Most of the tree clean up is done and a doggo update!

April 22, 2021

I think the trees that I have been cleaning up are elm trees. I have to say these trees are messy as the drop limbs, twigs and get all tangled up not growing “properly” like some tree in a painting. ūüėȬ† Anyhoo my neighbors came over and cleaned up some limbs and help get most of them in to trash containers to be hauled away by the trash guys.¬† I traded a little bit of computer work ( software for a home office) for having the my tree limbs cut/cleaned up so we both came out ahead on each of our projects.¬†

I cleaned up the last of the small limbs from the trees cut around one of my firewood storage areas. While I still have to cut and move some trunk sections all of the little limbs are in the trash bins ready for garbage day.¬† It is amazing how good it feels to have most of the trees cleaned up and all of the pile of limbs out of the backyard.¬† I have one large tree trunk to cut into a manageable size for for the saw buck that will be out of my firewood stacking area and then everything will be ready for the fire wood delivery on the 26th of April.¬† I’m only getting 2 cords of Doug fir this year as I have hit that “sweet spot” of having more fire wood with 1-2 years of seasoning so I can start start rotating dry firewood.¬† Rather than hope any wood I buy in April will dry enough to use in November. On average I use about 2-3 cords of wood to heat my house using only wood.¬† But SW Idaho hasn’t had a very cold (2-4 weeks of -10 F.) since I have started heating with wood only.¬† I expect to have a cold winters in the future so having a couple of heating seasons worth of wood on hand is the absolute minimum for me as I can’t go and cut firewood myself. With this months delivery I’ll have about 7 cords of wood on hand, but some of the wood won’t be seasoned or the wood is oversized and does not fit my wood stove. Those issues can be fixed with some time and work cutting wood.¬†

Cleaned up some more of the overgrown grape vines. While I think grapes are a great plant they need constant pruning and cleanup not only to keep the grapes vines healthy but given a chance the vines will grow over everything and can literally block other plants from getting any sun. I’m not sure it is possible to kill established grape vines but it is possible to prune them back and cleanup the basic canes without damaging the output of grapes.¬† Clearing out old growth and canes results in more healthy growth. Which can be a pain in the ass when cleaning up old grape vines. I’m trying to clean up the old grape canes and make room for not only my greenhouse but more healthy growth for the grape vines and sometimes hacking away the bad stuff is a good thing.¬†

Using 30% vinegar as a weed killer. So far I can say I have killed Morning Glory, cheat grass, dandelions, thistle and a couple of broad leaf weeds I have not identified.¬† It seems that puncture vine/ goat heads don’t like a more acidic soil after a spray of 30% vinegar but it is early in the spring after spraying vinegar last year. I’m not saying 30% vinegar is the quickest weed killer but it safe and easy to use.¬† It does not kill your soil like Roundup and if you can prove to me that using Round Up is safer and you can plant anything within 1 month of spraying with Round Up I might have a different opinion.¬† I have seen neighbors use Round Up or the weed killing equivalent and every year they have to spray more Round up on basically bare dirt as all that can grow is weeds as the soil is dead.¬†

I spray a little bit of vinegar and I kill cheat grass but I change the acidity of the soil that eliminates goatheads/puncture vine and makes the soil better for plants I want to grow.¬† This is not a perfect solution¬† to weed control I just think it is better than killing everything using Round up.¬† Encouraging plants to grow in marginal conditions is the best way to to eliminate weeds.¬† Weeds are not bad as the are nature’s paramedics for retaining soil.¬† You just have to work with nature and find a way for replacing those weeds with plants that can thrive in the same conditions or with a little bit of help. .¬†

Boomer the dog went for his first walk around the neighborhood.¬† We only did a couple of blocks but he needs to get out and build some confidence.¬† The house training is still a little hit and miss but I don’t think he was in a house a lot so he doesn’t understand about going outside on by himself.¬† Boomer is doing good going outside in the morning as long as I’m with him. I’m his security/safe place so he is not very independent about going outside if I’m not with him.¬†¬†

It has only been 12 days and he did much better with my Mom coming over this week at being less timid. He has learned his name and comes when called, walks on leash well and isn’t bothering the cats much.¬† When I’m out in the backyard he explores and considers the yard his place. I’m sure when Boomer feels secure more of the Terrier attitude/personality will come out.¬†

One of the harder things getting a shelter dog is you have no idea how the animal was treated/trained. I know Boomer was neglected as his nails had got so long they grew into his pads.¬† I suspect he was an outdoor dog that was neglected but not physically abused so it will be a process for him to learn to go outside to go poo and not go poo in the house.¬† Overall I’m very pleased with his progress in just a couple of weeks.¬† Goodness knows that I need to go for walks as much as Boomer if not for the same reasons.¬†


Lots of stuff happening and new doggo at Casa de Chaos!

April 19, 2021

I found a year old terrier, not very tall and weighs about 25 pounds at the local shelter on the 10th of April.¬† The doggo was very timid but he is slowly starting to come out of shell and show his personality.¬† He still tries to chase a couple of my cats but “Tege the cat” doesn’t run and gives him a little paw smack when the doggo goes into “chase the cat” mode.¬† I named the doggo Boomer and he is coming when his name is called.¬† We are still working on the house training but in only a week he is using the doggie door and going poo outside if I am outside with him,¬† but he had¬† a couple of accidents in the house. I suspect he was a neglected outdoors only dog before I got him from the pound. I’m introducing Boomer to My Mom’s dog Jackson also a terrier about the same size as well as my neighbors that Foster dogs and know how to treat a timid under socialized doggos.¬†

In the past I was less than pleased with West Valley Humane Society but I have to say they have vastly improved about placing dogs.¬† I like how you can return an adopted dog within 14 days at no cost¬† if the animal does not fit with a family/home.¬† The also offer a 14 day medical care “rider”¬† if some physical malady is missed at the shelter.¬† I got denied a few dog adoptions because the Shelter did not think the dog would be a good fit but overall I think West Valley Humane Society has really improved how they place animals compared to a few years ago.¬† The cost for adopting animals can be a little higher but I don’t mind a little higher cost if it helps placing a pet in a good home.¬†

I got one fire wood storage area almost cleaned up. I had a neighbor cut back/cut down some trees and there was a lot of debris that needed cleaning up. I’m not complaining as he saved me a lot of money trimming down those trees. Honestly the man cut most of the wood into manageable chunks but I do have a couple of good sized logs I have to cut down to smaller sizes. I cleaned up most of the limbs and cut down a lot of the larger chunks of tree with my little battery powered chain saw. Now I have to cut some of the bigger diameter stuff with the electric corded chainsaw that has a longer bar. While these logs are not huge they are incredibly wet and heavy for me to move around. I have a problem with stacking wood as any new fire wood I stack will be in front of my older seasoned wood from last year.

