Category: gardening

Tues. Aug. 1, 2023 – ti- ai- ime AIN’T on my side, no it ain’t

Hot and humid. Hit 114F in part sun. Hit 106F in the shade. More of the same today, I think. It was so hot, I sat in the shade and in the house talking with my fisherman buddy.

At some point he saw a squirrel in the yard and pointed it out. There is a guy up here that hates squirrels and shoots them, which my buddy hates. As he put it, that is food for when things get really tough. That led me to bring up season 9 of “Alone” which I’ve mentioned here recently. They were shooting and snaring squirrels, pretty successfully, and still starving slowly. At 250 calories per squirrel, there isn’t much food on them. I pointed that out, and that everyone up here would be hunting the same squirrel, deer, and piggies if it drops in the pot. He was convinced he’d be getting plenty of game, so I played along. Who’s watching the wife and grandkids while he’s hunting? More extended family.

Oh, so now you’re feeding 20 people on squirrel and other game, same as everyone else up here. Yeah, but we aren’t JUST eating that… OK, what else are you eating? We’ll be eating from the garden. Which garden? We’ll plant one, we’ve got seeds stored up. OK, what do you eat for the months you are waiting for the harvest? Got six months of food stored? Hmmm. No. Ok, got six weeks? Hmmm. No.

So how do you feed the guards? What about all the other folks who show up looking for food? We’ll tell them “no”. What if they insist? They can try, we’ll shoot them. And what about the next ones? Shoot them too. And if they are hungry kids? Hmmm. OK, now you are the bad guy, and everyone decides you don’t deserve to have your food and stuff so they burn you out and take it.


There has been a lot of what Bruce Schneier calls “movie plot” thinking going on up here. One response, but no thought for second or third order effects.

I still think this is a lot better place to ride out any trouble, but some people haven’t given it enough thought, or considered the reactions and actions of other people. Hopefully he’ll do just that now that I’ve planted a seed.

Today if I get a chance I’ll ask him for a rough census of the deer and piggy population. That should get him thinking about how viable living off the land might actually be. He does know the area intimately, and the people that he knows he knows well. He didn’t know there was an outlaw biker clubhouse only 12 miles away though. And there are lots of places out in the country to do bad things without anyone noticing. I’m betting that at least some of the “abandoned” buildings have occupants, or users that you wouldn’t want to meet, or know what they are up to.

If I can get him to think beyond “I’ll hunt and so I’ll have food” to the idea EVERYONE will be hunting for that same food, maybe we can make some better plans.

The problem is bigger than here and what to do here. The wuflu panic had people in cities buying any piece of land in the country they could get, especially if it was near an amenity like a lake. Everyone that knows anyone in the country will be looking to head there if they can. Everyone who has been to a boy scout or girl scout, or church retreat camp will think it might be a better place to be than a burning city. But the countryside, by and large, doesn’t have the resources for a massive influx of people.

And the folks already here won’t be super happy to share. Which brings me neatly around to the idea that IF you think you might end up wanting to ‘head for the hills’ you better do it NOW and start getting yourself established. At least get your foot in the door, so you aren’t part of a wave of refugees. You’ll still be the new guy, but if you work for it, when they circle the wagons, you might be inside the circle, instead of outside.

I’m trying hard to be in the circle, and I think it’s paying off. Get busy working a plan. And stack, so you don’t show up empty handed.


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Wed. July 5, 2023 – just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

Hot again. Humid still. But a tiny bit less obnoxious than it’s been. It was a bit cooler overall yesterday, thanks mostly to some overcast. I’m hoping for the same today.

I worked all day. They did swap out the dumpster so I was able to move my concrete rubble in only one step. Guy said they have been going through office staff (dispatchers) like kleenex, and they don’t understand that some customers can be put off, but some need their dumpsters right away. One of the jobs he did was a pickup at a business that was closed for the holiday, but they told him to reschedule me. He called and we got it worked out. Sharp guy, and dedicated.

I put some details in yesterday’s comments about the day and spending some time with the kids. It was a good day.

