Category: rats

Mon. Apr. 29, 2024 – home again, still got stuff to do…

Wet and warm. Whether it’s still raining, or just the soggy aftermath, it’s gonna be wet today. It was raining when I went to bed, and had been for hours. Not crazy hard, but steadily enough.

Spent Sunday wrapping up at the BOL. The forecast was for bad storms, so wife and kids bailed early to beat the rain. I stayed to do a few things I didn’t get done. After a brief light rain, it cleared up and was a nice day for most of the afternoon. I got several things done, and made progress on a couple more. Then the rain started again, and it was time to head home. LOTS of rain on the way home. Several tornado warnings, and local flooding… lots of people had a bad day, but I dodged most of it.

Today I need to make some progress on my lists here. First off, the rat problem didn’t solve itself. I am going to have to block some more access, mainly through the soffits and the breezeway that links the house attic to the garage attic. My neighbor paid a pest control company $1200 to do the same blocking I’m thinking about. It’s a huge pain in the butt, which is why I’ve put off doing it. But the rats aren’t going for the traps or poison, so I need to step up a bit. It won’t get done today, but maybe I can do some exploration.

I’ve got other paperwork stuff to do, and this week will be busy with stuff too. I should visit my client for a new issue and get him back up. And I’ve got a friend moving away that has been storing some tools for me, that I have to sort out. One of them is a laser sintering 3D printer, which is about 7ft x 5ft x 7ft, and includes a dozen barrels of powder, and a sifting and cleaning station that is 4ft x 4ft x 7ft. I don’t have anywhere to PUT the stuff, which is why it was at his place. Time to sell the powder and break down the printer. We should end up with parts for a 30w engraver. Getting the powder sinter machine to work ended up being too big a job, given where we had to do it. We couldn’t meet the power requirements, or the need for nitrogen gas to fill the build chamber. And neither of us had the time available that we thought we would.

All the normal stuff will be happening this week too, so it should be a busy and full week.

It’s a great life if you don’t falter, right?

So don’t falter. Stack.

nick

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Tues. Apr. 23, 2024 – time to make the donuts..

Cool again, and probably clear. The national forecast has some stuff south of us, and we’re on the edge of it, which usually means we don’t get the bad stuff. Lots of stuff blows up from the Gulf though, so we might get some rain after all. Say it with me, “We’ll see…”

I spent yesterday mostly cleaning, sorting, and piling stuff for the auction, stuff from my office, and just stuff. I also cut my hair and shaved. Picked up the kid around 3 and got to the chiropractor and Costco for my paper towels. I am making progress cleaning out my office and bedroom. I’ve piled stuff everywhere and it’s time to move it. Long past time really. As part of that I sorted and put away receipts from auctions, and in the process found some I needed for other stuff. Also refreshed my mind regarding what I paid for a few things, especially things I though I’d sell. Time to do that.

The rat traps haven’t caught anything. My wife says she heard movement in the attic, but I guess I’ve raised a local colony that won’t touch peanut butter. Everyone says they can’t resist the peanut butter, but these rats do. You have to kill them quickly before they warn their compatriots. That is hard earned wisdom folks. Or something anyway.

I was going to do pickups today but it makes more sense to delay until tomorrow. That way I can combine the longest trip with a bunch of shorter ones, and get the most efficient route. The longest trip wasn’t available for pickup today.

I’ll continue with my house clean/organize/get ready to sell stuff plan. It’s not often that I get three days of consistent effort on one task when I’m at home. Even now, I’m tempted to mow the back yard, or switch to garage or driveway cleanup… but pushing through inside makes the most sense. I will need to do one dropoff and I’ll likely do one pickup too. Kids will need rides earlier rather than later, so I need to be home to do that, which limits my excursion time too.

