Friday, December 27, 2013

How I Paid it Forward (Thanks to All of You)

Our house fire Oct 26th 2013 and my infamous Orange Jeep
When our house burned down on October 26, 2013 there was nothing I could have done to prepare for what followed. The barrage of insurance paperwork, utility company demands, changes of address to every person and company I knew and rebuilding our lives was more than overwhelming. Through faith and community support, we were able to get back on the road of recovery much sooner than had we been nomads in a remote area.

Donations came in from past and present church members and locals organizations such as the local Mason lodge, VFW, Jobs Daughters, WildLife Trekking Co., Hodgepodge, The Mattress Center, Frys Grocery Store, Findlay Toyota and VW, and dozens of other local companies in northern Arizona. 

Just as impressive was the outpouring of support from across the internet thanks to my blog friends, James Wesley Rawles of, Cody from Wranglerstar fame , Patrice Lewis from Rural-Revolution and the list goes on and on. It was with this support that my family began to rebuild our lives and begin to approach normalcy again. And it was because of this support that I was able to "Pay it Forward" to a coworker when I found out his house burned down shortly after mine.

Paying it Forward in the AZDAILY SUN
Joe Canedo is our long time cook here at my hospital and everyone knows him. More impressive is that Joe knows what everyone will ask for before they ask, whether it be breakfast or lunch. After only two months on the job, I could walk into the cafeteria and he would instantly begin making my favorite breakfast: scrambled eggs mixed with potatoes and ham. He also knew I preferred it in a takeout box.

Shortly after Thanksgiving Joe approached me in the cafe during lunch one day. He began by saying "Sorry to hear about your house." This was a common phrase to me lately and as I begin to thank him he told me that his home had just burned down a few days earlier. I could see the remnants of panic and sadness in his eyes and realized immediately that I had to help so many other people had done for me.

I told him we would begin to save all of our extra donations and things we had no need for and he could have them as soon as he has a place to live. The Red Cross has put Joe up in a hotel until they can find him a suitable home for him and his disabled mother. After some reassuring chat, I returned to my office and called Wifey. I told her what had happened to Joe and we agreed to start stockpiling items for him. Couches, silverware, you name is waiting for him.

I reached out to the newspaper journalist who had put our family on the front page of the local paper THREE TIMES (first article, second article, third article includes our Paying it Forward) in one month. That exposure helped us with donations and increased community support. I told her about Joe's plight and asked if she could do a story on him. She agreed and soon he was interviewed. That spread the story to the local University news station and they called me for information. They wanted to do a news story on Joe and I which I quickly arranged to be filmed in our hospital. Our segment is at the very beginning. Take a few minutes to see what YOU have made possible and the joy you have brought to Joe by helping me to pay it forward.

I'll never be able to express my gratitude for all that you have done for my family but I can at least share with you what I have done to attempt to pay it forward.

If you want to donate to Joe's family, you can send a donation to our PayPal account and I'll be sure he gets it. (PayPal address = They also list a donation fund in the news cast via Wells Fargo.

Joe is a wonderful man and so are all of you that helped us in our time of tragedy. Thank you and God Bless.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Homesteading!

Flower meets THE BIG MAN
It is 6:46pm and the Christmas excitement is winding down. Teenagers are in their rooms listening to their newest CDs and reading unfamiliar books. Youngins are enjoying a Barbie movie on the new family Wii game system via NetFlix. Wifey is tidying up the kitchen and I have snuck away to our bedroom to peck out a quick post.

We've been in our new rental house for about a month now and things are settling back to normal. We moved Wifey's mom in with us and she seems to be making herself at home. Her Huntington's disease is getting the better of her but she is hanging tough. Sis helped her up the stairs to the second floor today so she could shower before family arrived for our Christmas family gathering.  All-in-all, it went well.

Lucky loves the snow
Wifey whipped up a terrific meal of honey baked ham, homemade mashed potatoes, green beans and baked beans. There were plenty of desserts to go around as well. Our garage is still a mess with boxes everywhere and we've managed to fill an entire commercial dumpster in the driveway. Hanging some artwork and a mirror on the walls in the living room made it feel a bit more cozy. Lucky came inside to get some quality time today and claimed a favorite spot on the new (well, new to us) couch.

 I finally got the chickens outside and in a new home. They were two days old when our house burned down on October 26th. A gracious neighbor took them in for a month while we bounced from guest house to guest house. Once we were moved in to our current rental, I went and picked them up. They lived in our office (now Mother-in-law's room) for two weeks. The odor was getting a little much so I made room in the garage. They stayed there for about two weeks before I decided it was time to get our nine birds out of their box and into a real coop where they could stretch their wings a bit. I had found a Lucky Dog kennel on clearance at the local CAL Ranch store and figured it would make a perfect coop. There was a pre-made coop on the property already but it would only fit two to three birds at best.

