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

August 31, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Nice to have the plumbing fixed, planning for fall/winter

July 8, 2015

It was so nice to wassh clothes and dishes without running a hose to drain the washer, have all the drains working properly in the kitchen as well as working bathroom faucet.  I have become very appreciative of modern plumbing and all the ways it makes daily life cleaner and requires much less work.   Because I have gone a week without tap water and had to use work a rounds for sinks, toilets and drains. I have gained a lot of respect for basic plumbing that brings in safe water to drink along with getting rid of waste that can cause disease.  I suppose my biggest fear in any disaster or collapse is lack of clean drinking water and sewage treatment.  After the storm Sandy hit NY people crapped in non-working toilets and then in the hallways/common areas because they could not get rid of human waste. Sewage treatment plants backed up and all of the waste flowed into rivers and low ground surrounding the city. Waste going untreated is all to common following most disasters and creates a breeding ground for diseases,  so it is critical that you have your own waste disposal plan and a way to create more safe drinking water in addition to what you have stored.

Speaking for myself, I underestimated the physical energy required to move water using muscle power during my no tap water/ no water heater tests. A great test is do all your basic chores but use only your stored water rather than your tap water for a day.  Are you planning to use a “water bob” in the bathtub for your emergency water supply? Then use only that water for everything that requires water for a day. Washing dishes/ clothes, drinking/cooking, clean up,  watering your garden, pets and plants.  In winter heating water on a wood or gas stove inside is easy, in the summer you will also heat up the house. Having a way to heat water and cook outdoors will keep the house cooler and more comfortable.  Do you have big pots capable of heating 2-5  gallons of water at a time and are you strong enough to move that much water where you need it?  I recommend getting several of the big 5 gallon Igloo drink jugs for your hot water storage.  These jugs are great multi-taskers that can store cold water and keep it cold or hot water and keep it hot. Also these igloo coolers can store ice and food “in a pinch”.  Almost any insulated cooler with a spigot will work for store hot or cold water but I like the 5 gallon/20 quart type as 40 pounds is about my limit on lifting water.

Dealing with waste I’m planning on using my compost pile and burning “trash” via a “burn barrel”. I am buying “compostable” paper plates and cups to help deal with the waste issue.  I have plans for a small septic tank/field and outhouse for a long term “emergency” but they can’t be done now under city code. If the SHTF and it is a long term “emergency  I will implement stage 2 of my sanitation plan.

It is July and for me it is time to start thinking about getting ready for winter. Things like getting the wood stove cleaned and inspected and start saving up cash to pay for fire wood.  I have some scavenged materials on hand that need to be installed to make my wood storage area a bit drier.  This is a great time to start on your Xmas shopping and getting all the fixings you want for your holiday dinners.  I don’t know about you but I have never cared for the “Holiday rush” nor the full- contact shopping that seems to be a thing these days in the USA.  If you are wondering about a gift for a person you might try a a cool idea of telling that person you got them the perfect gift and have them guess what it is. That way you will have a couple of months to get them a gift they really want, rather than what you think they should want.  If they go a bit to expensive you can always shake your head, say I wish I could give you that gift and say you have a budget  of $…for the “perfect gift”.   Budget for Xmas gifts now in July and you will have lots of time to get the gift and the holiday season will be much less stressful.

Just so I can undo all the good I just mentioned about planning ahead, I want to remind you all about also living in the moment!  This is something I have to work on as I am often mentally somewhere 3-6 months in the future and I forget to enjoy life  in the “here and now”.  Planning ahead and setting goals is important but enjoying what you have and being grateful for the everyday things is also important!

Dry wall class, two new pekes , update on the fan/mister setup

June 29, 2015

Mom and I did the Home depot drywall repair class Saturday morning. It was very informative about basic repairs and the tools for cracks and small holes. Saw a demonstration of a neat patching tape, how to spray on texture as well as when to patch and when to replace a section of drywall. I have tried the cheapest and easiest form of repair first and some times that attitude has “bit me in the butt” occasionally wasting money. The guy giving the class was great about giving info for repair when to use KillZ primer and why to use it. Added some old school ways of fixing holes using masking tape and some tips on how to caulk stuff properly. Overall I was pleased with the class.