I will be moving a lot of wood around in order to use more seasoned wood first rather than just keeping stacking new fire wood on top of older more seasoned firewood. I’m trying to adjust but I recommend you think about how you stack your wood pile to use the older more seasoned wood first and not have that fire wood buried by green/newly cut fire wood. Start cutting your kindling now before you need it. I get my cut and split to wood stove length. I have to cut kindling and small size chunks of wood to start a fire. It is much better to cut wood into kindling over the summer rather than cut kindling when you are in a cold house and it is sleeting down icy rain when you want/need to start a fire. You never know if you might get hurt or sick and cutting kindling might be almost impossible for you to make happen.

I don’t think you have to practice being miserable. I think life is tough enough without that practice, but if you want to cut kindling in the middle of a snow storm or in the heat of summer that is on you.


Long raised beds are cleaned up and ready to plant

April 4, 2021

My plan for today was to clean up 1 of the long raised bed to get the “cole” crops like broccoli , cabbages and cauliflower starts in a raised garden bed. Then I got an email from Baker creek to remind me it is now time to start  the seeds for carrots ,radishes, lettuce, kale, chard and spinach planted in the garden beds.  So I cleaned up another raised bed.  Well the last bed that will be for tomatoes, peppers and other hot weather plants looked awful and a bit forlorn not being cleaned up and prepared, I had to prep that bed for future plantings. 

I prepared the beds by; 

  1. Cleaning out most of of the weeds and any old plants.  I got rid of the old onions from last year but I found a couple of multi-colored swiss chard that reseeded itself. 
  2. I used a garden fork to dig/turn over the soil and pull up any deep roots I missed with the initially weed removal.  I think forking the soil helps bring up mineral rich soil along with making the little tiller more effective tilling the soil.
  3. I use a small electric tiller to dig into the garden bed soil and break it up. While my area in the city does not have the best soil for growing plants. The soil is rich in minerals and tilling the garden beds helps make those minerals available to the plants. 
  4. Add in compost and manure: I want to use the tried and true methods of compost and manure. I bought a local mix of compost and cow manure to top off the raised beds.  My hope this hear is I have got the raised beds deep enough so I get good sized root crops. I have about 16-18 inch depth for root crops in the raised beds so my root crop expectations are high. 

I have never had the raised beds this full of good soil nor started correctly timed seedling plants early enough to be ready to plant in the raised beds and I overextended myself  physically getting the beds prepped for plants. I added the last of the pole supports  so I can protect the plants from cold or excessive heat that we get here in the valley.  I added another light to the plant starting table.  I’m excited about starting plants for a spring/ summer/fall garden and have plants on hand that I can plant spring/summer/fall the garden season to maximize production. 

I sprayed down the weeds in the ally beds with 30% Vinegar and it seems to be working killing weeds.  This is the second year I have sprayed and while I did not see the vinegar kill of puncture vines/goatheads last year. It seems that goat heads don’t grow well in acidic soil as I have not found a goathead plant growing in my alley “garden”.  Early days for testing the 30% vinegar as a weed killer but over all I am pleased with the results.  I’d much prefer using Vinegar as a weed killer rather than Round up that sterilizes the soil and then creates more weeds long term. 

I’m still looking for a new doggo but I still have some work to do on the fence to make it more secure as well as some cleanup of tree branches in the yard. It’s puppy season perhaps there will be fewer people looking for the type of dog I want to adopt.  I have to say I’m great at getting dogs adopted by other people as every single doggo I liked has been adopted within hours or days of me taking a look at the dog. While I’m not having the best luck adopting a dog. It has been all good luck for the dogs that get adopted. 


New gates installed and some clean up done.

April 1, 2021

I found out that 48 inch x 48 inch gates are not square and actually are 43 inch by 46 inch for the gate latch and hinge hardware ,to fit a a “48” inch opening for a gate. I tired squaring the back gate but I need to buy a come along/ratchet strap to get that last bit 1/2 inch out of square to consider the the gates “hung” correctly. The gates swing fully 180 degrees and are fully functional as gates that control pet access between the front and back yard. I’m glad I did not have to deal with a new dog while I was repairing the gates.

While I wanted a more intimidating/personal protection dog. I can’t handle/control a 80-120 pound untrained dog because of my disability. I can train a dog but if a strong dog literally drags me via leash, the dog wins on training me. I think I have picked a better set of what I want in a doggo. While I don’t think I’ll find a doggo quickly. I think I’ll find a doggo that fits with what want in a doggo and not any doggo will be wanted in this household. Not met with an attitude of any dog is good enough until I find some thing better. Pets need an owner that is engage with the pet of all sorts.

So I have my criteria for a the new doggo. Probably about 1-3 years of age, medium height of 18-24 inches tall and under 60 pounds as I have to clean/groom the critter and I doubt I could handle any critter that needs a bath if they 80 + pounds and don’t want a bath.

I did a bit of clean up around the yard and both garbage cans are full. I have to clean up the last 3 sister garden bed but I have a couple of months before those beds are needed for planting. The plant starts are growing like gang busters and the cole crops are getting a bit leggy. I have tomatoes and peppers seeds starting to put up green shoots. I have some neighbors that want plant starts so I’ll start hardening off the peas a start more tomato and peppers along with some celery plant starts.

