Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, Permaculture, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting and more...

Nov 24, 2022

Nov 7, 2022

First Snow! Winterizing The Coop, Fun Online Ikea Holiday Scores

First Snow!
I love snow!!! We had our first really big snow storm come through Oregon and Idaho Friday. Woke up to falling snow in the morning melting on the road to work. A few days before that got some snow up in the foothills, but this was our big first Mountain snow. Story here Ski Area Excited or Early Snow   Just in time as the garden had gotten it's last harvest-
 

The chickens are enjoying having the full run of the garden area now. Made our last couple of pizzas with homegrown tomatoes. We do have some hardy kale and collard greens still!
 

Closed the vents on the foundation, winterized the cars with new wiper blades, snow/scrapers and a spare blankie just in case. The summer quilt and blanket on the bed are gone, I put on our nice big warm comforter! Dave and I switched to our winter down coats, kitty Bonnie has discovered the floor heating vents and gets some nice warm air. Since we adopted her in last December this is her first Autumn going into Winter. I still miss Anya but having Bonnie here has been a real comfort-
 

We recently brought Anya home. One of the things they included with her ashes was a paw print of hers-
 


Made me cry it was so sweet. Anya always loved watching the snow fly. I think she thought the snowflakes were bugs and she'd meow at them!
 
One of my last photos of her
 
 

Winterizing The Coop- 
The weather was really warm in October and then suddenly dropped the last week. After a heavy rain and some snow we decided to put up the sun room and attach it to the coop. Dave pulled out all the components that we stored behind the coop. In the garage we attached the plastic and the frame until it was all put together-

 mid process

After we tie wrapped all the plastic tie wrapped on and got the frame stable Dave and I carried it out into the backyard. Dave attached it to the coop and now the chickens have extra space through the rest of the winter! The sun rooms have worked really great over the years. Dave also deep cleaned the coop so the chickens are ready for a nice cold winter. It's been interesting the price change on bales of pine shavings . We use the deep litter method and pine shavings are great. A bale is currently about $20 which is more than double in about the last 6 months!!! Not sure if this is due to fuel prices or more the popularity of coops in the area or both? I'm glad I did stock up on a couple of extra bags of feed a few months back.  Otherwise they are all cozy! Shot from last year-


 

On the low setting

Fun Online Ikea Holiday Scores-
I love Ikea but there's no store in Boise sadly. One of my biggest complaints with Ikea was that they don't sell any holiday decor online. They are finally selling some, but not all. I love Scandinavian folk art and there's some things I really love (not much of fan of modern Scandinavian design).  I was able to finally find a few things online of their holiday decor and I ordered some! One of them was not a holiday item but a pseudo oil electric lamp (see above). There used to be one in a really dark green that I loved but I didn't want to spend the money. I found this one that was cream colored, was $10 off, ($20) and I bought it. I had actually never seen something marked "ON SALE" at Ikea.  It's perfect on my end table when I want just a little bit of light and it's adjustable. Since it's LED it's bright when it's on all the way, and I bought a spare bulb. The glass and metal is very heavy duty and durable.

I also found some really cute Ikea Christmas tree ornaments, candles and a really cute little tray. Tree ornaments $15, very much like Mercury glass! I did splurge on these, even prettier in real life!!!


 A cute tray $4-

Oct 19, 2022

Goodbye Anya

Favorite spot by the door

Goodbye Anya- 
We lost Anya this last week. She had been really struggling health-wise and turned out she had a pretty severe heart issue. She was such a sweet soul and loved everybody. She didn't care if our grandchildren rubbed her fur the wrong way, and she looked after us when we were under the weather. Years ago I had foot surgery and had to lay on my side on the couch for 3 days with my foot elevated. Dave told me the only time she left my side was to either eat, get a drink of water, or use the cat box. The rest of time she was just glued to me. Our kitty caretaker. She passed very peacefully with us there with her. I told her it was okay to go and that she was so brave.

I'm sure she's with the cat Angels up in heaven because they were happy to such a sweet soul back. I know we'll see her again someday. I'm so grateful that she was in our life. I miss her terribly...


