Thursday, January 22, 2015

Save Money with Coop Gas?

I was so shocked to see the gas price down to $1.73 that I rushed in and filled up the Suburban. I texted Wifey the good news and she filled up the van. I never quite understood how a commodity can go from $3.50/gal to under $2 in a matter of a few years. The only thing that is clear to me is that somebody, somewhere has too much power to manipulate us consumers.

Anyway, this price drop got me to thinking about how to save money. Are any of you getting farm tanks and filling up at these prices with a 300 gallon tank? A neighbor was talking to Wifey about homesteading in general, like sewing and having a water well when he mentioned we could get a free 300 gallon tank from a local coop as long as we agreed to buy our gasoline only from them.

Wifey thinks he said no minimum purchase and I'm thinking "How can this be a BAD deal?"

Generic 300 gallon gas tank
My dad in Oklahoma City sent me a picture of a gas station sign showing $1.54/gallon. I'm hoping the price continues to drop but I'm thinking if I snooze too long, I might lose out on a good deal.

Any of you get bulk gas?


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Homestead Reboot 2.0 - Moving In Strategy

Bacon and Eggs tape signaled it belongs in the kitchen
Once our stuff finally arrived by semi-trailer (note: DON'T use U-Pack or anyone that utilizes Old Dominion as their freight company), we started the daunting task of unpacking and organizing.

To start, prior to loading up the semi-trailers, Wifey attempted to color-code the boxes by using several different rolls of patterned duct tape. She would tear off a little piece and place it on each box that was to belong to a certain room.

  • Kitchen: bacon and egg patterned tape
  • Master bedroom: polka dots
  • Big girls room: zigzag
  • etc
ZigZag tape belongs in the big girls' room...
In a perfect world, we would have created a "legend" or poster board that had each piece of tape and next to the tape would be where the box would go. This would be posted at the front door and help direct anyone at the other end of the journey that might show up to help us unload.

Of course, that perfect world didn't account for a shipping company arriving 11 days late and finally showing up on a day that was snowing and cold. That initiated Plan B.

Plan B was to simply unload everything into the garage, close it up to keep out the weather and begin using the garage as a staging area from which everything would slowly and methodically be brought in. Snowy and muddy shoes were not allowed in the new home.

Organized rows make for easier finding in the garage.
At first, since we had help from four kind gentlemen from our church, things were placed in the garage stacked but haphazard. It wasn't until the weekend that I took half a Saturday to arrange all these boxes into order. NOW it looks more like Warehouse 13 with isles created for someone to peruse up and down when and if they decided to hunt for something.

This tact has served us pretty well. I made the isles big enough to carry boxes through and faced every label I could TOWARD the isle so anyone looking knows immediately what is in the boxes. To keep Lucky from eating everything in sight, since he sleeps in the garage, for now, he is crated in a dog kennel.

I look forward to the day we can use the garage for our cars and no longer have to scrape ice off the windshields but for now...I'm just glad we're here.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Relaxing Business Trip to Boise

My new job requires I visit other hospitals in our system and one of them is in Boise. Of course, I had to use my GPS just to get out of town given that we have only been here for two weeks so far. Nevertheless, once on a main highway, it was a pleasurable two hours (give or take) until I arrived in Boise.

The streets were busy but nothing like Phoenix during rush hour. More like a busy college town with plenty of traffic lights. I search for a couple of my favorite restaurants hoping that being in a larger city would show me some comforts of days past. Nope. Boise doens't have a single Schlotszky's sandwich shoppe nor a greasy Long John Silvers. Bummer. I settled for the old standby..Subway.

After an 8-5 meeting, I drove around a little to find a sign that would sum up my trip. Hence the pic in this post. I ate my Subway and headed back home. The nice thing about long drives by yourself is you get plenty of time to think. Not a common occurrence when your house is filled with nine females...


Monday, January 19, 2015

A Beautiful Day in a Beautiful Little Town

My view at home to the west
I've enjoyed something new the past couple of mornings. It isn't something I had thought about lately but is definitely something I had previously told myself that I someday wanted. As I awoke, without any effort whatsoever, I looked out of the window right above my bed and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings that I now call home.

