Saturday, October 22, 2016

My dog planted a tomato for me

So I'm sure we've all heard the expression "My dog ate my homework" but in her zeal to dig up a gopher, my dog buried a limb of a tomato plant at a time when the heat was killing everything.  Now that the season change is bringing cooler weather and my Son is leaving a leaking hose in the garden, things are greening up again. Including the branch the dog buried which is now it's own bush.

The water was drying up before it could get to the roots.  Between the heat and the June bugs the tomatoes were a loss (as with most of the garden).  Again, the tomatoes are blooming and making a second round of fruit.

On another note, I received a package from the California DMV last week - 

Snoopy plates!  These were made in support for the Charles M. Schulz Museum and I've had to wait for more than a year to finally get it.  It's not a prep and it does nothing for my garden but sometimes the rules of Zombieland really apply.

Sometimes, it's the little things that make life so much more bearable. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Mouse problem solved (slowly)

On and off I've had problems with mice in the garden and floor of the chicken pen.  I've tried several types of traps but most end up being useless.  So far the most effective means of killing the moochers is my backyard predator and that sometimes leads to far more destruction than the mice could ever have achieved.  But she's also very sweet and loving so I can't stay mad at her...

As cute as the dog is, she is also not as effective as I'd like.  A kill rate higher than one a week would be nice.  

I've tried several DIY traps as well as a few of the "off the shelf" traps and most end up being ant feeding stations.  The bucket of water and roller with peanut butter bait looked especially promising but after a week of cleaning off ants and dabbing peanut butter on the roller I called that one a flop.

Other multi-mouse traps (trap door types) proved to be as effective as happy thoughts.  Getting mice to go into a little box with a door that closes behind them just did not work for me.  My ex-mother-in-law had several of these in her garage and they worked for her.  For my garden mice though, not so much as a scratch on the door.

What has worked was a bit more than I wanted to spend for but I finally bit the bullet and gave it a try:
A little chicken feed, two C batteries and an hour later I had a dead mouse!  There were three dead mice the first night.  All I had to do was dump out the body, pour in a little more chicken feed and put it back in the same place.  The Victor electronic rat trap has racked up more than a dozen mouse bodies since I picked it up from the local Ace hardware store three weeks ago!  There is a warning label about indoor use only but my mice are not indoors (Thank GOD!) and the device is placed where the dog cannot get to it.  

On the DIY front, sure I could have made something to trigger and zap mice myself.  I have neon transformers in the garage with an output of 12,000 volts @ 3A that throw a spark more than 4 inches so crispy mice is not a hard point to get to.   Building a battery powered unit is not hard and a nice flyback coil or even ignition coil would deliver a killing strike. Maybe in the future.  

All these ideas are great but as I get older, I find that the time to execute these great ideas being very short and for the hours I would put into killing a few mice, the $40 for the electronic trap was worth the result.  That time was better spend with family, friends, Faith and making a living.  

Sure, I'm working on another computer based watering system for the garden so I have not abandoned the DIY for everything.  I'm just trying to pick my battles more wisely.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Support your local handyman!

Well, back at the blog again.  It's been hard watching the garden die off with the California heat and the drought that keeps the water from doing much good.  As an upshot of having my youngest Son water the trees in the afternoon some of my tomatoes look like they have recovered and will maybe produce a second harvest for me.  With the Japanese Beatles gone, I may just get some salsa out of this after all.

Back to the title subject - Support your local handyman!  We have had this house in sub-urban California for almost 19 years now.  In all that time there was a 'back porch' that looked like something out of National Geographic's photos from third world villages.  Most likely it was built by someone from that corner of the world anyways...

After 19 years of hating the back porch because the roof never got finished, never got painted and became sun damaged, dirt (mud) floor - I am now very happy with how the back porch has turned out.

Around the first of the year, our neighbor has a beautiful paver store patio put in the front of her house.  I told her that I was jealous of her new patio and she was kind enough to introduce me to her best friend's husband - a Handyman.  He came over and looked at the cruddy back porch and listened to what I wanted to do with it and went to work! No more dirt or mud right outside the back door and the dog loves to scratch her back on the stones.

I would say that the hardest part of the back porch paver stones was finding something that matched the house without over spending.  He was able to find a gray cobble stone that a local small builder supply carried once and convince them to order a couple more pallets.  It was great in that it matched the house stucco color well enough and was not overly expensive.

My last step in this was to get the porch cover finally repaired.  It started out as just new plywood sheeting and a roof but went bad from there very quickly.  The lumber was never painted and already cracked when we purchased the house - something he pointed out day one. Turns out that the new lumber would not be more than what I had budgeted for the repairs anyways so I had him replace what needed to be taken care of.

Two weeks later and I have a porch that I am proud of - Water proof roof, painted lumber that matches the house trim paint and if you look at it from an overhead photo it only looks like the third world porch got a roof finally.

Not that this helps my preps out any but it makes for a much better place to rest up from working in the garden.  It will also help the resale value of the house if I can ever convince my wife to move out to one of the Redoubt states.