I have not given up on the greenhouse but making the base with lumber has raised up the cost to the point I can’t afford at this time. I have a lot more prep work to do for the greenhouse so not getting built is annoying but not anything new dealing with how stuff works. Do what you can sometimes prices drop on other products when other stuff gets expensive. Roll with the costs because bitching about it will get you nowhere. Just because you can’t afford to do a job today does not mean you can’t afford that job in the future.

Life just is and it does not care about your feelings and often it does not care about Human ” facts” as the earth keeps doing Earth stuff regardless of what the politicians declare.


Repair jobs and my Baker Creek seeds arrived early!

March 27, 2021

A couple of weeks ago my neighbor cut down several of my trees and limbs using my Ryobi pole saw and the pole saw quit working.¬† I guessed it was because the saw ran out of oil.¬† Not mad at my neighbor as Ryobi pole saws tend to leak oil and I did not supply any oil while he was cutting the limbs.¬† I went on Youtube and found the repair for the pole saw was probably a blown fuse that protects the motor if the oil gets low.¬† Only problem is the fuse is deep in the “pole” wiring of the saw. I found a website https://www.ereplacementparts.com that had a replacement pole for the saw and it only cost about $10.00.¬† I finally got to work on fixing the part but there were a couple of issues,¬† #1 The wires were Blue and Brown rather than Black and red like the original pole wiring. I put the blue wire on the Red terminal and the brown wire on black then did a power test and I guessed correctly and the motor ran great.¬† #2 problem was lining the new pole to the old base and that took a couple of tries and the pole does not fit perfectly but the pole saw runs and all it cost was $10.00 and a couple of hours of effort/learning because I have never repaired a pole saw.¬†

I would recommend checking out https://www.ereplacementparts.com if you have power tools you want to repair or if you buy used/trashed power tools.¬† You might find the replacement parts are low cost and save a lot of money compared to paying full price for a new tool.¬† Tearing apart a tool might seem a little daunting to some people but if the tool is already broken and unable to function.¬† You don’t have anything to lose and you might learn something about how the tool works before you just chuck it in the trash and pay full price for a new tool.¬†

I repaired a lamp Mom bought at a local thrift store that would flicker intermittently when turned on.¬† I bought a new switch/lightbulb holder and replaced the old flickering light base.¬† Very easy fix and all it cost for the new base was $6.70 to replace the old base and about 20-30 minutes of hooking the wires up and screwing the lamp back together. I bought a new topper to secure the lampshade to the lamp “harp” that is what the wire support for the lamp shade is named in the hardware store.¬† It is very rewarding to me to repair something especially at a low cost and you get the item you want working.¬† Mom has about $20.00 total cost into a lamp that she really likes and fits the d√©cor of the room.¬†

I think there are opportunities to learn to repair some of your broken stuff.¬† For example I build PC’s and while I may not be up to soldering in capacitors. I can pluck and chuck memory sticks, hard drives and assorted cards and CPUs as well as replace fans, power supplies with some competence. Building a PC is simple but that does not mean it easy or you won’t make mistakes.¬† You will make mistakes, goodness knows I have made plenty, but that is how you learn.¬† You can’t let the fear of failure stop you or you will never try to do anything because trying something new and failure go hand in hand with learning.¬†

The seeds from Baker Creek arrived early and I have to set up another seed starter box. I got the mini-bell peppers, some different varieties of Bok Choy substitute as I have not had much luck growing any type of Bok Choy.¬† I think it gets to hot to fast for seeding Bok Choy plants.¬† Now that I think about it I should start any Bok Choy indoors at the same time as I start my cabbages.¬† I have some different corn to plant this year.¬† I have had good luck planting a early sweet corn, I’m trying a corn that supposed to be a sweet corn early and a dent/popcorn later in the season.¬† While I can’t grow enough corn for flour I’d like to grow enough dent corn to grind for flour and use some of the corn as bird feed.¬†

Inflation is happening in the USA but there also seems some scare-mongering that some how because the Suez canal is blocked The Americas can’t make tissue paper.¬† The USA does not import much Tissue paper and what little we import comes from Canada.¬† I’d like lower timber prices and it would be possible if the USA and Canada opened up logging on federal lands.¬† Now if you drink Coffee or tea I would stock up at today’s relatively low prices.¬† The Suez canal blockage will hit Europe hard at first but we in the Americas will feel it in rising prices for what we consider basic goods.¬† No the Suez canal won’t be shut down for months.¬† I’m guessing about another 2-3 weeks at the worse as corporations and government will¬† move heaven and earth to keep ships moving.¬†

I’m not freaking out about stockpiling random products the Powers That Be are freaking out about stockpiling.¬† I’m more concerned about having coffee on hand rather than toilet paper.¬† Three months ago coffee was cheap and had trouble finding a buyer.¬† Now coffee is black gold, but it isn’t in the USA because S. America grows coffee and the Suez canal does not affect that shipping.¬† ¬†I won’t say I’m expert at Geography how does the Suez Canal shutting down affect the Americas other than oil the Joe¬†Biden wants to import from the Middle East, rather than support energy production in the USA.¬†

I believe this shall pass,  but I will stock up on TP and coffee not because I think their is a shortage of products.  Because I think other people will think there will be shortage.  There is no shortage of gasoline it cost another $1.00 per gallon to buy.  More expensive does not always mean there is a shortage of product to buy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biden wants to import from the Middle East


Started the broccoli, tomatoes, peppers and celery seeds

March 24, 2021

Wow the whole gardening thing has become REAL in my mind with starting the tomatoes and peppers and not just the cole crops of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages. I’m waiting seeds shipping from Baker Creek that will arrive around the end of March. This late start is my fault as I ordered the seeds in mid March and I should have ordered earlier in February or even January. I don’t think it will be to late to start those Baker Creek seeds as most are summer growing plants as long as the starter plants are ready to plant in May the garden is good to grow!

