Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas...Now Move!

Over eight hours late on promised delivery time
Please enjoy your Christmas holiday for those of us that will be the snow. The "pod" that was supposed to be delivered ended up being a semi-truck trailer. Along with now having to take stuff up five feet into the trailer, the ramp it came with sucks. Instead of flat and wide, it is narrow and has cleats all over the place.

The piano is too wide to get up the ramp. Not sure how we're going to take it with us now unless I enlist and army of guys to lift it up.

We went with U-Pack for the move and so far I'm not impressed. We didn't get floor-level box like I thought we would. Then, instead of dropping it off between 8 and noon (which would have given us most of the day to load, pre-snow) they didn't show up until a little after 8pm. We loaded for about two hours but not near the amount we should have been able to load. Now it's snowing.

We have the "pod" until next Tuesday so we should be okay. Just not sure about the piano now.

Wish us luck and Merry Christmas everyone!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Taking Down the Chicken Coop

The gals were off to a new home
T-11 days and counting until the big move. Today I sold our chickens to a nearby neighbor for $50. She and her teenage daughter showed up at 07:30 this morning with three dog crates. It took us all of 20 minutes to catch all 12.

Once the girls were gone I began disassembling the coop. The coop had grown over the past 12 months into three editions. The original coop was a wooden coop like you buy at the local farm store. I added an eight foot dog kennel around it to give the girls more room to roam. Then I expanded it with T-posts and fencing wire for more leg room. At the end, I expanded once more to allow room for two garden hoop houses and I let the girls clear out all the weeds for me.

Lucky FINALLY gets to enter the chicken coop...
So today I began taking it all down. My intent is to save as much as possible and take it to Idaho with us and start over. I've learned a great deal about fortifying the coop at the ground level as well as when you need to cover the top to prevent flighty birds (Bantams!).

Lucky spent a great deal of time scouting out the coop now that he FINALLY had access. He must have sniffed every single inch of that place today. He even ate some of the remaining layer feed.

I used extra pieces of wood to serve as a rolling pin for the start of the fencing. I nailed the fencing to the board with poultry staples and rolled up the fence as tight as it would allow. This allowed me to minimize the amount of storage space the fencing would take up in the bed of Old Blue ('81 Chevy truck). Worked out pretty well.

Took me about four hours to take down the Bantys' coop and the hoop garden area. It is all neatly rolled up and stored in the back of the truck now. I've listed all my pallets and spare wood in the FREE section on CraigsList so I'm sure it will be gone by tomorrow. Then all that will be left is the smaller coop surrounding the dog kennel.

Tuesday, three days from now, is when the moving pod gets dropped off in the front yard. Then the REAL moving begins...


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What Seedlings to Grow in January?

Lots of car problems, of course.
We're at T-13 days and counting to our big move to Idaho. One of the things on my list after we get settled in is to start our garden. I'll have room in the garage to start seedlings and I'm wondering, since we'll be new to the state, what folks in the area are growing this time of year?

Of course, as we are getting ready for our  move north, just about everything is breaking down on us. I've repaired three vehicles in the past two weeks (some more than once) and finally got them in running condition to make the drive to Idaho. Then I noticed Lucky limping and took him to the Vet. They said he tore his ACL in his knee and will need surgery.

In the meantime, they found an ear infection and I'm giving him steroids and antibiotics twice daily. All the kids are getting their teeth and eyes checked before our insurance switches to the new job and we start all over again on deductibles.

Lucky at the Vet getting checked out
Sis and Macky are finishing up their last week of homeschooling tests. Their stress levels are running pretty high. I don't blame them...I always despised finals week in school. I finished my first semester in my Masters program with two A's and one B. Not bad for an old man working full time.

I have all the utilities set to be turned on when we arrive. We've set up minimal Christmas decorations so that we don't a lot to take down the week we move. But you have to have some Christmas cheer for the kids to enjoy so we picked up a tree from Home Depot and spent an evening decorating it with lights and ornaments. I am looking forward to NEXT Christmas when I can go crazy with the decorations like we used to do.

So, back to my original question for you guys and gals:

What seedlings can I get started (indoors) in January?


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Elf on the Shelf - Our Family Tradition

Family Tradition: Elf on the Shelf
A fun tradition we picked up a few years ago is having our own Elf on the Shelf. If you haven't heard of this novel idea, it's quite fun for the kids (and the parents too!)

The concept:

Year after year, children and adults alike are baffled by the mystery of how Santa really knows who's been naughty or nice. After much urging by the elves and Mrs. Claus, Santa has allowed his biggest secret to be revealed in The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. At the start of each Christmas season, the elf appears to serve as Santa's eyes and ears, traveling back to the North Pole each and every night to make a detailed report of the day's activities. This keepsake gift set includes a dark skin, brown eyed boy North Pole pixie scout elf and a hardbound watercolor picture book. Children can register their elf online to receive an official adoption certificate and a special letter from Santa.