8 girls and one lucky rooster
I finally had a Saturday with a little free time so I began to assemble the kennel (video). Once constructed and moved into place, I put the wooden coop inside the kennel. I was told my birds wouldn't have their "winter feathers" until the age of three months so I had to made sure they were sheltered since we have been getting snow for a few months now. With the kennel complete and the coop inside, I repositioned the Havahart electric fence to run about three feet outside of the kennel. My hopes were that it would train Lucky to stay away from the coop but with his furry body, he just slips right through it. Every now and then he catches it with his nose or something and let's out a yelp but it appears to be too random for him to get the hint to stay away from the wires.

The birds are happy now but I have a new problem. While the birds were being babysat, turns out one of the girls is a guy. Yup, we have a rooster. So, do I keep him around? I've been told he will make the girls more productive once they start laying.  I've also heard he could turn out to be VERY vocal. With six daughters...I don't need any more "vocals" around the house. For now, he stays...

Merry Christmas everyone!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lowest Price Ever: Life Straw Personal Water Filter

Every BOB (Bug Out Bag) or preparedness minded person should have several of these. These little straws, if you don't know already, can filter all the uglies out of water and make it drinkable. They are highly portable, are simple to use and cost very little.

Historically, these little life savers run around $20 plus shipping. Right now, there are 25% off with FREE shipping. According to a data tracking website (camelcamelcamel), this is the lowest these have ever been at just $14.99 with free shipping.

Image courtesy of Amazon

Image courtesy of Amazon
 Stock up on some Life Straws. All the information you need about these is located a the link I gave above.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sisters Helping Sisters for Christmas

It's Live!

This gracious family of six sisters is honoring our family with a fundraiser today. For every RECIPE you upload to them, they will donate $1 to us. Do you have time to upload a recipe today?

They were unable to get a PayPal donate button active on the post so I  listed one above. A big THANK YOU to everyone involved in making this Christmas successful for our family!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Featured on Six Sisters Blog Tomorrow

Just a quick note that our family was chosen to be featured on the Six Sisters blog tomorrow. We were nominated by someone in our church and were among the finalist. I could only DREAM of having a blog as successful as theirs.

To see the Six Sisters' 12 Days of Giving Back idea, click here.

We are honored to be chosen and wish to thank everyone involved in our recovery. Our family will be featured on December 7th so check their website tomorrow (or anytime after Dec 7th).

Thank You!

Cheap Food Prep Item: Macaroni and Cheese (Limited Time Offer)

I have several "deal" websites where I have set up email or text alerts to notify me when really good deals come along. One of my categories for alerts is food items. Today I received an alert that I jumped on and figured I'd pass it along to you guys. I do not know the expiration of this "deal" so if you are interested, you should act quickly.

The food item is the old Kraft Macaroni and Cheese standard box we all grew up with. The blue and yellow icon is the first food I learned how to make on my own as a kid. Sure, it's not the most nutritious thing out there. Some folks will scream about the Yellow #40 dye and how bad it is for lab rats but I like it for several reasons: easy to make, tastes yummy and fills the belly.

$8.54 for 15 boxes plus Free Shipping = $0.569333 per box DELIVERED

As a dad to six girls, who doesn't always have time to home cook a healthy meal, these little boxes can be life savers. And for this low price, I will stock up. I have done this in the past with this exact same item but it is much cheaper today. With Subscribe and Save on Amazon, I get the lowest price and have it shipped right to my mailbox.

Subscribe & Save, as mentioned before in my alerts, allows you to buy at a lower price. It will automatically ship out to you again, at the time YOU select unless you cancel the Subscription before the next delivery (which I usually do cancel). Just make sure you cancel the Subscribe and Save subscription AFTER you receive your order. Otherwise, it will cancel your original order.

Want to ensure your food storage will be there when you need it? Try these tips:

  • First - freeze the boxes you have for 48 hours each - this will "kill" any bugs that might be in there. Wifey does this with most pasta/flour/grain purchases.

  • Second, I would also take them out of the cardboard and put them in a plastic bag. This should help eliminate any cardboard taste they might have from sitting around...and it saves room. Do the bag before the freezer if you decide to do it. I HAVE had boxes taste like cardboard in the past after sitting for months in our hot garage in Phoenix. I'm sure that's mostly from the heat and now that we're in northern Arizona, it shouldn't be an issue. Nevertheless, to be safe, use the above tips.

How to order and get this deal for $0.57 per box (regular price is over $1.00 these days):

1) Visit my link  Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

2) On the right side of the page chose:

a) Your quantity
b) Click Subscribe and Save
c) Choose your Delivery option (I pick "every six months" to give me time to cancel)
d) click Subscribe Now

That's it. Hope this helps.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pride and The Kiwi Shoe Polish Kit

My Kiwi Shoe Polish Kit from Amazon
I've been in upper management now for three months. I look back with a smile on the decades of wearing comfortable scrubs and tennis shoes. Attire was an afterthought since just about everyone I worked with was in hospital scrubs. Being the overnight employee also added to the blase attitude because I simply didn't see many people on my small town hospital shift.