I saw a couple of older pekes at the canyon county shelter so Mom and I went and  look at them. The peke’s owner had died and the shelter wanted both dogs to go to a new home together and waived the adoption fee for both animals for Mom because she is a “senior” and she took both animals.  The new dogs had a blast exploring the backyard and while younger peke “Tucker” wanted to play chase the chickens, he stopped quickly after being told “NO!” and called a “bad dog” one time. Tucker also wants to play chase the cat and can jump up on the furniture so Smokey the Cat is very displeased as her previous safe areas are no longer dog dog proof.  I’m sure we will have to re-enforce the lesson a few times but I was a bit surprised how quickly he stop chasing the chickens.  Smokey the Cat is hanging out in the basement and coming upstairs when the new pekes are sleeping or out doors.  The new dogs seem to be settling in well though I think the pekes are a bit out of sorts,  from losing their owner, going  the dog pound, to a shopping center and then to our home.   Mom and I tend to have schedules and as smart as these dogs seem to be, I’m sure they will adapt and settle in within a week. I brushed out the small peke “Tucker” and cut out a few mats of hair and did the same for “Diana the peke”,  Mom brushed out “Buddy” the older peke and he was so calm he went to sleep!

Lessons learned  on running the “Arctic Cove” fan/mister setup in 100 + temps  so far… The 18 volt Lithium/ion battery will run both the water pump and fan on low for about 2 hours. Water usage for the mister pump in a bucket is approx. 1 gallon per hour.  I want to add another 18 volt battery as soon as I can afford it. The 18 volt lithium battery is about $45.00 via Home depot or Amazon.  Using just the fan and a hose water hook up (no pump) I get about 6 hours worth of fan power. With temps hit a 100+ having misters/ fans and off grid power have been a huge help keeping the pekes and chickens cooler.  Mom’s chickens seem to prefer the freestanding mister along with the 12 volt clip on fan powered by a 12 volt battery jumper pak for cars. I used and old Black & Decker power pak with the 12 volt fan and recharge via the grid at night.

The 14 watt solar panel takes a bit of practice setting it up correctly to get the Maximum of sunlight.  I think the panel puts out a good voltage but a person might do better charging a small battery power pak first via the solar panel and then use the battery pak to charge a tablet, laptop or smart phone. A couple of ways to charge your gadgets faster and or reduce power use is dim your screen as much as possible and turn on airplane mode.  I set up my car battery jumper power pak to be charged by a couple of  5 watt solar panels.  The jumper power pak is just a bit on the low side for voltage. If the small solar panels will charge the battery pak, great! If not I still have time to plug the pak into the grid and charge it up.   So far so good,  as we have heat warnings via the weatherman but no warnings about brown outs or rolling blackouts.  A forecast of 100 + days for over 3 weeks in early July is a bit unusual.

I wilted a bit this weekend doing yard work though I did get many cooling/energy  tests done. Today I got the back yard raked up of all doggie poo and little green apples and moved stuff back in place after the chickens free ranged. I got the front yard watered, cleaned out some grape vines and trimmed back some of the volunteer elm tree branches.  Weather is a bit odd as the timing seems to be off just a bit. The last couple of years the snow pack has been a bit low but spring rains have been a bit high.  Th god I learned about mulching as my soil is retaining moisture even in 100 + temps.  Mom added straw to the last of the garden beds and with all the wood mulch I added this year the soil is retaining a lot of moisture.

I repaired a couple of hoses and we have a professional plumber coming on the 1st to clear the sink clog and hopefully do a few other jobs cheap because I already bought all the parts. I have $200.00 dedicated for the plumbing work and Mom can add another $ 50.00 to try and get all jobs done.  Clearing the kitchen sink clog is the first priority and then installing the new bathroom faucet with new shut off valves and new hoses. Last but not least is fixing the washer drain installed correctly!  I think we can get at least two of the three jobs done for a couple hundred bucks. I’m just not aware how well having parts already on hand will cut down on the plumber’s costs and billing.

