Friday, November 21, 2014

New pantry

When I bought this place in TN several years ago and came down for the first winter I brought several dozen canning jars with me, but the bulk of my jars remained in MN. This summer I cleaned out the basement in MN and boxed up all the jars to bring south with me, mainly so they would all be in one place. The immediate problem after unloading all the boxes from the truck was "where am I going to put all these?" A single-wide mobile home doesn't exactly have a ton of space, and the storage shed freezes in the winter. The best solution I could come up with quickly was in the back hall/laundry area. It makes it a bit tighter getting to the washer and dryer, or out the back door, but the dryer door still opens completely and with the two big dogs gone I rarely use the back door.

I used 1x12 pine for the uprights, and bought 2 sheets of plywood to rip for the shelves. Since this is not up against a wall on either end I used some electric fence wire with turnbuckles to make a large 'X' on the back side to keep it from leaning over to the left or right. There is also a wire across the front to keep the end uprights from pivoting and dumping the shelves.

Instead of using wooden cleats to support the shelves I bought the narrow metal bookshelf brackets and clips so the shelves can be repositioned.

Gallon and half gallon jars fit 2 deep on the 1 foot wide shelves, quarts fit 3 deep, and pints fit 4 deep. There are just shy of 600 jars here, sadly not very many of them are full yet but it's a start. I will likely hang some fabric 'curtains' on the front to block out the light.

I also ordered a TSM stainless steel food dehydrator and it arrived a couple days ago. I have dried food in the past, but really dislike the idea of putting food on plastic and heating it for hours, with the plastic possibly leaching who-knows-what chemicals into the food. I had been looking for a good dehydrator for some time, and even though the Excaliber brand is highly recommended I wasn't comfortable with them as the case is lined with plastic. When I found the TSM brand I was sold, it just took a while to save up my pennies for it.

So far it's just living on top of the clothes dryer until I can figure out a place to put it. There is almost no counter space in this mobile home, in fact not much more than in the camper, so it can't live on the counter. It's been humming along quite happily where it's at, so far I've dried almond meal and coconut flour along with some wonderful white raisins.

This will give me another option for food storage that doesn't require freezer space and is much lighter than canned fruits or veggies along with taking up far less space. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Quiet Saturday Night

Not much going on tonight, other than working on some shelving to hold canning jars. Last night was a different story though.

Sometime shortly after dark, I was sitting in the office when I heard sirens. I asked my daughter who was in the living room if they were coming down our road. It wouldn't be the first time, the guy 2 houses down has OD'd or been sick or suicidal or something at least a couple times a year since I bought this place. This time there was no ambulance though, and they turned off the sirens and lights a half mile before they turned onto our road. Next thing we knew there were 10 cop cars on the street. Cops were hiding behind their car doors with guns drawn yelling "Put the gun down! Put your gun down!" It took 45 minutes for them to talk the guy down, then they handcuffed him and threw him in the back of a squad car. As they left we counted at least one DEA vehicle along with a canine unit.

My property (6acres) is wedge shaped, very little road frontage, but the house is very close to the road. The next door neighbor has 19 acres, also wedge shaped with very minimal road frontage, but their house is set way back. The next place has 3  mobile homes on it lined up along the road, the nut job lives in one of them, so all this was going down about 100 yards away from my front porch. I REALLY need to be someplace where there aren't so many (stupid) people.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The cost of not living there

I'm back in TN for a while. Before I left MN I emptied and unplugged the large chest freezer in the shop which has run the past few winters. I also shut off the main in the house, and the main on the shop that runs all the outbuildings and the well. So there is nothing electrical running on the farm, right? Well, no, there is a yard light on the pole in the yard. It's one of those nasty sodium things, casting it's sickly green glow over everything and forcing you to walk out past the grove in order to actually see the night sky. It was there when I bought the acreage, and I've always disliked it. It's unmetered, so there is a flat fee for it's use each month on the electric bill.

I called the electric co-operative yesterday and said I wanted to shut off the power for the winter. The gal in the office said I would have to just pull the main. I said I wanted the yard light off, nothing else was running and I couldn't see paying a bill each month for the light. She said I would have to pull the main. I said I'm 1000 miles away with no plans to return before next year mid-summer, can't you just shut it off at the road??  After going around like this for 5 minutes she dropped this bombshell: If the co-op shuts off the power, when they reconnect it next summer not only will they charge me a disconnect and reconnect fee, which I had figured on, but they will also back bill me for the months it was shut off. WTH?!? You can back bill me for something I didn't use, and couldn't possibly use because the service is shut off? Yes, it's in our policy.

So the unmetered yard light will stay on, since I'm stuck paying for it whether it's on or not. Not only will I be paying the monthly fee for the light, there is also a "cost of providing power" fee in the amount of $15, along with the "vacation" fee of $9.95 for the internet. Once again I'll have a bill of $37a month for crap I'm not using. That's almost $450 a year.

Next summer the sodium yard light WILL come down, and with luck I will get a small wind generator or PV system installed, either grid tied and they can pay me during the winter months (MN requires utility buy-back on grid tied systems at the average retail rate), or off-grid and I'll tell the electric company to take a flying leap. I also need to figure out an internet solution to avoid paying for satellite internet in two places. The service was paused in TN while I was gone, no fee, but up north they tell me I have to pay the $9.95 per  month vacation fee because if they actually shut it off they won't be able to reconnect it as my equipment is too old. I own the Wild Blue dish up north,and rent it here in TN, and would love to disconnect both services. This may mean I have to break down and get a smart phone and an unlimited Verizon data plan. We'll see how that plays out over the winter.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The last night in Minnesota

I've stalled as long as I can, but winter is coming to Minnesota tomorrow night and I've got to go! The weather has been pretty good, even hitting 70 last week, but the temp has been slowing dropping, the wind has been blowing 30-40 mph for several days now and a nasty cold front is heading this way. Winter Storm Watches and Warnings have been posted for South Dakota and Minnesota, snow amounts of up to 12+ inches possible in some areas with blowing and drifting. I've got most everything packed up and ready to go, there are just a few things to finish up early tomorrow morning then I'll hitch up the camper and get while the getting is good.

I'm happy with what I got done this year considering that I didn't get here until August. The vintage Shasta is tucked away in the cleaned out granary, and the "new" 1968 Holiday Trav'ler camper is here. The 30'x50' shop is actually clean, furniture projects stacked in a long row down the center, the north wall lined with heavy-duty shelves that are filled with stoneware, glass items and other stuff from the house that won't be damaged if mice get into it. I completely filled the large dumpster and it's been hauled away, and I gave away 5 or 6 truckloads of "stuff". I canned applesauce, chicken broth and vegetable broth, hamburger, carrots and chicken. I didn't get as much done in the house as I had hoped, but again I didn't have a ton of time to work on it. I hauled several pieces of furniture to my older daughter's in Sioux Falls, including the floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall bookshelves that I delivered yesterday.

On the trip north earlier this summer I said that Bubbles, my ancient Great Dane, was coming home to Minnesota to die. She had a good summer, we got to enjoy numerous bonfires, she got lots of attention from the neighbor when he came to check his cows (he rents my pasture), and we walked the land where she roamed when she was younger. As the weather got cooler she started going downhill, and on Oct. 31 she stopped eating. I called the vet, and Bubbles got to go for one last ride in the truck. Dusty, my daughter's Golden Retriever, had died a week earlier. He was no spring chicken himself at 9 years of age, but we thought he had a few good years left so his death was quite unexpected. The two friends are buried beside each other near the bonfire pit, about 40 feet from the house where Bubbles was born 10 years ago.