Tag Archives: SHTF

When the Shit Hits The Fan

Just More Stuff

Back in the swamp and as usual dealing with yet another life and death situation. This time literally life and death.

Two days ago I was feeling pretty good about my efforts at installing the fridge so I was considering leaving it running while I headed to town for a day or so. It was late in the afternoon so I had plans for spending the night, buttoning up the next morning then head out for some AC, shower (of course) and a WalMart run to stock up on “Refrigerate After Opening” supplies. A couple of hours before dark I decided to do a detailed inspection of the fridge. And boy howdy it’s a good thing I did.

When building the enclosure I followed the manufacturers instructions like a person possessed. If it said 32.4 inches wide the end measurement was 32.4 inches. Within 3 degrees of level became dead level. Seal and insulate is triple sealed and triple insulated. I went whole hildabeast (no offense to hogs) installing this thing.

The manufacturer clearly states that all baffles, enclosure walls, base, etc. may be fabricated out of wood, sheet metal or aluminum. I used wood and backer board throughout. In addition to foaming all joints, I sealed every joint with aluminum tape. Overkill, right? Not so fast. It wasn’t overkill by a long shot and very well may have resulted in me returning to a crater of smoldering ashes where the Taj McZiggy once stood.

My inspection was an in depth hands on type. I felt joints for leakage, touched everything than was accessible and even wet my hand to try to feel for air movement. Then I got to the chimney. At first all appeared well so I grabbed it. Well, maybe not grabbed, more like lightly brushed my fingers over it. It was HOT!!! As in, had I grabbed it I may have some healing blisters right now.

Now I expected some heat. Maybe enough to be slightly uncomfortable but this was beyond uncomfortable. And it was pointed directly at a 2×6 brace I had installed per the manufacturers installation instructions. Feeling the wood, it wasn’t blister hot but it was way to hot for any kind of mental comfort that I was searching for. After staring at it for about 3 or maybe 12 minutes a thought surfaced, “Oh shit!”.

I then went into a detailed review of the install which took maybe 90 seconds and arrived at the conclusion that I was hosed. And discouraged (again). And angry (again). But relieved. I was very relieved that in three days of running the fridge on generator and propane I hadn’t burnt down the shack with me and the Boy in it.

So, I went inside and checked the installation manual. Sure ’nuff, I built the enclosure just like they said to. Then I shut the fridge off, turned off the propane, loaded up and headed to town. Or maybe I should say campground since I don’t really live in town.

While in campground, I called the manufacturer, they wouldn’t even talk to me once they learned what I was doing. “That refrigerator isn’t certified for any install other than in a recreational vehicle.” What the hell? I told them to think of it as an RV without wheels. No luck there. Like talking to a democrat about gun control. Dumb as shit and twice as full of it.

So I set about finding my own solution to the problem. Which I’ll get into later in much more detail.

I got a late start out today while it was raining cats and socialists. The roads were slick as all get out but then everyone knows that democrats are full of it anyway. I rarely got over 15 mph so the trip in took nearly an hour and a half. Once I got here the place was soaked. Apparently there’s been over four inches of rain in the last two days with a lot of it looking to be sideways. The prediction was for less than 20 percent chance of rain so I’m guessing the weather forecasters are out at some bar yucking it up tonight about how they can be wrong 100 percent of the time and still not get fired.

Worst part is that I hadn’t put a tarp over the vents for the fridge so the sideways rain ran right in. The cooling unit and controls are soaked. So I can’t light it off until tomorrow sometime after I light off the air compressor and blow it dry. At least it’s not nasty hot tonight.

This morning I oozed out of bed and built some coffee. My Coleman stove was wet from the rain so when I lit it there was flame coming from everywhere except the proper flame place. Some compressed air dried it enough that I was finally able to get water going for coffee. Instant, oh yummy. Not.

Checking the fridge I decided it was dry enough, turned on the gas and started it up. And so it ran, and cooled, and ran, and ran. As far as I can tell, the burner hasn’t cut off yet after about twelve hours. I actually expected this since in the trial run it took nearly a day and a half for it to finally cool enough to cut off. For the trial I had it on one of the coldest settings but this time it’s on a warm setting so I believe it will cut off sometime tonight or in the morning. I wanted to get it to some steady state baseline before I modify the exhaust. This will let me know if the modification helps or hinders cooling.

I noticed that one of my foundations is washing out so I spent a considerable part of the day moving rocks, busting up three bags of concrete which had got hard from humidity and busting up concrete rubble. By the time I quit, you can hardly tell I was even there. I still have some rock to use but it’s not going to be near enough. I need to raise the area about eight inches which doesn’t seem like a lot until you actually start doing it. Then it becomes Mt. Everest. I’ll probably end up heading to the hog wallow with a wheel barrow tomorrow for some fill. I swear I need to buy some illegal aliens to do the work this American doesn’t want to do.

I pulled the card on my front game camera and settled in for the usual six hundred pics of brush moving slightly and nothing else. Then I freaked.

This game camera is about fifteen feet from the front porch of the shack. I’ve never got a picture of any critter other than Ziggy. Then I came to this one. It’s hard to tell but that is Mr. Bear hanging out within spitting distance of where I hang out. I checked the date and I was in shack at that time.

Keep in mind that there’s no bathroom in the shack. If the urge hits in the middle of the night you have to go outside and commune with mother nature, and a bear possibly. Now I’m all into this “it’s his home”, “he was here first”, “not all bears are bad.” I don’t give a rats ass! I don’t want to walk outside to take a leak and find a four hundred pound bear on my porch ready to go all jihadi on me.

So tomorrow I’m going to set up some early warning traps that will hopefully discourage him from hanging around. I have some mouse traps I’ll attach to stakes then glue a primer to the bar so it ignites a pack of firecrackers when tripped. Since the boy is deathly scared of firecrackers I’ll have to put them out just before dark. Hopefully no one will decide to come visit after dark.

Bears, Refrigerators and Winter Is Coming

In the swamp tonight. No clue what day it is. Think it’s mid August. August I’m pretty sure of at least. A huge “Thank You” to whoever bought from Amazon using the link on this page.

