Prepper Diary July 12: I Put my New Woodworking Skills to Good Use

I’ve spent a good many hours in the workshop working on my projects. This weekend I tackled something my wife wanted me to do.

This weekend, I built my wife a shelving unit to go into the closet in the laundry room. I have to give her credit; she has been very patient waiting for me to finish the henhouse and beehives. It was good that she waited, however, because that meant I got to use the tools and skills I polished working on those other projects.

In fact, as I was building the shelf, I could not help thinking that building it was like building a giant beehive. I had to keep the corners square, each piece had to be the correct length, and I used my recently acquired dado skills to cut rabbet joints. I even used the same wood glue I use on the beehives, Titebond III.

It turned out great! Don’t get me wrong, this is not an heirloom piece of furniture. After all, I built it in just a few hours over two days, using the bed of my pickup truck as a workbench. It’s going to be behind closed doors in a closet, filled with gallon jugs of laundry detergent, so it doesn’t have to be a work of art, but it turned out square, level and true, it is very sturdy, and it will definitely get the job done, probably for several decades.

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Survival Diary June 28: Propane Possibilities

Our all-electric house may be getting its first propane-powered appliance. That could be the foot in the door.

As I have mentioned before, our house is all electric, with no propane or natural gas. Apparently, the former owner, who built the house, did not “believe” in propane and didn’t want it in his house. This makes powering the house by solar power difficult, or at least prohibitively expensive, because running the stove and oven require so much electrical power.

Finding ourselves in need of a new cooktop, we are considering propane. Not because we want to make the house easier to power via sola—that’s an added bonus—but because we both like cooking on gas. We would place a tank outside the house and plumb a gas line into the garage and run it up through the floor of the kitchen under the stove.

The immediate benefit is that we could then cook on the stovetop if there was no electricity. Yes, I know gas appliances today require electricity, but that is easy to provide via battery power, solar power, or a so-called “solar generator.” While we can cook on the wood stove, the Coleman stove, our outdoor grill, or an actual open fire, the ability to cook on a traditional stove top during an extensive power outage would be awesome.

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Double Digit Inflation Causes Pain in my Wallet

Its pretty shocking when things I bought in March and April cost more just two or three months later. Inflation is here, and its far more than 4 or 5 percent.

Maybe you haven’t been keeping track, but inflation is all around us. Here are some examples or rising prices from my life:

Bee Supplies, Up 17.5 Percent

My beehives are doing well enough that I decided I should purchase a few more deep hive boxes in case I need to split the hives in late summer or early next year. I logged into my favorite supplier’s website and found that the prices were noticeably higher than when I made my last purchase in April. Here are some examples:

  • Unassembled deep hive bodies increased 17 percent.
  • Unassembled frames increased 37 percent.
  • Foundation, which is plastic and does not use wood, was up only 3 percent.
  • Telescoping lids went up 14 percent.
  • Inner lids were up 20 percent.
  • Bottom boards were up 14 percent

Average those figures together and you get an average price increase of 17.5 percent. That’s some serious inflation in just two months.

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Prepper Diary May 28: When is a Weed not a Weed

With the weather improving and the sun shining again, we embark on a host of gardening and other outdoor activities

Now that the last frost date is behind us, our gardening activities have stepped up a notch. For example, the tomatoes and peppers are on the deck hardening off.

While in town the other day, we bought mulch, compost, pots for the container garden, and checked out plants, from herbs to bushes, including annuals and perennials for the pollinator garden. We’re getting to know the folks at the general store, where we go for our soil amendments, garden supplies, and chicken feed, so it’s nice to see them and chat for a few minutes. 

We also ate our first post-mask mandate lunch. As soon as we walked in, we noted that the restaurant had added a chunk of its tables back to what had been a sparsely populated room just a few weeks ago. I would guess they were somewhere close to 75 percent of their “normal” tables present, a big increase. About half the wait staff were wearing masks and about half were not.

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Over Hill and Dale: The Quest for Beekeeping Equipment

We put some miles on the truck and some wind in our hair as we cruised the back roads in search of beekeeping equipment.

Since it was too cold to work outside, my wife and I made the long trip to the bee supply store yesterday. There are only a few in the state, so we had to drive two hours.  On the way home, we picked up supplies for our chick brooder and more bags of soil at Tractor Supply. We made it all the way there without using a single mile of Interstate highway.

The drive took us up and over mountains, all around twisty-turny backcountry roads, and through some pretty valleys where colorful wildflowers and trees were in bloom. We passed cows and horses, goats and sheep, and fields that looked like they were recently plowed. Our ears popped multiple times. It was a pleasant drive.

We even stopped for lunch at an old-fashioned diner. Unfortunately, the food was not as good as I would have hoped. They had “help wanted” signs up, and I’m guessing their best cook is still home collecting unemployment checks.

