Category Archives: Environment

Handmade Home Project

north east house view

click to zoom in

Grandson’s handmade house project is off and running again this year after an infusion of cash received from his income tax refund check. Grandson’s house project is a multi-year project, but, in the end he will not have a 30 year home bank loan to deal with. This project is being bought and paid for as cash and time allows.

The plan. My original plan called for the concrete slab to be 51 feet 2 inches by 30 feet 2 inches. As with many concrete form-up jobs, things did not go by the original plan. The slab was actually closed to 50 foot 9 inches on one side and 50 foot 7 inches on the other. What the heck, what’s 5 or 7 inches one way or the other. Grin… to late to be overly concerned the concrete is poured and cured.

Concrete slab was poured and red iron steel frame up work was accomplished last summer(2016). Wall height is 10 feet from floor to the bottom of the roof sheeting with a 4 in 12 roof pitch. This year(2017) Wall sheeting, roof sheet, trim, windows and outside doors will be in place in another weekend or maybe two weekends.

southwest view of house Once dried in, grandson can work in a dry environment and begin interior framing of room walls and doors. Installing electrical wiring, plumbing for bathroom, washroom and kitchen.

Note: Carport project is on hold until son-n-law and grandson complete drying in the house project.

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HP Tech Support

HP Tech Support – Computer Repair

Caller : Hi, our printer is not working.
Customer Service: What is wrong with it?
Caller : Mouse is jammed.
Customer Service: Mouse? Printers don’t have a mouse!!!
Caller: Mmmmm??.. Oh really?. .. I will send a picture. Maybe that will help.

Backyard and Gardening Fun

Poor man’s Raised Bed Project.

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Fall Gardens

The official start of summer is still 9 day away, however if you plan to plant a Fall garden, now is the time to select your Fall garden plot and ready it for planting. It is also near the time to plant your seed to establish seedling transplants.

New Fall garden site selection.
The major consideration for garden placement is sunlight. All vegetables require some sunlight; the most popular vegetables require full sun. “Full” sun means at least 8 hours of intense, direct exposure. If such exposure is not received by crops such as tomatoes, peppers and squash (vegetables that contain seed), the plants grow spindly, they have weak stems, drop blooms and are generally nonproductive. Shade in the afternoon (after 3 p.m.) is wonderful; shade in the morning is acceptable. There are vegetables which produce passably in the shade. Generally, those crops such as greens, broccoli, cauliflower, root crops (carrots, turnips) which do not produce a fruit with seed will yield sparingly in semi- shaded areas but even these crops will do better in a full sun condition. Crops such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans and cucumbers may not produce anything if grown in the shade; plants will grow tall and spindly. The production potential of the garden’s most popular vegetables depends solely on the amount of direct sunlight they receive.

Turf grass MUST be removed. Don’t think that you can dig or till this existing grass into the garden soil and get rid of it. Even a well-tilled, pulverized garden soil will contain enough bermuda grass sprigs to cause troubles for years to come. New garden areas are doomed before they begin if all bermuda and other lawn grass is not completely removed BEFORE tillage begins. If a raised garden is being considered, sod should be removed BEFORE additional soil is put into the prepared frame.

Chemicals applied to the grass to kill it rather than pulling it out. There are several brand names which contain the weed and grass killer glyphosate. These include Roundup and Kleenup check ingredients on label for the term “glyphosate” and follow label instructions for application rate.

Quick (30-60 days) maturing vegetables are: beets (1 1/2 feet) FT; bush beans (1 1/2 feet) FS; leaf lettuce (1 foot) FT; mustard (1 1/2 feet) FT; radishes (1 1/2 feet) FT; spinach (1 foot) FT; summer squash (3 feet) FS; turnips (1 1/2 feet) FT; and turnip greens (1 1/2 feet) FT.

Moderate (60-80 days) maturing vegetables are: broccoli (3 feet) FT; Chinese cabbage (1 1/2 feet) FT; carrots (1 foot) FT; cucumbers (1 foot) FS; corn (6 feet) FS; green onions (1 1/2 feet) FT; kohlrabi (1 1/2 feet) FT; lima bush beans (1 1/2 feet) FS; okra (6 feet) FS; parsley (1 1/2 feet) FT; peppers (3 feet) FS; and cherry tomatoes (4 feet) FS.