Enter the world of management. Sport coats, vibrant ties, slacks and shiny shoes are the norm now. The weekend before I started my new job I visited the local Men's Wearhouse hoping to attain a management wardrobe. Having spent all my money moving back and forth between Arizona and Oklahoma, I was pleased to get approved for a store credit line.

As luck would have it, there was a Buy One, Get One sale on the day of my shopping spree. It had been years (high school?) since I attempted to dress in anything other than jeans and a t-shirt or scrubs. Aside from the routine church outfit, I was lucky to have two pair of slacks and a dress shirt. I walked out of the store that day with enough clothes to get me through my first week on the new job.

Nice and shiny
Fast forward six weeks and you'll reach the day my house burned down. Not only did I lose all the work clothes that I had purchased on credit but also the consecutive purchases I had made since that day. Yes sir, I was proud of that new wardrobe and felt that my attire was one less thing I had to worry about as I navigated through this awkward world of management. I choose the word awkward only because after working a graveyard shift for a decade, you tend to lose a bit of your social skills. Now, being thrust into the daytime, palm squeezing, Howdy Bob with a smile corporate world...I had to learn to be sociable again.

Oddly enough meetings interest me. Although my Bachelor degree in Psychology never meant much in terms of earning potential, I thoroughly enjoyed that field of study. People are VERY interesting...or can be.  Meetings provide an opportunity to "people watch" which can easily make the time fly in an otherwise dreadful meeting.

One thing I began to notice the other day were peoples' shoes. Specifically how some were nice and shiny while others were so dull you couldn't see a reflection if you were an inch away. I began to question the sense of pride folks take in themselves and how they appear. Often I noticed that if the shoes were dull then either the tie would be wrinkled, crooked or both. Other signs might be present  as well such as an improper shave, messy hair or (gasp) food stains on their shirt.

Digressing to the house fire, one of the few comforting things I realized after the fire was that over the years I had learned a lot about what I liked and didn't like. Having lost nearly everything I owned released me of the burden of keeping up with lots of things I didn't really care about. Clothes that I had outgrown but couldn't bare to part with or things that I thought would be made of good quality that simply were not high craftsmanship. Starting over meant I could now buy things that were tried and tested...

Enter the Kiwi Shoe Polish Kit. So simple yet so effective. I'd be a hipocrit if I besmurched a coworkers lackluster shoes if mine were of the same. As I looked down in the last meeting, my shoes had become just that...dull. In the month that has passed since the fire, I had neglected to polish my newly acquired shoes. In my defense, shoes take a much worse beating up here in the north country (snow, mud, dust) than they did in the city. But this is about pride.

So I woke at 4am this morning, broke out my newly acquired Kiwi kit and sat at the kitchen counter.  I propped open my laptop and began to peruse my YouTube subscriptions for something to watch while I worked on my dull, black dress shoes. It just so happens that Wranglerstar's latest video was covering a topic I was addressing at this very moment.

In his video, he digs his truck out of the snow where it had been stuck since the prior day. As he is digging it out with a shovel, he mentions that he COULD call a tow truck or a neighbor to help him with his troubles. But he eloquently demonstrates that a man should attempt to take care of himself first not just to spare his neighbors from the trouble but to (more importantly) teach his children to be self sufficient by example.

I spent a little over an hour shining up my work shoes this morning and they look ten times better. My girls didn't get to participate in this early morning endeavor like they did in helping me restore my Doc Martens (again, pride.) Today is a "late start" day as the recent snowfall has slowed up traffic.  They get to sleep in an extra two hours! Not fair! LoL.

I'll make sure to stick my prideful shoes out just a little further in my meetings today to let them basque in all their glory. The old, corny saying "Life is in the details" would probably fit nicely here but I won't use it. No sir, I'm practicing the new, hip office "rearranging deck chairs on the titanic," "let's throw it against the wall and see what sticks," and  "we'll take that offline and circle back later."

Ugh, I just want to get home and work on the important my workshop, chicken coop, greenhouse, rain barrel collection system and someday...Wifey's new craft room. Hey, priorities...right?


Monday, November 25, 2013

Restored from the Ashes

For weeks my trusty pair of Doc Martens have been lying around like a discarded old pair of shop rags. Crusty and smelly from their last adventure inside our house after it burned to the ground. You may recall my triumphant post exclaiming that I found Wifey's wedding ring among the ashes the morning after the fire.

I wore my Docs on the hunt that morning for one reason: it's what I had on when the house burned down. Typically I wore these sturdy, leather boots with my favorite pair of jeans. With an added Dr Sholes insole, they were like walking on pillows and I could wear them all day. The sturdy brown leather withstood just about everything I could throw at them. Everything except...

The ash and debris was piled above my ankles as I slogged through the remains of our home. The firemen had hosed the house down with so much water that parts of the house had deep puddles of water and sludge. Insulation could be seen bobbing up and down in the living room. It was here that I took my Docs to battle.

Wifey knew that her wedding ring was in her jewelry case in the southeast corner of the bedroom. I entered through the bedroom window, careful not to step on any of the exposed nails.  Using downed two by fours of wood as a walkway through the sludge, I made my way to the corner of the room.  My shoes were ankle deep in the sludge as I began to dig around for the ring.