It’s Spring, so Spring cleaning is appropriate. It’ll make more room for stacking!

nick

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Sat. Apr. 20, 2024 – 4-20 happy stoner day, or something…

Another day of warm and moist, and probably even wet… forecast here calls for moderate rain and gentle breezes. Wife and D2 will be at the BOL and she says they are predicting heavy rain and stormy weather…

They are going up with a couple of D2’s friends for a girl’s weekend. I’m home with D1. I’ve got work to do, she has a Girl Scout thing…

Spent yesterday cleaning and sorting, and doing pickups. Also doing some rat proofing. I found several bait boxes outside that were empty so I’ll refill those. The attic ones were untouched. I think I found the route in, at least on one side of the house. The siding has a corner trim that is hollow inside. One of the places I heard scrabbling has a corner molding, and there are chew marks and a hole at the top, which leads into the soffit. There was some black belly dirt on the vinyl soffit material showing that something was moving between the vinyl and the plywood, a one inch space. I covered the hole with hardware cloth (stiff wire mesh), rolled and shaped hardware cloth plugs for each end of the trim piece, used the mesh to completely fill the 1″ space the width of the soffit, and then sprayfoamed the mesh to hold it in place and fill the voids. They can chew through the foam, but the sharp mesh roll inside should discourage them.

I found a “mousehole” behind the washing machine, where something has been coming out of the wall to eat the dog’s food at night. Plugged that with 3 inches of rolled up mesh, and foam. I also found some holes in the wall that were around plumbing under the sink in the kitchen, that looked like they were enlarged and smoothed by teeth. Meshed that all up too. No foam there, because of the need to access the plumbing in the wall later. The Hav-a-heart live traps in the attic are untouched. I’ll set some modified snap traps today. With the access to the dog food cut off, they should be interested in baited traps.

In other news, my grapevine has set fruit, lots of it. This year I’m going to try some bird netting around it to try to save some for us. The lime tree in a pot is setting fruit too. The peach tree finally gave up. It is completely dead and broke off at ground level. Never got a single fruit from that tree. The apple tree isn’t vigorous and is late getting leaves and blooms. I might move it to the BOL. All but one or two of my blueberry bushes have died too. I’ll move any survivors to the BOL to join the newly planted bushes. They never were very vigorous or productive here. Collards are still growing, this is the third season for the same plants, I think. Could be the fourth.

In the last couple of days I also broke down and froze about 30 pounds of meat. Freezers are full. It’s a good feeling.

Today I’ll be doing more stuff around the house. I have to redo the repair to the tub. The cleaning crew scrubbed and chipped the epoxy away. Either they work far to hard or I didn’t get as good a bond as I thought. Still sucks to have to redo work.

It would also be nice to get the 3D printers all set up in their new spot in the “toy” room. That’s the room we use as a library and catch all. Wife suggested a narrow table against a wall to put the machines on and I am willing to oblige. I don’t want to set up the laser engraver until I have an enclosure however. I won one this week but it was missing when I did my pickup so they’ll either find it or I’ll bid on one in some other auction. It’s the second time I was bidding on one. I know I could make one but I don’t need another project. Just getting the printers running will be project enough, then getting kid 2 set up with a toolchain so she can make stuff will take even more time. Besides the obvious benefit of having the machines running, it will get stuff out of piles, corners, and stacks, and into one organized place. First I need to clear a space for the table, then I need to assemble the table… Fractal are the projects at Casa De Nick…

It will be a chance to learn some new things. That’s always good. And the kid has an interest, which is also good.

Try some new things. I can guarantee that actually doing it will be different than thinking about doing it.

And stack of course.

nick

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Fri. Apr. 19, 2024 – and another week rolls by, the world gets crazier…

Warm, moist, dark. Some chance of rain later in the day. So say the liars. Dunno what we’ll get but I’ll be sure to be inconvenienced by it… I spent most of yesterday doing indoor stuff anyway, but it was nice in the afternoon.

