The Garden cart is started and some chores got done

June 25, 2020

Finally the front yard got mowed and goodness the grass was tall.  I emptied the grass clippings bag four times for a lawn that is not that big.  I have one of those big 65 gallon trash bins and I estimate I filled it about 2/3’s full with just grass clippings.  I did not anticipate how much faster the grass and other weeds/plants in the front yard would grow after the big tree was cut down.  I cleaned up an cut back most of the growth but now I have much more new growth of my pine shrub, a volunteer tree and many weeds.  While I anticipated cutting down the tree would change the front yard eco-system/climate. I did not anticipate the how fast I’d see the growth on many plants/weeds.  I’m trying to catch up to the massive changes happening on the front yard and plant beds.

I have tested out the “blade cutters” with the Ryobi weed wacker on the weeds in the alley and the grape vines.  You don’t want to use the blades around a tree, stone surface or fence but the blades do a good job cutting vines, thistle and “cheat” grass. The blades will send gravel flying and some woody stems might sting/cut you if you are in shorts. I think if you are wearing jeans or heavy cloth pants you would not suffer any minor injuries or notice what materials the blades “kick” up.  For a $15.00 purchase I think the cost is okay for the Ryobi weed wacker.

I have started building the Garden Cart and so far so good.  I’m not a carpenter by any stretch of the imagination but I have learned is dry fit every  bit of wood before you screw and glue.  It is also okay to make a mistake, that is how you learn. My “concept” is a small but deep soil bed planter that looks good and will fit on a balcony, on a patio next to BBQ or for a person with limited mobility to have a small “garden bed/planter box” of herbs, flowers or vegetables.  Total dimensions  of the box are 2 ft wide by 4 feet long and approx. 3 feet tall. The dirt will fill the box will be approx.12-18 inches deep. I’m using  basic/cheap 2x4s for the legs, 1/2 inch plywood. My idea for this garden cart is it will be easy to move to a new location and for easy access/easy to work planter beds.

I’m going to paint the plywood with enamel paint to seal it against rot. I’m using cedar fence wood as the side panels and I think finding a window or chunk of glass to add on top of the little garden cart is possible in the future.  Once I get the box finished I’ll post pics and you can start your own little garden box.  Actually I’m sure many people have made the same sort of garden box,  I just have not seen it explained/laid out.

At the end of the day you must do or do not, it is your choice.  I can find all sorts of reasons not to do something, but I still have to cut the grass and weed the garden.  Golly Jamie you don’t realize how oppressed you are by living in a state that grows food, meat and building products.

I’m trying not to install my small A/C units. I can live with it being up to 80 degrees F. indoors if I can use my window fans to drop the temp. at night.  Adding vinyl siding and insulation the house holds heat/cold add more fans to save on electric costs.

You must save you/your family.  You are on your own for survival. Get to thinking outside the box…

 


Happy Mothers Day !!

May 10, 2020

It was a very Idaho sort of Mothers Day here.  I bought a small rose bush in a very cute Copper “looking” plant watering can. Then I put together Mom’s new Mantis tiller.  The instructions for the tiller’s Quick Start page was great and covered how to add oil and fuel in a very easy to follow format. Mantis even included enough oil to run the little Honda engine, so the tiller is almost fill with gas and get to work. The Mantis tiller is very light weight and that can be a good and bad thing because Mom needs a light weight tiller for her raised beds but having a heavy weight tiller can make digging into hard alkali/clay soil can make putting in a garden less physical work to start.

For my 3 Sisters garden beds I used a garden fork to turn over the soil and then used my little electric tiller to break up the clods of dirt before mixing in more compost into the soil.  While the soil I have in my beds seems to be mineral dense, the soil also compacts without compost and other amendments to the soil.  I suppose some plant other than weeds, might do well in hard compacted soil but I have not found that plant.  So far my plants are doing okay in the raise garden bed except for the new celery I planted that seems to be less sun tolerant. It looks like the Utah tall celery is the best type to grow in my area.

This is a short post but I’m adding to the garden beds.  But I wanted to say to all you Moms that have let us kids fail with our scraped knees, washed all those grass stained clothes and taught us kids how to make grilled cheese and tomato soup was the best meal ever!  Thank you Mom!