Today I’ll be cranking away. If I don’t finish, I’ll have to extend the rental again. Still cheaper than getting the machines back later. Especially since finding time for ‘later’ is difficult. This was a crazy amount of work but this is also the time I set to do it. So I grind on…

Sometimes preparedness is just grinding on. Stack something.

Always be working to improve your situation.

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Fri. June 30, 2023 – “ordinary f#cking people, I hate ’em.”

Hot and humid.  It’s the season!  There was a beautiful cool breeze off the lake yesterday and it was very nice in the shade.   For the limited time I was in the shade.   The rest was as hot as Satan’s scrotum.

I did general cleanup and details before cutting the grass and heading home.   I stopped to pick up stuff on the way.   Got some stuff out of storage.   Went to Lowe’s.  Had to clean and organize the entire fitting section to find the electrical parts I needed, and they were out of stock on one item.   Took WAY longer than it should have to shop.   But I got everything on my list and should be able to get the plumbing and electrical stuff done without needing another trip.

So I’m headed back up to the BOL as soon as I get all my stuff together.  I still need to pull a few things out of the garage, like the actual wire I’m using for the new circuits.   I found that the problems were even more dangerous and absurd with the dock and the dockhouse yesterday when I opened the panel and really looked.   NO breakers for the dockhouse, just live conductors.  I live a charmed life, that it was broken when I thought it was safely off.

Once it’s bad enough that it’s all coming out, is it really necessary to look at all the ways it’s bad?

My wallet is over $1000 lighter, but one more safety issue will be out of the way.   Good thing I was prodded into doing the fix.  I just don’t like to have things jump to the front of the line in this particular way.

I was able to pull a bunch of stuff out of stock (and stacks.)   But I’ve never used the pvc conduit before so I had to buy all of that.  Well, three sticks of 1″ I pulled from stacks, because I’d picked them up from outside another business – hey one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.   $30 in conduit?  I was pretty sure I’d use it eventually.

So stack stuff you think you might need.  Stack stuff that is useful and cheap or free but could cost more later.   Stack stuff…


added- checked on my grapes when I got home.   They are the red table grapes and while most are still green, they are sweeter, and there are a few that are red, and pretty delicious.

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Sun. June 25, 2023 – a day of rest. …. no, just kidding, more work today

Hot and humid. Of course. But I mean HOT and HUMID. Yesterday was both, but thankfully most of my day was in the shade. Not as much of a breeze as the day before but still not dripping with sweat unless I was in the sun. I’m getting some funny tan lines though.

I fought my way through the most difficult area yesterday, and things should go faster now. The access was so limited that just swinging the excavator from the hole side to the unload side, was a multi-step process. The 20 yard dumpster is almost full to the top. I won’t overfill it, I can stack material and move it twice if I have to.

Had to refill the excavator fuel tank. 5 gallons lasted all those hours. That’s pretty great. I was figuring 5-10 gallons per DAY. The skid steer still has half a tank. It did beep at me and flash an error code.

Thought I’d broken it, but the intarwebs set me straight. The engine had to ‘regen’ whatever that means, and you have to stop work while it does. Something to do with emission control, and it’s VERY expensive if you don’t stop and let it do its thing. It would be nice to have plain english errors, since there is a bright display screen for setup and management that doubles as a backup cam. No, gotta have an icon, and a number in a log. Programmers. Surprisingly hard to find good info online about the errors, and what the icons mean.

Had one scary moment when I got confused, went down instead of up, and raised the mini-ex onto one tread. I was already leaning back and that pitched me far enough I thought I was going over. I don’t think I was actually in danger of flipping it, they have a really low CG, but it felt like I’d F’d up big time. Took a few minutes for my heartrate to return to normal. The online advice, if you get yourself in trouble take your hands off the controls, worked perfectly.

Today I’ll start with some electrical trouble shooting. When I ‘found” the power supply to the dock house, I only pulled the conduit about 10 inches, but it was enough. No power in the dock house. I will investigate that while Sunday morning is happening to everyone else. There are a lot of people at the lake this weekend, and no one wants to hear diesel engines at 8am.

I’ll just make a repair today. I’ll replace the line later with a proper branch circuit in some liquidtight conduit, or at least actual electrical conduit and not PVC water pipe. I don’t have everything I need to do that here yet, nor do I have the time. I hope that I just pulled apart some wire that was only twisted and taped, and that I didn’t rip it out of something hard to replace. It would be nice if his poor work practice helped me this time.