Thirty minutes later, a blackened metal circle could be seen in a pile of unidentifiable rubble. A few strokes with my now blackened fingers and I could make out the shape of her trillion diamonds. With a tear in my eye, most likely from the chemical smell in the house, I made my way out of the house.

I returned to the neighbor's home where we were graciously being allowed to stay a few days. After sharing the good news with Wifey, I kicked off the ash encrusted boots towards an outside wall of the house. They stayed there for two weeks until we moved to a different guest house. Again I brought them along, awaiting the day I could attempt to restore them to their prior glory.

Today was that day. It started with a warm water bath and soap scrub in my old blue igloo ice chest.  The soot quickly turned the water black but progress was being made.  After a thorough wash, the damage could be more clearly seen. The moisture has been sucked right out of several areas on the boots: toe, tongue and heel side.

A long hand bath in Obenauf's and they look remarkably better. I handworked the substance into every nook and cranny until even my hands were shiny. I placed them in the laundry room to spend the rest of the evening soaking up the moisture. I'm sure they'll get another coat tomorrow and look near brand new. I have a small tin of Kiwi brown polish awaiting any necessary touch ups.

Any time that I can, I like to renew something old rather than run out and buy something new like so many folks seem to do these days. Once I get them back into shape, I'll wear them with pride knowing that they made it through our house fire...just like I did.


PS, I did a YouTube video on this too.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Homestead Reboot

Home Sweet Home (with Solar!)
Now that the house fire is behind us and we've moved into a new home, things are slowly returning to normal. The house (and two storage sheds) are still full of trash bags and boxes that need to be sorted into the KEEP and DON'T KEEP piles. Then the KEEP piles need to be organized and put away so that they can be found again in a reasonable amount of time.

One of the most frustrating things about starting over like we are doing is that we can't find most of the things we need without going on an all-out manhunt. Think about it. Where do you put your car keys when you get home? On a wall hook? A special dish or bowl? I haven't picked a "special key place" yet and have already lost dozens of minutes looking for my keys after laying them down somewhere.

With my attention no longer focused on "where are we sleeping tonight" or " what are we wearing tomorrow," Wifey and I have began to reorganize everything and realize that we are starting over on just about everything. I now have the opportunity to REBOOT my HOMESTEAD from the ground up.

I have to reboot my bills:

  • How can I tweak my electric bill to get it as low as possible? Water, propane?
  • I'll be able to capture WAY more rainwater up here than in the Phoenix desert. That should help keep the water bill lower.
  • I've learned how to use my unlimited data plan on my cell phone to provide internet throughout the house. No more internet bill.
  • My rent now is $100 per month less than it was at the last house.
I have to reboot my food supply:

  • We now have a greenhouse, left by the landlord, and intend on attempting aquaponics year-round with the help of solar power water pumps and thermal mass for heat distribution.
  • We have to completely start our gardens over from scratch. The ground needs tilling, manure added and we inherited a nice composter just itching to be filled with organics.  Our growing season has been greatly reduced by moving up north.
  • Our food storage took a big hit. First from a field mouse that got through our cardboard boxes AND mylar bags. Second hit from the fire.
I have to reboot my weaponry:

  • Many weapons and ammunitions were lost in the fire but a few survived. I will have to replace my big game rifle and handguns.
  • Ammo is still on the expensive side so restocking it will take some time.
  • I've been reduced to a few knives.
  • I'd love to finally learn to reload. Now might be a good time.
  • Bow hunting is HUGE is this neck of the woods. I'll need to study up on bows before making a purchase.
I have to reboot my transportation:

  • Both our 2001 Suburban (paid cash) and 2006 Orange Jeep Wrangler ($300/mo payment) were totaled in the fire by our insurance company. As of right now, we have NO car payment. 
  • Do we want to pay cash for some low end beaters? Can we get by with one car?
  • Lots of people up here walk and ride bicycles. Could we adapt to that culture?

You get the idea. Starting with a clean slate and mixing that with the years of experience of which equipment/clothing/tools work best for the job means I can minimize mistakes made by purchasing cheap/subpar/inadequate supplies. Having ordered so many things from Amazon since 2006, I can easily peruse my purchase history and reorder the items that will be long lasting and provide the most use while skipping over the shoddy craftsmanship of some things I THOUGHT would be good purchases.

Haven't seen the chicks in almost a month.
So this will be my new mantra on this blog. Rebooting a homestead from the ground up and sharing my experience/knowledge with all of you. I'll do product reviews on the items I add back into our inventory and tell you why I purchased it. This should prove, over time, to be a great resource to revert back to should you or I ever need to reboot  again. Everyone reboots at some point. It's my turn...and I'll share the experience with you.