Been a lot happening so I’ll start with the refrigerator. It’s in the shack, on a platform, mostly framed and baffled in. I’m hoping to finish the baffling tomorrow, seal the plenum and light that bad boy off on propane. If all goes well I’ll be celebrating ice this weekend. If you want to know more head over to the Refrigerator page under Projects for so much detail you will be scratching your own eyes out. Sister Suzie has asked how it works so I’ll give a short run down on ammonia cooling.

Before I go on, a short explanation about names on this blog. In general I don’t use anyones real name here. Or maybe I do sometimes. The thing is, I mostly make up names for people based on how I’m feeling at the time or something about them I’ve noticed while interacting with them. All the names are intended to keep their real identity concealed and are meant in fun. Under no circumstances do I intend to insult, demean or otherwise offend someone. Truth is, if I don’t like someone, they will probably never be mentioned here.

OK, so let’s talk about bears. Or rather a bear. As in there’s a great big honking bear hanging out here that has me a bit on 6678edge. I’ve never shared space with a bear so I feel justified in admitting that I’m constantly prepared to run screaming like a scared little girl.

This guy is big! On his hind legs he is at least six feet tall and we’re guessing his weight in the 350 pound range. In the pic it’s hard to tell but he’s molesting a 6681feeder about seven feet off the ground. What’s not shown is that he knocked the feeder down and tore it in half to get at the corn inside. All this happened about 100 yards from the shack. Bears can run up to 35 miles per hour. I can run up to 1 mile per day with frequent breaks for snacks and water. Maybe a mile and a quarter if I have those guys that stand alongside the road and hand you water and energy bars.

So there’s this new bear in the hood that I have to figure out how to coexist with. Never let it be said that I’m not into diversity. My biggest concern is the Boy. By muzloid6684 standards he’s a freaking brilliant genius capable of inventing space travel, again. In truth, he’s dumber than a box of rocks and to stupid to run from a bear. Which means I would have a martyr on my hands to gather up and bury which I really, really don’t want to do. Thank god I never had kids. I probably would have kept them velcroed to the wall until they turned about 30.

I’ve been training him to stay in sight of the shack by liberally 6687applying the bug zapper (remote control) to his shock collar. But when he sees a pig or armadillo that doesn’t work all that well. Cranking up the setting will light him up like a Christmas tree but again, doesn’t always work. Obviously more work is needed.

Figuring I’d keep the bear at a distance, I bought firecrackers and bottle rockets. Or at least what passes for firecrackers these days. At the gas station I was perusing their fireworks and settled on some M100s and bottle rockets. Hey, vertical envelopment. When I got to the shack this afternoon, I lit off one of the M100s expecting to startle wildlife for miles around. What a ripoff! I can get more noise out of clapping two pieces of wood together. Are kids such wimps these days that they can’t be trusted to handle high explosives without losing limbs? Where do you go to get something that will lift a tree trunk out of the ground? This is obviously another area that the feds got into and screwed up.

So I have this pile of firecrackers that don’t crack and bottle rockets that probably run out four feet then glow feebly. I guess I could dump them all in a pressure canner, hide in the brush, then light it off and throw it at the bear. But then I would probably have a bear laughing his ass off while he ate me.

In other news, wait, there’s no other news. Refrigerator and bear. OH!!! Generator. Yeah! It’s screwing up sad to say. That lovely 30 amp extension cord that came with it went dead the other day. I’m not sure if it’s the outlet or the cord since I have now other cord to test it with. When I have time I’ll check the outlet on the generator for power and see which it is. If it’s the receptacle on the generator itself I’ll be taking it back for a refund this time.

Good news is my solar is working like a charm. More tomorrow. Maybe.

Back again tonight. Long day. Finished framing in fridge, hooked up 12 volt DC control power and fired it up off the generator. At last check one freezer compartment was at 39 degrees and still cooling so I’m getting excited. I filled some ice trays for the other compartment hoping I’ll have ice before I fall out tonight. In a few minutes I’m going to pack the refrigerator part with soda just to have some thermal mass to help keep it cool while I hook up the propane tomorrow.

If all goes well with the propane I’m going to run it at least two days then shut down and head to town for a day. When I get back I want to start it up on propane, run for ten days then decide whether to leave it running permanently. At that point I’ll be able to stay out here two or three weeks at a time and only have to go to town for material and food.

Since I’ll have to refill my propane bottles occasionally I can’t really say that I’m completely off the grid but I’ll certainly be a lot closer than I was this time last year.

With the end in sight for the refrigerator, I have to start thinking about my next big project. As hot as it is I really need to get ready for winter. That roughly translates into finish putting up siding, insulate and seal the shack and installing the wood burning stove. From experience I can vouch for how miserable spending the night in a drafty shack with no insulation is. Candles and sterno just can’t keep up. Besides, it’s very uncomfortable trying to get some rest in a sleeping bag with a 70 pound pit bull in it with you.

Dang I Forgot To Give It A Title

Before I get started I’d like to give a shout out to Crazy Al, Daring Dave, Mad Mary, Sister Suzie and Plume who all used the Shop Amazon link from here. Every bit helps and I really do appreciate the support.

Back in the swamp tonight. I spent the morning gathering material, or trying to, then headed on out. I had just spent about six days in town so I was in high spirits to be getting back out here. I didn’t really want to spend that much time there but it seemed like everything that could go wrong did.

The town closest to where my camper is has a very limited selection when it comes to buying material. I needed fuses for the solar so naturally I went to an auto parts store. Sure ’nuff they had fuses but no holders. When I asked about holders the folks at the store were genuinely confused. What sort of danged fool would buy fuses if they didn’t have holders to put them in? I didn’t even try to explain.

The roads on the way out were really wet and a couple of times I thought I might have to get out and lock the hubs in case I needed 4 wheel drive. I made it through but it was touchy in a couple of the puddles. When I got to the shack my rain gauge said it had rained nearly five inches since I was out last. After unloading I took a walk and found that some of the areas that were drying well were flooded again. Naturally it started raining when I was at the furthest point from the shack. I didn’t have much trouble convincing the Boy that it was time to head back.