Then it’s back to digging a hole. A really big hole.

Meanwhile, Russia has promised to open the canned sunshine if anyone else FA and FO. I’d say, get some preps together. Lots of them. Stack it high.


(and btw whatever has been eating the peaches off the tree has eaten all but TWO at this point. I don’t thing I’ll get a single peach.)

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Sat. June 24, 2023 – yeah, work but still… lake too

Hot and humid.   Chance of blazing sun.  Most of my work area is in shade, so that is a blessing.    Don’t think it got to 90F yesterday, at least in the shade.   Hoping for the same today.

I got more hole dug.   More dirt piled.   More concrete broken and removed.  Rebar.  Yeah, whatever he used isn’t rebar as it’s smooth, but it’s 5/8″ thick steel rod and it makes breaking the concrete harder.    Pulls right out of the concrete, once you get it moving, with a 5000 pound machine pulling.

Found where I think theburied  video coax in conduit started.   There was a buried empty pipe (because I snagged the contents and ripped it out) at the house under the patio.  It was right under where the DirecTV coax enters the living room.    Maybe the other end is at the dock.  If I have time I’ll look for it.

Forgot to check on the power line I snagged.   I’ll have to do that today.   Fortunately there is only soda in the fridge at the dock house.   It would explain why the porch light wasn’t on last night.   One more thing to fix if so.  (no I didn’t have any locator service, and didn’t check myself because I thought I knew where the run was buried.  Oops.)

Potatoes are still growing.   Only one of the berry bushes is still alive.   Not good results from the Tractor Supply garden center.  Could be my fault though.

Today will be more work.   Concrete removal, sand removal, rinse and repeat.   I need the rain to hold off for a week.   Don’t know if I’ll get my needs met.    Oh, and I have to fix the stuff I broke.   Fun times.

The end result will be worth it.

Just need the world to NOT go nuclear this year.

But if it does, I’m better prepared than I was 5 years ago, and better prepared than most.

Because I’ve got STACKS.   You can too!



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Sun. June 11, 2023 – had a big storm. Some damage resulted.

Cooler and a bit less damp to start, probably hot by the end of the day.   Weird weather yesterday.   As long as the wind was blowing it was tolerable.  Got pretty unpleasant when it got still.

Then the rain started, off and on.   Cooled it down a bit, but increased the humidity.    The big storm got here around 5pm.   Temps dropped to 67F and the thunder and lightning started.   It was right overhead.   Pretty to watch, but no so nice to be out in it.   A couple of dead limbs came down too.

Lost power for almost 3 hours.   Discovered that I don’t have as much stuff up here as I’d like.   Notably emergency lighting.   We live on the Gulf Coast, so no one even blinked, they just lit FLASHLIGHTS and candles.   I got the oil lamp going, and the Coleman propane lantern.   Cooked dinner and the power came back when we were ready to sit down and eat.

I did manage to fish a bit, but didn’t even get a bite.

We mostly worked on small projects.   Changing doors, door knobs, cleaning carpet, moving stuff around in the garage, replacing cover plates, that sort of thing.

Played a couple of games with the kids, Rummikub and Catan as it was still raining until midnight.

Today it’ll depend on the weather but I’ve got a few more ‘outdoor’ things I could do, or I can keep working on the storage and cleanup stuff if it’s raining.   I’ve got 6 buckets of bulk to put away too.

Potatoes continue to grow, berry bushes do not.

So I stack food.    If you can’t garden, stack more food…



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Mon. June 5, 2023 – busy day.

Hot and humid, some chance of rain in Houston.   I’ll be in the Northwestern Houston area, so I’m hoping for microclimate effects.   Overcast would be nice as I’m working outside.

Wrapped up at the BOL yesterday evening and came home.