Cleaning/organizing the shop

April 14, 2020

The shop has needed a major cleanup and organizing for the last couple of months so I can get all those projects done I have been putting off until I had time to get them done. I have time now so I got started moving and cleaning some of the dirt and getting my shelves and work benches empty of scattered boxes of Mom’s onto her storage pallet.  The job was easier than I expected and I had room on Mom’s pallet for several boxes of books, a box of mom’s knickknacks and a couple of older solar panels that were taking up space on part of the work table. I was surprised by the weight Mom’s older solar panels.  These panels are about 10 years old and they weigh a lot more and are more bulky than panels I have bought in the last 3-5 years.

I think the alternative energy folks are over zealous and unrealistic about replacing fossil fuels for consistent industrial levels energy production.  To give credit where credit is due new solar panels are lighter and give more electric wattage in a smaller package that is good for people that want off-grid electricity.  I think the use of solar energy and other renewable energy sources is great. Solar/wind energy might be a good choice for residential home owners and off grid cabins, RVs and boats but it is not ready to be a consistent power source for industry.

Back the shop clean up I can see why the shelf failed under the weight of a couple of small boxes of books.  The former owner seemed to love re purposing old hollow core doors for shelves. While the shelves seemed to have the bulk to support some weight those hollow core doors never made to be shelves and hold 20-60 pounds of books. Even cheap bookshelves have a solid core of MDF/particle board and the will bow under the weight of hardcover books over time.  I have some 2×4’s to add some strength to the existing work table. I won’t replace the shelf as my little snow blower and tiller have a nice little spot to be stored.

One of the positives of this pandemic is many people have the time to get to many of those hobbies they wanted to try/work at getting more proficient. At least if you don’t have a psycho governor like Vermont or Michigan and arbitrarily declare buying home improvement materials for a garden are non-essential. You would think keeping small businesses and stores selling stuff and generating sale taxes would be important to city,counties and state politicians.  Watch your local politicians and how quick they want to open up the economy and how quick they want to go all “Stazi” encouraging citizen informants to make their enforcement policies easy for the government.

I was disappointed that only 10% of the customers in Fred Meyer were masked and the “Social distancing” seemed to be lacking. These are not evil people they just are denial or this virus is not REAL to them.  Much like crime always happens to someone else, until it happens to them or someone close to them this flu is not real to them.  If this is happening in your neighborhood don’t report “safe space offenders” but notice who goes out masked up and tries to be safe as possible keeping extra social distance, wearing masks, gloves, buying garden seeds and plants.  Those are the people you want to cultivate and be a neighbor you want to help.

It is okay to feel the world is getting a bit crazy.  The world is getting a bit nuts at this time and you see what is happening in real time so feeling anxiety or panicked is a normal response.  Reach out your arms and spin around, that is all you can control. You won’t get any politician recalled or voted out of office for many months.  What are you going to do for yourself and your family/community?  I mean you being pro-active and not whining on facebook and twitter.  I have read some people are setting up a barter system via Nextdoor.com.  this might be a thing as some folks will trade several pound of flour for some yeast.  Sugar is also an item on the site.  Coffee is still in stores for a descent price. I suspect the supply chain could break and coffee and tea could get expensive or unavailable. As for yeast buy in bulk and yeast can be stored up to 5 years in a freezer.  Yeast also helps makes an easy sourdough starter.

Life will change, how much it will change I have no idea. No change is all perfectly good or bad.  It will just be different.  I’m not that special about being prepared.  I just asked what if….? then added items I thought I might need if things went sideways.  What I did today was water my little back yard lawn and cleaned my shop to make a new work area.  Nothing special at all and most anyone with a home, shop yard could do the same and probably as good or better than myself.

I can pay all my bills right now. I’m on SSD and a little VA benefit so I have some income that I’m used to living on but I suspect inflation is coming by this fall at best and Spring 2021inflation probably . My mortgage payment is locked by contract. SSD/VA payments might lag behind inflation but as long as I can make my house payment I should be okay with my preps for food and energy.  I’m concerned how this new economy will affect people that did not prepare.  There is not much I can do other than control my reactions.