Back in Mesa, was all desert. Blistering hot sun, so bad you planned for a day inside most of the time. Neighbors so close on either side that you could just about here them fart. Then came Flagstaff which had beauty all around but the rental house we spent the last year in had Highway 89 right outside the back door. So close, actually, that a minivan came careening through our back fence and came to a stop in our back yard. Constantly noisy, even inside the house.

My view at work, with snow a half an inch thick on each branch
But now we live in a small Idaho town where beauty and quiet abound. At night the sky is glimmering with a million little diamonds. I enjoy my six minute drive to work (when there's no snow) and look forward to many, many productive weekends.

If you love where you live, thank the Good Lord. If you don't love where you live, hold fast and keep trying. Sometimes the path to get where you want to be isn't always clear but don't let that stop your dreams.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Letting out the Hound - Lucky Speaks His Mind

Casa de Lucky, insulated with hay.
I'm still migrating Lucky out to his new home in the old horse corral from the garage. After lining the coral with fencing, I led him out there to enjoy his new wide-open space. As long as I was out there throwing his toy around, he was content as any puppy could be but...

As soon as I shut the gate and began to walk away, the whimpering started. Him being the part Plott Hound that he is, he has a very guttural, deep howl. I think half of his temper tantrum is from his young age and the other may be from being in a new, unfamiliar location.

King Lucky atop his Pride Mountain.
Add to that the fact that he has figured out a way to break out of his new home at least four times now means that I have some strategizing to do. Some quick detective work showed me a couple of his escape routes. The last one took a little more work. After blocking the escape routes with old car rims and adjusting some of the hay bales, I placed him in his pen once more. I walked a quick twenty steps and turned around.

That's when I caught a glimpse of where he was poking his head through the fence and deciphered the most recent escape tunnel.  I sealed it up with baling wire and we're back on task. But I'm not sure what temperature he can withstand at night. We still have snow on the ground and I haven't run an extension power cord out to the coral yet. Without having a heat lamp near his dog house, I'm not sure what his tolerance would be.

So for now, he's spending the night in the garage and when I get home from work I put him out. I walk in the morning, Wifey at lunch. I took the time yesterday (Saturday) to put together a dog crate. I covered it with a tarp and then buried it in the hay. The hay should act as a good insulator and wind block. I placed his dog bowl, complete with food, inside his kennel to signal that is where he belongs.

I went back into the house and felt triumphant as he wasn't howling away. I was surprised when I returned to check on him to find him perched ON TOP of the dog house...soaking up the sun's rays like a lion basking in the African sun.

Of course, he escaped a few hours later. So that is the state of affairs on Lucky. He has a new home and plenty of room to run, he just needs to adjust to it.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Homestead Project: Rain Barrel Catchment System

Future project: water catchment in rain barrels
One of the future projects that I am looking forward to is building a water catching system using my 55 gallon drums. I have twelve at the new homestead after donating ten back in Flagstaff. I simply didn't have the space on the moving trucks to bring all of them with me to Idaho. I donated them to a family that allowed us to stay in their home on the last day of moving since we got snowed in AFTER all of our stuff was packed up and locked onto a trailer.

I bought most of my barrels off of CraigsList and have been trying to garner as many as possible, much like my little 20lb propane tanks (of which I have about eight).

The plan is to create a system much like LDSPrepper demonstrating in his YouTube video here. He incorporated a runoff tube that not only collects a majority of the sediment and debris but it can also be quickly drained via a threaded cap at the end.

I will probably use this system to water the garden but it certainly has more possibilities.  I'm thinking about a configuration that consists of two columns, one on each side of the window. This will also be a good location to keep it hidden from view.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Homestead Income Idea: Shipping Container Storage

Sign says "$1 Move-in Special"
We were driving around our new town and Wifey noticed some storage cans on one side of the road. I call them sea cans (they travel across sea on large boats) but some folks call them shipping containers. We have seen folks use them to make homesteads, bunkers and underground storage places.

The way she mentioned it as we were driving, I thought she found someone selling them so I turned around to go check the prices.