Got a lot done, including cutting up the tree that fell.   It was a big old oak, and about 16ft is still laying on the ground.  Tree guy can deal with that, my saw isn’t really big enough.  One of my neighbors volunteered to drag it to his burn pile with a tractor if I cut it up, but then he found out it was 16ft long…

I moved some seasoned firewood from the top of the hill to the bottom, and restacked it near our fire ring.   I stacked the newly cut oak where the split wood was stored.  It’s a little bit easier to steal the split and seasoned wood where it’s stacked now, but I’m not going to sweat that until/unless it starts disappearing.  I cut the new logs shorter so they’d fit better in a wood stove.   Eventually I’ll get one installed somewhere.

I also planted two more berry bushes to replace all the ones that didn’t thrive. Of six, only one was still alive.   Some leftover seed potatoes went into the ground too.  Might as well.

Wife did more flooring in the closets, and general bits and pieces.   We also spent several hours playing board games.   Kid watched movies, Clue, Blues Brothers, Jumanji (new one)- all movies she’s seen and loves.

Today I’ve got to head out to my client’s.   He’s decided that now that he has enough bandwidth for streaming he’s getting rid of Directv.    Since I put the cell booster antenna on the same mast as the Directv dish, and since that came down when the roofers were working this weekend, I’ll need to put up an new mount for the antenna.   I want to do that before it gets hot…

And then I need to fix my cabling mistake.  Oy.   What a maroon.  We do it right, ‘cuz we do it twice!

I’ve got to get work knocked out early, so I can get home in time to do my ‘volunteer’ position at the swim meet tonight.   Don’t know what a “starter” does, but I’m guessing that it was still open for ‘volunteering’ because it sucks relative to the other jobs.  I’m really hoping it’s not what I think it is.

It’s a great life if you don’t falter.

Stack it up!


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Sun. June 4, 2023 – oh, I’m a lumberjack and I’m ok, I … wait, what?

Likely to be hot and humid today with about a 60% chance of rain.   It was humid as a sauna yesterday, both in Houston and here at the BOL.  My shirt was soaked, and my shorts were wet from the waistband to the hem.

After loading up the truck, I headed to my pickup.   Got a very nice grill for $40.   Really nice.  Basically the same as my grill at home but with a lot less wear, and the upgrade to built in lights.  The auctioneer, and judging by his comment while we loaded it, the seller, both seemed to be upset it went so cheap.  Wife cooked dinner on it last night and it worked perfectly.   Very happy.

I surveyed the downed tree, decided I would get my mower back together and cut the grass first, then tackle the tree since the tree guy is coming (eventually) and he can take care of any parts I don’t do.   That worked well.

When I did get to the tree, my chainsaw was cutting like butter.  Limbed the whole thing, stacked the small and crooked stuff in the burn pile, and cut what I could for firewood.   There is still about 16ft of trunk I’ll leave for the tree guy, and the standing part.   I might try to just leave the part that is still standing.  The pole saw (mini chainsaw on a stick) attachment for the string trimmer engine worked great too.   It make getting the high limbs easy, and made cutting the low ones that were holding the trunk in place a lot safer to cut, being 10ft away in case it rotated.

Even though it fell next to my garden, the potatoes survived.   One mound is thriving, the other 3 are surviving.   Berry bushes are not.   Peach tree still has green fruit growing, so the animals haven’t stripped it yet.   I hope we get some fruit from it this year.

Had a nice fire on the dock after playing games with wife and D2.   We played the LoTR version of Monopoly, and Rummicub.   Then I went down and watched the (not very) distant lightning.  Radio was pretty good, New Zealand had a segment produced by the BBC World service about religion and politics in the US that was interesting for the 45 minutes I caught.   No Cuban stations, and the ham bands were quiet with just the built in antenna.   Just before coming in, I caught about 20 minutes of the Worldwide Country Music show and heard some old school country, and some gospel.   Nice change of pace for me.

I’m hoping we don’t get rain today.  Don’t have a lot of time today before we need to head home.   I can’t stay an extra day as we have a swim meet and I have to get back out to my client’s to re-pull the cable.   Even a short time up here, mostly spent doing hard work, was nice.

Don’t forget to stack up some good times.   They will be real important if TSHTF.


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Tues. May 30, 2023 – some work, then home…

Cool and very damp, with a chance of rain.   Yesterday was nice, for values of nice that include high humidity, with overcast later, culminating in a quick inch or two of rain.  It stopped after a couple hours and I did get to sit on the dock and spin the dial on the shortwave.