Back at the shack I thought I smelled propane. Checking out the grill nothing appeared amiss so I chalked it up to imagination. Come dinner time I opened the grill, lit the lighter and was greeted by a ball of flame that virtually engulfed the grill. Turning off the propane at the bottle I retreated to the other end of the porch and armed myself with an extinguisher while I waited on the flames to die out. Turns out the pressure regulator is shot so the grill is DOA until next trip to town. That is if they are sold in town.

So I broke out the charcoal grill. Naturally the bag of charcoal had got wet at some point so the first thing that happened was the bottom dropped out of the bag. Now I have two five gallon buckets full of charcoal to store somewhere.

About an hour and six lighter cubes later I finally had lit charcoal. I could probably have started the charcoal with fewer cubes but I had absolutely no idea how to use them. Still don’t so I cooked enough burgers to last a couple of days.

My agenda for the next few days is to get the first floor wired for lights and run a line for the fridge. I have some 12 v Dc compactIMG_20160805_135233786 florescent which only draw 12 watts. It will be nice to have a brightly lit shack for a few hours at night.

I think I’ve figured out how to get the fridge out of the truck and into the shack in one piece. Next trip in I’m taking a battery so I can test it before I haul it out here. It requires 12 volts for the control circuitry so I’ll run that this trip. I’ll also put in a 120 circuit so I can run it off the generator whenever I have it running.

Naturally I’ll have to move everything in the shack to get it in place. Then I have to do some of that wood working stuff which I hate so much. I have to build a plenum to bring fresh air into the cooling unit as well as vent the exhaust outside. I also have to seal the cooling unit so if there is an ammonia leak it doesn’t come inside. To say that I’m nervous about this is an understatement.

It’s been a couple of days and I’ve made some progress. I have a IMG_20160805_181453017circuit ran down the middle of the shack capped off in the back. I put in a light fixture in the middle that is currently occupied by a 13 watt compact flourescent. I was surprised at how much light such a small bulb puts out. It’s nearly to much for just hanging out at night and doing whatever swamp people do at night in their shacks. I dunno, maybe sharpen gator gigs or build hog traps. Anyway, I’ll be keeping an eye out for smaller bulbs for future use.

A second circuit, maybe 8 feet long is for a bulb over the solar stuff. Plumes charge controller has a set of programmable contacts that allow you to turn loads on and off at preset times. I have it set for manual activation right now but will be reprogramming it before I leave today. I’m going to have it turn on for two hours after sunset and then turn on again an hour before sunrise. Not a big deal but it will make a casual prowler wonder if there’s anyone in the shack.

Figuring I’d get the most out of this light I painted the area around it with some aluminum paint I had. The last time I used this paint it was all shiny and aluminummy looking so I figured I would get a semi mirrored finish. I guess storing it outside for nearly a year wasn’tIMG_20160806_141737870 kind to the shiny aluminummy part. It came out a dull gray with no shiny at all. Oh well, it will be a good surface to paint over when I get some new paint. It does reduce the light to a tolerable level so if I have a sudden urge to do swamp shack people stuff I can sharpen my gator gigs in comfort. I wonder if there really are gator gigs? Who in the world would be crazy enough to gig a gator anyway?

Speaking of gators I spotted this little guy while on a boondoggle yesterday. I’m guessing him to be about four feet long. I took the pic from inside the truck so you can kind of get a feel for how close to IMG_20160806_102923838the road the swamp was at that point. I would have got out to get a better shot but I had spotted a slide that was huge. I’m guessing this guy is looking so sad because he is sharing digs with a gator at least twice his size. I wasn’t about to get out of the truck and possibly meet his big brother in person.

The brushlings have revolted and are in full tilt riot mode. It’s possible I’m going to have to concede defeat for this year, take down the grape arbor then hope for a good winter. A good winter coupledIMG_20160806_185426219_HDR with some good ideas on how to control this mess. I will win this battle. I can’t see owning 30 acres and not being able to see more than 50 feet in any direction.

Back in town tonight. Spent most of the day reading about installing a propane refrigerator and printing parts of the manuals. I guess it’s as tricky as I expected. If I screw up venting it won’t work. If I screw up the exhaust I can start a fire. If I screw up the seal and it leaks I could die a horrible death from ammonia. If I screw up all three all that will be left is a blackened crater with a flaming puddle of fat that used to be me.

I was disappointed to find that the replacement display for my charge controller isn’t in yet. But there’s a tropical depression coming in with predictions of 5 to 15 inches of rain over the next three days so maybe I’ll just hang in town for a few days. It’s that time of the month so I have to do laundry anyway. Yuck.

I was happy that my order of ultra bright 12 volt LEDs came in. These bad boys only draw 20 mA each so they will be a welcome addition to my shack lighting scheme. They put out 3.15 lumens which sounds small and is. However for the battery load that’s well within the range of useful. Ten of them should put out about 2.5 watts of light which when spread out will provide a good night light level. I hate waking up in a totally dark place. Besides, they’re just a lot of fun to play with.

OK. Some more pictures. I’ll explain as I go.

Light On
Light Off

OK. Stupid. But I am excited at finally having light. At least light that doesn’t recharge outside during the day or run off batteries. Gotta remember I started this winter with candles and sterno for heat and light. This is a big deal for me.


Bad pic I know. Not sure what happened. This kluge is my current control area. I had to use what fuses I had on hand so they are just hanging out. My terminal strips were all to small also and everything ended up wire nutted together.


My phone camera decided it was time to make a video then recorded a couple minutes of me walking around outside. I did get this shot of the generator shed which still needs walls and a roof. I’ve put one of my generators and the air compressor inside so finishing it is on the list. You can see where I’m spreading plastic around in an effort to establish some kind of beach head against the brushling wars.

That’s all for tonight. I’d like to thank everyone for visiting. Please feel free to comment. Suggestions and criticisms are all welcome. Comments like “You suck” aren’t so very welcome but I won’t delete them.