 

Oct 8, 2022

Winter Around The Corner, Frugal - Research, Replace, Repair & Reorganize, Easy Free Mailbox Post Upgrade!

                                                                        
Winter Around The Corner- 
Autumn is definitely here with all the colors starting to change! We have been in the low to mid 70's during the day and 40's at night. After our brutal summer of hundred degree weather for a month or more it's a really nice change. Forecast in the 60's for next week. Time to get out the winter warmer clothes, etc. Will be cleaning the coop and getting that ready for winter. We're still picking some tomatoes and peppers! Will be freezing some this weekend. I decided not to can any this year because I use them up relatively quickly. I canned our pears this last weekend. Got 14 qts, a pear crumble and some left to eat fresh.  I've been dealing with some major health issues which has been exhausting, but the good news is there's a light at the end of the tunnel. 
 

Our lovely cat Anya started having breathing issues the last few days. We took her to the Vet and she had fluid in her chest cavity. They were able to get some out and she's breathing much better now, but at 14 years old this is not good. We will see how her labs come back, then think about what we need to do at this time. Always hard to think about losing your companion animals. Our last three pets, two dogs and one cat, lived to be 17 years old. I assumed that would be the magic number for Anya, but time will tell. The Vet told me in the 26 years she practiced veterinary medicine she NEVER had a cat start PURRING before when she was pulling out fluids. She asked her vet tech if there was rumbling in her chest? Her assistant said no she's just purring. That's our Anya! Always mellow. 
 

Frugal Research, Replace, Repair & Reorganize-
Sometimes life throws you curve balls and sometimes there's several at a time! We noticed a few different things going on around the house. Things like our Moen kitchen faucet was starting to leak black liquids from the middle. The Food Saver set I bought had a handheld device that did not work. My small bathroom Ikea faucet had gotten pretty clogged from the road construction and I needed a new filter. So time to do some research. Dave said that Moen would replace cartridges for free since they had basically lifetime warranties on their kitchen faucets.  Here came the research. Ikea has excellent customer service on their faucets too. Again I did some more research. Ditto doing research by contacting Food Saver for a replacement handheld vacuum attachment. 


I called FoodSaver and let them know that the attachment that I had in the box did not fit. Short phone call and an email later I attached photos of the items. In the mail I got a replacement that should fit! It didn't, back to square one. Will call next week. 

I got on the Moen website and was able to order a replacement cartridge for free. Dave was able to install it in a few minutes and now it's working great and no leaks! 
 


I got on the Ikea website and found the part for the bathroom faucet and ordered two new filters for free. Previously I had ordered one for other master bathroom faucet I forgot to order one for the small bathroom faucet. Just unscrew old one, insert the new, water pressure fixed!
 

Next, our oven element died, during pre-heating it to put in a pear tart! Great timing, sigh. We called around and made an appointment to have the element replaced and the door opened up to clean the inside of the glass that I can't get to. When the guy showed up he didn't seem to know what we were talking about and said that they would have to spend a half a day labor taking the door off and cleaning the inner glass. We decided to cancel. Dave went and was able to install the element and I can live with the drips on the glass. While there are a lot of YouTube videos about how to clean the inside of the inner glass on a oven door it does void your warranty. It also seems like it would be pretty tricky to get back together and workable. Sometimes it's just easier to live with something so that works for us-
 
Oven cleaning on my list!

Our pantry rack was a bit of a disaster area. I looked a little bit more critically, was able to shuffle things around a bit more and use the space better. I had recently added a few bags of bread flour that I got at Costco. Soon I will pack those into some buckets with oxygen absorbers, but for now the bags work fine. We're lucky we've never had any pests in the house, of any kind. Soon I will break these down into smaller plastic bags and freeze them for a week to kill any possible tiny visitors, then re-pack-

I did a lot of research the last several months on solar chargers for homes. I wanted something low cost and reliable. I bought a Bluetti EB3A Portable Power Station 600W 268Wh. Still on sale here Eb3a Portable Power Station with info listed. I fired it up, charged it and so far so good! Will probably buy the solar panels to go with it soon. This will not power a home but will work for things like laptops, phones, small lights, C pap machines, etc. Company has a very good ratings, more later-