DX was good with just the basic antenna.   NewZealand was loud and clear on 15mhz for at least a few hours.   Cuba was silent at 1030pm but opened up after midnight.    Fun to spin the dial from 2.500 to 21.000 and see what I can hear, especially with just the radio’s telescoping antenna.

It did remain mostly cloudy, so no observing.   I was hoping for at least one good clear night this trip.


I got a bunch of small projects done before the rain hit, and even got in some fishing.  Had a chat with another neighbor about hard times.   He had a very extensive garden a couple of years ago when he’d lost his job, and kept most of the full timers in veg for the summer.  Said he was ready to do it again if needed.  His biggest concern is access to meds.    Lots of folks out here are ‘tore up and worn out.’   SHTF is very physical and there will be a lot of folks in bad shape when their meds run out.  There are a lot of folks that would have a hard time with the hard work, even now.   His biggest emphasis was on the community banding together and sharing the load and the resources, particularly skills.    Since he’s lived up here his whole life, his ties and local knowledge run deep.

It would be very interesting to see how RBT’s plan might have changed as he settled into his community.   I don’t think that “volunteering to be the local wizard” would work very well, without years of laying the groundwork, building the relationships, and getting to be a known quantity.   It’s becoming more and more clear to me that if we are facing a rapid (or even slow but severe) decline, who you surround yourself with is probably the most important choice you can make.   The really stone cold b!tch of it is that the people most likely to get by, are also some of the least willing to accept and trust newcomers.   If you are dropping into a community, you better have some VERY high demand skills, if you haven’t built the relationships.


Today I’ll do a few things to wrap up, weather permitting.   Main concern is getting the lawn tractor back together and back in it’s shed.   Then any little thing I can do before cleaning up and heading home, I’ll knock out.

I need to pass through north Houston before 3pm to make a pickup, so I’ve got my schedule set.

Stack up the things, and the skills, but REALLY get busy on relationships.



(if your BOL is in a community where someone can say, “One of my second cousins’ wife’s best friends was the one who told me about the boat for sale…” you need a champion, and you’ve got your work cut out for you.)

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Sun. May 28, 2023 – work happened, but more is in order…

68F and a bit chilly early, but warming quickly once the sun does it’s thing.  Yesterday got pretty warm, well into the 90s in the sunlight.  High 80s in the shade.  Very gentle breeze.

Perfect weather for a burn pile.   It rained recently so there wasn’t much risk of fire spreading, and little to no wind meant I could finally burn some of the root balls we dug up to get the septic in place.    I also had a lot of small branches after I cut down 2  small dead ornamental trees.  The freeze killed them  and they weren’t coming back.   The third small tree went on the HOA lot burn pile for later.   It had to come out to provide access to the patio.

Readers who have been following along can infer that my replacement chainsaw parts came in and worked.   The chinese bar and chain fit, and cut very well.  I also finished up with the string trimmer, and blew the debris clear with an attachment for the trimmer’s power unit.   I’ve got a pole saw attachment too, but I didn’t need to use it yet.  I really like swapping attachments for the unit.   Don’t know if the Craftsman branded engine will hold up, but it’s running great so far, and very handy.   I’ve got a blower, pole saw, string trimmer (two actually) and mini rototiller.

The potatoes I planted are growing, but the berry bushes don’t seem to be.    The rest of the garden looked like a lawn with all the nut grass.   Since it’s so late, I might just cover the whole plot with black plastic sheet, and try to kill the nutgrass for next season.   Haven’t decided yet.  I did cut it to the soil with the string trimmer.  So far the deer seem to have left the potatoes alone.   They didn’t even eat the loose potatoes I threw in the yard.   Maybe I’ll plant a whole lotta potatoes next time.   I dug up some of the wild onions from the lot next door.  I will see what I can do with them today.

And I’ll be doing more stuff from the list throughout the day.   I feel like I got a lot done, gotta take the meds and keep pushing.   It may not be the big stuff, but it all still needs doing.

So I’ll keep stacking up chores.   And knocking them down, if only a bit at a time.

Stack it up!


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