Upcoming reboots:

  • Our baby chicks (one week old at the time of the fire) have been cared for by a neighbor. My landlord donated her chicken coop to us but it only holds up to four chickens. I will use my Havahart electric fence, some t-posts and horse wire to expand a larger run for them.
  • Our ten 55 gallon water barrels are all empty from the move. One side of the house has rain gutters and I can easily divert rain water into the barrels. But first, I want to build a rack system, plumb the barrels together with pvc and then began capturing water. Eventually I will run drip lines from the barrels to the gardens.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Move-in Day!

Home Sweet Home
Move-in day is finally here! We have found a nice little country style home that I am very excited about. It will be our first second story home but I can clearly use more exercise, right?  It's just about the same size as the last house and still sits on a lovely 2.5 acres of property.  This time, however, we are surrounded by huge pine trees instead of being out in the open on a hillside.

As of last night, our garage is now filled with donations. Later today, another load will be delivered containing what was left from our previous residence that did not get burned. Following that will be a uHaul truck from three hours south of us filled with donations from the neighbors and friends were we lived for thirteen years before moving to northern Arizona. We are truly blessed and it cannot be denied.

Garage full of donations
I finally have a laptop with which I can write posts for this blog. Google's Blogger app for Droid is certainly useable in a pinch or on the go but it is tortuous at best to add multiple pictures to a post. We have no internet still but I've become quite adept at turning my Droid cell phone into a hotspot and using it as a wifi connection. Thank you FoxFi!

The community support, both local and internet, has been overwhelming. The folks at the UPS store (where I purchased my post office box) know who I am as soon as I walk through the door. "You have several packages today," they'll announce with a smile. I intend on posting a Thank You list to all commercial businesses that have helped us out in an effort to give them the props they deserve. I'll observe the many individual requests for people asking to stay anonymous as well. I got a chuckle every time I opened a package and found a note inside which read "The return address on the label of this package is ficticious."

The second-hand safe is now a member of our family
A very special shout out goes to Cody (owner of the Wranglerstar channel, see his tribute video to our family here) on YouTube and JW Rawles (owner of Their internet campaigns have proven extremely helpful in many ways. Also to my friends back in Mesa in our old church ward who have shown unbelievable kindness. My buddy Brandon is busy trying to sell our old house. He has arranged new carpet, done drywall repairs (with Dathan's help) and painted. There are so many friends who have turned this tragedy into a miracle that I have to use the old cliche "I can't possibly remember them all." Our new friends and church members up north have been a godsend as well both in helping us move, giving us shelter and donations.

We will, no doubt, be moving all through the weekend. I suspect that by Sunday night we'll have a good idea of what we have and don't have. Up until this point, we put most donations into a (donated) storage unit so that we didn't crowd the gracious local families that have given us shelter. This left us in the dark as to what we really have and what we have lost. People still ask me what we need. I have to answer that I honestly don't know yet.

A "full over full" bunkbed with a full-sized trundle
The children are all doing well. Things were awkward at first. Schoolmates were silent as I suspect that they just didn't quite know what to say. That has changed for the most part now. Tomorrow (Saturday) will be our three week anniversary of the house fire. I should mention that it has helped tremendously to receive all the wonderful toys and clothing. The dolls, horses, hair doodads etc has kept the girls in their normal girlie routine.

The rest of the family has voted to stay one last night with our guest family. I am siting at our donated kitchen table listening to the buzz of a cordless drill upstairs. Mr. BunkBed, who seems to have a successful home-based business with his wife, is upstairs putting together two custom bunk beds for my girls. He not only offered to help us out, he also drove two hours to get here AND is assembling everything. When I say we are blessed, you have no idea. I hope I can explain it for you in the upcoming blog posts.

The local mattress store also helped us with our five full mattresses and king mattress set. I bought five nice pillows from him to thank him for helping and he impressed me again. He threw in a full body pillow. This small town and it's people are truly amazing. Generally, that's true for most small towns as I'm sure those of you living in such are aware.

I won't be able to thank every single person who has helped us (several anonymous gifts) but I am here to tell you that this family loves every one of you and I have no doubts that God will bless each and every one of you for your good deeds. 

~one humble Orange Jeep Dad (who is still searching for an Orange Jeep)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Goodies in the Mail! - Thank You!

Stopped by my post office box at lunchtime and look what I found! Thank you all so much. It means so much to me and my family. I have to hurry back to work now but will post more later thank you!


Sent from my Verizon Droid phone

Friday, November 1, 2013

Invited to Join the YouTube Partner Program Today!

We've almost made it to Partner!
Update: Nevermind. I appear to have been duped. Like I really need false hopes right now :-(

Thanks to everyone for pointing out this false letter.

I got an email today inviting me to join the YouTube Partner Program! This means, if I am accepted, the videos I make to compliment my blog could begin to earn me revenue by working from home. As I strive to be self sufficient, creating an income stream that I earn from home goes a long way towards our goals.

How you can help:

My invitation says that, upon completion of the application, they will review my YouTube Channel. If I meet their requirements of 200 views PER DAY, I am accepted and can start generating income from my videos.