I have started what seeds I have on hand along with starting the broccoli seeds I have started the Sun globe cherry tomato, a heirloom beef steak tomato along with the meaty Roma tomato that is a sauce and canning favorite. I thought I had some Bell pepper seeds on hand but all I had on hand was a “Spanish Variety” of sweet pepper. I have the mini-bell peppers and a Japan Heirloom pepper that has the flavor of a jalape√Īo without any heat coming from Baker Creek. I have to go shopping so I’ll pick up a sweet pepper seed packet

I started some of the Utah tall celery seeds and I have had good luck using “Victoria” celery from nursery starting plants. In fact the Victoria celery seems to handle cold/frosty temps of October/early November better than the Utah tall celery. But remember it was a mild winter last year in this area. Over all I would say the Utah tall celery grows better in hot summer heat (95-100 F.) and the Victoria grows better in cooler temps and can handle mild frost and come back from 28-32 degrees F. and keep growing. The difference between home grown celery to store bought celery is comparable to the difference of store bought tomatoes and home grown tomatoes.

My Peas have grown faster and stronger than I had ever expected and all of those plants have all been moved to larger pots. I thought about planting the peas early but we had a small hail storm a couple of days ago and I doubt those plants would have survived even in the somewhat protected area I have planned for their garden bed. I’m not sure if my cabbage starts are getting “leggy” as I have never started cabbage seeds indoors. The stems are green and about 2-3 inches long and I have no idea how cabbage seeds grow when you start seeds indoors. My Cauliflower seeds have not done as well for germination and I’m using seed packets that are supposed to be for 2021. A couple of pots planted but the germination rate was not good. I have added a few more seeds to the failed pots in hopes I just had a few bad seeds.

I have read that one of the big mistakes that gardeners make is not labeling starting plants properly of keeping a log/diary of what plants do well and those plants that don’t do well. I am guilty of that as well and not keeping good records about what works and does not work year to year for my garden/yard.

Last fall I prepped a section of my yard and planted grass seed. I have grass coming up this spring but it is a little patchy in spots. My biggest problem with planting grass seed is I don’t have irrigation water in the in October when the grass needs moisture and Mama Nature does not respond to my request for rain. I recommend you plant your grass seed in the fall and fill in the bare patches during the spring before you have to put down and weed preventer. I would not add any Lawn Greening chemical until you repair your lawn from bugs and fill those bares spots. The great thing about good compost as you can add it at any time and water it in and it feeds the roots of the grass and not just the top of the plants.

Deep roots is the thing you want for all your landscaping. Trees with deep roots don’t get bent or uprooted via the wind. Building soil not only in your garden but in your yard, will help those trees, plants and shrubs put down more deep roots the better off you will be in the long run.

I think Inflation and self- rationing will be coming to the USA for grains like Rice, beans, cooking oils and grains like happened around 2011-2012. It’s not shortage in the USA, but in places like China, Africa and even Australia and more people are bidding on the same commodities on the global markets. Every business that wants the highest profit will sell to the highest bidder. I don’t blame anyone for selling to the highest bidder. While we can’t be the highest bidder we plebes can be first buying the products we need daily. While Covid struck the supply chain hard you can stockup on the basics and find sales.

It is bizarre, as I consider myself as a bit of armature historian. Yet the 1970’s stagflation, 1980’s 20% interest rates set by Federal reserve are treat as ancient history. I lived being at the bottom of the Reagan economic recovery. While I am a Trump supporter I really don’t understand Biden/democrat supporters. Colleges and Universities are bringing back segregation. Enacting racial hiring policies that exclude some races and the elites are good with this practice?

I don’t have to support any racist corporation like Amazon that blacklist authors. I have no kids in school but my taxes support teachers that don’t teach kids in person or in a classroom in my city. What can’t go on won’t. People here go into store without a mask and no one says BOO to them. I’m good with that as I’m in “Vulnerable” category to Covid as I have I have a compromised immune system. I protected myself regardless of the Government edicts of safety for people.

Private companies have right to set a policy about who enters the store. I’m okay with that policy. I think it is stupid and not well enforced at the local level but they can set any policy they want for the store. You can choose to use the store or go elsewhere base on what you will tolerate.


Puttering around the wood pile and the first robin of Spring has arrived

March 17, 2021

I am using fewer chunks of fire wood but I’m making one or two fires a day so I’m using more kindling.¬† I almost made it through the wood heating season with the pre-cut kindling even with helping Mom with a few boxes this winter.¬† I’m certain if I completely fill my big outdoor kindling box I can go an entire heating season without cutting kindling in next winter.¬† While cutting kindling is not hard work it sure was nice to grab an arm full of kindling to fill up the little indoor kindling box or fill a box of kindling for Mom without having to always cut it up when it was cold or snowy outside.¬†

For the firewood used this season, I guesstimate about two cords but it was a very mild winter for the Treasure valley.  I need to move some of the wood around to make room for two replacement cords for next season.  I have plenty of wood that will have seasoned 2 years which should make next years fires burn even better!  I learned my lesson and started splitting some of the bigger chunks of firewood for a better fire management, and I want to cut some of the older chunks of wood down to fireplace size with the new built sawbuck. I have about  a cord of very dry and seasoned hardwoods but need to be cut to fit in the wood stove. Once that wood is cut up I should have about six cords of seasoned firewood with a good mix of soft and hard woods!   