Did a bunch of sorting, cleaning, and work avoidance techniques to keep from crawling around in the attic. That is going to change today, as D1 saw something skitter across the kitchen floor last night. Small and fast. Attic I can live with. In the house? No. HeII no. More traps, more poison, more wire mesh covering holes. Whatever it takes.

So that is the mission for today. And doing a pickup or two. And sorting and putting away, with a stop at my secondary to get Bounty paper towels while dropping some stuff off. Costco was completely out of Bounty paper towels yesterday. I’ve got some in deep storage and I’m going by there anyway…

Later there is some kid stuff to do at her school. Then the wife and D2 head to the BOL with friends for a girls’ weekend while I stay home and catch up on the list.

I have to pull my head out and get some stuff done. I’m falling behind and it isn’t good.

Oh, the freezers are full, and the pantry is in good shape, but other stuff needs attention too. So stack, but don’t forget the other stuff…

nick

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Thur. Apr. 18, 2024 – getting stuff done, slowly, and in fits and starts…

Warm, damp, and dark. Should start the day in the mid 70s, and with overcast or clouds. The ‘damp’ part is just Houston. That’s how yesterday played out too, always on the verge of rain, but never delivering.

I did my big loop of auction houses, and got all the stuff I wanted to pick up picked up… did my drop off at my local auctioneer too. Even stopped at HEB to see if they had meat on sale. The did, so I bought some steak, and some pork ribs. My receipt said my savings were about $50 with spending of $200. I’m still buying stuff that isn’t just basics (like snacks for the kids’ lunches, soda, treats) but it’s starting to add up. I know there are others who feel the pinch more than I do. If I wasn’t able to save on all the stuff I buy at deep discounts, I’d be cutting way back on those relatively expensive items. My wife has expressed her shock and dismay several times lately when I came home with the grocery bills…

30 to 50% increases aren’t just happening to other people.

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Today should be more domestic bliss. I’m going to make a more indepth attempt to find the invaders in the attic. I want to shut down their access, but can’t find it. I don’t see evidence in the attic itself, so I’ll look more closely at the soffits or ‘eves’ which are below the floor level in the attic. They are like wide open highways around the house, and I suspect that is the main path for rodents. They do cross the open attic, as I can hear them occasionally. I wonder if they are tunneling through the insulation, so their path isn’t obvious. If it’s rats, they’ve learned not to eat the poison bait, or the bait has somehow become ineffective. They used to love the stuff, eating through the packaging in the garage to get to it. Now it has been sitting in the boxes for months.

If they are using the soffits, they can enter through the garage. I’m not sure how I’ll stop them physically as the garage has several large openings and the garage attic is completely open to the framing and soffits. I’ve been counting on the poison for the last couple of years and it was working. Something changed, as I can hear the movement, even if I can’t figure out where they are.

My wife has been more patient than anyone could expect as I’ve tried to get rid of the problem, but that is wearing thin.

Guess I have a new issue at the top of my list…

Plans. I make them. Then I break them.

One thing is constant though, accumulating resources– stacking. At least we can all do that.

nick

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Tues. Apr. 16, 2026 – more messing around to do

Cool and cloudy to start, then warming later. And some wind- “fresh” in the words of openweathermap.org. It was blowing all over last night.

Yesterday I did my doctor appointment. I like him, he’s just a bit younger than me, but the current nonsense over any meds used to treat pain is nuts. I take a simple med for chronic back pain. It’s not abuse-able, has a long and well understood history, is cheap, and is an NSAID with minimal side effects. I’ve been on it every day for about 15 years. It works for me. So why change? Why the intrusive nonsense about renewal? The office wanted a contract like I was a barely under control junkie mandating monitoring, blood tests, when and how I could refill, all sorts of nonsense for a drug that ISN’T controlled, ISN’T abuse-able, and technically ISN’T a painkiller. I pushed back with increasing firmness until he admitted all the above, and agreed I didn’t need the stupid contract.