If you have time, please visit my YouTube Channel and load as many of my videos as you can stand to watch ;-)

Of course, I can't make any more videos until I get a new computer but hopefully that won't take too much longer. Thanks again to everyone who has already helped us with donations! We love you all!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fire Got my Favorite Weapon - Double Barrel Hammerless 16 Gauge Shotgun

Wifey stumbled across this shotgun on a Facebook post earlier this year. Someone's father had passed and they were left with the task of selling his gun collection. I picked up the double barrel hammerless shotgun for $250.

I was a little apprehensive to fire it for the first time this summer. I had no idea how old it was or what kind of condition it was in. I did not know when the last time it was fired. I took it to the local gun shop but the gunsmith was not in that day. Some guys behind the counter told me it looked okay but to make sure I should have it inspected by the gunsmith.

Before I knew it, I was at the farm in Oklahoma. I found a brave family member that was willing to shoot it for the first time. After a couple of trigger squeezes,  we determined it was fine to fire.

Not only could she fire but she shot straight and true. I enjoyed the next couple of months with that shotgun and even took out a snake near the farmhouse (I can't hyperlink to previous posts like the snake encounter from my cell phone.)

I'm gonna replace this baby someday.  I saw similar ones at a gun show in Payson,  Arizona. Then I'll get Wifey the 380 she's been asking for to conceal carry. But first,  we need our own  transportation and a rental home.

Thanks to everyone who has helped so far with PayPal donations.  Blessings will befall you for your generosity and my family is eternally grateful. We have temporary housing and transportation from generous neighbors / church members. I have begun looking for a rental property today.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New PO Box & FFL Address

Jeep's gone but the canoe made it.
Blogging from my Verizon Droid cell phone isn't as easy as I would like it to be. I initiated a post yesterday to announce our new PO Box address but it looks like it is stuck in posting limbo. Hopefully I can get my hands on a second hand laptop today.

The address we are accepting mail at is:

Orange Jeep Dad
2532 N. Fourth St #230
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

The mail store was more than happy to add the moniker Orange Jeep Dad to the box so we're GTG (good to go) there. Thanks to everyone who has helped out so far. I have a neighbor with an FFL and will be posting that shortly.

Update: Friend with FFL license:

Margaret Jean Sullivan

8650 Kira Ln
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
(928) 526-3262 (Phone)
FFL License:9 - 86 - XXX - XX - XX - 01604
FFL License Type:01 - Dealer
License Expires:12/01/2013
- See more at:

Margaret Jean Sullivan

8650 Kira Ln
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
(928) 526-3262 (Phone)
FFL License:9 - 86 - XXX - XX - XX - 01604
FFL License Type:01 - Dealer
License Expires:12/01/2013
- See more at:
MJ Sullivan
8650 Kira Ln
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
(928) 526-3262 (Phone - See more at:

Margaret Jean Sullivan

8650 Kira Ln
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
(928) 526-3262 (Phone) - See more at:

Margaret Jean Sullivan

8650 Kira Ln
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
(928) 526-3262 (Phone)
FFL License:9 - 86 - XXX - XX - XX - 01604
FFL License Type:01 - Dealer
License Expires:12/01/2013
- See more at:
8650 Kira Lane
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Phone 805-630-4804 

FFL License 9-86-XXX-XX-XX-01604
FFL License Type - 01 Dealer
License Exp. 12-01-13 

They can email a copy of the license if you give an email address.

When we're asked what we need, I really can't accurately answer that just yet. We have dozens of black trash bags with donations in them and we need to sort them all out. However, one thing I am certainly looking for:

ISO (in search of) ONE ORANGE JEEP ;-)


I've had three Jeeps in my life so far: a 1983 Laredo, a 1981 CJ 8 (Scrambler) and my most recent Orange 2006 Wrangler. I loved all three and am looking for a fourth now. My dream Jeep would be another old Scrambler but funds are going to be a limiting factor.

If anyone has a Jeep in mind for me, please let me know. We are a dedicated Jeep family. If you don't understand it, "it's a Jeep thing."  Wifey said I needed to change the blog title to Orange Jeep HAT Dad. I reminded her I don't have the hat any more either :-( But the orange canoe that I picked up in Oklahoma this summer made it! Perhaps I'll be the Orange Canoe Dad now? LoL!

This is what my first Jeep looked like (not my actual but identical)


Photo from Johnny Ringo's Carefree Adventure 480-488-2466

I like CJ8s because they can hold all my kids (up to 7 people).

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Next Day

I dug through the ash this morning and found Wifey's wedding ring.  She cried with joy when I presented it upon my return.  We are staying at a gracious neighbor's house for the time being.

I am meeting with our auto insurance company tomorrow.  Both vehicles are totalled.  No more Orange Jeep. I'm hoping for a quick remedy from them.  Probably shouldn't hold my breath.

Being members of a loving church makes all the difference.  The outpour of help and prayers have made it bearable.

Gotta run.  Lots to take care of.  Our PayPal account for donations is:


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Our house burned down today

I don't think I'll be posting for a while.  Our house burned down today.  All family,  dog,  puppies and chicks are safe.  House,  jeep and suburban are total loss.  We have the clothes on our backs and my cell phone.  Family and friends are helping as much as they can.  I am grateful for everyone's safety.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Home Depot - Let's Talk!