Economically speaking we have projected defaults in the EU (Greece), Eurasia (Ukraine) USA (Puerto Rico) and in Asia China’s stock market is melting down and Japan market is in “Dead man walking”phase.  You can not eliminate risk when you invest. If you stuff paper dollars in your mattress you risk the paper currency changing, you might be robbed, heck your house may burned down. Risk might be mitigated/hedged or transferred to another party but it can not be eliminated.

I always find a bit odd that Dave Ramsey always is big on getting life insurance but hates gold and silver as monetary insurance in a collapse.  In 1964, 2 dimes bought you a gallon of gas. In 2015 2, 1964 dimes will still buy you a gallon of gas. If the dimes are traded for dollars at a local pawn shop. So is gas more expensive or did the dollar lose value compared to silver?  I think Ramsey is great for help folks getting out of debt and he has many great ideas, but I think he has a blind spot about silver and gold as insurance for something of tangible value with no counter party risk.  I think getting out of debt with the Ramsey method is the way to go. You are allowed to disagree with people and make your own path.  How I prepped may not be how you have prepped. Each person/family has different requirements and goals.





Getting Casa de Chaos ready for a heat wave.

June 23, 2015

Summer arrived this week and the temps will climb into triple digits and be about 110 by next Tuesday. I got the two stand/portable misters out for the chickens to help keep the birds cool. Mom and I are looking at adding a different fan on a battery backup in the chicken house.  I got the “Arctic Cove” battery powered mister/fan combo at Home depot wth my military discount it cost $75.00. I budgeted $80.00 so I picked up a 2 pack of 60 watt equivalent LED light bulbs for $4.97.  I really like the LED bulbs for lighting because LEDs do  not flicker like the CFL bulbs and adds no heat like the old fashion incandesent light bulbs.  I charged up the Ryobi 18 volt Lithium-ion battery for the Fan mister combo, ran the Arctic Cove for about 15 minutes as a quick test, overall I’m very pleased with the results.  I have started a full test run to see how long the bucket water and battery power will last.  By Friday all of the cooling items should be tested and hopefully be ready for triple digit temps.

Update on the “Arctic Cove” bucket mister: Uses about 1 gallon of water per hour pump set low with the fan on high! Battery power is looking good after one hour.  About 2 hours of power via the 18 volt battery using the water pump on low and the fan on high via the first charge of the battery.  I think this system is great for cooling in places that don’t have high humidity.

I’m prepping meals for cooking on the “patio kitchen”.  We are making  mostly salads, sandwiches and meats that can be grilled.  My butter crunch lettuce is ready to pick though the rest of the garden has not put out much yet.  For the garden I got some purple kale for the front beds, leeks in the raised beds and what is called moss rose for ground cover in the alley garden to start choking out the cheat grass and goat-head/puncture vine. I’ll try a couple of the moss rose ground cover in the alley way/wood mulch area and a couple of the new plants besides the sun-chokes.

I’m a little worried about electrical brown outs and black outs, as people start using a lot of power for air conditioners and central cooling because it is getting so hot so fast.  Time to break out your generators and make sure it will power your basic needs.  Mom wants to charge up her solar generator to see if she can keep the batteries charged via solar panels.  Time to test power cords, all fuel systems and confirm all gas generators work.

Get all cleaning done that requires power,  such as a vacuuming a carpet to using a clothes washer/dryer.

Do you have Ice on hand? Who has dry ice locally and what is the cost? Do you have propane, butane and charcoal and a way to cook outside. Do you have off grid lights that will not give off heat?  Have you charged up your cell phone,  tablet, laptop’s rechargeable batteries and can you stay cool if the power is turned off?  Have you checked on your neighbors and know their set up.   I don’t expect you to prep for everyone in your neighborhood, but cooler of ice cubes,  a bit of water and sharing a bit of BBQ gas and charcoal to cook a meal is not a terrible thing.

Working on self-reliance can seem to be never ending at times. If you get ready for the small little disasters you tend to be ready for the big disasters.