Easy Free Mailbox Post Upgrade!
Our street paving is finally done with sidewalks installed! One of the things the county was supposed to do was put in a new post/mailbox since they tore the old ones out for construction. Well they did put in a new post, but they put our old faded mailbox back. Ditto the neighbors. Shocker. I told Dave that everybody either had silver, black, or white mailboxes. Something different that would be fun. I asked Dave if he could trim out the 4 x 4 post with some spare Cedar that we had on hand. He did great job! I looked around several places and was able to find a dark green mailbox. After he trimmed at the Cedar we ordered the mailbox, (nobody had it in stock) and he installed it. I LOVE it! A little bit distinctive with some little architectural interest instead of a plain old mailbox post. The wood was free so it was just the price of the mailbox, about $25 bucks. The cedar will fade into a nice gray...

Sep 10, 2022

September National Preparedness Month/Is This Redundant? Autumn's Almost Here

 

September National Preparedness Month/Is This Redundant?
On some level I almost don't feel like even posting this. But since it is National Preparedness Month I thought I'd add just a good few reminders and links... Ready.gov Be Informed   Redcross.org Emergency Preparedness Checklist  You can check out my previous posts on this topic under the "topics" tab on the right side. Don't forget to prep for your pets!!! Ready.gov Pets

If you've been watching the national and international news you know that there have been major catastrophic crop failures, livestock failures, floods, fires, fuel shut offs, war, it's the perfect storm. Everyone should be really preparing for food shortages, exorbitant fuel charges and/or shortages. This news is from this week, time to stock up and maybe buy a turkey for the holidays-


 I recently came into a small amount of money and instead of putting it into my retirement account I cashed it out to buy hard goods. I bought about 6 months worth of chicken feed (now $25 a bag up from $12.99 a while back) to get us all the way through the winter and more pine shavings for the coop. Ditto for the cat food. I also bought more things to stash like OTC meds.  I saw a really great deal for a Food Saver vacuum system at Costco for only $75! It came with a starter kit of bags, a really great deal! My old pressure bag system was on its way out, not a surprise since it was pretty cheap. It's good to invest in those kind of food preservation items. I have had ZERO freezer burn with those bags!!! I felt it was a better $ investment than sitting gathering little to no interest for a while. In some ways I feel like cashing it all out and doing something different but I am hopeful that I will still be able to retire someday. If you've seen anything lately about people's thermostats getting locked up by the utilities- I think this is a preview of things to come. I know our local power company asked us to voluntarily sign up to have our power lowered during the hottest part of the summer days. In return they would give us a little bit of money at the end of the summer. We passed. We try to be conscious of our energy and water use. We do a lot of mulching, planting trees on our lot, but we still use/need the AC.  Having said that fuel charges are looking really gruesome in Europe. I think this is also a preview of things to come in the states. I bought some flannel sheets to stash and we have tons of bedding, kerosene and propane heaters. Some people still think that nothing will change, they may have something called normalcy bias. Everything will be fine because it always has been


From Wiki- Normalcy bias, or normality bias, is a cognitive bias which leads people to disbelieve or minimize threat warnings. Consequently, individuals underestimate the likelihood of a disaster, when it might affect them, and its potential adverse effects. The normalcy bias causes many people to not adequately prepare for natural disasters, market crashes, and calamities caused by human error. About 70% of people reportedly display normalcy bias during a disaster. The normalcy bias can manifest in response to warnings about disasters and actual catastrophes. Such disasters include market crashes, motor vehicle accidents, natural disasters like a tsunami, and war. Normalcy bias has also been called analysis paralysis, the ostrich effect, and by first responders, the negative panic. The opposite of normalcy bias is overreaction, or worst-case scenario bias, in which small deviations from normality are dealt with as signals of an impending catastrophe.

A classic example was Ukraine. People were warned to leave, Russia was surrounding the country for months and months, and most stayed. They really never thought Russia would invade, despite the obvious signs. The very wealthy never worry either. I heard this quote two days ago and it really stuck with me-

People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right- John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian Economist.