I’m going back to the way I got it for years. F this S, I will not have my ability to control my pain and ability to work and do stuff at the mercy of a just in time delivery system, especially considering that it’s essentially Motrin, and in any sane place would be over the counter. I thought this guy was more reasonable. Guess not.

After that, I did some shopping and one pickup. Did a bunch of cleaning and moving stuff around while waiting for my chauffeur duty to be called upon. Did some more after. Tripped and fell over the child gate we use to keep the dog out of the bedrooms. Smashed myself and the gate up. Bought another in the auction last night. They always have child gates for some reason. So it was a mixed bag yesterday. I did get some stuff done, but was frustrated and stomping around, both metaphorically and in reality.

Today I’ve got several pickups to do. That should keep me busy until I have to get the kid from school. STAAR testing this week so no afterschool activities. That means a short day for me too.

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Traps in the attic haven’t caught anything. I’ll have to try some different bait. The poison boxes are untouched too, but I still hear scurrying at times. SOMETHING is up there. Possums usually go for the traps, rats usually eat the poison. I guess it could be squirrels…

Stack some poison, traps, insecticide, and the like. You may not be able to get them when you need them. Stack the other things you need to be comfortable too.

nick

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Fri. Feb. 23, 2024 – Friday the 13th happened 10 days ago this month…

Warmish, and clear. Yesterday started with a lot of overcast, and very wet, but turned into another beautiful day. Today is forecast to be the same. It’s definitely time to get the garden going.

Bit of a mixed bag yesterday as far as getting stuff done. I was able to get the plumbing parts I need, and should be able to get the tub back together today. They even had the transition fitting to attach to the lead pipe sewer connection. Good thing the HD managers are allowed to pick some items to stock for their local market. We have lead sewer pipes coming up through our slabs, and it’s been long enough that they are falling. Probably not something you needed to stock 20 years ago.

I also got the Ranger smogged and inspected, so I can remedy my registration issues. Expy too. Maybe I’ll do both at the same time. I have some maintenance due on the Ranger too, that I’ll have to find time for. Won’t be this week or next.

I wasn’t able to do my auction drop off, so that gets pushed to today. I have one pickup on the south side of town, and one near me that I forgot to do last week. Then I’m loading for my trip to the BOL. Still not sure if I’m going up today or tomorrow, but today would be better. Turns out I need to cut the grass there, which means doing some service work on the mower first… and pitching in on my neighbor’s garden plot. I might try to get something planted in my own plot too. Then the irrigation needs to be sorted out, with the broken line fixed, and the sprinklers re-installed…

It’s fractal. The closer you look at a task, the more tasks there are to do.

And when I get back, I’ll spend the next week getting ready for the Hamfest, and getting my hobby website up. Whoohooo. Fun times.

Better to be busy than bored I guess. Meatspace. It takes more work than a hermit’s life, but it’s worth it.

Stack some facetime with people. Start on your garden.

n

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Wed. Jan. 31, 2024 – livin’ on reds, vitamin C, and cocaine, all I know is ain’t it a shame…

Cold, then warmer. Clear, but maybe some clouds. Or maybe overcast. The liars can only guess, and dress the guess up with “science-y” pictures and charts, but at the end of the day, it is still a guess. I can guess too. With about the same consequences if I’m wrong.

Although it got all the way to “warm” yesterday, despite guesses that it wouldn’t. In fact, it was a beautiful warm day. I drove around with the windows down all day. Starting with taking D2 to the orthodontist, and then to school. Ran some other errands, then took 3 black bins to my auctioneer. Picked up a 200w solar panel, and some other stuff. Got D1 from school. Got an adjustment from my timeshare chiropractor. And went to the sporting goods store to buy food for the gubs…

I’d looked online to see what prices were, and if there was stock at the store. Their website assured me that there was, and that there were choices that were in line with national pricing here in the ‘new normal.’ Stock on the shelves did NOT match the online inventory. There was ammo in pretty much every caliber, but choices were very limited. Most had two choices. Really common, like 9mm – had several. 556? one choice each load, and only 3 loads (green tip, fmj, optimized for hunting.) Not a lot of stock on the shelf, but if you had the scratch, you could get a couple of thousand rounds of the most common calibers, and many thousand rounds of 22LR. No 7.62×39 at all though. Hunting calibers were limited to a few boxes and a couple manufacturers in every type. Still, I’d say that there was SOMETHING to buy for everyone except the commie guns.