Summer or winter your needs are the same. In winter it is staying warm and in summer it is staying cool.  Shelter, food, water and security.  It is that simple, but most of the folks in the military realize simple and easy are not the same.

Been busy around Casa de Chaos

June 6, 2015

Mom’s divorce thingy has been moved out to mid-July which sort of sucks. Though it seems that the settelment is getting a little closer to locking in.  It looks like both parties will end up pissed off, but I suppose that is very common in a divorce.  It makes it tough on Mom as she wants to get her own place and have her own stuff around her. She can’t do that as all my extra space is filled up and all we can do is add some smaller items she will need here and there.

Neighbor N and L got started cleaning their front yard to sort of help Don & Sarah sell the home. I walked over a set of very good “loppers” and we filled their little truck with branches from their maple tree.  I got my front lawn mowed and most of the weeds pulled in the front yard rose beds. I trimmed my big elm tree a bit and swept in the front sidewalk and curb in front of my house so my place is looking better overall.  I still need to add the plastic border around the mulched rose beds and my holly bushes but overall the front yard looks good. My golden raspberry and black berry bush are doing very good this year. In fact I think the golden raspberry bush has added nearly four inches of new growth since Mom hit it with a little Miracle-gro and I moved the plant to the front yard.  The blackberry is growing a little slower but it is green and vibrant and seems to be bushing out horizontally rather than going vertical.  I was able to add two of the cracked glass globe solar lights to my front yard.  I think they look great and I will add a more when they go on sale again.  While I can’t say it is a conspiracy, most on the block working to make yards look good this summer and if it helps Don & Sarah sell their home so much the better. I hope I’m not going into “Gladys Kravitz” mode, I was stunned by how many people stopped by Don and Sara’s home last weekend.  About 30 people  stopped and checked out the house, and I think the crazy green and yellow paint job really makes the house stand out. I would not be surprised if they get a few offers at their asking price soon.

In my back yard I added six of the cracked glass globe solar lights. These lights have the option of a white light or a changing color light and I like the changing color mode the best.  I got the backyard raked, cleaning up dog and chicken poo along with some leaves and little green apples.  The chickens seem to be doing a good job of working the back yard and keeping the grass sort of trimmed up.   While I never thought of chickens as a natural lawn mower. They do seem to keep down grass growth without taking the grass to bare ground. At this time Mom lets the bird free range for 1-2 hours per day but the neighborhood has a couple of other homes with chicken that seem to free range longer and their lawns look great and they can keep the lawn looking great with just a weed wacker or a small lawn mower.

Speaking of Chickens the bird flu has a mutation and has shown up in Idaho along with a few other states in the west. I don’t think average homesteaders or urban chicken farmers needs to panic. I do think if you eat chicken or want a turkey for Holiday meals you should stock up now while the prices are low.  I know that paying $1.59-$1.89 per pound for turkey sounds crazy but I expect that may seem cheap in a few months.  I bought a small 14 pound turkey for $1.59 per pound and stashed in the freezer. Gosh I hope I am wrong about poultry prices and this avian flu thing. Perhaps the cost will drop in the future and your “dollar cost averaging” will make up the difference. Pork and beef prices are dropping now so getting a Ham or Prime rib is a more affordable now. I can only tell you what I think may happen and what I’m doing to mitigate the cost hit.  On Monday I will go an buy a 10 pound deli style turkey for $1.88 per pound and I consider it a good deal.  If I find chicken for a dollar a pound or turkey under $1.60 per pound I will consider it a steal!

Last but not least Diana the peke was really a hurting unit.  I got her to the vet and we tried another steroid course of treatment.  The results are almost instantaneous of how she recovered.  Even her limp in front paw is almost gone and we did not have to give her pain killers!  I’m going to ask the vet. for a backup course of steroids just in case Diana has another episode. Hopefully steroid tablets for dogs is not a drug that gets a lot of scrutiny by the government.  She is a dog with a limited life span so if she gets another 2-5 years relatively pain free I will be very very pleased. I can’t afford to put a few thousand dollars for surgery into a 12+ year old dog.  But if I can afford to buy a few drugs that make her mostly pain-free and she has a good quality of life… I’ll try and get them!  If I can’t do that I’ll have her put down.