Don’t worry about the national debt. We had a point in 2008-2010 when USA citizen were wiling to take a hit and get US government to reduce the debt.  That time has passed and more inflation will hit people.  It’s just history of people making bad choices. Your money may become worthless.  Any plant out of your garden will become priceless.


Fire wood area cleanup is done and chopping kindling

December 13, 2019

The Doug fir area cleanup went much faster than I had anticipated. Some firewood  is still in the walk way, but it is less than 4 feet high and two layers deep.  I suspect most of that firewood will be on my porch wood rack or cut into kindling in the near future.  I got rid of the oversized tarp that was great at capturing leaves and water. Somewhat less effective on keeping the firewood dry.  While large tarps can be attractive to cover stuff to keep dry. The tarps are also good funneling that water onto firewood or other things you want to keep dry.  In my experience using smaller tarps covering firewood is  better compared to large tarps that are difficult to work with, can be caught by the wind and can hold a lot of water/debris.  So far the carport/ awning area has been the best area for storing and seasoning wood.

I got some more kindling cut for the kindling box.  Now most of my  cut kindling sized wood is around a 1/2 inch thick or less in diameter.  I’ll be adding a few thicker chunks of wood in the 1-2 inch in diameter range. For that sort of in-between stage from kindling to larger chunks of split firewood.  This is a much easier task with the hard wood stump Mom gave me and I finally got the axe sharpened properly to cut wood.  Now I can split that fire wood in a stroke or two of the axe. It has taken a bit of effort to sharpen the axe.  I’m not quite there, with a sharp hatchet.

It might seem a waste of time sharpening a tool first,  rather than get to cutting right away.  Even 10 minutes of “proper/correct”  sharpening an axe, hatchet or chainsaw will make you much more productive by the end of the day. My hatchet is no longer sharp.  It is sort of bonking off wood rather than splitting wood because it is a wedge, rather than a “cutting” tool.

While cutting kindling is not one of my favorite things to do.  I sort of like splitting fire wood into smaller, more easily burnable chunks of wood.  It might be I like splitting wood because my sharpened axe is good at cutting wood. also I can split more wood quickly compared to cutting kindling!

They kittens were busy climbing trees, getting on the shop roof and figuring a way to get off the shop roof. Ashe the kitten relaxing in front of the wood stove.

Ashe warms the tummy

tired kitten

Ashe still warming the tummy

Tege the kitten  has a bit darker coloring and more spots along with the Tiger stripes.   Tege the kitten is a bit more proper in following cat protocol.

Tege sits on the warm Computer box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m trying to get better pics of the kittens but I’m terrible at photography. There might be a a bit Bengal genes thought the Mama cat was a solid gray color.  All of the kittens I have seen from this mother cat tend to have higher shoulders that slope down the spine to the lower hips.  It gives the kittens a very panther/jaguar, wild cat sort of look in profile. While ocelots have a tan/tawny coat  along with stripes and spots.  Both of my kitten are a mixture of shades of black and grey, with a bit of Tan belly with crazy spots on the belly mixed with stripes.   I’m very pleased with the kittens though I have been a bit bloodied by the kittens climbing me.  A little spray bottle of water as a deterrent seems very effective for correcting.   unacceptable behavior.

 


Gosh the fire feels good….

December 9, 2019

The Treasure Valley has about 3 days of dry weather and cool nights happening this week.  I am getting to work  fixing the Doug Fir wood pile as my tarps got blown off the wood pile and is not keeping all the wood dry. It seems the a couple of tarps are funneling rain water down on to part of the wood stack.  I pulled off the big tarp that did a great job catching leaves and water.  Not such a great job keeping the fire wood dry.   I’m going to clear the firewood from the walk way between my wood racks, then cover the wood with smaller but more closely fitting tarps across the top of the  wood stacks.  My hope is that having the walkway area clear of wood will create a breezeway so the wind keep the firewood drying to help “season” the fire wood long term.

Mom picked up another box of the Doug fir kindling.  She wants to pay me for the wood and the effort I make cutting kindling but I have no idea what to charge or how to cost it out.  She is my Mom and I want her to be warm and have fairly easy way to start a wood fire.  Now the basic box of kindling  should last about 7-10 days worth of starting a daily wood fire.  It takes cutting about 4 chunks of the split Doug fir to fill the kindling box.  Plus about 30-45 minutes of splitting the wood into kindling size pieces.  Perhaps about $10.00-$20.00 per month to keep the kindling box full?  I  don’t charge Mom for the fire starters as she assisted with the wax for making the fire starters.

