Tuesday, June 19, 2018

June 19, 2018 Because I'm too Lazy to Come Up With a Title

I have talked about power outage being the most likely problem that we will have to deal with. Yesterday, our power went out again. This seems to be becoming a regular thing. This spring and summer, at least once a week, the power has gone out. It started out about 10-15 minutes. Then 20 minutes. Then 30 minutes. Yesterday, we have worked up to a little over an hour.

I do not have some big conspiracy theory about why that is happening. I believe that it is simply the grid is overwhelmed with all the new construction and growing population in our area.

No matter what the reason is, at least once a week the power goes out. It was a bit over 90 outside yesterday. We closed all the curtains to keep the sun out and pulled out our solar generator, plugged in a fan to help keep the pets cool and continued working on the stuff we were working on outside. We were weeding and mowing and weed-eating.

Then the mower went down. My husband could tell you exactly why, but it's all mechanical and I'm not so I am not sure why. We have previously talked about getting a reel mower if our mower died. No gas, no oil, minimal maintenance. So we went ahead and got one. Back to the whole being prepared for the shit happens and it may not be TEOTWAWKI. It's the little things that can get you first. So we went to purchase a reel mower and to buy the part if we could find it. No such luck, we didn't find the part. We did get the reel mower. At least we mowed the yard. And by we, I mean my husband! 😁

We picked a few more beans so we can put them up. I will be glad when we have a pantry full of home canned yummy foods.

I have also decided that I am going to start doing some landscape design. I have had several people at work ask me if I will come to their house and help them figure out what to plant. Originally, I said no, but have decided that I will. I like the design part of things. I don't want to do the digging and all of that, but like the planning part. So, I am designing some cards and will share them with the folks that are asking about it. I have a friend who will do the digging. I think we can have an accord and make a go of it for both of us.

A lot of rambling tonight, hope you don't mind.

P.S. Supper tonight is navy bean and ham soup. Boy it smells good!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Father's Day Ride

Hope every dad out there had a wonderful day!

We went for a ride. I took my camera to take some photos along the way.

We saw some cool cars 

We went across the Foothills Parkway That is where we saw these cars. There was one guy who was willing to talk to us about the cars, but the guy driving the yellow car didn't seem to want to talk to us at all. He rushed them all off. Boy, they sounded good!

Next up, the Parkway:

I never get tired of looking at the mountains.

I never get tired of the beauty of this area either. 

We are so lucky to live in this area. We like to ride and there are plenty of rides in East TN. And they are all beautiful. 

P.S. Supper tonight was a breakfast bowl. Sausage, eggs, fried potatoes and onions all topped with sausage gravy. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Moonshine and Mishaps

My husband and I like to ride. We now have a dual sport bike that is really fun to ride. My husband grew up riding and I grew up riding with my dad. So, when we have time, we jump on the bike and take off. Mostly day trips, but have taken a couple of longer trips. Although, the second one we took pretty much got rained out.

Last summer we decided again to take a day trip. We rode our way through back roads and ended up in Gatlinburg. We don't really get up there too often. There's usually more people there than we like to be around. It was a nice day out, so we chose to park the bike in the garage and mosey a bit. Our first stop was Doc Collier's. I like that store. We go in and wander around a bit. We hadn't been there in quite some time. Well before the fires. Apparently, they had some smoke damage and had some items like clothes on clearance.

Then the guy behind the counter announced they were ready to start a tasting. Of course we had to join in. There were some we liked and some we didn't. We decided we should get a couple of bottles to take home with us.

Once we were done with the tasting, we continued to browse around. I found a shot glass that I liked. I also found a couple of the clearance tee shirts that I liked. After that we were ready to check out. The lady at the register rang everything up and packed everything in a bag. As we head to the door, my husband, ever the gentleman, opens the door for me. Good thing as I had my head in the bag looking at my purchases and really wasn't paying attention to where I was walking. So, my husband opens the door and....