For all you idiots that try to equivocate putting an animal down is the same as assisted suicide. Humans have reason and can think, animals are a bit more basic. Perhaps I’m a tad more sensitive to the argument as I got smashed to rock bottom but I always thought my life had value.  I would not want some bureaucratic pinhead in charge of valuing my life via some profit and loss statement.

Spring time in SW Idaho

March 22, 2015

Overall it was a mild winter and we are having an early spring. The swings in temps of 20 degrees or more for the daytime highs and rain/spring storms have made me a little achy and sore during the weather changes.  Saturday was a tough day so I worked on my little laptop cleaning it up and reinstalling Comodo anti-virus and firewall and getting the old thing running the to the best of it’s capabilities. I want to get a new laptop with Windows 7 and multi-core processor via in the $200-$300 dollar range as an upgrade around May or June for a laptop that will be a bit better for web browsing and some other tasks I want it to preform.  For now the old laptop is doing okay for what I need from a computer.  I’m looking towards the future of building a small chat/email server and nodes for mesh network this summer. I have done a little linux/unix coding but I need to learn more before I make a neighborhood server and routing network.

On to the yard work, I finally got the grape vines cut back from my gutters. Yes, I have let the grapes run rampant and they need to be cut back rather severely because of my neglect.  I only cleared one corner of the front yard this weekend as all of the big trash bins were full of large items like the toilet. Good news is my herbs did pretty good over winter and the sage and oregeno survived and are growing. This a big “deal” to a tyro gardener that usually kills plants or has them die via a lack of knowledge. Mulch of leaves and straw  deep (3-6 inches) seemed to work for me. Mom and I raked the back yard for doggie poo and plenty of other yard trash. The yard is cleaned up and ready for my next project.

The small bathroom is fully functional and I have not found any drips or wet spots on the floor after the toilet fix. I have to take these maint.  plumbing jobs one room at a time. The washer drain looks fairly straight forward replacing pipes to code rather than adding angles that create clogs.  The bathroom sink faucet replacement has me a bit “spooked” because of the bad valves and I need to shut off all water in the house until it is fixed.  I have plenty stored water on hand but I also know how much work transporting water without a tap can be daily. I think I’ll get the washer drain pipe done first then prep ahead of time on losing water for 24 hours with the igloo jugs and camp shower before the sink repair. Replace the hot water line first because I can cut the hot water off at the tank and once that valve is good to go, I can cut all water off to replace the cold water line. I suppose some people may think I’m being a bit silly about access to tap water.  But moving water by hand takes a lot of physical energy. If you are disabled, you may not have that energy too expend. Please do not think you will find some sort of motivation or energy based on need, that makes you move 15-20 gallons of water quickly or easily. Moving water by hand  is doable, it sure isn’t easy. Please practice you water plan! If you are like me you have underestimated your plan via real world scenarios.  I had plenty of water for me, though I underestimated cleaning, my use and flushing toilets and other little jobs.

Most thing in life are simple, that does not make them easy. There is nothing wrong with calling in a plumber on complex jobs if you can afford paying the plumber. A good plumber could do in less than two hours what took me about two weeks on replacing the toilet. The only difference is time and I learned how to fix everything on a toilet. If things go wrong can you afford to call a plumber, plus there is no reason not to learn how to do simple plumbing jobs yourself and save money and hire the plumber for the complex jobs.