I used my little battery powered chainsaw to try and “level” my wood stump.  It sort of worked, but my hands gave out after a few minutes of the vibrating chainsaw skimming along the top of the stump.  It is a first trial but I think a few more passes with the chain saw will get into the good solid wood of the stump.  This a tall and somewhat old stump I’m using the chainsaw to try and make the top of the stump a bit more flat to cut kindling.  The wood cutting stump Mom gave me is working great with just a couple of 3/4 inch shims of lumber.  With the shorter cutting stump and the sharpened axe I’m cutting through wet and knotty Doug fir in one or two strike of the axe.  The wood I cut is not always the best for kindling but in about 45 minutes worth of work I can split the firewood into pieces then use the hatchet to cut kindling for 7-10 days.  If I ever fill that kindling box. I’ll have at least a one year’s worth of firewood stove kindling for both Mom and myself.

A report on the new muffin paper cup fire starters:  The muffin cups are a bit larger/fuller of the sawdust and wax, but don’t have the cardboard egg carton paper to assist with starting a fire.  Overall I consider the standard size muffin papers fire wood starters a success.  I’ve tried using old candles, “white wax” candles from the local dollar stores making these fire starters.  What seems to work best is paraffin wax from the canning section.  Will old candles work?  Yes, but not very well even with mixing with clear paraffin wax. I recommend buy the “canning wax” for making your own  fire starters.

Back to the title of this post the warmth of the wood stove feels better to me after doing work on the wood pile.  The satisfaction of cutting your kindling, making “firestarters” , stacking fire wood and bringing wood into the house to burn is so satisfying.  I buy split fire wood and have it delivered but I stack and often re-stack that wood to get the best output of heat.  Now I am getting better at controlling that heat and now my whole house is warm.  It is a great feeling!  The fire feels so much warmer because of all the effort.

I can’t say enough good things about the Hotpoint rotating fans of 12′ behind the wood stove and the larger 16′ fan pushing the heat through my house through door ways and around walls. Just 2 fans now push the heat to the backside of my house.  Great fans get them on sale if you can afford it!  I’m excited to see how well the fans work moving air next summer.

 


Overall a good week of getting stuff done

November 19, 2019

I finally got some work done this week!  I got motivated to get some of the “little tasks”completed around my house and got to help out Mom with her house and some tree cutting cleanup.

Mom’s tree cutter did a less than optimal job lifting a tree and leaving debris all over the yard and hanging on the fence.  It’s a bit like claiming I’m barber/hairdresser and then cut only bangs badly!  Well the situation sucked but Mom got a lot of cleanup work done last weekend. So Mom and I jumped in with our little chainsaws and cleared most of the larger branches hanging or laying against the fence.  I know that my B&D 20 volt chainsaw can cut about 3-4 inch diameter log that is wet.  The B&D went through 2-3 inch dry wood branches like butter.  I did change out 20 volt/1.5 amp battery about 20 minutes into the work.  I think the first battery was partially discharged as I add a fully charged battery and it easily cut the 3-4 inch diameter log into 5 or 6 firewood size chunks of wood.

I got a couple of tree stumps  from the job helping Mom for about 45-60 minutes of labor.  The Plum wood stumps are perfect for wood cutting other than not having a level surface.  Having a cutting stump about knee high seems about perfect for splitting wood.  Cutting kindling requires a stump of about 18-24 inches high for me as I’m 5 foot 6 and female.  I had a tall cutting stump that is great for cutting kindling but a shorter stump makes splitting logs easier as you get a gravity assist .  As a 5′ 6” female I know I can generate more cutting energy directed at a stump 24 inches tall rather than 30 inches tall.  OMG that plum wood is hard and dense. I’m still learning how to sharpen an axe and My axe bounced off the Plum stump.  This axe cuts through Doug fir, white maple with no problem.