If I ever figure out how to operate this thing Ishimo will be the one begging for treats and sleeping on the floor.


Idle Thoughts

Well, didn’t make it out to the swamp today. Had to wait until I was sure that the remote for my charge controller was on the way which didn’t happen until this afternoon. No bad reflection on Renogy. Just how it went. I eventually contacted their customer service and had things worked out in a matter of minutes.

If anyone is thinking of starting a solar energy project I recommend at least touching base with Renogy to see what they can do for you. Frankly, the cost of solar is dropping so fast that customer service is quickly becoming a major factor to consider when making your buy decisions. I’ve already tested the water with Renogys return policy and have to rate it as excellent. Be advised that unless you purchase from Amazon through this site I get nothing from you purchasing from Renogy. I’m just trying to steer people toward a happy ending.

How hot is it? I found this pic in my camera which should answer IMG_20160713_164013512that. This is taken on my first floor porch in the shade. This was taken about 4 in the afternoon. What you can’t see is the Boy in the truck with the AC blasting on high. Anytime it goes over 100 he goes in the truck while I burn precious diesel keeping his furry butt cool. Now that I have enough solar to run fans I try to keep him in the shack in front of a fan but that’s a lot like herding cats. Seems that there’s always some exotic critter out there to bark at and chase.

I have a new in town project to start next trip in. I found this gopher turtle (tortoise) shell alongside the road a few months back that has been sitting on a post in front of the shack. I’m going to paint its belly IMG_20160428_121107206yellow, the top red, put a kenyan flag on one side, an ISIS flag on the other and a rainbow flag on the back. On top I will paint an owebowmao logo with a hammer and sickle overlay. I’m going to put it on eBay as the “ultimate baracka owebowmao post turtle tribute.” I think it will eventually come to be recognized as a fitting tribute to owebowmao fans and possibly find its way into the Smithsonian. I will list it in a 30 day auction starting at 99 cents with $175 shipping and handling. As with all things owebowmao you have to look at hidden costs and agendas. Post not included.

Not long ago I was headed into town for some silly reason like food or maybe water when I came upon a young turkey walking down the middle of the road. He seemed a bit unsteady on his feet so I thought maybe that he had found some fermented corn and was walking it off.

There’s feeders everywhere out here. Sometimes water gets into the feeders and the corn ferments. Once the game finds it they spend days hanging around to eat the corn and catch a buzz. Larger game such as deer and pigs relish it for the extra calories while smaller game sometimes gets falling down drunk.

Curious I began down shifting and fell in behind the turkey who at first was quite oblivious to me and the noise from my truck. Shortly though he looked back and was visibly startled to see me only about 20 feet behind him. So he sped up but didn’t leave the middle of the road. So I sped up a bit to keep pace while wondering how this would play out.

Looking over his shoulder again he seemed genuinely surprised to see me still there and really started pouring on the coal. It continued like this for some time with him looking back and increasing his speed every time but never attempting to leave the middle of the road.

I have no idea how fast we were going when he finally started flapping his wings and at times leaving the ground. Being so young he obviously wasn’t used to flying all that much but seemed to instinctively know that flying was his Shawshank Redemption.

The chase ended with him achieving lift off velocity and clearing the brush on the side of the road then crashing into a small clearing just off the road. I came to a quick stop to watch him crash in the clearing then look around to see if I was still behind him.

I often wonder what animals would say if they could talk.

“Wow, so that’s fermented corn! What is corn anyway? They say it tastes like chicken. I wonder what chicken is? Don’t matter. I’m drunk whatever that is. I’ll just walk it off. Yessir. Gonna just walk down the middle of the road here till I get home.”

“What’s that sound? Hmmm. Don’t see anything. No worries. Wait, it’sTurkey getting louder. Oh no. It’s behind me!”

“Oh crap! What’s that? It’s huge! And it’s growling at me! Walk faster. Walk faster. Don’t look back.”

“I gotta look back. Gotta look. Oh crap! It’s closer. Run. Run faster. There, that should do it……………… Wait, I can still hear it.”

“Oh no! It’s still there! Run real fast! Real fast. Why am I flapping my wings? I haven’t finished basic aviation 101. They say I can’t fly yet. Oh god. Oh god.”

“It’s still there. Oh god, get me out of this and I promise,,,,,,wait. I’m a turkey. Turkeys don’t pray do they? Who cares? Oh god, oh god, oh god.”

“It’s still there. I’m going to fly! I’m FLYING! I”M FLYING!!!  I’M CRASHING! I’M CRASHING!”

“Ouch, shit, crap! WOOF! I’ve crashed! Well, they say that any landing you walk away from is a good one.”

“Gosh. Where did all the dragonflies come from?”


“One day an old cowboy was out ridin’ fence and he saw a turtle balanced on top of a fence post. When he got back to the bunkhouse he told the other fellas that he saw a “post turtle”. They all asked, “What the hell is a ‘post Turtle’? And he said it was a turtle settin’ on top of a post! He then went on to explain that “you know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong there, he doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there and you just wonder what kind of dang fool put him up there to begin with!”


A Quick Update

Just a quick post then I’m off to the swamp for a few days. Just spent several days in town not doing much of anything except sleeping and healing up from bug bites.

Since last post I put in a Renogy MPPT Charge Controller that Plume sent to me. It’s great. With it I can run a fan, charge devices and still keep my batteries topped off during the day. At night I ran a desktop fan all night, about 8 hours, and the batteries were still topped by about 11 in the morning.

I ordered an MT-5 LCD display to go with the controller. It came in broke. So it’s on its way back to Renogy while I wait for the replacement to arrive. It’s pretty irritating to have to wait even more time but I do have to say that so far the customer support at Renogy is very good. In the meantime I’ll have to keep using my meter to monitor the system periodically.

Put on the snake boots and did a walkabout last week. I haven’t toured what of the property I can get to in over three weeks so IMG_20160722_081147737things had changed quite a bit. Things are drying out a lot so I’m able to see and get to more areas that have before now been IMG_20160722_081136281_HDRfar to wet to even try. What I thought might have been a spring fed pond turned out to be nothing more than an optical illusion. In truth the whole area is nothing more than a mud bog right now. I was able to get fairly close and take a pic but it’s still much to wet to even try crossing. After it dries some more I’ll trek in as far as possible and get some GPS readings and pics.