Slow (80 days or more) maturing vegetables are: Brussels sprouts (2 feet) FT; bulb onions (1 1/2 feet) FT; cabbage (1 1/2 feet) FT; cantaloupes (1 foot) FS; cauliflower (3 feet) FT; eggplant (3 feet) FS; garlic (1 foot) FT; Irish potatoes (2 feet) FS; pumpkins (2 feet) FS; sweet potatoes (2 feet) FS; tomatoes (4 feet) FS; watermelon (1 foot) FS; and winter squash (1 foot) FS.

Using your Spring and Summer garden site. Once the decision to have a fall garden has been reached, a gardener must take action drastic action. You must pull out some of those plants that have been nurtured from “babies” in the spring to monsters now. This takes courage and faith! It is recommend that all plants, weeds included, be removed except okra, cherry tomatoes and pole beans if the foliage is healthy. Large-fruited tomatoes may have some small ones still hanging on, but unless you have at least 20-25 good-sized fruit, pull them out, make green tomato relish or chow-chow. Pull the old plants up and discard them. Give them to the garbage man. Don’t try to compost insect and disease ridden plants.

The two charts below are for planting Fall crops in zone 7.
You will need to adjust your planting dates to suite the USDA zone you garden in.

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There’s A Chicken In My Coop!

barn yard chickens It’s getting to be the time of the year that many folks that bought 25 or more day old chicks in January now need to deduce their flock size. You can often pick up roosters, pullets and young laying hens at a very reasonable price now. Pullets generally start laying at about 20 – 26 weeks of age. Heavy ‘duel purpose’ birds tend to to be closer to 26 weeks old. If your looking for meat birds or a rooster for your flock start looking now. Many flocks will have far to many roosters and you can pick them up for rock bottom prices.
Don’t get carried away buying fresh off the farm meat birds. Never pay more for an old hen or a young rooster than the cost of a processed ready to cook bird cost in your supermarket.

Any of the Leghorn breeds are excellent layers and do not go broody. They lay large white eggs. Put them in an old store egg carton and the kids will never know the difference. Most other breeds lay lightly tinted to dark brown eggs. Check out McMurry’s Catalog for a ton of useful information on many different breeds, egg colors they lay and much more.

A word about eggs from the USDA.

Brown eggs are better for you than white eggs, is that true?
Does the color of the shell affect the egg’s nutrients?
No. The breed of the hen determines the color of her eggs. Nutrient levels are not significantly different in white and brown shell eggs.
Araucuna chickens in South America lay eggs that range in color from medium blue to medium green. Nutrition claims that araucuna eggs contain less cholesterol than other eggs haven’t been proven.

Answer: Shell color does not affect the quality of the egg and is not a factor in the U.S. Standards, Grades, and Weight Classes for Shell Eggs. Eggs are sorted for color and marketed as either “white” or “brown” eggs.

On average, brown eggs are bigger in size than white eggs, due to the breed of chicken laying the eggs. Brown eggs cost more to produce and is usually reflected in the cost per dozen at retail.

Are Free Range or Cage Free eggs nutritionally better than eggs from hens in a caged environment?
Answer: Free Range or Cage Free eggs denote the environment in which the laying hens were housed. Currently, USDA does not have definitive scientific data stating a nutritional difference in egg nutrition, due to hen housing.

What is the difference between Free Range and Cage Free eggs?

Answer: Free range must be produced by hens housed in a building, room, or area that allows for unlimited access to food, water, and continuous access to the outdoors during their laying cycle. The outdoor area may be fenced and/or covered with netting-like material.

Cage free must be produced by hens housed in a building, room, or enclosed area that allows for unlimited access to food, water, and provides the freedom to roam within the area during the laying cycle. Access to outdoor areas is not a requirement.

USDA Are eggs safe to eat after the Use By or Sell By date has expired?

Answer: The Use By or Sell By dates stamped on the end of an egg carton denotes the period of optimum egg quality. As eggs age, the yolk membranes and tissues weaken and/or moisture is absorbed from the albumen (white). As a result, the yolk begins to flatten and the albumen becomes watery. This is indicative of a Grade B, quality egg.