Speaking of wood. I got a call from a wood supplier that asked for cash upfront for a wood delivery  because his truck needed an engine rebuild and I never got the wood nor any info.  Well this weekend I got a call from this person and said they owed me a load of wood.  My thoughts were less than charitable at first.  He was correct he did owe me a load of firewood.  Perhaps he felt bad and was trying to fix the wrong he had done to me and possibly other people.  I started thinking about the offer of wood that I had pre-paid for wood to help him get cash to rebuild a truck engine.  Perhaps he lied/overstated the issue but he seems to want make thing right.  I’ll call him back and take delivery of the wood or the $250.00 I paid him.  What more could this guy offer to make things right?

I have screwed up with people in my life and have apologized, tried to correct a problem and be met with silence.  As nothing I could do could mitigate the “TRANSGRESSION”.  It really sucks for me to treat another person the same way.   I have room for a cord of good wood and I can always top off Mom’s wood pile.  So at this point it looks like a win/win for everyone.  I/Mom get some fire wood and this person fixes/ makes thing right in his business dealings.  Happy ending for all!

I got the lawnmower out to clean up the leaves and the day was perfect for work.  I filled two 65 gallon trashcans full of yard debris.  The front lawn is cleared of most leaves so no lawn/leaf mold should develop. I filled up the porch wood rack and added a box for firewood that is smaller split firewood size but larger than kindling.  I should be better at maintaining a fire.  Sadly I am not, so I’ll have to open a window of to cool the house and practice my fire building. I have a wood stove rated for a well insulated 2000 sq. ft. home when I bought it I had a poorly insulated 1200 sq. foot home. Now the house has new windows, additional insulation and vinyl siding.  After 2 years  I’m still  not good with maintaining a temp. in the house.  It goes against the grain to open a window to vent heat from the wood stove.

 


Kitten update, wood stacking and bacon

November 8, 2019

I’m on my way to become a “crazy cat lady”  though I have not bought or invested in a stock pile of boxed wine.  I bought a cat “tree/kitty condo” from Amazon.  I was surprised that by the low cost and what seems to be a great quality cat condo.  I did a lot compare a lot of different cat condos based on price, dimensions and customer ratings and went with the Go Petclub condo for about $48.00.  The cat condo fits well in corner but was stable sitting in the middle of the room without wall support.  The platforms and boxes are 3/8-1/2 inch thick particle board and the support pillars are probably thick cardboard tubes with fairly thick plastic end caps to accept the screws to build the condo. The total height is a little over 4 foot tall.  You get the basic type Ikea sort of pictograph building instructions.  I made a couple of mistakes with using the wrong screw in a couple of spots.  Over all it was a simple 30 minute job to build the cat condo.

The “condo” is covered with a plush “fabric” rather than a thick carpet, but I priced all of the pet/farm stores and to get the about the same size cat condo locally would have cost around $90.00-130.00.  I will admit that some of the more expensive local products used a plush carpet on the platforms rather than a plush fabric.  But none of more expensive condos used quality plywood rather than OSB or particle board for the boxes/platforms or solid wood for the pillars under those platforms. When the fabric gets worn in a few years I can replace the fabric with carpet if I choose or I can just add more plush fabric.  One thing I have to say is all of the posts and the ladder of this cat tower has sisal rope for cat scratching and that will help save my furniture.  Not a big deal as the kittens don’t really scratch up my furniture. Always good to give kittens another safe outlet.

I’m new to using a lot of kitty litter and cleaning a litter box more often as my Smokey cat tended to go poo outside most of the time.  The kittens use the litter box a lot and clumping kitty litter is easy to scoop and clean daily.  Non-clumping kitty litter is hard to scoop daily, smells worse and it seems as equal too or no more dusty compared to clumping kitty litter.  Get a covered kitty litter box and scoop out the clumps at least every 1-2  days and the aroma of having a kitty litter box is very minimal.

I have been trying to gauge my fire wood usage in comparison to previous year’s wood heating and I got nothing!  That is not exactly true as I think I need about 4 cords of soft woods to heat all winter.  Winter in SW Idaho can be all over the place.  Will this winter be like the snowpocolypse of 2016/2017?  or will it be a throwback of 1982/1983 of six weeks of -20 degree F. in late January-February.  I think we will get a cold winter but not a wet winter.  I  think it will be a “deep freeze” of -10 or -20 degrees as the high temp of the day with little snow.  I do think the winter temps night time temps will be cold.  I still suck at banking a fire.