Another area previously off limits is opening up also. I was able to get about halfway through before the mud got to deep and I chickened out. This area is very interesting since the west side is the IMG_20160722_081907829side leading to the back of my property which I’ve never managed to get to. About 40 feet past where I took these pics is a stand of IMG_20160722_081921579_HDRpine trees. They’re to the right in the pics. Usually, where there’s pines there’s fairly dry land and the brush isn’t so dense. I’m hoping to get back to this area soon with the brush cutter and possibly discover the ever elusive westward passage to the back side of the property.

You just never know what you’re going to bump into out there. After IMG_20160721_160824698_HDRawhile you tend to try to get in and out as fast as possible but then something will happen to remind you that it’s time to stop IMG_20160729_133152627and smell the roses.


Make Up Yer Own Title

Another one of my projects has mixed results. I did a survey of the black plastic sheet and camo tarp plants and came away IMG_20160716_183959505disappointed. Both have been in place a little over six weeks so I was hoping to see scorched IMG_20160716_184055014earth underneath. Both had killed off a lot of brushlings but there were still some green underneath. I was hoping to move them this afternoon but it’s obvious they need more time.

A little over two weeks ago I added some translucent plastic I had left over from somewhere. Looking under it I was impressed with theIMG_20160716_184243153 amount of dead vegetation. It appears as if it is passing a lot more heat in and cooking the brush much faster. If I’m lucky it’s cooking the roots so I won’t have to keep dealing with rampant growth.

To help combat the brush I’ve begun to spread cardboard and tossing something like a pallet on top to hold it in place. This works somewhat but nothing like the tarp or two plastics. Believe it or not, IMG_20160716_184330309_HDRAmerican cardboard doesn’t work as well as Chinese cardboard. The Chinese cardboard is so cheaply made that a heavy fog is enough to collapse it thus smothering the brush. The American cardboard just hangs in there refusing to turn to mush. To me this is clear evidence that all those folks who say I’m not a globalist type of guy are wrong.

Got the skeleton semi finished and two 100 watt panels up and hooked up. Naturally I had to fabricate mounts since Grape Solar isIMG_20160718_083051045_HDR to dammed cheap to include a dollars worth of mounting hardware with their panels. IMG_20160718_114551994They also provide mounting slots which are 20.5 inches on center. Naturally nearly everything here in the states is built 16 inches on center. So of course the engineers who design their stuff would never think 8 inch on center mounting slots.

I’ve been running a fan, charging my lap top, and playing
the radio a bit. Everything seems to be working well,,,,wait for it,,,,except the 110 ah batteries only seem to be delivering about 12IMG_20160718_201048761_HDR ah before reaching nearly 50% discharged. I’ve been scratching my head, checking my battery calcs, IMG_20160718_201236571_HDRrewiring and checking everything a zillion more times and I still can’t get but about 4 hours run time on a small table top fan.

My charge controller tells me ball park how many amps I’m pulling from the batteries. My inverter with no load is pulling .5 amps. The IMG_20160718_201259263_HDRsmall fan is pulling roughly 3.3 amps for a total load of nearly 4 amps. So I should have at least 25 hours run time before I approach the 50% discharge cut off.

Instead after 3 hours battery voltage is around 12.3 volts with 12.24 being 50%. I don’t even have to take my shoes off to count 12 ah and IMG_20160719_122106190realize that it ain’t 110. Once I get back to town I’ll be burning up the internet trying to find an answer to this. I’m really hoping I don’t have to return the batteries since that will leave me stranded without batteries for a week or more as well as making me very angry.

I have the frame done for the last panel. It’s ugly as sin but sturdy IMG_20160720_181929044and once I get some painting done it will be beautiful since everything looks good in OD green. I also have a 15 watt panel I need to move and cut in as well. I’m hoping for something around a 20 amp charge rate during the day from the panels which will let me run fans while still topping off the batteries. I’ve seen a 15 amp charge rate with two panels so 20 with three should be well within reason.

Days later I’ve figured most of it out. Regarding the short run times above, never mind.

Milestones and Grindstones

Before I begin I’d like to give a shout out to Eddie who used the “Shop Amazon” link on the left to “Shop Amazon.” This was a huge milestone for me since anything purchased on Amazon via a link on this site will now earn me a small (4%) commission and an initial sale was required to qualify me as a sales associate.

According to Eddie it was a quick and painless experience. “I clicked the “Shop Amazon” link and was instantly transported to Amazon. For a split second I had the eerie sensation of being in two places at once. However it was a quick and painless experience.” There you have it. Quick and painless. OK, he didn’t really say that but hey, if you’re going to “Shop Amazon” why not take two seconds and launch from here? It will not only help keep this site up and running but I will also make up a name for you and fabricate some outlandish story to go with it. But you will have to tell me you did since Amazon won’t.

A byproduct of launching from here is that I now have a “click through” which search engines use to rank sites. I’ve begun to list with different engines in the hopes of generating more traffic and activity. Another biggie for engines is back links. If you have a site or a blog and would like to exchange links just drop me an email at ishimo@ishimo.com.

OK, back in town for a couple of days, got a big vodka mixed, some Enigma playing and the AC blasting at the top of its lungs. Life is good.

I’ve had a pretty good last few days. The shed is coming along nicely and is ready for sides to be installed. My hillbilly pressure treatmentIMG_20160703_171646819 looks like it is going to work well enough for a shed only intended to last a few years plus I kind of like the look it gives the wood. It does smell like burnt oil though the smell only seems to last forever. Hopefully over time it won’t be so noticeable.