I fall out the door! Straight down. There is a small little step down that I didn't see as I had my head stuck in the bag. I twisted my left ankle and landed hard on my right knee (This knee already has occasional problems due to a fall I had about 10 years ago). Shit! That HURT!

The first thing I do is check the bag to make sure my shot glass and drinks didn't get broken! My husband, of course, is trying to see if I am okay. I tell him I think I am okay. Nothing broken that I can tell. As I sit there rubbing my ankle, the guy standing outside the store next door smoking looks over and says "I see that all the time"! Awesome, I had an audience! At least I'm not the only graceful person.

Up I get so I can walk it off. I am hobbling and limping up the sidewalk. Holding a moonshine bag. I'm sure some folks thought I had a little too much! At that point, I wished I had so I wouldn't be hurting so much.

We had planned on stopping in a restaurant and getting some dinner. With that in mind, we continued up the sidewalk to the restaurant of choice. I had to stop and sit on a bench. I pulled the leg of my pants up to look at my knee. It was already getting a huge bruise on it. My ankle wasn't any better. My husband went down the street a little bit to see just how far I would have to limp to get to the restaurant, which of course was at the opposite end of town from where we parked. It was a lot farther than I was willing to go. Home is where I wanted to go.

Back to the parking garage, with a pit stop at the convenience store for some cold water and Advil. I took a few. I was hurting a lot by then. Finally the parking garage.

And a motorcycle. Oh lord, how am I going to get on!?!? Both legs are hurt! So after a bit of thought, I lean myself onto the bike and ease myself up. I lean back and swing my right leg over the handle bars. Then I reach back and grab the handles at the back seat and pull myself onto the back of the bike. Then my husband could get on. Off we go.

Putting my feet on the pegs just made everything hurt more. I was ready to tell my  husband to pull over, go home, get the truck and come back for me. Which he would have never done. There would be no way he would just leave me on the side of the road somewhere.

Since we had chosen River Road to head out of town, I asked him to stop on a pull off where I could get to the water. He found an acceptable spot and pulled in. Getting off the bike was just as fun as getting on!

He helped me hobble down to the water. I took my boot and sock off and stuck my foot in. AHHHHH! The cold water felt awesome. I left it in the water until it was numb. I got my sock and boot back on and limped up to the bike. Using the same technique as the first time, we got back on and rode home.

Being as I am just a little bit accident prone, I already have an array of braces. So, I iced my ankle and knee and braced them up.

I had to work the next day. That means a lot of being on my feet and a LOT of walking. And stairs. The garden center I work at is about two acres and multiple levels. I'm a trooper though and went in. We do have carts, so I figured I would just ride as much as I could.

Oh, my! The ribbing I got! To this day, every time I damage myself in any way, the first question I get is "Was there moonshine?".

So what about you? Any moonshine mishaps?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Power Problems

As I stated yesterday, a power outage is the most likely situation that will come up for us. While we will try to be as ready as we can for multiple problems, we pay attention to the power issue because that happens quite often here. Mostly due to storms, but for other reasons as well.

Most of you will remember the wildfires that affected Gatlinburg severely. While we don't live there, those storms and winds that came through and caused the fire to spread, also caused smaller fires elsewhere. Like our backyard. We had a limb come down on the power line that runs across our back yard. While we were able to contain it, we still called the fire department to make sure everything was fully out and okay. After all, a trailer park would turn into an inferno if even just one trailer caught on fire. They do pack trailers in like sardines in trailer parks. Of course, when that limb came down and caught fire, it knocked the power out.

In the winter, we are better off with a power outage because we do not rely on power to heat our home. We have kerosene heaters and the fireplace. We do not have a furnace. In the summer, the trailer turns into an oven. We do have a little bit of shade from the trees in the back yard and the fence line and some tall shrubs on the west side of our house, but not enough to actually shade the trailer.