If you like eating pork get stocked up now!  Bacon freezes well and you can use a pressure canner to preserve bacon.  Though my canned bacon has been flavorless.  This is a global porcine black plague. This pork flu spreading through China is like a pork Ebola.  There is no vaccine, no treatment.  Other than the animals must be culled.  That means all animals killed if they discover this disease anywhere!  China is recommending to eat dogs again to get through this pork shortage.   I don’t blame the Chinese people doing what they have to survive. That is socialism!

Kroger/Fred Meyer has 3 pounds of bacon on sale for less than $9.00.   Your choice to buy ahead.

 

 


Plumbing, using the wood stove and cutting kindling update

October 17, 2019

I got the kitchen drain cleaned out last week and I can say it was an unpleasant job. I learned how to use the plumbing snake to pull the clog out of the pipe, rather than trying to push the snake through the clog.  I did not realize that I needed a bit more patience to work the “snake” through the pipe and into the clog.  I’m not sure if  clogs normally come apart in bits and pieces but that is how my clog got cleared.

My wet/dry shop vac did a darn good job sucking most of the water out of the kitchen drain pipe.  I used a sink plug and wrapped a damp dish rag around the vacuum hose at the kitchen drain and sucked about 2.5 gallons of water out of the drain even though my vent pipe placement kept me from sealing off all the air in the pipe.  While there was some gunky water that came out after I cleared the clog.  I did not have to deal with a flood of smelly water coming out of the pipe clean out.  I had about 2-3 gallons of water and clog (gunk) I collected in a couple of buckets after the clog was cleared.

I doubt I’m the only person that escalated into using a caustic drain cleaner you can pour down a sink drain before they try using a plumbing snake.  I had a couple of my cleanup towels absolutely shredded by the two week old and diluted caustic drain cleaner. If you decide to use a caustic drain cleaner  use a shop vac to get most of the water out of the pipes so the cleaner can work on the clog rather than just sit in your pipes.  A Drain King pressure water blast will clean many clogs depending on the vent pipe location.  Last but least for DIY cleaning out clogs is the plumbing snake that you can buy for under $50.00 and will do most jobs but will take some time and effort.  I have a basement that has exposed plumbing pipes and I’m not dealing with scooting around in a crawl space under a house.  If my house had only “crawl space access” to my plumbing. I would have called a plumber and paid the couple hundred bucks to have the clog cleared rather than DIY the job.

It seems almost all of my DIY plumbing jobs take at least 3 hours.  Now some of that is I’m learning but some of that is I have an old 1910 house that has had been “renovated” a few times and lets say a few of the renovations were not up to to current year (2019) codes.  I’m not exactally a code nazi but when I see some thing as a new DIYer that makes no sense other than “slapping something in place” via this is what I have on hand and it works short term.  I totally get why people now try to renovate to code.  Or at least common sense level of making stuff easy to maintain/repair in the future.  Then again common sense is not that common!

Learning to use the wood stove to heat my house.  SW Idaho winters can be a challenge but the cold and snow are only a problem from November to February.  I heat only with wood heat, though I keep a couple of electric space heaters on hand to warm up cold areas of the house.   I’m doing the wood fires different and burning hot fires in the wood stove.  I’m building up coals for lingering over night, rather than adding wood to smolder/smoke without flames.  It is early fall and it has not been all that cold this month.  What I have noticed is the glass window of my wood stove is staying much cleaner and not “sooting” up and getting dirty like it did last year.  My wood stove window needed cleaning every 1-2 weeks now the window is still mostly clean after burning wood for 3 weeks.  So I think the stove is burning wood more efficiently and cleaner.

Another change is burning poplar like I burn pine or Doug fir.  The wood you can burn is very specific to your region.  Telling me to buy maple or oak firewood in Idaho is nearly impossible or very expensive per cord of wood.  The Inter mountain west have forests of pine, fir and cedar not stands of hardwood trees.  Maple trees are almost considered an invasive species here, as the trees tend to die off quickly after a couple of decades.