I bought some fish hooks and attractant spray too, while I was there. I’ve got more fake bait than I know what to do with, but all the estate stuff was very short on actual hooks. I got a couple of seasons worth in a variety of sizes and styles, based only on what I’ve seen my neighbor at the BOL rig for me. FWIW, Academy Sports has a LOT of plastic bait with a big markdown, on clearance. If you’re short on worms or rage swimmers, you might want to check them out.

With all the driving around, I didn’t get as much done here as I needed to. I’ll be working on that today before I do my pickup. And I’ll be setting a live trap in the attic. I looked, but didn’t see any issues earlier this week, but I’ve heard the movement, and I’m sure something is up there. The rat poison is still there, so I’m thinking possum. We’ll see if the trap gets him.

I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Keep the faith, and keep stacking.

nick

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Thur. Sept. 14, 2023 – more bins of stuff to the auction…

Hot and humid. Slightly less hot, but still. 80F to start the day is hot. An actual hot wind before the distant storm is hot. And I expect more of the same today. Maybe with the added joy of a thunderstorm. We did get a spatter of moisture from the sky late afternoon yesterday, but nothing that stuck. And we saw distant lightning with strong winds while watching the marching band last night, but it never got to us. I’d just as soon avoid rain for another day.

It avoided us yesterday and I was able to get several more bins to the auctioneer. A flip top bin full of lego weighs quite a lot, enough that it’s hard to lift chest high anyway… and I’ve still got at least one more to go. So far no really valuable lego, but you never know. Auctioneer takes a look through before listing, and sometimes sorts some of the mini-figs out for their own lot. C3PO is worth finding if you might have him. There are several versions but they are all expensive for lego.

Today I’ve got a Dr appointment in the morning, then more auction stuff in the afternoon. I’ll be doing a couple of pickups on Saturday. I won a metal cabinet and a 100 gallon rainwater storage barrel, both about an hour north of me. I was hoping to get them on the way to the BOL, but we’ll see how that shakes out. Meanwhile, I’ve got an item or two here in town, and a few more bins ready to drop off. Prices are still low, and it’s beginning to look like a real slowdown. Dang. Nothing like waiting too long… although realistically, it’s happening when it’s happening, and I wasn’t able to bring loads to my local guy before now. One seller thinks it just might be people are over-extended from back to school spending and it will recover soon. I hope she’s right.

BTW, metal cabinet will stay here for my pantry. The cans in dispenser racks, and some other stuff was out on shelves and I’ve decided it needs to be enclosed. The stuff in plastic bins and tubs on the shelves has been fine, protected from the elements and the rats, but I want to do what I’ve been doing at the BOL and put the rest in metal cabinets. It still won’t be “cool”, but it will be “dark” and protected from more stuff, including prying eyes. At my secondary location, I’ve hung bedsheets with magnets to cover the metal shelves and contents. The more obscured the preps are from casual observation, the better I’m feeling.

Keep it secret. Keep it safe. And keep stacking it!

nick

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Thur. June 8, 2023 – some thoughts about food storage

Damp and cooler, but getting hot later.   It was 94F in the shade by late afternoon yesterday.   Then it rained, just enough to mess me up.  I’m hoping for dry today.  Got lots to do.