When we got home, we loaded up the stove and started the fire. The house had dropped to 63 degrees after we didn’t stoke the fire this morning because of our expected absence.

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Prepper Diary April 21: Cold Weather Slows our Outdoor Work

As a blast of cold weather rolls Eastward, we fall back onto old winter habits and prep for possible snow fall.

We’re heading back into winter for a few days as a system packing cold air punches its way through the region. Forecasts predict overnight temps in the low 20s.

To prepare for cold weather and the possibility of snow or ice trapping us on our mountain again, we went grocery shopping and stocked up on eggs and other essentials. We picked up the mail and ran some other errands. Then I loaded up the largest indoor stack of firewood I’ve had in a month or six weeks and split some kindling. We haven’t burned a fire in the upstairs fireplace for weeks, but we put enough wood up there to cover at least two days.

Unlike deep winter when cold weather could last for days or weeks, this system should clear out quickly and we hope to see warm weather return in just a few days.

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Prepper Diary April 18: Spring Means We Get Busy

The weather cannot make up its mind: Warm one day, chilly the next. We get some work done but keep the fire lit at night for warmth.

The weather has turned even chillier, reminding us that we have weeks yet to go before our average last frost date.  We’ve been keeping the fire going 24-7 since we got back in town.

Based solely upon my observations this month, I have determined that our altitude has more of an impact on keeping temperatures cool during warm weather than it does in winter.

For example, in the winter, we may be only three or four degrees colder than it is in the valley below us.  In the spring, we’ve been as much as eight degrees colder.  In the valley, the apple trees are in full bloom.  Up here, there are no blooms yet.  Spring seems to reach the mountain a couple weeks later than it does 1,000 or 1,500 feet below.

I guess we’ll have to see what summer holds.  I know that when we visited in June it was in the 50s at night and we had to add more blankets to the bed.

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The Walls are Up as Chicken Coop Framing Continues

More sunny weather allowed us to make substantial progress on our chicken coop yesterday. We expect to pick up with roofing late next week.

Work on the chicken coop continued thanks to the nicest weather we’ve had in all of 2021. All four walls are framed and up.

We also experimented with different lengths of rafters for the roof and the overhang. We settled on a 7-foot roof. It stick out about two feet in the front and 9 inches in the back. You can see the 2×4 we pinned up there to give us an idea of what it would look like.

Today’s post is going to be a photo essay. Enjoy.

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Spring Shows Up For a Few Days, the Tease

The yellow blooms of forsythia in the valley below us herald the coming of spring, but our mountain locations keeps it at bay.

I came down off our mountain to go shopping and realized it was spring in the valley. The forsythia was blooming. Willow trees had ribbons of green along their branches. When I got to our village, a few ornamental cherry and pear trees in front of houses were blooming.

On the mountain, spring has not yet sprung. In the woods, there are hint of it; red along the tree tops from the maples and touches of green in the undergrowth as small bushes. It’s as if they want to get a jump on the sunshine started soaking it up before their broadleaf cousins could intercept it all, and there was sunshine aplenty. It made me wish for bees. This would be their first real chance to gather pollen and perhaps some nectar and to rebuild their colony after the long cold winter.

While temperatures in the low 60s are welcome, we cannot get carried away. We are not done with the cold weather yet, as it is more than six weeks until our average last frost date. Already the five day forecast shows night time temperatures dropping back into the 20s before the weekend. With my luck, we’ll have snow.

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Warm Weather Brings Family, Gardening, and Target Practice

When the fall warms up, we call it Indian Summer. What’s it called when we get a preview of spring? I call it time to get a jump on outside projects.

We just spend the better part of a week with my daughter, her fiancé, and our new granddaughter. It was the first time we met the baby, and the first time they had been to our new house. My future son-in-law helped a great deal with the fence post installation. Being young and strong is a big help, of course, but having a strong work ethic is just as important.

It’s been more than 25 years since I last spent any significant time around a baby. I am amazed at how much stuff you “need” today to have for your baby. It’s clear consumerism gone crazy, spurred on by supposed experts and Instagram moms marketing the latest “must have” products. For example, today there is something called “tummy time” where you stick your baby on their belly and let them squirm to strengthen their neck muscles. But to do it correctly, you apparently need special tummy time pads. In the old days, we just stuck them on the floor, carpeted or not. If they bonked their little heads, well, that would teach them to keep their head up.

I have to admit that the Keurig-like device that dispenses warm water to mix with formula is pretty neat. And the new bottles that have some interior mechanism designed to prevent babies from sucking in air seems to minimize burping. Toys controlled by apps on your phone seems a bit much to me. Must we computerize everything?

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