Fruit woods like apple, cherry, peach and apricots seem to grow well in this area.  Those trees are not always an available resource for firewood.  So I’ll have to deal with the wood I can afford to buy and burn it as efficiently and cost effective as possible.  Actually it does not matter except for a burning the most efficient clean burn wood fire.  I’m burning poplar clean in my wood stove and my Doug fir is burning clean in the wood stove.  I’m will be warm this winter and I’m very good with that situation!

I cut up more kindling to fill my “kindling box” and I’m worn out.  I did a basic job of splitting some doug fir for 30minutes and then cut into kindling. Splitting wood into kindling takes a lot of time and the work cutting kindling is not easier than splitting wood as it takes a lot more time chopping wood. I split a bunch of doug fir into smaller sizes to be cut into kindling in 20-30 minutes. I spent over an hour cutting some of that wood into kindling and I still did not get through all of the cut wood!  I’m guesstimating but I have at least 4 weeks worth of kindling for myself and mom.

I had to quit cutting kindling because it was getting dark and I was getting tired. I sanded off some rust on my Charcoal grill and added some high heat paint.  Once that paint cures for a day I’ll sand and add another layer of High temp paint.

I survived another birthday and got a few job done.  Not perfect but good enough for me.


The Black & Decker weed eater arrived!

October 6, 2019

Mom and I traded weed eaters a couple of weeks ago. Mom had a Ryobi and I had a B&D and Mom could not adjust the Ryobi to use comfortably cutting down weeds.  Mom bought the Ryobi to replace an old 18 volt B&D weed eater she loved to use.  I traded with Mom my 20 volt B&D weed eater for the Ryobi and Mom was pleased as punch because she could work more comfortably and get more work done.  I figured I could use the Ryobi with no problems as I have a few inches in height and better upper body strength.  I adjusted the Ryobi for my height and set up the weed eater head at a better cut  angle and I hated using the tool despite the fact it did cut weeds.   The Ryobi is a heavier and bulkier tool compared to the B&D 20 volt weed eater and honestly the Ryobi is awkward to use to get at weeds around fences and in tight spaces.

For me the best recommendation for any tool is that you can’t wait to use it on the 3rd or 4th time doing the work.  Don’t get me wrong, I really like most Ryobi tools and have many of the 18 volt hand tool family including 2 great spritzing water fans that are great patio/ animal cooling fans for summer.  I suspect the Ryobi weed eater was designed for someone that is 5’8″ to 6 foot tall and needs to clear large patches of weeds rather than a gal wanting to clear out grass and weeds around her rose bushes.

True Value Hardware had a great deal on a 20 volt weed eater and blower for $60.00.  I got my replacement weed eater, another air “sweeper” , with another battery and charger.  Heck the battery and charger alone would have cost at least $30.00 on Amazon,so I’m happy with the price.  I got out and used the weed eater today and it reminded me how much I like this tool.  I could get in and clear out weeds and grass around my roses and not cut my fall “Mums” into oblivion.  It was fun getting all those weeds cut down with the B&D.

I did a little work with the B&D “air sweeper” and it does an okay job blowing leaves away on the mulch path ways.  One of the biggest problems with my corded leaf blower is it blows away everything.  Leaves,  mulch, small pets….  The B&D sweeper blows away most leaf clutter without blowing away much of the wood mulch.  If you make wood mulch pathways you will need to replace the mulch every year or two.

Grill cleanup time:  Do you grill?  Have grates of the grill got a bit gunky in places your grill brush can’t reach?  How about your  “Self-cleaning”  oven? Has it got a bit of goo stuck on from that last peach/apple cobbler or pie.  This a great time to run the clean oven cycle on your oven and add all of your grill grates to the oven’s self-cleaning.  Most self cleaning ovens hit over 500 + degrees F. for hours and simply burn off any food residue at high heat.  Turn on your vent fan on low for any smoke and watch your oven burn your gill grates clean.  After your grates are clean wipe down the grates with a high heat food safe oil.  I use lard but peanut oil is a great food safe high heat oil.