Turns out it is a homestead on a few acres and someone has bought a dozen or so of these containers and has the property set up like a commercial storage facility. I thought this was a terrific idea. It utilizes the property to produce income and the homesteader can run it right from his house. This location has a container made into an office too. So either way, he has a place to go to get out of the house when necessary...says the guy with six daughters...

I thought I would share it with ya'll in case you were looking for a way to make income from your homestead. I know I will file this idea away in my mental rolodex for future reference. Last time I checked, these containers were selling anywhere from $2,000 - $4,000 each. I think they are a great investment for the long term AND they can be used for so many different things.

Then again, I'm a Home Depot bucket hoarder too...


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Homestead Reboot 2.0 : Dryer Fail

If you are lucky enough to find a homestead that you want to move to, take an extra minute to look at the dryer and stove outlets on the wall if you are bringing your own appliance (or buying one upon arrival).

Then take a picture of it.

Because without fail, every time we move somewhere, the outlets don't match the plugs. In flagstaff, the dryer outlet was natural gas...we had electric. Bought a new dryer for $500 and lost it five weeks later in the fire. Home Depot didn't care, I still had to pay it off.

Then our rental house had a different wall outlet than our plug so I had to buy a new set of wires and change it out with the old ones so that I could plug our stove into the wall.

Here we are again in our new homestead in Idaho with:

Exhibit A: our wall outlet


Exhibit B: the dryer plug

Insanity: doing the same things over and over and expecting a different outcome.

 Shouldn't the government be mandating some kind of universal plug initiative or something?!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hazy Crazy January Fog

Fog sit over the pasture next to us.
The locals are telling me this isn't normal but it's been here for three days now. This low lying fog is certainly interesting although making driving a little more dangerous. Yesterday morning I slid through a local stop sign because the roads were iced over and I didn't see the stop sign until I was right up on it.

Since we are completely new to the area, we have to pay special attention to this stuff. I don't have all the roads and signs memorized yet. It was interesting that Wifey and I both slid through that same stop sign on the same morning.

Good horror movie fog
I kind of like it because it makes me feel like our homestead is even more isolated than it really is. The bales of hay seen in the bottom picture (off on the right) are about halfway down our three acres. So we can only see about half of our property.

Looks like I'm going to have to get used to living with lots of mud too...and leaving boots at the door.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Getting Idaho License Plates

Three two-year plates (3 cars) for only $271. Nice!
Moving to a new state often requires several things such as new driver's license, license plates and automobile registration. Here's what I found out moving to Idaho:

1. You don't need automobile inspections like we did in Arizona. In Arizona, I would have had to drive my vehicle to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and pay someone to check my car for functional blinker lights, tail lights, brake lights, hazards, mirrors, windshield and bumpers.

In Idaho, don't need that. All they want to do is verify that the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the paper title matches the VIN on the actual vehicle you are going to register. Now, you can drive each vehicle to the local DMV and they can do it for $14 each or...

You can call your local non-emergency police number and a police officer (in my case, Sheriff) will come to you house and check them all at the same time for free. In turn, you get a pink slip of verification for each vehicle signed by the officer.

Take that pink slip to the local DMV and simply ask for your new plates. Side note: I was happily surprised that I was able to get new two-year plates for three vehicles for $271. That's less than $100 per vehicle for two years worth of tags. I'm digging Idaho!

Oh, and Idaho requires front and back license plates on each vehicle.

2. You will have to take a written test (and pass) to get your Idaho driver's license. You only have 30 days from the day you move to your new homestead to get this done or you could get a ticket if you get pulled over. Same 30 grace period for your license plates.

3. Registration, which is to be kept in the vehicle at all times, will be given to you with your new license plates. The generic plates are available immediately but you can go online and order custom plates if you desire.  There are lots to choose from but I went with incognito generics.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Boo in the Urgent Care, Flower Tossing Cookies

Point of injury below pinky toe, red streak flowing medially
I warned the girls about jumping up and down on our mattresses...although I didn't expect this outcome. I try to teach them, year after year, that furniture isn't for walking on yet they insist on bouncing on my bed, walking on the couches and so on.