Wifey has had tremendous fun coming up with fun and creative ways for Elf to cause mayhem around our house. He was once found in  our refrigerator sitting next to a cup of pink milk. Barbie was sitting next to him as they apparently had a party. He had changed the regular milk pink with Hershey's Strawberry Quick mix.

"I brought snow from the North Pole" says Elf.

Today, he was found on the kitchen floor near a large pile of flour. The flour had been spread out and he wrote in the flour "I brought snow from the North Pole!" and he was lying in it making a snow angel. He has been found hanging from our kitchen ceiling fan, hiding on a branch in our Christmas tree and numerous other places.

If you are interested in this wonderful family tradition, you can check out Elf on the Shelf here, which will take you to Amazon. You can read the many comments from folks who have bought one and see their ideas. I'm sure Google and YouTube have tons of scenarios as well. If your budget won't allow it this year, put the Elf on your Amazon Wish List for next year.

Christmas time is magical...Enjoy.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Captcha Code Removed

Just a quick note that I removed the captcha code requirement to leave comments. Hopefully the spam squad doesn't show back up again. Now, to go test it...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Raccoons Invaded the Cabin and Trashed It

The Raccoon Wranglers
Pa built a cabin up in northern Arizona many decades ago. He and Nanny would spend their summers up there to escape the grueling Phoenix heat. He started with a single-wide trailer and built on from there. It is a lovely place to retreat to on the weekends but it is only about 300 square feet or so. Our large family of eight have stuffed ourselves in there for a night but it was not the best night sleep I've ever had.

Nonetheless, Wifey and I are the keepers of the cabin and try to get up there once a year to rake up all the pine needles and such. With our latest move from The Valley to Flagstaff we haven't had time to visit in over two years. A brief inspection was seriously past due so I headed over there this weekend with Sis for a spot check.

Upon entering the cabin, which is usually pristinely clean inside, I knew something was awry. Pillow cushions were thrown about and pieces of trash were everywhere. The table lamp had been knocked to the floor and as I approached the kitchen sink, I noticed it contained something unusual...poop turds. Raccoon sized turds was my guess.

The living room upon entry - trashed by raccoons
As I continued to inspect the cabin, the critters had un-made the bed and pillows were in random places on the floor. Paper towel shreds were thrown about and bottles of cleaner on the floor. No major damage though so that was a blessing.

Sis and I cleaned it up in about an hour. The corner of the chair cushion that was chewed up was not visible once it was placed back on the chair. The lamp shade is eaten beyond repair though.

No visible from this angle, the four turds in the sink
I secured the cabin by placing a large, heavy nightstand against the cabinet doors where I think they entered the cabin. There is one place at the back of the cabin where an electric cord runs from the electrical box up under the cabin and because of that thick gauge wire, there is an opening large enough for a critter to get under the cabin. It's obvious now that there's a pathway from under the kitchen sink to the undercarriage of the cabin.

Should I buy a large animal trap or just secure the cabin better? Or both? This is new territory for me.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Let the Packing Begin! 26 Days and Counting...

Ugh! This stinks!

Remember the last time you moved to a new home? Fun, right? Try organizing six hormonal daughters and getting them to pack.

I scored two car loads of boxes from the hospital in the last two days so that's a plus.

We have acquired a few cars (5) in the past year so I have to figure out how to get them and the Orange Jeep Dad trailer up to Idaho. We have the family van and the reliable daily commuter Jeep. Then there's the old pickup truck I bought to help move stuff around. An older Volvo was given to us after the house fire and it became Sister's first car. Then there's the Suburban that we kept from the fire. The insurance company totaled it but I bought it back from them for $400. It only need some rear light covers to be street legal again. Soon I'll need to take it to the DMV to get it inspected and re-registered for the road.

We move in less than 30 days so I have begun cleaning out the vehicles to make room for boxes. The more we can store in the cars, the less I'll get charged for in the moving truck. The OJD trailer alone is going to hold a ton of stuff.

Wifey and Old Blue
I also began driving the vehicles around town as a test of their road-readiness. Today, the trusty 1981 Chevy pickup (Old Blue) died on me. There is a problem getting gas to the carburetor. I verified gas in the tank by siphoning gasoline out of the gas line by mouth (yum!). I used carburetor starter and was able to start the truck only to watch it stop running once the starter wore off so the engine runs. It actually purrs once I get it going...I just can't keep it going. I also testing the fuel filter and it flows just fine. So, it is sitting in the mechanic's parking lot as we speak. Hopefully it won't take too much dinero to get her running smoothly. I'd like to use Old Blue to pull another vehicle up to Idaho.

