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Even *I* Am Bored!

I feel like I should have blogged sooner…sorry. I’ve had super limited internet for the past 6 weeks; due to a series of stupid problems. I’ve been using mostly the TracFone data which costs $10 a gb! I’ve also tried the library, but since it’s closed, the signal is really weak and slow when I’m sitting in the car trying to use it. I finally had to purchase a new phone and new internet plan. 

In the midst of Social Distancing, I find it amusing that my life hasn’t changed much at all. As an introvert, I pretty much live Socially Distant all the time! Still I feel bored right now, and wishing I had TV to watch. I guess it’s because I CAN’T go anywhere instead of just not wanting to. Am I the only one whose house is spotless these days?!  This is a long post but maybe y’all are so bored, it’ll be entertaining.

Here’s the view from my front door. Pretty nice, eh? Well except for the junk. It’s the LONG-RANGE view I was referring to, LOL!

door view

 

I was very worried for the first couple weeks of virus hysteria, as I was out of money and couldn’t join in the buying frenzy. I finally made it to Walmart’s Senior hour (6 a.m.) on Tuesday and even though there wasn’t much to buy, I feel better about having something on hand. I haven’t eaten processed food for over a year so I didn’t have any non-perishable foods!  I managed to spend $80 on what I consider to be “crap” food that I hope I won’t have to eat. My biggest worry now is that too many truckers will get sick and the supply chain will fail, and I’ll run out of food. I think I’ve got about a month’s worth right now, though I’d be real short on protein and would have to eat rice and beans; yuck. I have about 120 gallons of water and 100# of propane. 

I’ve been nurturing a new sourdough starter for about three months and have just started to make bread again! What a joy! I love to make bread and I love to feed people. I’ve been giving it away but now I wonder if anyone will want bread that someone else has touched, even though I made sure to wash my hands thoroughly every time I handled the dough or bread. I still don’t eat bread at present but I bought some more flour in case I’m forced to go back to eating bread. I miss it and won’t mind too much if that happens, though if I start gaining weight I’ll be REALLY mad.  (85# lost so far and still going) I finally passed the top end of the “normal” range. I was within a couple pounds of it for two months, always thinking it was gonna happen any day. 

I’ve also started my hydroponic lettuce again, I have two plantings of seedlings, one week apart. Romaine and some kind of leaf lettuce, plus I’ve started some bell pepper and tomato seeds. I’d really rather get pepper and tomato starts but in case I don’t get out to get any, maybe I can grow some from seeds. I’ve not had any luck getting pepper seeds to germinate, so we’ll see. The lettuces are happy little things that sprout right up in only about two days, and right away start turning their little faces towards the sun. So cute! Because it’s the windy season, I’ve had to rig up a clear plastic windbreak so they can be outside on my patio table. I’m hoping the nasty lettuce-eating critters won’t be able to climb up the metal legs of the table and murder my babies like last year, when they were just placed out on the ground. I cut the ends off some organic celery and romaine and put them in water too (changing the water daily) and they are already pushing up new growth.  Here’s the windbreak and plants:

Plant Table

I’ve been doing some projects that I already have materials for. I’ve had a small bookcase from Wal-Mart for awhile and was reluctant to assemble it because I thought it would be a huge hassle but I finally did it, and it was easy and it fits the area next to the door perfectly! Now I can have undies & socks in little bins and don’t have to shuffle boxes around to get to them. 

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A couple weeks ago I got a friend to help me move the refrigerator into place! I made a huge mistake on the outside vent placement though and the fridge is up too high off the floor. When the freezer door is open, I have to stand on a footstool to see what’s in it! And it looks stupid, that’s the worst thing. But it’s not fixable; the bottom of the fridge needs to line up with the bottom of that vent in order to service and get at the fridge controls from the back. Sigh. My first real major blooper.  I’m sure it won’t be the last. I really hate that RV refrigerators aren’t magnetic. How the heck are you supposed to plaster the front with magnets?? Here’s my first refrigerator art, entitled “Out on a limb”. 

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I’d been using the fridge as an ice chest but when the order came for staying home, I moved everything to an ice chest on the back-side of the house., where it’s always shady. Out there, a block of ice will last 5-6 days but the fridge in the house, only 2-3 days. One of these days I’ll get batteries and be able to get the fridge hooked up to propane! Boy that’ll be great, to not have to use ice and deal with melted icewater all the time. And have a freezer!! That would really be helpful right now, when I can’t just go get more meat & perishables every 4-5 days. That’s one of the first things I’ll do if I get the stimulus money, IF the RV parts store and the gulf cart store are open. Somehow I doubt I’ll be able to get the batteries. 

Because the fridge is now in place, I also have…..a CLOSET!!! Wow. I need to put something up as a closet rod, then I could have most of my clothes in one building.  

I put up a crude little shelf in front of one of the windows so the lettuces can see out.

Eventually I’ll have shelves lining the inside of both sides of the closet, between the studs. Today I made one shelf with a backer bar (since I don’t have a wall on that side of the closet yet) for my bedside table stuff…glasses holder, flashlight, thermometer, water bottle. On the other closet wall I’ve done two shelves for canned goods. 