I got the shed framed and ready for the roof. Since I don’t expect to park on top of it I went with ½ inch plywood. Though not heavy, the sheet is awkward to handle and I couldn’t get it to cooperate. After four tries the wood had hit the ground four times and myself once. IMG_20160703_174734856At that point I gave up and called in Amos. The next morning we spent about 97 seconds putting the wood in place thus passing yet another major IMG_20160704_111602454milestone. From the pics you can see that the roof line is strange. It slopes to the back and left. This was an entirely unintentional but most welcome result of measuring from two different anchor points. After I get shingles on I’ll put in some angle on the sides and direct rainwater runoff to a rain barrel to supplement my other barrels. We’ve had a lot of rain lately so I’m beginning to have a decent amount of water stored. My bamboo is loving it.

My generator is still acting freaky deaky and I might end up having to take it back and stink up the place until they replace it. It’s still drinking oil. I guess I could chalk it up to added lubrication but it’s using about a quart per tank of gas which is unacceptable. A quart every four or five tanks and I wouldn’t worry but this is to much. Naturally, this is going to present its own set of problems. The generator weighs in at 218 pounds dry. The bed of my truck is over 3 feet off the ground. I asked the Zigster about it and all he said was “You de Daddy. Handle it bro.” I’ll be glad when he’s over this phase.

Tomorrow I have 300 watts of solar panels coming in. Yay. This will allow me to run fans in the shack, charge devices and charge my battery during the day without using that oil guzzling noisy azzed generator. I hate generators. Maybe that’s why it’s messing up constantly. It know it. Maybe it’s just acting up to get my attention. Maybe I should put an umbrella over it, bring it flowers, maybe sing it a song? Nah. Not going to happen.

Every time I run the generator I break out a few dozen rechargeable devices and hook them up. I’m in the process of moving theIMG_20160629_090804395_HDR desk/dresser out so I can set up a battery bank and all the solar components in a somewhat orderly manner. In the meantime it is utter chaos keeping track of what is hooked to where. Yes, that is a bright purple fan.

I have my own version of a no fly zone. Next to a fly swatter fly paper IMG_20160608_071935383_HDRseems to be the most effective method for exterminating yellow flies. After a couple of weeks the paper loses its sticky but by then is has captured dozens of flies, mosquitoes and gnats. If PETA ever gets wind of this I’ll have mass demonstrations in the road out front while I sneak through the brush to siphon all of the fuel from their vehicles.

Want to know what it’s like to drive in and out during logging season? Here’s a view from the drivers seat following a logging truck. I’m about 100 yards behind a logging truck in this pic doing IMG_20160531_092721124about 15 miles per hour. You can’t pass them because visibility goes to zero as you get close. Best thing to do is hang back, put on some Abba and find a happy place in your head.

IMG_20160630_100309184_HDRSpeaking of logging. This is what a logged out area looks like when they finish. I’m always struck by the gadozens of logs that are cut then just left to rot or be burned. The land might be replanted or just left like this which will take yearsIMG_20160630_100305404_HDR to recover or some fool such as myself buys it. I’m not a tree hugger by any means but I don’t understand why a bit more time can’t be taken and some of IMG_20160630_100301542_HDRthe trees left to start things over. This area and the same size on the other side of the road was done in two days. I drove through a tree lined road one day, three days later I drove out and found this. In this case they left the road littered withIMG_20160630_100257009_HDR branches and logs to the point that I had to get out and move debris to get through.

Other times they simply block the road IMG_20160608_082237799_HDRand expect you to patiently wait until they decide to unblock it. This fellow was on lunch/smoke break. I was willing to wait a few minutes until I noticed him and others looking over at my truck and laughing. After a short and unpleasant conversation they moved enough to let me through.

Been thinking about my last post and Ziggy getting cute. What if dogs really think that licking their butt is cute? I mean, we have no idea really what they think. Imagine Fred and Ethel Dog on their way to market when they look over and see another dog having at it. Maybe Ethel looks over at Fred and says, “Oh look dear! Isn’t that just precious?” Or maybe it’s a sign of virility. Ginger is on her way to a high end dog groomer when she glances over and thinks “Oh wow! That’s HOT!”

That’s it for now. Gotta get ready to head out tomorrow and put in panels, work on shed, kill brush, conquer the world. Have I mentioned that you can “Shop Amazon” from here?


More Idle Thoughts From the Swamp

Greetings from the shack in the swamp where it was a balmy 101 degrees in the shade yesterday. Thankfully nights are low 70s so it’s good sleeping weather.

Haven’t accomplished all that much the last few days. I met Amos in a nearby town Monday and towed a trailer loaded with wood out here. The trailer was horribly overloaded which resulted in some white knuckle time on the way here. The Boy had a vet appointment Tuesday so after unloading I took it back and spent the night in town.

The vet was uneventful unless you count me being a smart alec. When they asked me what breed he was I said “Pit Poodle”. The young lady recorded exactly that so now I am guardian of the worlds first pit poodle puppy. Just as well, I went through severe sticker shock checking out and told the boy that a hard hat, lunch bucket and steel toed boots were in his future.

Out in the swamp Amos and Co. were hard at constructing what turned out to be a very nice screened in porch. The Boy took me to heart and took overall supervision responsibilities. In this picture you can see him inspecting a footer before he gave his approval to close the floor. He wanted a few more fasteners put in and after a Zigsterfew minutes of arguing with the contractor threatened to red tag the whole project. Meanwhile Amos threatened to walk off the job if Ziggy didn’t lighten up so the Boy finally took a somewhat more diplomatic approach. After a bit of grumbling they worked out their differences and by the end of the day Ziggy was back to sitting in Amos’ lap.

Yesterday I mostly sat in the shade and watched. Sometimes being older than dirt has it’s perks. I did spend some time working on my current solar set up which it really seemed to like.

The battery I am using is several years old but has never had a load on it. I would charge it on about a monthly basis or whenever I thought of it so I had no idea what condition it might be in. When I put the desulphator on it the charged indicator didn’t come on at all the first day. The second day it came on very late in the afternoon. Since then I’ve noticed that it charges earlier every day. I’m cautiously optimistic that this is an indicator that the battery is in good condition and that I’ll get a decent amount of use out of it.