In order to remedy that particular concern, we bought a solar generator. We so far are not that impressed. We have run load tests and time tests to see how long it will last. We have tested a lot of different things on it. We have found that it charges our tool batteries and regular batteries just fine and will fully recharge with the panel. It is not big enough to run any appliances. We have also time tested fans overnight to see the capability. After being fully charged we ran three fans only. We have plenty of other light sources and if it's weather that we need fans, it's most likely light enough outside that we can do without the lights. Even with a full charge the generator will not last through the night running those three fans. We may try again with just two fans and see what happens. It's too hot to turn the air off overnight and test right now. As soon as we get a break in the heat, we will try again with just the two.

If we didn't have two indoor cats, I would not worry as much about the heat in the trailer. We could just spend as much time outside as possible. The dog can go outside with us as well and usually does. I don't let the cats outside because there is a large feral cat population. While that is great for rodent control, it is not so great for my cats. I am sure the cats are full of feline diseases and do not want my cats to contract any of them, nor do I want them to get into a fight. They are both about 12 years old and starting to show their age. So, we work at finding a solution to the heat.

Maybe I should go ahead and get my chicken coop and just toss them in that! Sans the chickens, of course!

Another thing that I have learned regarding short term (relatively speaking) power outages is to keep paper plates and disposable utensils on hand. I don't like paper plates and don't use them, therefore, didn't have any in the house. I have since decided that the solution to my aversion to paper plates is to suck it up, buttercup! and use them so I don't have to heat water to wash dishes. That will save that vital resource for more important things. Like drinking.

I'm sure a whole house generator would be awesome, but we don't have the money for something that expensive as we are saving for other big ticket items (like a house) and I wouldn't waste the money putting one in here since we already plan on moving.

So what solutions and ideas have you put into practice? Not to prepare for the end of the world as we know it, just those "run-of-the-mill" things that pop up?

Now I am off to wash and hang the clothes to dry and start picking more beans.

P.S. Supper tonight is fried chicken, beans from our garden, cottage cheese and peach slices.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Water Woes

We occasionally test our preps to see where we are with things. Nothing drastic like turning off the power to the whole house or anything like that. Just create a scenario and set our guidelines, like a storm has come through and knocked the power out: what do we do? We try to work with the scenarios that are most likely for us and power outages are the most frequent. Living in a trailer park, we are not exactly high priority for the power company.

Also, we think about things that have happened to us previously that we had to figure out what to do. An example of that is when I was a child, the area I lived in had an earthquake that disrupted the water supply. We had to go to the local grocery store and get water from the national guard and other .gov agencies. For a week. In the summer. We had to share bathwater, not flush the toilet every time we went to the bathroom and all the things that go with not having water. Eeeewwww.

Obviously, having water is a huge priority. We don't have anywhere to store large barrels of water. I'm pretty sure even if we did, the floor wouldn't support them. So we started buying jugs of water every time we went to the store. One gallon and two and a half gallons. At one point we had nearly 100 gallons of water set back. It felt good to know that while it wouldn't last forever, we at least had a head start and wouldn't need to rush to the store or stand in line if for some reason the water was out.

Then the jugs started leaking. The two and a half gallon jugs started first. I kept an eye on them and as soon as they started leaking, I would try to "rescue" the water by putting it in mason jars or anything else I could find with a lid. Then we just used them up. It wasn't long and the gallon jugs also started leaking. So we have started using them up as well. The jugs that the water comes in from the store definitely will not last long term. Not even really short term, unless you purchase them right before you need them. Lesson learned.

We have found a couple of solutions to this problem. One solution that we have found is large 250 gallon containers. There is a place about an hour or so away from us that sells them. We first purchased two that needed to be cleaned out. Another lesson learned. They still are not clean. Clean enough that we can hook together a rain catchment system and I will water the garden with it. Not clean enough that I would drink it. Even after running it through our Berkey. I just would not trust the water. Next time we are up that way, we plan to purchase an additional two more that are already cleaned.

Check in your area. Do you have something like this available? If not, do you have a bottling company near by? Check with them and see what they do with the empty syrup barrels. Or someplace that bottles maple syrup. Apparently, that is one of the previous lives of the containers that we found.