Well, a few days ago, Boo was jumping on the bare mattresses we had laying on the living room floor and a piece of metal poked through and stuck her in the foot. Wifey slapped a bandaid on it and off she went, back to playing. She went to school fine the next day as well although she did mention that her foot hurt a little.

Now, day three, Wifey summons me to look at Boo's swollen sole of her foot. There it was...the telltale "red streak" of tetanus reaching across her foot. Of course, this HAD to happen during the tiny little 30-day window that our family doesn't have medical insurance (since I've started a new job.)

I called the local Urgent Care clinic, which is called Active Care here in Idaho apparently, and made some inquiries. If I got her there right away, they would squeeze us in before they closed for the day. Zippidy Doo Da and we were in the lobby. An hour later she got her tetanus shot in the thigh and a prescription for antibiotics.

There is no 24-hour pharmacy in our neck of the woods, which I filed away in my mental Rolodex, and we hurried to the nearby Costco to utilize their cheap meds.

Like she didn't have enough misery with her appendectomy in 2014. She is recovering fine and to prove misery loves company...Flower started throwing up that night around 1am.

Ah, the parenting life...


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Moving to Your Homestead: Moving Companies and Packing

U-Pack trailer not NEAR big enough for a family of nine.
First week and already having issues. Well, routine move-to-a-new-state issues I suppose. We are still waiting for one of our two moving trailers to arrive. We've been in our house ten days and luckily packed suitcases as if we were going on vacation. Thanks to that forethought, we have had clothes to wear and minimum daily living supplies.

Preparing For The Move (Tips)

Tip #1 Pack as if you are going on a vacation. If you aren't driving your things up in a uHaul yourself, plan on the moving company taking at least a week to get your things to your new house. Be mindful of work clothes, church clothes, play clothes and lay-around-the-house clothes. Pack your toiletries and enough snacks to tide you over for a few days at least (until you can get to a grocery store.)

We also towed my 8x10 enclosed trailer up behind one of our vehicles. Even though 60% of it is consumed with my portable workshop, the rest of it was used to haul four mattresses with us. Thanks to this, we don't have to sleep directly on the floor (but the kids are rotating.) We packed a modest supply of cooking supplies like pots, pans, and plastic forks/knives/spoons/cups. We also brought paper plates and bowls with paper towels and toilet paper.

I also packed one of our WonderWash machines for laundry and have already put it to use. The house we bought has no washer and after a week, our dirty laundry was piling up. After a few spins in the WonderWash, we opted for a quick run to the laundry mat.  Utilize any left over space for packing more supplies. We hauled a car on a tow dolly and packed that car to the hilt with boxes.

Tip #2 Research your moving companies. Atlas was a company that would do EVERYTHING for us: box it all up, load it on a truck, drive it to our destination and unload the boxes into the house.

Cost $12,000

U-Pack is a company that estimates the size of trailer you will need based on the number of people in your family and the size of your home (that you are leaving) by number of bedrooms and bathrooms. They drop the empty trailer off at your house and give you three days to pack it. Then they pick it up, deliver it to your new home and you have three days to unload it.

Cost $4500

Uhaul is a company everyone knows. You rent the truck, fill it up and drive it yourself. I did not investigate this option but hindsight has taught me that this might have been a better option. It would have been much cheaper and I could have driven the stuff straight to my house in one day...instead of it taking ten.

Cost: not sure but cheaper than U-Pack

My opinion: Although we chose U-Pack, we are very disappointed for several reasons. Two big reasons are that they have been horrible on staying on time and they grossly underestimated the size of trailer we needed. They were supposed to drop the trailer off between 8am and noon on a Wednesday. Instead they dropped it off at about 830pm on Wednesday costing us an entire day of loading.  You may thing one day isn't much but if you factor in all the stress that goes with moving your entire family, this is one more stress factor that you don't need. Then they were several days late picking it up, causing the delay in delivering it to our new home. To add insult to injury, their driver (Old Dominion) called me on a Saturday (yesterday) and said that if I would pay their driver an extra $50, he would deliver my stuff the same day. Otherwise it would have to wait until Monday. A formal complaint has been lodged regarding extortion. We ended up needing TWO trailers instead of one so I'm sure our cost will double although I have not received a response back yet as to if there will be any compensation for our troubles.