Last night I finally hooked up an inverter then connected a small fan which I ran a couple of hours to cool the shack. I failed open about 3:30 so after building coffee I checked the 73 different rechargeable devices and put the phone and my flashlight on the inverter. Since I can’t check current draw right now I have no idea how many amps I’m using so I’m calling tonight a light use night. I’ll watch the charge today to see when the battery is topped off.

Today I’m thinking of getting started on the generator shed again. If I can get the poles set, batter boards on and get it square and vertical the rest should be pretty easy. I need to fast track this so I can get my other generator out of storage and get one of the units emptied. I can also start wiring the shack for 120 and 12 volt.

Starting to fail shut so it’s back to sleep for now if I can talk the Boy into letting me have part of the bed. Later.

Been a couple of days. Amos finished his deck and left for civilization this morning. I got off my azz yesterday and went back to work on the shed. Like everything else out there I managed to find ways of making it a lot harder than it had to be.

I had laid out the posts for a 4×8 footprint then dug the holes. But when digging holes in ground with roots the size of railroad ties the holes tend to wander. It’s easy to get off by several inches and not notice. Well, I didn’t notice until the third pole was going in.

Pole number 1 and 2 were very well behaved. I set them, put on a IMG_20160626_095809544[1]batter board then trued vertically. After filling and tamping they were vertical and pretty solid. The sand sets up like concrete nearly out there so I’ll keep piling sand around them and letting the rain wash it in.

Then came time to set the third pole. Propping the batter board up on blocks I was discouraged to see that the hole was nearly a foot off. Out came the post hole digger and sawzall. An hour later I was setting the pole. I was glad no one was around to see me crying as I approached the last hole.

The last hole was only about six inches off so it wasn’t quite so bad. Soon after I had all four batter boards set and the square said yay verily it’s pretty square. I’ll spare you the visual of a fat, sweaty bald guy dancing around in the swamp. I’m pretty happy about it now. AtIMG_20160629_111127267[1] one point I was thinking of a bonfire on that very spot but I’m glad that I refrained. I’m not a wood guy at all.

At that point it was time to head back to town for a shower, ice and some more wood. Opening my first cooler I discovered that one of my guaranteed not to leak zip loc freezer bags had leaked blood everywhere. So everything that wasn’t a factory water tight seal went in the burn barrel. Opening the other cooler I decided I must have a defective batch of zip loc bags and they went in the burn barrel as well. In the morning I get the fun job of washing both coolers with detergent then sterilizing with bleach before I set off for more food, ice and wood.

Well, been to town, back out, back to town. I forgot to buy wood while in town.

Yesterday I got the floor of the shed mostly framed and put in some bracing to help straighten the 4x4s. This morning I got some plastic under the floor to help control the rampant growth of stuff what you don’t know what it is but don’t want anyway. While moving some stuff around I tossed a 4×4 on the ground and it shattered. Well, it broke. I just stood there staring. I’ve never seen a 4×4 do anything other than get crooked. This one had about 4 feet just break off. Thinking it had maybe fossilized I picked up the remainder and threw it on the ground several times to see if it would break again. It didn’t but I am glad I hadn’t built a tower and had a 450 pound barrel of water on it when it shattered.

Since today was Sunday the Boy and I went for our Sunday drive. There are miles of roads out here that are see very rare traffic. I usually just idle along and look around. The Boy just sleeps and loves the air conditioning. Today I was on an “Adopt A Rock” mission.

People come out here and abandon perfectly good rocks alongside the road. Being something of a philanthropist I adopt these rocks and take them back to the shack where they will eventually be put to good use. I also fill a couple of five gallon buckets with dirt from where they grade the road and leave piles of it on the side. I’ll not turn my driveway into a superhighway any time soon but eventually it will be flat and smooth.

Been back and forth to town again. Today ran to the big city to return the inverter and get another. They wouldn’t even talk about a discount even after I explained that it was a 120 mile round trip for me. Guess it doesn’t hurt to try.

Tomorrow headed back out to the swamp. I’m hoping to finish the shed and tackle the next big project. Big for me that is. Sometimes even the simple things are really hard for want of a hand to hold something in place. I’m becoming fairly accomplished at jury rigging stuff.

Last trip out I set up a redneck awning. It’s a tarp with two pieces of EMT to hold it up tied off with 550 cord. Makes a helluva racket in IMG_20160628_112943648_HDR[1]the wind but it does shade the west side of the shack and reduces heat inside considerably. In time I’ll break out the post hole diggers and put in a permanent awning.

I made some more progress on the shed. Since cash is tight I bought regular lumber for use on anything that won’t get wet or be in contact with the ground. I did apply a hillbilly pressure treatment IMG_20160628_091126615[1]which consists of used motor oil, diesel and paint thinner. I’ve already been advised that it won’t last more than about ten years but hell I’ll be dead by then so what do I care?

Have you ever noticed how critters have some psychic ability when IMG_20160629_195133247[1]it comes to cameras? They will be doing the neatest things until a camera comes out. Then it’s total bedlam. Ziggy will be completely absorbed in something until I grab the phone to take a pic. Instantly his thought process goes, “Camera. I better do something cute. What to do? I know, I’ll lick my butt!”


I’m Back

Gosh what a week it’s been! As my good friend Plume has already said, I’ve had technical difficulties and posting was the impossible dream. But my laptop has returned to the fold and it appears that all is well. At least until the next great disaster. In any case a great big thank you goes out to Mr. Plume for lending a helping hand.

Soon you will notice links in my posts when I am talking about equipment and material I’m using. These will be links to Amazon in case you are remotely interested in purchasing said stuff. I will also be starting to post product reviews with links as well. If you click on the link and purchase the product, I’ll make a few cents. Who knows? Maybe in 20 years I can rent a movie.

I was keeping a running journal right up until my laptop died so here it is.

Well, it’s Thursday, of that I am fairly certain. I’ve been here since Sunday with one lightning fast trip to town. Ice and a shower, what else?

My neighbor to the north, Amos, was out for a few days. We built a table, shot the hell out of some tin cans and for my part, didn’t reallyIMG_20160517_071822989 accomplish much of anything. The table is really nice and serves well as a stand for the gas grill and Coleman stove. I had forgot how nice having an extra set of hands was when doing some so simple as building a table.