One of the things I enjoy about blogging is checking the statistics pages and seeing what visitors are doing when they come to my blog. I use, who not only are free, but show things like:
  • Summary
  • Hourly
  • Entry Pages
  • Exit Pages
  • Incoming Traffic
  • Came From
  • Keyword Analysis
  • Paid Traffic New
  • Recent Came From
  • Recent Keyword Activity
  • Search Engine Wars
  • Exit Links
  • Downloads
  • Download Activity
  • Visitor Paths
  • Visit Length
  • Returning Visits
  • Recent Pageload Activity
  • Recent Visitor Activity
  • Recent Visitor Map
  • Country/State/City/ISP
  • Browsers
  • System Stats
I was VERY interested tonight to see that I have a visitor from a Home Depot IP address that has visited 27 times! In my alternate universe, that visitor is a marketing executive who is looking for a dad to sponsor for a web show. I'd love to do a Last Man Standing spin on homesteading. Wifey and my six daughters would be the driving source that keeps me in the garage.

Home Depot visits my blog! I would love you to leave a comment!

My whole house has split our sides laughing at Tim Allen and the Last Man Standing show he is performing in.  Since we dropped our cable tv over five years ago, the only method we have for watching shows now is through NetFlix via the girls' Wii game console. We've burned through the first two seasons in about two is THAT funny. Of course, with six daughters, I'll be watching the show a second time to see what I missed with all their chatter. I've been a fan of Tim Allen since his Men Are Pigs comedy tour back in 1989.

So, Home Depot person, leave a comment and tell us what you like (or don't like, I'm a realist) about the blog. I'm super curious.


P.S., and a BIG HELLO to GIG HARBOR, WASHINGTON for racking up 520 visits to my blog!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Building my Man Cave

Split my axe tonight cutting wood.
I've been working on my man cave the past week. I got two nice work benches put up and some pegboard to starting organize my tools. Feels a lot better knowing where some of my stuff is for projects. Got my vice clamp on the side of my workbench. Threw my double edge up there and was sharpening the edges with my new file. Took it out to try it out and worked like a charm. 20 minutes later I split the handle. So now I have a new project. 

Clubhouse by lantern light
I don't have enough lighting up yet and I'm enjoying this evening by Coleman lantern lights. I got one of the large bay doors open for some nice breeze. I am enjoying the heck out of this. I wish I had a full month just to work around the property. We have a gate on the fence now so no worries about Jade (our German Shepherd) running off. I added a door to the girls' clubhouse.

10 chicks + waterer & feeder = $57
Picked up ten chicks last Saturday down in the valley and hauled them up north. I have

  • Buff Orphington x 3
  • Wyandotte x 3
  • Barred Rock x4
I'm hoping that come Easter, we have a good stock of eggs to eat & decorate. I finally got to taste some free range eggs left by some friends. They were more colorful and tasteful. I'm certainly looking forward to fresh eggs.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sis sings the National Anthem SOLO at her new High School

For those of you who have been following since Oklahoma or before, you'll recall what a hard time Sis had moving away from her old high school. She really didn't want to move to Oklahoma so when she found out we were moving to northern Arizona, she was pretty happy. To her, three hours away was much better than moving 18 hours away (driving time.)

Well, I'm happy to announce that after a bumpy first week in a new high school, we are now one full month in. While we (again) are not happy with the level of education,  and we are still thinking about home schooling, I am super proud of Sis for having the courage to stand up in front of the whole school and sing the National Anthem before a volleyball game.

She wasn't nervous a bit, did a terrific job and was cheered by the whole gymnasium.

Life is good.


Mmm...Beaver Butt!

Frosty morning, smoke billowing out of our pipe.
Figured out a little bug today. Since I have a computer with Internet Explorer 8, which is outdated, that is why I have not been able to use the "compose" part of Blogger. I have had to write the last few posts in HTML mode. Luckily, I know that language.

Thinking outside the box, I decided to give Blogger a try in my trusty Firefox browser. Low and behold, it works perfectly. Go figure, almighty Google (owner of Blogger) has screwed itself with it's own browser.

But anyway...

So, something new on the blog here. Might not interest many of the usual crowd (are you three still reading?) but it is teaching me a thing or two so I thought I would include it here. It's called Eating Healthy.

I know, I know. B.O.R.I.N.G...right? But, if most of  you are preppers, survivalists, homesteaders, farmers and the like, this is important stuff. As you MAY have noticed in some of my YouTube videos, I'm a rather LARGE guy. At 6'3" I have been weighing in at 290lbs for a few years now.

Do I like being this big? Of course not. But like many others out there, I've just kind of...given up. With the constant stress of full time school, full time family and full time work (and I should add full time debt because it is a huge source of stress) I just finally felt like the excuse of not having enough time to devote to health was valid. Sprinkle in a little guilt if I spent time away from family at the gym and I just didn't want to do it at all.