More adventures in Plumbing

December 21, 2014

I decided I would give the Drain King water pressure unclogging tool another shot, but this time I would put the drain king in the pipe under the kitchen sink rather than use the drain adapter. This worked out great for clearing the clog! One small problem one of the pipe fittings cracked and began leaking. Back to the hardware store to get a replacement… and it would not fit. So I finally had to cut off the old fitting and replace it by using some of the ABS cement and a brand new fitting.  Some lessons learned from this task:

  1. The reciprocating saw is good for rough cutting but sucks for detail work.
  2. My hack saw did a very good job cutting the 1 1/2 inch ABS pipe.
  3. I need a bench vice to hold things I need to cut securely. I have enough health problems without lopping off appendages I might want to use later.
  4. Don’t psych yourself out about doing certain steps needed for the job simply because you have not done it before.  Take your time and follow the instructions.
  5. Always dry fit or screw all pipe fittings before sealing the pipe with glue/cement.
  6. Have a backup plan just in case you screw up and need to call in a professional during regular business hours as well as the funds to pay for it.
  7. You might screw up a few things while learning a new skill and trial and error seems to be my “Learning Method” so expect that you might have to make a few trips to the hardware store if some of your DYI repairs don’t go as planned.
  8. In my experience most leaks tend to show up quickly but you should have a bucket or bowl you can put under the repaired section for a few days to make sure the leak is fixed.

It has been about 3 hours since I installed the new pipe with no leaks. I have run several full sinks of water though the drain pipes since the repair so I think both pipe and the clog are fixed.  I have a small bowl I will keep under the sink for couple days,  just in case a leak develops. I learned that cutting ABS pipe with a hacksaw isn’t as hard as I thought it would be and using pipe cement to make connections is pretty simple and straight forward.  A little steel wool and coarse sand paper will clean as well as get rid of any plastic burrs from your cuts.

I still have to replace the valves and water supply hoses for the bathroom faucet replacement but I can turn off the water from the hot water heater and make sure all off the pipe fittings work before I turn off the main water line to replace the cold water valve under the bathroom sink. I’m learning as I try out new plumbing jobs. A professional probably would be much faster on these jobs. But I don’t think I can depend on a Professional in the future so the more things I fix for the long term the better off I will be and the house hold will be somewhat solid for all those basic maintenance issues for a few years.

It has been somewhat warm for December in SW Idaho though quite damp. The MDF above the wood pile is starting to rot and I doubt I can save that wood. I think I can throw a tarp over the frame and save what is left of the MDF and keep fire wood dry this winter.  Mom has either caught a cold or is having a Fybro-flare now. It was amazing how much work she got done moving but all that effort is  catching up with the both of us.  So we will have a nice quiet Xmas with a good Prime rib and the fixings. I talked to Dad and things are still a bit unsettled with his side of the family. I can understand that, so I don’t want to add to that drama and I hope they all have a great Holiday in spite of what is going on.

I have added quite a few jobs around the house this month and my timing as well as a “maintenance fund”. I should have created has me a bit stressed.  I’m a bit “cash poor” for the moment because I paid a few utilities ahead and bought silver while it is cheap. While it is tempting to put off basic home maintenance,  I think it is best to invest in your shelter and do the best job you can afford on repair jobs.  If I want to work on plumbing in my house I will need shut off valves.  So I can’t lose out on this repair done properly and I’m getting a great education about plumbing as well as adding tools needed for those job.

Last but not least the critters are doing okay. Diana the peke is doing much better since I trimmed back that nail and is not so gimpy on her front leg.  I think that nail was sort of like a hang nail for us humans and quite painful to her.  Diana will go to the groomer this week and get a wash and cut of her stray hairs and she will feel great.


Taking it easy today

November 7, 2014

I was pretty worn out after all the moving of furniture and boxes yesterday so I took it easy physically. Mom dropped just a few items and saw my adjustment and she wants to replace my shelving with one of her book cases. That will work out because I can take the shelving downstairs and use it for organizing my storage. I think one of the top 10 items on every preppers wish list is more shelves or cabinets for storage.

I was a little surprised by the difference in storage/shelving I was able to add to the catch-all room by cleaning and organizing it better. A few ideas are now spinning around in my head about making a cabinet for the water barrels and  using  a couple of those furniture moving carts to make the barrels easier to move around when full.  One of the biggest lessons I learned from my water tests is the reality of moving water is a hard job. Any way I can make it easier is going on the todo list!