Another solution we found was on amazon. We plan on getting one and seven gallon reusable water containers. Puts us back at finding somewhere to store them, but once I have one in my hot little hands I will be able to figure that out.

Even though I am not aware of any time that the water has been unavailable in the area that we live in, I feel much better knowing we will all have plenty of water to keep us hydrated and hopefully at least reasonably clean. Even if we have to share bathwater again.

P.S. Supper tonight will be the steak and veggie kabobs. I am ready for them now!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dogs, Dreams and Dinner

So yesterday, I decided it was high time to sort and organize my shelf that holds my canning jars. Living in a trailer, of course we had to build shelves. I realize the manufacturer only has so much space and "quality" to work with, but I have seen a lot of houses with no shelves or storage either. Lucky for me, my husband is quite a handy builder. So, now I have shelves and storage.

Anyway, back to my canning jars. I need more. I have some, but no where near to what I need. I am going to start canning more of the beef. I got some stew beef canned up. Next up will be hamburger. I have never canned hamburger before so it will be a new experience for me. I will take some photos and let you know how that goes. Also, I will try some to see how it turns out. I know I won't be able to make burgers out of it, but since hamburger is so versatile, I am sure I can come up with something to try it in.

Also, I never realized dogs could have bad dreams. Last night, my husband and I were sitting in our living room watching a little boob tube with our dog sleeping by our feet. Suddenly, he jumped straight up, seemed very agitated and confused and it took some doing to calm him down. He finally calmed down and laid back down, but had to be touching both of us. He just seemed to need to be comforted. Which of course we were more than happy to do. If I could get my hands on whoever it was who owned him previously, I would probably end up in jail. There is never a reason to mistreat an animal.

We had hamburger steaks, gravy and the beans from our garden for dinner last night. The beans that we are growing for fresh eating are called gold rush beans. They are string-less and very tender. They cook in about 15-20 minutes tops. We are also eating the tiger eye beans fresh along with them. When those beans are young the whole bean, shell and all can be eaten, A little more mature and the beans but not the pod can be eaten. At full maturity, they make a fine textured and flavored dry or soup bean. Tonight, if the rain holds off, we are going to grill some steak and veggie kabobs. If it does rain, we are going to have fried ham and eggs. Either way, yum. 😀

Yesterday, we received our hydraulic log splitter. I am not keen on chopping wood when I am at home alone since I happen to be accident prone. That would be a disaster in waiting! It is a 10 ton splitter and manually operated so I can get started splitting the wood that we bought and get it stacked up where we want it. I love to sit around the fire pit outside or in front of the fire place when it's really cold outside.

Today, I am picking up some hours for a fellow employee who needed off for a funeral. While I am at work, I will pick up some pepper and cucumber plants. Since mine are super pathetic and not growing, I will supplement the garden. I really hope to have some better luck starting the peppers from seed next year. It's been a bust for about two years in a row now. If we have some at work, I am also going to get an okra plant. Maybe two, but that would be it for okra. That stuff is prolific here.

I also would like to say thanks to Wirecutter for sending folks my way. I appreciate all the folks who stopped by to visit. Thanks to all of you!

Monday, June 11, 2018

It's Later

It is now later. Here are some photos of my garden now. 

3 Sisters Garden

Tomatoes and carrots
Good companion plants

Several kinds of beans

Nothing like home roasted peanuts

My pathetic vining plants
Cantaloupe, watermelon, and winter squash

My super pathetic cucumbers

Fig Tree


New strawberry plants

Lime bush

We harvested some beans. Almost two pounds. Not enough to can, just enough to eat so far. We harvested gold rush and tiger eye beans. Both are really good for fresh eating. We have not gotten and strawberries yet as we just planted them a month or so ago. I don't expect to get any this year. We also have a lemon tree. We got lemons last year, but not so far this year. So here is a fairly big look at my garden this year.