For baking purposes, a higher quality egg (Grade AA or A) is preferred. For hard-boiling purposes, a lower quality egg (Grade B) is preferred.

Additionally, retailers utilize the Use By or Sell By dates for stock rotation or inventory control.

USDA Egg grades
There are three consumer grades for eggs: U.S. Grade AA, A, and B. The grade is determined by the interior quality of the egg and the appearance and condition of the egg shell. Eggs of any quality grade may differ in weight (size).

U.S. Grade AA eggs have whites that are thick and firm; yolks that are high, round, and practically free from defects; and clean, unbroken shells. Grade AA and Grade A eggs are best for frying and poaching where appearance is important.

U.S. Grade A eggs have characteristics of Grade AA eggs except that the whites are “reasonably” firm. This is the quality most often sold in stores.

U.S. Grade B eggs have whites that may be thinner and yolks that may be wider and flatter than eggs of higher grades. The shells must be unbroken, but may show slight stains. This quality is seldom found in retail stores because they are usually used to make liquid, frozen, and dried egg products.

USDA Sizing of Eggs
Size tells you the minimum required net weight per dozen eggs. It does not refer to the dimensions of an egg or how big it looks. While some eggs in the carton may look slightly larger or smaller than the rest, it is the total weight of the dozen eggs that puts them in one of the following classes:

Size or Weight Class Minimum net weight per dozen
Jumbo …………………. 30 ounces
Extra Large …………. 27 ounces
Large ………………… 24 ounces
Medium ………………… 21 ounces
Small ………………… 18 ounces
Peewee ………………… 15 ounces

USDA Should you wash eggs?
No. It’s not necessary or recommended for consumers to wash eggs and may actually increase the risk of contamination because the wash water can be “sucked” into the egg through the pores in the shell When the chicken lays the egg, a protective coating is put on the outside by the hen. Government regulations require that USDA-graded eggs be carefully washed and sanitized using only compounds meeting FDA regulations for processing foods.

Chicken growers have a large selection to choose from. The tiny Mille Fleur to the New Jersey and Black Giants. Everything from plain Jane everyday chickens to award winning Fancy’s. They come in every color in a rainbow to solid whites or blacks. Some breeds are very quite easy to handle others always seem to be a bit stand offish and on the skittish side. With that said, they all have a few things in common. They are always fun to raise, fun to watch, wonderful table meat and produce eggs from thumb nail size to extra large. No mater what breed you select I’m sure you will enrich your life and give your family an experience they will carry through life. You will be blessed having them in your backyard survival farm.

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Little Garden Big Savings

A home gardener can do a lot to lessen their supermarket food bill. Whether it be using containers, hot beds, cold frames or green houses. Home gardeners can produce a lot of fast growing healthy herbs, root and green producing foods all Fall and most if not all Winter as well. hay cold frame

You can grow many crops in containers and cold frames such as lettuces, chard, radishes, turnips, beet roots. There are many cold loving plants that will serve your food needs. Do it, plant a few seeds, the only thing you have to loose is a few seeds in your experimental containers or cold frame gardens.

A few pots and a south facing window and your in the container gardening business. Almost all herbs and many green and root crops can be successfully grown in larger pots.

The only limit to what and how much you can container grow is your imagination and willingness to give it a try.

Waste Not – Want Not

Studies in the U.S.A. and the UK have found that the average family sends up to 1/3 (33 percent) of their food budget to the land fill needlessly. The main cause is people in general don’t understand what that little Best used by date stamped on food packages really means.

Best if used by date Does Not mean that the food has gone bad and is unsafe to eat after that little ‘Best used by date. What it does mean is the Length of time food retains most of its original taste and nutrition.

EXAMPLES OF SHELF LIFE:
Recent scientific studies on dehydrated food have shown that food stored properly can last for a much longer period of time than previously thought. This research determined the “life sustaining” shelf life to be the following:

Dry Food Item Shelf Life
Wheat, White Rice, and Corn 30 years or more
Pinto Beans, Apple Slices, Macaroni 30 years
Rolled Oats, and Potato Flakes 30 years
Powdered Milk 20 years

U.S. Army study. If a product is correctly processed, it should remain safe until opened or the seal is broken. The U.S. Army has found that canned meats, vegetables and jam were in “excellent states of preservation” after 46 years. However, long storage is not recommended. For high quality (versus safety), the broadest guideline given by the U.S.D.A. is to use high-acid canned food (fruits, tomatoes and pickled products) in 18 to 24 months, and low-acid (meats and vegetables) in two to five years.