The hardest thing about using the woodstove for me has been building up a quality of seasoned fire wood.¬† It usually costs a¬† good bit of money to get your firewood and it takes time for the firewood to dry and season.¬† I try and get my firewood in April and burn it in the winter but that isn’t enough time for even softwoods like pine or fir to season and hardwoods take even longer to dry and season properly.¬† What worked for me is to to start buying about 3 chords of wood in the Spring. I usually need about 2 cords of wood so I’d slowly build up a cord of wood “leftover” that had a year to dry and season.¬† One good thing about Treasure Valley weather is the low humidity even in winter so the fire wood keeps drying rather than sucking up moisture that is in the air.¬† I have a couple of different areas where I can store wood that makes it much easier to rotate between different wood piles based on how long they have had time to season.¬†

If you are new to heating your home with a woodstove there will be some big start up costs getting and cutting wood.¬† Starting and tending the fire requires more effort compared to just turning up the thermostat if you feel a bit cold.¬† I find that the wood heat feels much warmer than electric heat. There is something about watching a fire burn, smelling wood smoke that seems to touch me emotionally.¬† Even the smell while I am stacking or splitting wood is almost like aroma therapy. Once you get past the initial “hump” of learning how to use your wood stove for a couple of winters things do get easier from balancing the cost of wood compared to very low electric bills in winter. Knowing you and not the power company or the government controls the temperature in your home in the winter is priceless . Spend the money and get a good wood stove, safely installed and buy or get the best wood you can afford and get enough so your firewood can season/dry for a year or more.¬† There is learning curve and none of these thing will happen overnight but I think it worth the effort, even though there are times it feels a bit tedious.¬†

Gardening season is fast approaching for my area. I’m in the 6A growing zone somewhat similar to the Ozark area though we have a lot less humidity compared to those mountains.¬† This area at the end of the day is High desert and irrigation water is what makes this desert bloom!¬† Our last frost date is May 8-12 but I have seen it snow here as late as May 18 so starting plants early is a gamble at best and a fools game at worst. This is the reason I’m so thrilled with the success of the snow and Alaska peas in the little starter boxes.¬† My hope this year is I won’t have to buy any starter plants from the local stores as I will have plenty of starting plants of my own.¬† I started cleaning up the 3 sisters garden beds and it looks like my planting in those beds was done incorrectly.¬† Not a big surprise as most 3 sister gardens are not done via a raised bed but I found a youtube vid that gave dimensions¬† for a 4 foot sloping mound that works with the dimensions of my 4 foot x 4 foot raised bed.¬† I cleared back more grape vines, leftover morning glory and the old plant material in 2 of the 3 beds before I ran out of space in my garbage bins.¬† It’s going to take some time to get rid of the old garden and tree debris but I have about a few more weeks of planning/prepping before I have to start putting any plants in the ground.¬†

Homedepot.com is offering 4 gallons of 30% vinegar for $75.00 free shipping to your home. If you want an awesome safe to use weed killer this vinegar is the best I have found for my yard.¬† It also seems to stop some dogs from digging in places that¬† holes are not wanted like around fence lines. Using a high acid vinegar might be a problem if you have acidic soil but around here the soil is very alkaline so adding a little bit of vinegar is not a problem. Do you need to clean off ward water stains from your home or clean your windows?¬† This vinegar will clean that up and this is a weed killer that won’t kill your soil like Roundup. I find spraying this 30 % vinegar stops most weeds from sprouting up trough my wood mulched or the rocks in my graveled driveway.¬† I won’t say it is cheap at about $20.00 per gallon but what is the cost of a gallon of Round up that kills your soil and you have to reapply yearly.¬† At least with the vinegar you can add new plants that compete and start to eliminate weeds.¬†

I set up another bird feeding pole mostly for Humming birds, though it had a suet basket and a hook for adding a little bird feeder and a small bin for water.¬† The robin was getting a good drink but did not seem interested in the bird food or suet. I moved a small bird feeder to the new pole as some birds are bullies about what birdss get access to the bird food.¬† I have lots of bushes and plants that provide cover for the little birds.¬† My “holly” shrubs are always full of birds singing.¬† While I don’t always have a neat yard it is always full of life.

Life on this earth is not mundane. There is tons of beauty that happens in nature around us daily if we just take a minute and see the world as it is daily. It is Glorious if not always neat and clean.¬† ¬†Life is simple getting the stuff you need for life is where thing get complicated because you have to deal with people that don’t like simple.¬†

 


Started the cabbage and cauliflower seeds

March 12, 2021

I’m very happy with the new starting plant boxes, Black gold potting soil and the lighting setup in the front room with the 2 windows + the small full spectrum lamp.  The peas have grown so fast they have to be transplanted into larger pots and into a box with a taller dome height.   The peas did not get “leggy” and have grown up straight, tall and have a rich green color in the leaves and stem.  I’m learning about starting plants from seeds and I have read you want at least a “tripole” set of leaves on plant starts before you transplant.  Well these peas have 2 sets of “tripole” leaves and the plants are hitting the very tall dome I set over the plants.  Honestly the peas grew much faster and stronger than I had anticipated so I will transplant the peas into larger pots and into a less intensive growing environment.   I need about another 2 weeks for the outside temps to warm up before I plant the peas in their bed. 

I started the cabbages both green and purple along with the cauliflower seeds in the same starter box. The “Forgiving”  peas gave me me a chance to adjust the heating pads and how much water was needed in the starter boxes.  I added a temp. gauge in the box and the temps got into the mid 80’s F. until I added a small cloth pad to reduce the temp to about 78-79 degrees F. That seems to be a good temp. for starting plants. I run the heat pads and lamps about 12 hours per day and the plants get sun from 2 windows that face mostly north.  If you use a plant heating pad you might want to use a towel or old blanket to mitigate the heat as many plant heating pads don’t have a temp. adjustment dial. 

I started plants originally for only myself and what I thought what Mom might want in our gardens but now I’m expanding the starter plants to see what is possible for me to grow.  We do have a few people in the neighborhood that grow gardens and I’m sure the would love to have a “free” starting plant for their garden.  Especially if it is a plant they never considered growing like Celery was for my garden.  I had an internet friend that got into gardening and starting lots of plants.  More plants than he could ever put in his garden and he set up a table of FREE starter plants in styrofoam/peat cups his yard for people to just grab a plant and try growing a garden.  That idea really appeals to me as it helps people that want to try out gardening, but it it is still small scale that people can use pots, containers or a garden bed.  I might add a little donation coin jar that might pay me a little bit back for soil, seed and my time.  