Some good news, Smokey the cat is reacting much better to the move into the catch all room. She has her food and stuff all setup on the dresser like before and a chair with a down blanket for sleeping on when she needs it. I put a vinyl picnic table cloth on the dresser to protect it when I first brought her home and  now that is her “stuff”and seem to make the transition a lot easier for her. I never thought a cat would care about a table cloth!  Diana the peke, is adding hard food back into her diet. Her cyst hasn’t reduced much lately but it does not bother her in the slightest. I think we are starting to come to the end of her shedding and I gave her another good brushing last night. I’m astounded how such a small dog can shed so much fur without going bald.

I stopped by lowes and picked up three more of the LED bulbs even though they were not on sale to add to the bathroom. I’m replacing light bulbs in room I tend to use the most as well as were the quality of light is critical.  I like the light and have high hopes that these LEDs will reduce my electrical costs in the future.  Every opportunity to save money should be taken advantage of even if it few pennies at a time. If you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.  I went to the Verizon store to switch over the phones and I was very disappointed by how long I had to wait and that I could not complete the transfer as I was told earlier this week.  I went online and checked out Cricket phones and they have a nice plan for unlimited talk and text for only $25.00 a month!  I don’t have a smart phone and all I want is just the ability to talk, though text can be a nice feature in a disaster when voice calls can’t get through.  Another nice thing about Cricket is there is no long term contract to deal with and I felt like Verizon just could not wait to get me under contract with a new phone and phone number.  In today’s economy I won’t have a 2 year contract with huge cancellation fees attached.  If I have to get a new phone and phone number there is no advantage in staying with Verizon and a heck of a lot of downsides.

One of things I see many people do, is only look at the monthly cost/payment and they don’t look at the possible long term costs. I can’t tell you many times I hear people say as long as they can make the monthly payment they are doing fine.  They never see how how over-leveraged they are or how their debt to income ratio has climbed until  they have a small emergency and their credit has dried up or how interest starts to eat them alive financially. I’m not saying all debt is bad, my little wood stove loan has already paid back in lower winter utility bills which has offset some of the cost of the loan. When it is paid off next year all of savings  goes into my energy fund of getting wood early for next winter and I want to add more solar panels and batteries for nice little off grid system for electricity.

Always nice to help someone out

September 16, 2014

JaimieB at was talking about how she loved her wood stove for heat but she doesn’t have a water heater in her off-grid home. I shared my trick of using  “Igloo” water jugs to hold hot water overnight and she was intrigued with the idea.  I don’t see many prepper blogs recommend the Igloo jugs as a part of a water plan but those jugs made my 5 day no tap water test much easier. Most people don’t think of a these insulated jugs or even camp coolers for keeping stuff hot as well as cold. Perhaps it the cost of the insulated jugs compared to a plastic camp jug, but I figure you get a lot more use from the insulated jug compared to a plastic camp jug. These jugs can be filled when you get a “Storm warning” with either hot or cold water and even ice as part of your last minute storm preps. I have two of the five gallon Igloo jugs and a smaller 2.5 gallon jug I use in the bathroom for washing hands and stuff. The smaller jug fits on the counter much better than one of the big jugs.

Speaking of wood stoves I got a chimney sweep coming next week to clean and inspect my stove/chimney for the season. The estimate was only $85.00 for my straight shot chimney which seems to be a very good price. I will have to see what kind of job they do before I recommend them to any one else.  Two things that seem positive is the company was ready to get to work quickly but they were also somewhat busy getting chimneys cleaned here in the valley.  Big Lot’s has a wood rack for only $20.00 that should work great for holding wood on my front porch. With that wood rack I should have a week or more of wood on hand that is easy to use. Though it’s not like I have to hike to the “back 40” to load up my cart with wood. I have a lot of kindling stored this year as I have been picking up all the small sticks my trees shed and put them in a rolling garbage can to use this winter.

Diana the peke seems to have mellowed out and is much less anxious. I’m not sure why but I think because her teeth were a little sore she needed more of the soft/wet dog food to keep her full and the dry dog food was painful to eat. She is still getting some of the harder snacks to help clean her teeth but I have to stock up on the wet dog food because of her age.  Her cyst seems to have stabilized though I still want it removed, it seems it is not bothering her.  I’m saving a bit more money on the chimney cleaning I can go ahead and schedule her surgery and be able to pay for it.