Speaking about grills. I have moved my big charcoal grill under the patio cover and will be sanding and adding more heat resistant paint. This was about $200.00 grill.  A bit cheap when you consider I need to buy at least a $500.00 grill to upgrade.  Most “home” grills don’t have the head space to BBQ a 14-17 pound turkey and I love BBQ turkey! BBQ a turkey is easy.  Brine the bird as it thaws for about 5 days.  Use a mesquite chunk/lump charcoal and maintain about 300-350 degree F.heat for 3-4 hours.  Rotate the bird for even cooking around 15-20 minutes and it is done.   This is great job for the BBQ types that love watching meat cook and those that need to cook casseroles and pies have a “turkey free” oven space

BBQing a turkey is much safer than deep frying a turkey. Rather than buying a large bird.  You can buy a couple of smaller birds and try out different brines and seasonings or add wood chips/smoke flavors.  I could cook to smaller birds at the same time but no neighbors have asked me to cook their turkey : (

Burning poplar wood.  I’m getting my poplar cut and split so no effort on my part to to process the wood.  I know that poplar is considered a hardwood but, It really burns like a soft wood, best if you think about it as something like Doug fir rather than another hard wood wood like maple.  I lived through a “chimney fire” as a kid and speaking for myself I always thought a cool “fire” was a good fire.  Welp I was wrong!  A hot fire burns cleaner with very little soot.  Last year I dealt with a lot of ash, this year ash “so far” is almost non-existent.  If it was last year, I would have dumped at least 2-4 ash buckets. This year I doubt I have an inch worth of ash in the wood stove after starting random daily fires.

I did get most of my wood early and it was stacked to dry quickly.  I live in the west so we have lots of pine and fir forests. Very little hardwood for firewood.  Poplar is an okay wood to burn comparable to Doug fir though less easy to split.

That is enough rambling from me today.

 

 

 


Yard cleanup, fire starters and kindling OH MY

August 26, 2019

I’m getting leaves on the ground along with apples and walnuts.  Keeping the apples and walnuts cleaned up is critical for me as I always find those gifts and either a twist my ankle or end up with Apple goo on my shoes.  Neither outcome is what I consider positive.  The B&D air sweeper/ blower worked well blowing the leaf materiel into a pile, without blowing away the mulch. After that quick blow of the air sweeper it was easy to rake up the heavier stuff and toss it in the garbage.   Speaking of tools Mom and I are trading my B&D 20 volt weed eater for her 18 volt Ryobi. Mom doesn’t feel comfortable using the Ryobi,  based on the tools larger size and over all bulk. I’ll let Mom tryout my smaller/lighter B&D and see if that tool is more comfortable for her.  I think Mom is going to fall in love with the smaller size of the B&D weed eater.

On to making more fire starters. I had a little bit of leftover wax from last year so I bought four pounds of wax for this years batch of fire starters. I used about 1.5-2 pounds to make 120 individual fire starters.  I use 1 fire starter a day in my wood stove. Theoretically 120 fire starters should last about 4 months or from about mid October to February of next year.  Of course things seldom work out as perfectly as the theory says it should and I’m making the fire starters for mom and myself this year.  Mom is bringing some of her extra egg cartons to make more fire starters so that the both of us have at least a couple of months worth on hand this heating season.  Honestly I see my fire starters as a thing to get a fire started fast to warm up the house as quick as possible, rather than a “It would be nice to have a fire tonight” sort of thing.  For that sort of fire I’ll be using newspaper to start that type of fire.

The kindling box or should I say that “Freaking Huge Kindling” box?  I did about 30 minutes of chopping and I managed to fill the bottom of the box about one layer thick of kindling.  That was a little discouraging but I’m glad I gave my self a time limit as I have not chopped wood for almost 2 months and my muscles are out of practice.  I had a little muscle tremor when I was finished with that job.  While my muscles were challenged  by cutting kindling. The Dremel tool and stone sharpening of the axe and hatchet worked great.  If you buy a cheap axe/hatchet like I did the Dremel tools does a great job of putting a better edge on a tool without heating up the steel that might change it’s “temper”.  Yes, I still needed to use the stone to clean up the edge but the Dremel made getting that basic “cutting edge” faster and easier for me.  I have a lopper that crushes rather than cuts. I think the Dremel might put a good edge on that tool.  I want to learn how to maintain those yard cutting tools and make them better at the job.  I don’t remember who said it but there is a quote about someone given a job to cut down a large tree in 6 hours and the first 4 hours he spent sharpening the axe/saw.