I got stared on some front yard cleanup .  Nothing huge just cutting some roses and the “holly” hedge plants back enough so I can get at the volunteer tree that is a major pain in the butt to keep under control.  I have some limitations about how much yard debris I’m allowed for trash pick up.  With my neighbor cutting down some of my trees and the branches my trash bins can get very full very fast.  I’m not complaining because that tree trimming would have cost several hundred dollars.  So adjusting the debris I add to the trash bins is part of saving money and not whining when life throws you a curve ball. I’m overjoyed the trees were trimmed back.  Getting rid of the debris from the trees/shrubs getting trimmed back is a bit more of a challenge. 

It is a little early for my region but I have added humming bird feeders to the new bird feeding pole I installed.  According to the bird experts most humming birds return to my area around the end of March.  The weather has been so wacky I figured I’ll add the hummingbird nectar a little early and bring the feeders inside if it might freeze overnight.  I try to fill a small bird bath with water as well as keep pet water feeder full of fresh water.  Fresh water seems to to be the thing to attract critters.  Of course it might not be the critters you want to attract, but even kitty cats need a drink of water from time to time. 

The $1400.00 semi payoff for electing Biden should be hitting folks soon.  I recommend investing in things that have a pay off/help you survive.  I have no idea about your financial situation but I’m going to buy a bit of silver, buy a bit of lumber to build a foundation for my greenhouse and add to my cash on hand for an Emergency.  I have been prepping for a decade and what I consider a good investment might be very different to your idea of investment.  I would say you should invest in real tangible things you need to survive.  Perhaps replacing an old PC, CRT TV or even furniture might be a good investment of your money.  I have all those things and while I could upgrade those items.  I don’t need to upgrade as all items are fully functional and adequate to my needs.  

You know what you need for your life better than anyone.  Once you strip away the propaganda/consumerism most people really don’t need to chase the “rabbit” of moving up in income.  While I don’t begrudge Nancy Pelosi’s $20,000 freezers full of $14.00-20.00  a pint ice cream.  It sure as hell does not say she is one of the common folk!  What is scary someone thought her doing this on twitter was a good look. 

The elites are are over educated idiots living in a bubble.  Even when they try to appeal to the “Serfs” they fail because they don’t see us as anything but serfs/tax donkeys to pay for their latest schemes. 


New phones, starting seeds and trimming trees and bushes

March 7, 2021

Mom’s old cell phone was starting to die and I found out that Verizon will be discontinuing support for older 3 G cell phones probably by the end this year so Mom and I agreed to upgrade and get newer “smart”¬† phones and move to the newer (more expensive) cell phone plans. We did get a good deal on a couple refurbed Samsung Galaxy type cell phones via newegg.com.¬† One phone was under $40.00 and the other phone cost just over $73.00 but we own these phones outright.¬† No payment fee tacked onto the phone bill buying the phone through Verizon’s payment plans.¬† If you are looking for a newer but low cost cell phone I would recommend newegg.com for unlocked refurb phones that will work with what ever cell phone provider network you prefer.¬† Shop for a cell phone because you can easily spend several hundred or even a thousand dollar + for a new cell phone depending on the features you get/want.¬†

We decided to stick with Verizon for a few reasons. We will still get free in-network calling, we keep our phone numbers, we don’t have to pay an activation fee going to a new company or get locked into any 1-2 year contracts. We will be moving into the 5Gb data pre-paid plan by April but our costs per month have gone up about $7.00 each per month until the Verizon loyalty program kicks in at month 3 and month 9 and if rates stay the same. We will save about $3.00 a month on our cell phone costs.¬†

Of course we are both having to learn how to use a smart phone but we have the manuals and Mom and I will get together next week and finish setting up the phones settings to work for us. I like my (new) phone but learning to swipe rather than tap a button or screen is not intuitive to me and while Mom’s old phone had a touch screen she is having some problems getting comfortable with the new phone.¬†

I’m a bit of a geek/nerd. I hate having to upgrade my stuff because companies stop supporting tried and proven tech.¬† I understand that faster speeds, less network slow downs are possible as newer 4-5 G networks are built but all I want is a cell phone that can take and make voice calls and I don’t need all the bells and whistles I get from a smart phone for “FREE” .I have to pay more each month to be on a cell network that offers more FREE stuff, I don’t use, but at a higher cost per month.¬† ¬†RANT OFF!¬†

I started the peas in my new seed starting boxes and I have 100% germination on the Sweet peas and the Alaska peas in less than 5 days. The heating pads really seem to make a difference as I have never had a 100% germination rate with my old set up. I have added a small mat between the starter box and the heat pad as the temp. has bounced up into the high 80’s F. with the starting seeds box. I have two windows that get northern light and a small¬† LED full spectrum plant light on my new set up.

I used last years bag of Miracle grow potting soil but bought a small bag of “Black Gold potting soil. I have to say I’m liking the black gold potting soil better than the Miracle grow soil¬† as it feels better to the touch.¬† I think the Miracle Grow has a bit more woody matter compare to the Black gold.¬† That might¬† not be an issue using larger pots but for small starter plants I prefer Black gold potting soil.¬† ¬†This very exciting for me as I’ll start some of last years cauliflower and cabbage seeds on the 7th or 8th of March following the planting guide for my climate. I have a taller starting box that is set up for larger pots that should work for transplants from the smaller starting pots until all of the outdoor garden beds are prepared and the weather will support the plants.¬† I really want a succession garden to take advantage of the weather locally.

My COLE crops have never done well¬† and I think the reason is I never get them started early enough and then the plants tend to bolt in the heat of summer, rather than grow in the cooler and wetter spring or fall. I need to add in some more lighting but the heating pads are working great and I’m happy with the cheaper starting beds I bought via Home Depot.¬† I’m not shopping Amazon any more and it has made shopping a bit more of a challenge but I¬† like that I’m supporting more local and USA based companies even if it takes longer or the costs are a bit higher I usually get a better, longer lasting product compared to cheap China crap made to “NOT TO LAST”.¬†

If you have neighbors and you have trees/ shrubs or plants in generally you will probably have some issues even if it is a neighbor quietly seething that the branches of your tree are shading, dropping leaves or whatever else Mama Nature does to screw up our plans. I was watching a neighbor standing on a very unstable platform braced by his disabled wife while he trimmed some tree branches.  I could not take it and offered my Ryobi pole saw and a fresh battery so he could trim the tree limbs without me worrying about him falling.   He offered to cut some tree limbs on my property to return the favor of using the tool.  OMG the  neighbor went full on lumber jack and cut down literal trees and  did not clean up  just a few over hanging limbs.   I filled up two large garbage bins, a construction grade trash bag and I have started making branch piles I can wrap a small wood bundle in twine so the garbage men can haul it away. 