I found some very good buys for the sick room and on bacon. Mom and I are getting a six pack of the XL Tyrex haz-mat suits and a few of the oxygen respirators to support breathing at The basic medical supplies you can get for a good price at Amazon is amazing. While I hope we won’t have to use these items they will add some peace of mind having them on hand.  The bacon I found is at Cash & Carry but it is in the freezer section so I missed it on my shopping trips. It is called Sugar Hill and it is 15 pounds for $22.73 so just over $1.51 per pound cost.  At that price I figure it is worth a test of taste and appearance.  One other great sale is Big 5 sporting goods has New Balance sneakers on sale for $30.00 a pair. It’s been about 10 years since I have seen NB shoes for that price. Adding good shoes is part of your preps especially when you find a good buy.  If you can afford it buy two pairs of a shoe or boot you like and rotate them daily. You will save money, as the shoes will last as long as 3 pair of shoes replaced as they wear out.

Things have been a little crazy this year and sometimes it seems we take two steps forward and one step back, but all a person can do is try and stay focused and keep working on being prepared. These little emergencies will happen and for me it is more of an annoyance rather than a OMG moment of how will I eat or pay the bills.

Cleaning the house, Mom home from surgery and first red? tomato

August 13, 2014

Thunderstorm moving through today but this one had some rain with it and cooled things down very nicely.  Most of the yard work was done but I saw one of the Beef steak tomatoes is a nice orange color. It should not be to much longer and I will have a many more of the tomatoes getting ripe.  The outdoor sink and propane burners are ready for the canning season, though I may move the sink around to find the right spot for it. The sink and table are light weight, if just a bit awkward to move around. I haven’t set up any buckets or drainage for the sink until I find the best spot for the sink. One thing I have found true about myself is the first spot I pick for setting things up in the yard is seldom the best spot for it. I’m getting better about leaving things so I can adjust them a bit before I lock them in.

One of the neighbors asked me to check on some water that was left running before the storm hit. I shut off the water at their place and managed to pull a couple more of the goat heads along the alley. The rain loosened up the soil to make it an easy job and I think I got most of the root this time.  I have left a few weeds growing in the alley but these weeds don’t have  stickers or puncture seeds like cheat grass or goat heads and they seem to sort of keep those weeds in check once I get the root of the nasty weeds out.  Since I’m planning to lay out a heavy layer of  mulch this fall I will try sowing the seeds for the native grasses and the sun chokes  in one area and then plant the sun loving herbs and lavender in the small area covered by cardboard and wood mulch in the spring. My aunt is giving me some of her sun chokes for my alley garden and her sun chokes did great this year.

I don’t think of myself as a gardener though I did have a great garden this year. I do get a thrill to see the first growth and the first fruits of my garden.  Perhaps that is what makes a person a gardener is that excitement of growing things and seeing that work an effort bring forth food, flowers and growth.  I’m also a very stubborn and persistent person when I set a goal.  I have to say I spent over 7 years of being a failure with mediocre gardens at best. While I’m no expert yet, I have passed to at least a journeyman gardener and not just a rank tyro without a clue of what to do.

Mom is home from her knee replacement surgery. No wonder she was hurting as she had a partially torn ligament along with the all the stuff going wrong with the hardware. Gosh she is tough, as she was walking about 5 miles a day with me and stretching and doing her exercises every night along with taking care of a small garden and her chickens and dogs!  She will start physical therapy this Friday and was sort of apologetic that she didn’t think she could start our walks again till next Wednesday!  It seems it was Kismet about Mom getting that “new”chair at the yard sale as it is a good height for her with the knee brace she has to wear.

More cleanup and organizing to get done! I have a few cool days coming up and I can get back to beer making as it won’t be long until I’ll have to get busy with canning the harvest. Overall this year has been going pretty good with just a few hiccups for me. Now the rest of the world is going all “higedly pigidly” but all anyone can do is control what they can and make a plan and execute it.