It is important for you to keep food stored at as cool, dark as possible (below 75 degrees but not freezing). This is the best and most important thing individuals can do to keep their long term food viable. If done, your storage could last 20-30+ years, depending on the product and storage conditions.

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Tomato Season Is Near

blossom end rot

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service provides many pictures to help you diagnose and treat your tomato disease problem(s).
Tomato Problem Solver and
Disorders of Tomato Leaves

You can’t treat your diseased tomato plants if you don’t know what disease they actually have. The secret to successful tomato growing is to check your plants everyday and start a treatment plan as soon as you see the first signs of a disease or insect problem.

University of Iowa Also has a great fact sheet on line with photographs and treatments for many common tomato diseases. This is a PDF file.

You may find what you thought was a disease problem is really an insect infestation. If this is the case take a look at Colorado state University Extension service: Tomato Insect Pests fact sheet for insect identification and controls.

This has nothing to do with tomato’s but it’s too good not to share.
I am relieved to know that my T-bone steak was ‘made’ by my market and growing a cow for 2 or 3 years is no longer required. Click picture to zoom-in.

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May 21 – 28 ….. Post Storm ….. Week In Review

It’s the last week of May and we are seeing ‘real’ temperatures of 93 to 99 degrees and heat index is forecast to be 103 to 109 degrees in my tiny part of Oklahoma today and Sunday.

Garden, trees, bushes and vines are beginning the slow recovery from last weeks 100+ mph wind and hail storm. It is safe to say none of my plants are looking great.

The same storm was hard on my Hummingbirds. After the storm I only have about half as many Hummingbirds coming to my feeder. I can only guess what happened to the other Hummingbirds.

Bamboo was about 7 foot tall, but after the storm many of it’s canes had their tops broken off. I don’t think this years canes will grow any taller. Maybe next year it will succeed in reaching it’s mature height of around 20 – 25 feet tall.

Purple Martin’s have hatched and fledged. It won’t be many days and they will be self sufficient and leave their nest site.

Carport steel has been cut to length, bolt plates and support brackets are welded in place. Michelle L. has decided to paint all steel framing gloss black and covered with a dark green sheet metal to match her house roof sheet metal.

Duck and Goose. I am now the proud owner of a young duck and goose. Gave to me when the previous owners discovered how fast they grow and large they will be, Grin … Not House Pets. The duck is just starting to loose its down and growing it’s first feathers. The goose is still a few weeks from being feathered out. Grin.. I had forgotten how much water they drink and how fast feed goes from mouth to fertilizer.

Have a fun safe Memorial day weekend.

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Rain storms in Oklahoma

Oklahoma storm season has arrived.

Last night thunderstorms developed southwest of my tiny farm and moved across the area spawning several tornado’s one that moved across this area about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile northeast of here, we had a hard and fast 2 – 3/8 inch rain that dumped on us in less than 1 hours time and had a measured wind gust of 104 mph. 104 mph is not a typo error.

We lost power for some 6 or so hours. Elect folks said they had 50 or more utility poles broke off due to the hard wind event. To their credit by 6 AM this morning power had been restored to all but 85 homes and they should have electric service by mid morning.

We survived with very little storm damage.

National Weather Service(NWS) has forecast a repeat of last nights storms for late this afternoon and very likely again Saturday afternoon as well.

First Speeding Ticket??

This is just to good not to pass on.

1896 Arnold Benz Motor Carriage is largely held to be the very first car to receive a speeding ticket.

The 19th century was a tough place to have an automobile. The law at the time required drivers to maintain a speed of no more than 2 mph and be proceeded by someone walking in front of the vehicle waving a red flag. For reference, that’s a little quicker than the average speed of an ambling cow.

Exceeding the speed limit, traveling at an estimated 8 mph. To make maters worse, no one was running ahead, waving a red flag. He was convicted of speeding and made to pay a lofty fine of a shilling “plus costs.”