I just cut off some dead branches off my lilacs and some growth that was encroaching on my neighbors on the north side of my house,¬† I can sort of understand my neighbor that did so much work trimming my trees once he felt I gave him permission, as his home, yard and stuff is affected by my stuff.¬† I’d be happy to clean up my neighbor’s fence line if I had permission to enter their property to to clean up.¬† I have told my neighbors they can clean up tree branches that are annoying/dangerous and I’ll even help with tools but I can’t always do the work. Perhaps I’m odd, but Private property right is Supreme in my mind and I’m not allowed on anyone’s property without an invitation.¬†¬†

I want to attract Humming birds.¬† So I set up another pole bird feeder with a little bird bath and I might add another small feeder.¬† I have to say using these poles seem to work well as the squirrels can’t get into the bird feeders easily but they do snack on the seed on the ground.¬† I don’t mind squirrels as they are entertaining and the ultimate survivalists’ I do like using pole feeders is that the squirrels don’t get an easy meal. It’s good for them to work for a meal and it fun to watch.¬† I don’t have a wide variety of birds in the back yard. Mostly sparrows, a couple of doves and I think they are called thatchers though I’m not sure that is the correct term.¬† Dark eyed Juncos are predominate. I want to set up a few bird houses and see what bird show up.¬† No I don’t think my cats threaten the extinction of any bird species in my backyard. My three cats have caught exactly one bird this year.¬† The birds that feed in my yard don’t take chances with any potential predator.¬† My cat caught one young bird in a year.¬† I can’t even count all the birds that stop by my feeders but I guess 50-100 + . Many things kill birds but house cat or even feral cats might only catch a bird a week to help check the bird population.¬† House cats are not causing¬† any bird populations to go extinct. Windmills and humans are a different story,.¬†


Storm Warning! What do I do to prepare

February 28, 2021

I am prepared for most disasters I can think up and lived through some small disaster of my own, like going a week without water. I know the last thing I want to do before any type of storm warning is go shopping!  I don’t always succeed but I want to stay home and get the house ready for possible problems that might happen during any seasonal storm. I’m always doing some sort of prep because disasters don’t always announce themselves ahead of time. This post is about what to do when I get a heads up of an incoming storm. 

Clean everything and get those chores done! I don’t think I’m unique in having daily cleaning chores like doing the dishes or weekly chores like cleaning the bathroom or doing the laundry. You may have a larger household so some jobs need done more often but keeping a home somewhat clean needs doing on a regular basis. Cleaning a home is much easier when you have access to hot water and appliances like washer/dryers, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners. I tend to move up my cleaning schedule to get as many jobs that require energy or hot water done as quickly as possible. I tend to start with the laundry even adding towels, bed sheets to make up a load of laundry to wash and dry. Knowing you have clean clothes and other items that will last a few days without worrying about doing laundry when the power is out is worth the effort. Vacuum your carpets/rugs while you have power. Sweeping, mopping and dusting don’t require electrical power but you don’t want to try and sweep a rug clean in a no power situation. Do your dishes be it handwashing or using a dishwasher. You will have the maximum amount of dinner ware available before the storm hits your area. You can still use paper plates, cups and utensil but you won’t have a bunch of dirty plates sitting in your sink or dishwasher while you wait for power to come back on.

Test all your non-electrical powered lighting. Grabbing a flashlight that has dead batteries can be very aggravating when the power is out. Check your stockpile of matches, bic lighters, candles and if you use lanterns or oil lamps make sure the lamps have fuel and the wicks are trimmed and in working order. Take an inventory of the fuel for lamps, matches/lighters and batteries so you know how much you have on hand. While you may not want to shop, if those supplies are low you could make a shopping trip for these items early in the storm warning. If you can’t get these items add these item to your list of things to get in the future.

Charge up everything that needs charging via electrical power. While I like my little solar panel as a backup, it is usually faster to charge electronic items via your home’s electrical outlets. Don’t forget charging up those battery packs or if you have them rechargeable AA,C or d batteries if you have them on hand. Every thing you charge up now will give you more time to use those items without worry if the power goes out. Don’t forget setting up an emergency radio that gives weather reports and if it shortwave you might pick up some local conditions/news reports.

Laundry: I recommend having at least 2 weeks worth of undies, socks and other undergarment you need on hand. Clean clothes are not only warmer but help prevent potential health and odor issues wearing dirty clothes. Your washing machine does not require a lot of power as most appliance go. Many generators can power a washing machine. Washing Machine require a lot of water so if water is an issue hand washing might be your only option in a long term disaster. In the Army I used a reinforced plastic bag, some detergent and a gallon of water to clean some clothes.The results were less than optimal. It is difficult to rinse and squeeze the excess water out of hand washed clothes. I think an Industrial strength Mop bucket with it’s squeeze to drain water is a solution but I can’t afford the cost right now. I have an electric dryer and it is my biggest electrical energy hogs. I can’t even run the dryer via my generators because they can not handle the 240 volts power required for the dryer. I have drying racks but I was surprised about how much physical energy I used with dry clothing on racks compared to using a dryer over a couple of weeks I had my clothes dryer died and I could not replace it. I found that mental and cumulative stress of doing without that appliance very significant. I’m sure the stress would get much worse when dealing with disaster.

Generators: Check out your fuel situation and make sure all of your extension cords are in good shape. Test the generator and see if will start and run safely. Make sure you have oil on hand as most generators have an emergency shut off if the oil level gets low. Plan on using the generator for 2-3 hours at a time a couple times per day just enough to keep the food cold/frozen in the fridge and do some jobs that need electricity. If you run a generator 24/7 you will run out of fuel plus the noise of the generator may attract unwanted attention. Depending on the output of your generator you might be able to recharge all of your gadgets or even watch a movie while the generator powers your fridge/freezer.