So yesterday, of all the things that need doing, I chose to attack the food shelves that had been despoiled by the rats, and the possum, and the exploding peach cans.   Joy.   Just moving all the cans to milk crates took a while, and I haven’t cleaned them yet.   Threw out a couple dozen.   Mostly  peaches, but also some other failures due to rust or acidity.  A case of tomato paste.  A case of tomato puree.   A half dozen condensed milks.   Some random veg.   There might be more as I clean them and restock the shelves.   I know I’ll have ‘breakage’ due to my extremely bad storage conditions, so it’s just part of the cost, but it sucks to have it all at once and for it to mess up other cans too.

I moved 6 months, one meal a day for 2 adults and 2 kids to milk crates.   It’s my minimum, my version of RBT’s “iron rations.”   One can meat, one can veg, rice.   Of course I have more, breakfast and more canned and dry food, but 6 months fits in 12 milk crates.   Stacks really well too.   Plus the buckets for the rice, one bucket per month.    32 cans per crate.  Roughly the same for meat.  There is a bit more variation in the size of the meat cans.   So two milk crates and a bucket will feed you a nutritious meal a day for a month.  You and your family.   You won’t get fat, but you won’t starve either.   Add a bucket of flour or tortilla mix, and a crate of soup cans and you get two meals a day.   The cans leave a bit of room at the top of the crate that could be filled with oatmeal in bags, or repackaged pancake mix too.

It’s all very compact for storage and isn’t crazy expensive.

For box meals, retort pouch meat, and mixes I’m still using shallow tubs with lids but you could pack that into either buckets or milk crates too.   I just find it easier to treat the tubs as ‘drawers’ and have access to the contents without un-stacking a bunch of stuff.   And for day to day, I’ve got the cans in FIFO racks.  Those racks were FILTHY from the burst cans, and the rodents.  I ended up pressure washing them, using a scrub brush and clorox cleaner on the shelves, and then pressure washing again..

Lessons learned, fruit in cans is not a super long term storage item.   Fruit in the cheapest Hill Country Farms cans is REALLY not a long term item.   Rust is  the enemy of cans.   The FIFO racks are very hard to clean and keep clean.   From now on, I’ll be putting a waste paper basket trash can liner over each bucket in storage.   The lids get filthy and opening a gamma seal lid is a 20 minute ordeal of cleaning before opening to be sure you don’t drop cr@p in and contaminate your dry food.   Clear plastic liners over the buckets should help tremendously.   The shallow tubs worked.   They protected their contents from cross contamination, and predation, and when a can inside popped, they kept the mess confined to the one tub.

If I was designing a storage/pantry system from scratch, I think I would build it around buckets and milk crates.   Each milk crate holds about 32 cans with some space at the top.   Mix your veg, beans, and other cans so each crate has a variety of food.  Do the same with your canned meat or pouch meat.  Fill a bucket with 25 pounds of rice (just shy of 3 cups to the pound, btw, and 200 calories a cup.)   Stack a few months worth in the closet.  Both buckets and crates stack well.  Pull two crates and a bucket at the start of the month, and refill them to rotate back into storage before the month is over.   You could decide to skip the rice and add another crate of veg instead.   Top off the crates with breakfast food like oatmeal or pancake mix.   Add a crate of soup for lunch.   Campbells cans are a bit smaller but not enough to get more in a crate.  There is more room for breakfast or condiments though.

Compact, sturdy, organized, and moveable if needed.  Easy to rotate.  Plus you can see at a glance how much time/food you have.  Easy to share if you want to.  Hand them a bucket and two crates.

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Busy day today, I don’t know if I’ll get the remaining shelves cleaned and everything put back.  I’ve got pickups, an airport run to do, swim meet this evening, and all the normal domestic bliss…  I’m pushing my client into next week when the gear arrives.  DirecTV can wait a week for their gear.

Stack some more food.   You know you like to eat.  And if you don’t, I’m pretty sure you don’t like to starve.   Having at least one secure meal a day could make the difference for you and your family.

 

Nick

4 milk crates, and 2 buckets per month and you are living large.

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