 The saga continues...


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Idaho Question

We're seeing a good number of ladies wearing long skirts and a hat that looks kind of like a yamaka(spelling?)

Are these folks Amish,  Mennonite... what? I'm too shy to ask them and don't want to offend.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Joys of a Laundry Mat

Still no word on when our stuff will arrive.  We had to visit the local laundry mat today as our dirty clothes were beginning to pile up.

I haven't been to a laundry since the summer I spent at our family farm in Oklahoma.  I used my trusty WonderWash  at the farm house but on one occasion I took the whole pile of laundry to a coin operated place and knocked it all out in a few hours.

Prior to that it was way back in college {1990, 1991) that I frequented the local laundry facilities in our apartment complex. It was MUCH cheaper back then.

I'm posting this from my phone while waiting on the laundry but when I get back to the house,  I'll try to edit this post and add some lovely pictures of the adventure.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Lucky Needed to See the Vet Today

Had to take Lucky to the veterinarian today. He had two spots of blood on his head right where his ears meet his head. There was also a spot of blood on his throat. I had inspected those areas to look for ticks or any other causes for bleeding but found nothing.

He recently visited a veterinarian 2 weeks ago and was put on steroids for his limping right hind leg and antibiotics for an ear infection and skin infection. He has completed his medications but appears to still have an ear infection. He is no longer limping (yay!).

Update: he has been given a shot of anti-inflammatory medicine and they said it will last in his body for up to 4 weeks. This will hopefully stop him from shaking his head back and forth causing his ears to whip against his skin.  This whipping  made small tears on the tip of his ears and the blood was leaving spots on his head and neck (long ears).

Also giving him oral antibiotics to continue to treat ear infection. He'll get an ear cleaning next Tuesday. 

$98 later and he is back home now. Along the way, the Volvo broke down. All it needed was a jump start and we're back up and running. Now i'm off to buy a new car battery.


Friday, January 2, 2015

We are Home in Chilly Idaho

Around 8pm, we rolled into our new driveway.  I have plenty to share but the 2-day drive has zapped me.

More to follow.  Thanks for the well wishes!


PS.,  Internet doesn't get turned on until Tuesday. No pictures until then.

Halfway to Homestead

Made it to Panguitch ,  Utah.  One hotel left with vacancy.  $157 for two room (sleeping 9)...not bad.  Vehicles holding up. Kids too.

7 more hours of driving tomorrow to complete our trek from Arizona to our  hidey-hole in Idey-ho. (nod to JWR)


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Shredded Uhaul Trailer Tire

I can't post pictures from my phone but trust me when I say THE STUPID TRAILER TIRE IS SHREDDED.  We are just north of the Utah border on US89.

No spare,  rim damaged  and roadside assistance 45 minutes out.  Mr Glock is now chambered just in case we get an unwanted visitor out here in the dark.

Thank goodness for mobile  dvd players...


Moving Day Fail

Quick post from the road. Trying to leave yesterday and for the first time in over a year we had 13 inches of snow in Flagstaff. So we were stuck after we had already put all of our belongings including our beds and food from the cabinets into the moving trailer. The only people that have a key to the locks on the moving trailer was the moving company. So we had no access to all things.

We stayed the night with a neighbour and left the next day. We got about an hour or two west of flagstaff and found out the hard way that Interstate 40 was completely shut down. We tried an alternate route using route 66 and it was also completely shut down west bound. I had to turn around and retrace my tracks. We lost 3 hours-ish.

I'm happy to report that we are at Lake Powell and stopping for a bite to eat. It remains to be seen if we can make this in one trip or if we will have to stay the night and start again tomorrow.

We are 9 hours from our destination. Both vehicles are running fine.  I had to leave Old Blue and the Jeep Cherokee in Flagstaff for a later date. We are towing Jack,  Sister's Volvo.