how many little jobs I managed to get done today by using the 15 minute mix of outdoor job, rest, indoor job, rest,  routine.  I got the porch wood rack full of a mix of woods. The kitchen got a good wipe down and all the dishes are clean. All the leaves or clear of most of the major path/walkways.

Getting these jobs done today really made me feel productive and I’m setting more little jobs for mowing up leaves in the front yard over the next few days.  My back yard job will be raking up leaves and cutting kindling to break up the hard jobs and easy jobs.  Oh and shopping for the turkey and Thanksgiving meal goodies.  What is great is I have these jobs planned to be worked on for the next 5 days so if it takes a little longer than 15-20 minutes to do a job I can can come back to it another day.

I’m still in the build up stamina mode but in some ways at the end of the day I feel I have been more productive getting all those little jobs done rather than focusing on some of big jobs started but not completed,  or I’m down for several days and all those little jobs pile up again to become big jobs.  I can’t be the only person that loves waking up in the morning to a clean kitchen, the laundry is done or knowing you can have a cup of coffee relax and plan what you want to get done, rather than what you HAVE to get done today.

Anyhoo, Mom dropped off the electric pressure I bought her as it just isn’t some thing she is using to cook right now.  I don’t mind because now I can double up my recipes and even make human food using the insta pots.  Mom also borrowed my Toro leaf mulcher /vacuum for her yard.  The mulcher will help Mom start adding more organic material to her garden area and help keep leaves from being bagged for trash.  I trashing the killer walnut leaves and moving the saver leaves to nulch into the garden beds.  Right now every thing in the gardens is a bit of a mess as I’m still getting the new beds finished up.

There is still a lot on my to do list to get done before spring.  I love my new pole saw and see many uses for it.  I also don’t want to concuss myself playing with the damn tool.  Once the cherry trees are down I’ll have spot for the green house to be built in the spring.  I have a plan I’ll just have to pace myself.


Sharpen up the hatchet

September 14, 2018

Actually putting an edge on the little hatchet blade happened quickly.  Oh it wasn’t the best edge for cutting wood in the short time I used the stone to sharpen the ax edge.  I did sharpen the little hatchet a lot with just a little bit of effort.  I want to use the little hatchet to cut up kindling, rather than the larger splitting ax for ease of use.  Plus Mom does not have an ax yet and will need to split up some kindling for her wood stove.  Depending on the size of the fire wood a sharp hatchet can make kindling for the wood stove.

The wood I bought and stored is split into wood stove size chunks.  I also got some kindling from the wood guys.  Cutting up kindling was a big deal during the winter.  All the big chunks of wood in your wood stove won’t burn until you start a small fire via kindling first.  So I have to sharpen up the ax and hatchet to cut up kindling for the winter heating season.  I’m sure I’ll have to cut up kindling in winter this year because I’m still learning how to get a proper mix of wood to burn.  At the very least I want at least a week or two of kindling on hand before the winter heating season starts.

The chimney sweep is scheduled for the 1st of October.  I feel as if I’m a bit late getting the chimney/wood stove cleaned but October seems to be the month when I get the  wood stove cleaned according to my records. It is hitting the 70’s F. so far this month but the rapid cool down from August to September has been very noticeable.  A 30+ degree drop in high temps in less than 2 weeks can make you feel like you need a fire in the morning. With the cut up kindling and burning a few mill ends of wood I can start a nice little fire in the AM if I need it for a little extra warmth.

It looks like I’ll catch up financially this month from my getting extra wood and gravel load to help with very localized flooding from the bad winter of 2016/17.  The electric bill in August was a bit high, so August was a bit more costly than I anticipated.  I’m caught up on all bills and both Mom and I have on hand what I think will be enough wood for winter. Having the new windows installed really helped for cooling costs.  August of 100+ temps and smoke from fires drove up my electric energy use.

I wonder what this winter will be like….Weather forecasters seem to think it will be damp and relatively warm.  I think it will be somewhat snowy early and then very cold in SW Idaho.  I hope I’m wrong as I’d love to have a half full wood pile for next year.

I suppose there are some people that want  an apocalypse/disaster to say “I told you so… I don’t want that at all.  I’d much prefer us sniping at each other over the different values of beef, chicken or pork and how to do BBQ properly!  Dry rub or vinegar/tomato based BBQ sauce,  You know the important stuff!


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.


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.