While construction was underway there was a major disaster. My generator went breasts vertical so running the air compressor was out of the question. Running the saw was dicey but we managed to
get by. Our first guess was bad gas and of course there is absolutely no provision for draining the gas short of hiring some full scale bio-hazard facility. So we let it run. And run. Along about nine o’clock that night it finally ran out of gas.

The next morning I cautiously circled the generator ready to battle while quietly confident that it was going to behave when I added known quality gas. Nope. Asshole just kept up the bad behavior.

By lunch I had taken every readily removable part off, cleaned it, lubed and re-installed. Then totally by accident I found a cable cleverly hidden behind a bunch of stuff. After a bit of tweaking I got it loose and gave it a go. Success. Needless to say I was relieved since I had read the fine print in the warranty. It essentially said “In case of failure, you’re screwed.” I have a spare generator in storage but it’s of questionable reliability.

We shot the dog crap out of some tin cans. After awhile it turned into a competition. Amos is a former Marine so needless to say he wiped the floor with me. I’m not a great shot anyway. I have a belief that quantity has a quality of its’ own. Why shoot once when you can shoot twenty times? And I broke my glasses recently so I was really at a disadvantage. Still, I won a couple of matches. I tried shutting one eye or another. I believe the best results were when I was shooting by braille with both eyes closed. Still I believe he pulled his shots a couple of times so I wouldn’t get mean and surly.

It rained for a couple of days. I ran to town the day after and the roads were a disaster. Where I was running 35 to 45 I was down to four wheel drive since the lumber companies are hauling in looseIMG_20160521_091319688_HDR sand to grade the roads. Add a good rain and it’s a real mess. On the way back in a few hours later the roads were drying well but I have to wonder what they will be like next time out.

The road in front of my place seems to have taken the rain in stride. I drove around checking swamp levels and was surprised to find that they are only slightly higher than before the rain. Before the culvert was put in they would have been flowing across the road.

Today was a big cleaning day. I did prune the muscadines back. Looking at them I doubt I’ll have any grapes this year but hopefully next year. I haven’t as yet planted the blackberries so next year is probably the best I can hope for also.

The yellow flies are getting pretty bad. This afternoon I was bit several times and probably killed about 20. They’re nasty little assholes. Their bite hurts like hell then itches like mad. The bad part is there is no known repellent or traps for them. I have fly strips up everywhere loaded with insects but very few yellow flies.

I bought some strips on Amazon that were sposed to be the ultimate deer fly solution. So Amos and I put them on our hats and walked around for two days with these strips guaranteed to stop deer flies on our hats. At the end of two days the score was a bunch of bites and a whole big two flies trapped. Guess the strips are kind of like a thirty dollar fishing lure. They catch a lot of fishermen but not all that many fish.

Woke up ready to go today. Built some coffee, put on the boots, grabbed the brush cutter and set off to slaughter hundreds of innocent brushlings. I’ve been wanting to cut a straight path to the southwest swamp so I can sit on the porch and see what is going on there. The current path sort of wanders a bit since I cut it by following the path of least resistance.

Anyway I was happily engaged in wholesale carnage when I noticed it was getting dark. The weather prediction for today was 20% chance of showers so I was sort of freaked to see the entire sky IMG_20160520_094337141_HDRcovered in black clouds. I reluctantly left the anguished screams of dying brushlings and hoofed it to the shack. By then it was thundering and lightning so I was passed by a brown streak as the Boy went by. So now we’re sitting inside waiting on the rain to quit. Actually he’s racked out sound asleep and I’m thinking of building more coffee.

Well it continued to rain off and on for the rest of the day. I was able to run out between showers and finish cutting the path. I still have to go back and clear some more on a couple of areas to be able to see everything but it’s nearly complete. A short while ago I was looking at it and realized that part of it was moving. Grabbing the binoculars I was able to make out about six baby pigs before they made it into the brush. About six a light steady rain began and it’s been raining since so I’m done for the day.

Amos brought a couple of electronic fly swatters
with him this trip. Initially I was amused by them and didn’t expect them to really work. They work. With a fresh set of batteries a mosquito or gnat will simply flash and be no more. A yellow fly will put on a light show for some time. As the batteries weaken the flashes aren’t as gratifying but impressive none the less. At one point we were surrounded by a cloud of mosquitoes. We held down the buttons and began swinging at random. Every swing resulted in flashes while filling the air with the smell of charred insects. In one night we reduced the insect population more here than I’ve been able to do the whole time I’ve been out here. I’m still using the original set of batteries so I have no idea how long they last. I was picking a fly out today and got a decent shock since I was dumb enough to have the button pushed. I want to buy some more then see if I can supercharge one using a 9 volt battery versus 2 AA cells.

Soon I have to get back to siding and painting. And put up a solar cell so I can get away from flashlights supplemented with solar powered yard lights. I have some 12 V dc compact florescent bulbs with bases so I should get moving on that. My inverter has a low voltage shut down which protects the battery but I am powering some 12 volt loads so no protection there. I’ve decided to put in a 120 volt relay then run the 12 volt hot lead through it. Lose 120 volt, relay opens, no 12 volt load. So I went to the local hardware store and asked for a 120 volt ice cube relay of about 30 amps. I was shown ice trays so it’s back to the internet for material.

Tomorrow will be another lightning fast trip to town. I don’t need ice as yet but I’ll stock up anyway. What I do need is Ziggy food. It was on the top of my list last trip but naturally I didn’t take the list so it was forgotten.

And then the laptop went south.

I did kill what I think was a fly but I’ve never seen a fly this large before. It’s possible it’s an alien visitor from another galaxy here on a peaceful mission but I don’t really think so. In the picture that is a AAA cell below it. I threw it in to show just how huge that suckerIMG_20160519_103019857_HDR was. I was afraid to try the electronic fly swatter on it just in case it really was an alien fly with Jedi powers which could cause me to beat myself to death with the swatter. So I zapped it with wasp killer.