Autumn's Almost Here-
We have been under a Heat Dome like a lot of the West the last few months, with many many weeks and weeks of over 100° weather. It's been very smoky here the last week with multiple fires in Eastern Oregon and here in Idaho. We definitely had a much smaller crop of tomatoes, but green ones are still on the vine. Tomatoes won't set fruit when it's over 80 or 85°. I don't have enough to can this year but will freeze some. I already made some wonderful salsa. Not many apples at all, luckily I canned a lot and froze some last year! Lots of pears on the tree, probably ready to can next weekend. We hit our 43° morning yesterday! Finally getting down into the 80s this week and the 70s late next week. May be some rain, which we desperately need. We're fortunate we had plenty of water for crops and our animals, some are not so lucky. We'll be stashing some mulch and other gardening needs for next year. Those things are easy to store. I'm packing up the summer decor and almost ready to put out pumpkins! 

Aug 27, 2022

Why I Closed My Amazon Affiliate Account

 

Why I Closed My Amazon Affiliate Account-
I have closed my Amazon affiliate account. You will see my links on the left side bar be replaced with photos of recommended books, etc.  I never made money off Amazon, I actually made a couple hundred $$$ over the years doing the Hometalk posts instead. Amazon has also become the giant, not treating their employees well, and I suspect they sell their data to whoever. I also suspect they will go out of business in the not-too-distant future. If China goes into Taiwan, and I think they will, a major cut off of Chinese goods may hit the U.S. right away. Time will tell. When fuel goes back up (and I think it will), the prices will soar as well affecting consumers. I never started blogging to make money, just to document our journey and share it. I have made some great friends online and read their journeys too. And congrats if you still actually READ!!!  Some just looks at photos and move on. It's sad to see some of the dumbing down in social media. I miss people who can write well, for more than a short paragraph. So there you go, that's the skinny. I will be rearranging the look of the blog a bit. Stay tuned!                     


Aug 23, 2022

Costco Shortages/ Prepping Deals! Harvest Time, 2023 Winter Forecast?


Costco Shortages/ Prepping Deals!
We're still in the 100s/upper 90's and the heat dome will be moving on soon. It's been a cooker! I am very grateful that we have air conditioning and well air-conditioned workplaces. I feel sorry for some of my co-workers who don't have central air. I grew up in Southern California, never had air conditioning though and we survived. Just keeping everything well-watered has been a daily project. We have mulched even more this summer. The chickens are doing well but are not laying as much as usual. They just get over heated, nature's response. We're making sure they have plenty of water, cool treats, they have already lots of shade, and keep wetting things down. Was 55 this week which was a nice change and days getting shorter! I made a nice summer dinner this weekend, spicy fried chicken (great cold!), potato salad, fresh homegrown organic tomatoes and green onions. Yum! 


We went to Costco recently and they were out of their famous apple pies. NO APPLE PIES! Staff told us they were out of apples. Dave mentioned that this last spring a huge apple storage facility in Washington state was hit with ants. They lost their entire facility. Good reminder to not assume anything nowadays with perfect storm of supply issues. The good news is they had bags of unbleached bread flour $9 for 25 lbs. Since I've started making homemade bread regularly, I bought one bag and then went back and bought two more. It's Turkey Brand from Lehi Mills in Utah-

           25 Lbs for $8.99!

 
I also bought more local honey, a bottle of vanilla, raisins, not only for winter baking but just food in general. Our summer garden has finally kicked in! 
The "before" picture-


After-



Cukes, kale and collard green

Tomatoes

Peppers and tomatoes

Strawberries still alive!



A pot of color on the deck

As far as harvesting we're getting a regular supply of blackberries, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, Kale and Collard greens. We also harvested all of our peaches! I canned about 12 quarts, froze about five and we have more in the kitchen that are ripening. Most of those I will probably bake with soon or eat fresh. If that's too many I will freeze the rest. I love the Red Haven variety, amazing color and flavor-

Liquid sunshine! 

Ready for winter

Rack ready for canned pears soon!

Ripening in the kitchen, or squirrels will eat!

Nice pears soon and lots of them! 





2023 Winter Forecast?
Interesting forecast! Any signs of Autumn in your next of the woods???


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