Staying warm: I’m a huge fan of the Mr. Buddy heaters. I tested them in cold winters before I had my wood stove and those heater work great especially if you use a fan to move the heat. You can buy an adapter to hook a Mr. Buddy heater to a regular propane tank rather than just a 1 pound tank for about $15.00. Do not run any heater 24/7 in the cold because you will run out of fuel. Warm the house up then pile on the blankets at night. Start the heater up in the morning to about 50-65 degrees F. and put on a sweater to keep warm. It’s not about being comfortable it’s about not having freezing pipes or getting hypothermia. So you might be a little uncomfortable. If you have a decorative fire place, have the chimney cleaned at least every other year and build up a small stack of fire wood. The firewood will burn better the longer it has time to season and you can always use the wood for a little firepit/bonfire in summer and fall.

Cooking without electricity or gas. I had no idea that Nat. gas well heads could freeze up. So if I had a gas cooktop or hot water tank in Texas I would have been scrambling to find a way to cook and have hot water. I have a wood stove but it isn’t a cooking stove. It will heat a lot water to about 165 degrees F. but not to the boiling point of 212 degrees F. I have a propane grill, Charcoal/wood BBQ grill a fire pit all out on my patio. While I love BBQing a Turkey in November I’d prefer having my coffee indoors where it is generally warmer in the house. Butane hot plates or propane camp stoves can make cooking without power easier if not easy. There is a possibility the camp stoves might out gas to a dangerous level if you run them for hours at a time but I just want to boil some water to make coffee in a French press coffee maker or make some ramen, bacon, eggs for breakfast for breakfast. If I want to make a big meal or slow cook something in a Dutch oven I’ll use one of my grills! It’s not just about having the grills or burner plates it is about having fuel on hand to use those grills or burners.

Bugging Out: Sometimes the safest thing to do is leave the disaster area. If you think you might have to bug out and leave your home during a disaster. Bag up all your food in the fridge or freezer food in heavy duty/construction grade garbage bags. If the power stays on while you are away from your home great, but if the power goes out and the food rots all you have to do for clean up is throw that rotted food away and your fridge/freezer won’t smell like rotten food. Turn off all your power, gas, drain your water lines and if possible turn off your water main. Not everyone lives in a stand alone home so turning off the Main lines of power is not possible for apartment dwellers. I’d recommend turning off your main Electrical breaker, but I’m not sure if that is correct in an intermittent power grid situation. Turn off all excess electrical loads like lights, clocks, computers, TVs etc. and unplug sensitive equipment as there might be power spikes as the electricity comes back online. Ask your local power company what they recommend during a power outage as they are highly motivated to get the power back online.

I literally bought wood before I had a wood stove. Okay it wasn’t the best wood but I bought wood before I had a wood stove. I bought Butane before I got this little burner. I did buy little camp stoves that ran on canned butane fuel but I wanted a standard size burner I could use indoors and with my regular kitchen pans. My finding that little butane stove for $8.00 was a bit of serendipity. But I had planned for getting that type of stove in the future even if I had to pay full price for a new one. I bought a Camp Chef propane Camp oven/stove for about $100.00 that has a real oven and a 2 burner cooktop. This stove and oven combo is about the same size as most RV’s oven/stove. Not big but capable of baking and cooking as long as I have propane. I have built up a lot of redundancy for cooking and heat with different types of fuel. I have not gone through a disaster that required a week or two without electricity so I have done my best to anticipate cooking and lighting needs in every season.

Dealing with a disaster if you are prepared is easier but that does not make it easy. I found many things I thought would be easy to deal with manually became much more difficult mentally on day 5-7 compared to day 1-2. There was no change in the effort required needed for the job. I just got worn out dealing with the stress of doing the jobs the hard way. Based on my own reaction in a minor disaster day1-2 things seem okay. I’m keeping up or even getting a little ahead and days 5-7 hit and I’m just feeling worn out doing the work. I never had to make it past that 10-14 days of finding a new rhythm dealing with my minor little disasters. It seems people get into thinking about a new normal after about 10-14 days. I’m not trying to mitigate how people tend to deal with disasters it seems most people tend to hit stages before they find a new routine that takes about 10-14 days. Don’t get cocky if things go well the first couple of days and don’t get depressed if everything seems like it is falling apart at day 5-7. It is just a normal human reaction in having your world change dramatically in a short amount of time.

Remember most things are easy in theory it is doing those things daily when things can get a bit more challenging. I read a story about a family that got stuck in a winter storm in the mountains of Utah. This guy had an Emergency kit for snow country but he did a thing of heating up rocks via a fire pit he built outside the car. Then he kept the car warm via the rocks radiating heat rather than a heater that used fuel or might emit dangerous fumes in an enclosed space. I know I would not have thought of using rocks for heat rather than use my little mini camp stove. I can heat water via my wood stove and I have stored water. Why don’t I have a few hot water bottles on hand for easing aches and pains, warming up a bed or for someone suffering chills? I bought a hot water bottle! At $7.25 per bottle they are a bargain so I’ll be adding a couple more to my health care bins.

Did you know you can buy oxygen meters and 95% oxygen bottles at Fred Meyers and Walgreens? I know the Oxygen bottles are only 95% O2 and not the medically approved level of 98% O2 level of therapeutic oxygen. The Covid seemed to hit the lungs and ruined peoples O2 levels. I’m not recommending you don’t go to a hospital if you have low blood oxygen readings or treat that at home but, how would you know if you have low O2 readings without an O2 sensor. If your O2 readings are low it might be a good idea to have the option to breathe in some 95% pure O2 rather than the normal 20% Oxygen level in the normal atmosphere.

This post is getting to long and many folks will go TLDR but I think I have covered many concerns in one post. If it is to long of post come back and read the paragraphs as needed.