Until now.

I care about my family and my future. I want to live a long, healthy life and enjoy grandchildren and great-grandchildren so I've decided to make a change. Some of this is brought on by the discomforting inability to breathe after a simple short walk. Some of it due to comments or actions by people close to me (like a guy that keeps poking me in the belly as if to say "Dude, that thing is huge!) But for the most part, the change I am making is due to two things:

1) a really great friend who is helping me learn how to eat properly


2) I am finally in an environment where I can eat healthy.

Let me explain just a little. You're all intelligent people so I won't babble too much on this but...

We all know greasy, fried food is bad. We all know high fructose corn syrup and sweets can cause diabetes. Yet, we eat it. Mostly for convenience. Working the night shift for the past 8+ years has been my excuse for eating fast food every night. Well, there's nothing open at 3am besides greasy fast food joints, right? Or Circle K. So for years, I indulged in burgers and fries, tacos and burritos, you get the picture. Oh, and Dr Pepper by the gallons.

So now, with the help of a good friend of mine 1000 miles away and my new job which has a terrific cafeteria and a plethora of options, I'm taking it one meal at a time and getting healthy. I take a picture of every breakfast and lunch and send it to my friend via text message (with a picture). I describe what I am eating and he drills down about how bad it all is. Seriously. What I thought wasn't so bad, man. He's opening my eyes to stuff I didn't even think about.

As I've begun to learn things about food, glycemic index, GMO and raw foods, I thought maybe some of you could benefit. But since it's not the usual homesteading topic, I'll simply drop a blurb on here that I posted something new and link to it on a side page of this blog. Like I did my Farm Critters topic. The first one is live, read it on the Eating Healthy page. It's good information albeit NOT from professionals and is sprinkled with humor between to buddies.

Because, after all, if we're serious about getting prepared for the trouble that certainly seems to be heading our way thanks to our government leaders, we not only need to be prepared with food, water, medicine, weapons, and the like...but we also need to be in good enough shape to handle day to day activities like chopping wood, hunting game, household chores, outdoor chores and just plain playing around with our children.

Hope it helps.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Our First Country Problem: Rodents Attacked Our Food Storage

Rodent damage to our Hard White Wheat bags.
Having lived in the city for the last 21 years, we have had to deal with ants, roaches, spiders, and noisy crickets. Never once did we have to deal with a rodent problem and likewise never had to defend our plentiful food storage.

In 2010, we constantly bought as much food storage as we could afford. I was working the equivalent of two jobs and we were lucky enough to pack away a year's worth of food for our family of eight. That was no small accomplishment.

We proudly displayed it on our kitchen loft for many months until a SurvivalBlog article got me to thinking "Maybe I shouldn't make this public knowledge." Some strategically placed cutouts turned our kitchen loft into a nice hidden cache. I found work lockers to be another great place to store additional food and put up a good 30-40 cans of soup there.

Another food storage casualty.
So our food storage had been safe...until now. When we packed up our food storage to relocate to northern Arizona, I made a great score in finding a DAILY discarding of big, wide meat boxes from our local Walmart butcher. These boxes held a ton, had nice notches for handles on the sides and were very sturdy. Before I returned from my Oklahoma journey, Wifey had packed 117 boxes with the help of the girls.

The food storage we bought in #10 cans was still in it's original boxing. The rest of our food storage was packed in mylar bags with oxygen eaters courtesy of our local LDS Cannery.  We packed hundreds of these mylar bags in boxes from Walmart and lugged them north. Little did I know, field mice were on standby, waiting for our arrival...and the handy little handle holes on the side of each box meant INSTANT ACCESS for our new friends.

They got several rice bags.
I also didn't know that mice would chew right through our cardboard boxes to get to our powdered milk.  Even the mylar bags proved no barrier for their little nibblers. We discovered tragedy today when we were looking through boxes for handles to add to the little girls' clubhouse wall. There they were, plain as day...mouse turds, all over the inside of the box.

As we began moving boxes away from the wall, the horror became more clear. They had chewed through the cardboard on several boxes and contents were spilled out onto the floor. We've been here three weeks and today we pulled 21 mylar bags aside that had holes in the bags.

So we spent half of our Sunday, which was very enjoyable up to this point, taking food storage out of cardboard boxes and putting them into home depot buckets and plastic boxes with secure lids.

Our question now is: "What do we do with the damaged items?" Do we have to throw it away? Some bags have such small holes in them that it seems hardly large enough to squeeze a rice grain through it. Having worked so hard to save up the money AND bag it all ourselves, I'm hoping somebody can tell me how to save this stuff. I guess the worst case scenario would be to feed it to chickens, once we get some more.

Besides the rice, we also lost:

All these bags have tiny little holes in them ranging from the large ones I imaged at the top of this post to little bitty holes only big enough for one grain of rice to slip through. So, are any of these salvageable? Should we dump them out and sift it for rodent feces to see if the bag got contaminated? Can we make the powdered milk and boil it or something to make it safe to drink?

I hope it's not all wasted.