As luck would have it, the heater is out in the family van. There's no way THAT is going over well in Idaho so it will need to visit the mechanic next week too. The Suburban is still due to go BACK to the mechanic for the rear door handle. It was melted off from the heat of the house fire but was taking so long to be delivered that I took the Burb home for a good cleaning until it's arrival. So, the Suburban will also be returning to the mechanic this week.

The Jeep has a tail light out that I can't figure out. I replaced the bulb and the doohicky that the bulb goes into but it still won't work. I've been pulled over once already for lack of a tail light (got a warning.) So, the Jeep will probably ALSO be going to the mechanic next week.

On top of the cars and the packing, there's still the chickens. To keep or not to keep, that is the question. I really don't want to start all over again but what a huge stress off my shoulders if I don't have to haul their butts 12 hours north in the back of Old Blue. Not to mention that there is no coop or pen established at our new homestead. They'd have to stay cooped up in the back of Old Blue until I threw something together.

We are moving via U-Pack pod this time. The "pod" will be dropped off in our front yard on December 23rd. We'll have until December 30th to pack it up. That should be plenty of time but the logistics are going to be a nightmare. Once picked up, they (the moving company) have six BUSINESS DAYS to deliver it. We will potentially be without our "stuff" for up to nine days. We'll pack necessities in our vehicles and probably end up camping in our new home for a week. Worst of all will be sleeping on the floor until our beds arrive.

Perhaps now would be a good time to ask my good Doctor for a muscle relaxing prescription...or two...or five...


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Moving to Idaho...Yay!

Opportunity is knocking again! After 15 months in Flagstaff, I have been offered a job in southern Idaho. I certainly wasn't actively looking but a gentleman in Nebraska (whom I have never met) somehow got ahold of my resume and called me. He's what I call a Headhunter which is someone who finds jobs for people and makes money doing it.

He asked if I had ever thought about living in Idaho. Unbeknownst to him, I chuckled. Of course I had! Montana and Idaho were two parts of the American Redoubt that Wifey and I had dreamed of moving to and living our dream.

How would I find the time to go 15 hours north for an interview though? Turns out, the interview was only two hours north of where I go for school two times per semester. I just finished my first semester towards my Masters degree at Weber State University this month. When I found out it was only a short two hour drive from Ogden, Utah I agreed to set up an interview.

A month later I was offered the job. Then I had to figure out where we were going to live. After the fruitless summer in Oklahoma trying to find a home for my large family, I was a little skeptical. I left on Friday at noon and arrived in small town Idaho around 2am. I spent the entire Saturday driving around looking at homes thanks to the efforts of two agents.

As luck (again) would have it, there were two homes (on acreage) that would entertain a lease purchase for us. We finally short-sold our house in the Phoenix area just a few short weeks prior to the interview and my credit score is UGLY now to say the least. One of the two homes offered me a honey-of-a-deal which includes a 3 year 3 month lease to purchase with only $5,000 down.

Where are you going to find a deal like that...on three acres?!? Did I mention that the house is 2400 square feet as opposed to the 1700 we are in now?

So, I gave my 30 day notice two days ago to my employer. It was really hard telling my staff of 55 employees. I love my job and the people I work with and it is really strange leaving a job that you like.

But that fact doesn't change that the past year has been the worst my family has ever seen for personal tragedies. The whole family wants a fresh start in a new town and I'm going to provide that for them because they deserve it. We'll be moving at the end of December.

So, idaho...HERE WE COME!


P.S., I welcome any comments on Idaho and any experience you've had there. We don't know a single soul there but we have met a few folks through YouTube within two hours drive (LDSPrepper, DirtPatchHeaven).

Great Prepper Buy: USB Powered AA/AAA Battery Charger - $9.95 + Free Ship

Another red flag from my Deal Search programs.

USB Powered AA/AAA Battery Charger - $9.95 + Free Ship (normally $25)
  • Recharges AA or AAA Ni-Mh/Ni-CD batteries from any USB power source: USB solar panels, USB battery banks, most cellphone USB chargers and laptops
  • Perfect for camping, travelling, emergency preparedness and outdoor activities
  • LED indicator light turns from red to green when battery is fully charged
  • 500mA charge rate, charges most Ni-Mh AA batteries to capacity in 4-5 hours without overheating

Keep your AA or AAA battery powered devices fully charged anywhere. The Sunjack USB battery charger charges your Ni-Mh or Ni-Cd batteries from virtually any USB power source. Perfect for use with the Sunjack Portable USB Solar Charger and most other USB solar chargers. Works great with the Sunjack 8000mAh battery bank (and most other USB battery banks) - a fully charged 8000mAh Sunjack battery bank can charge up to 20 AA batteries. Works with most smartphone or tablet USB chargers. 1 year warranty. *Batteries are not included. Spec: 4.5 x 2.8 x 1 3.6 oz max input: 5V 500mAh

Use your solar charger or any other device with a USB port to charge your batteries!