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I was given a little round handicap shower chair that I’m not using since my shower isn’t operative yet. I’ve extended the legs to their full height and it’s a perfect little table for one! Eventually I’ll have a drop-down table between the living room chairs but first I have to do the wall finish. So……possibly never! 

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I really love my bedroom/living room setup. During the day, the bed is folded up against the wall, a homemade Murphy bed. That reveals two comfy chairs and a storage hassock that acts as a table & footstool. At night, the bed gets lowered down over the top of the chairs and it’s just a short two steps up to the bed! It’s working out really great. And it’s not dangerously high; if I sit on the edge of the bed and put my feet down, they are not much more than a foot from the floor. So I can easily just step onto the bottom step of the little stepladder. 

I put together these really cute solar mason jar lights and I love them! They cast an amazing amount of light onto the walkway at night! It was a cheap kit from Amazon containing 6 jar lids with solar panels on the top, connected to a small amount of fairy lights. I got 6 shepherd’s crooks at Dollar Tree and they’re perfect! Love love love them. And they actually cast enough light to see where to walk! I had a photo of them lit up at night but it’s on the old phone and I don’t have any way of retrieving it anymore. One of these days I’ll have a real walkway instead of old pieces of plywood.

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A couple weeks ago I noticed that one of those sheets of plywood walkway was sticking up on both ends so I cleverly just flipped it over. Voila, all fixed! Then I walked on it and found out why it had been placed that way…….took two steps, got a nail in each foot! That plywood is full of small ringed flooring nails!! They barely penetrated but I thought I’d better go get a tetanus shot. Good thing I’m so much lighter now, if I’d been at my former weight I’d probably still be stuck standing on that plywood! 

I’m hungry for some flowers. If not for the new travel rules, I’d have gone to Lowes and gotten me something pretty. Now I have to be content to watch my cute baby lettuces grow. 

A camping friend, Patricia Parker, sent me this amazing painting of my house!! Isn’t it the cutest? I treasure it! 

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I went over and met my new neighbor last week. I’ve been hearing the tap tap tap of his hammer for several days. He was up on his roof so we kept a good distance. He’s an older gent from Wisconsin who’s building an 8×8 shack to live in. Seems nice but doesn’t appear to have any knowledge of building. It’s foundation is several stacks of small 2×4 pieces! It’s all 2×4’s….walls, roof and floor. I’m thinking a 2×4 doesn’t actually have a span of 8’ as a floor joist but I’m not sure. He’s going to have a leaky roof for sure but I didn’t tell him that. I’ll be really surprised if our high winds don’t blow it off the “foundation” soon too. Oh well, at least it’s small and will be easy to fix. UPDATE: I went past there yesterday and the entire structure is gone! Apparently he has dismantled it and hauled everything away, or else it blew away. Huh! 

Another mystery is the mouse situation here. I have a 5 gallon bucket partially filled with water pretty close to the outside house wall, and in the past week, 22 mice have committed suicide by drowning! I wish I had a critter-cam to see how the heck they’re getting in there. Swan diving off the roof? Somehow climbing up the house wall and jumping?? And WHY?! There must be zillions of the darn things around here. Every morning there are 1-4 dead mice in the bucket. Last night when I walked Roxie, there was one dead and one still alive. There was only a couple inches of water in the bucket and the poor thing was standing up on his hind legs to keep his cute little face out of the water. So of course I had to get him out of there. I thought about doing some teeny-tiny artificial respiration but decided not. He didn’t make it. And now you know why I had to stop going fishing. Too much empathy for the suffering of other creatures. And yes, fish DO feel pain!! They put an irritant on their lips and the fish kept rubbing their lips on the sand in the bottom of the tank. But I’m still going to keep the bucket there; I put more water in it so they won’t have to suffer for so long. 

I hope everyone is being good and staying home as much as possible! Stay healthy, y’all!

 

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Arizona Off-grid living Ownen-built tiny house Tiny Homes Tiny House Uncategorized

More Weather Delays

I made it through the heat wave! We had temps of 87-92 degrees for several days. I coped with that by getting up and going to work between 5:30-6:30 in the mornings, when it was still cool. I could work til almost 9:00 before it got too hot. After that, I’d go out for only 5-10 minutes at a time.

Now the heat has moderated, but the wind is back! We’re having 25-50 mph winds for nearly a week…next Wednesday is the next day with winds under 25 mph. (This is Saturday and the 3rd day of wind) I have tried for the past two days to go out and work early, but it’s been already too windy even at 5:20 in the morning. Soooo…we wait, read books, play on the Kindle and computer and eat too much.  I fear I am becoming an Early Riser. I seem to be always getting up around 5:30 and instead of hating it, I guess I’ve gotten used to it! I’ve never wanted to get up early!

I finished the foundation beams and have the bump-out floor all done and attached to the main house floor. (I was going to say “big house” but that would be ridiculous!)

I’ve got the rigid foam cut and fitted between each floor joist.

Rigid foam between joists

I thought I had them all nice and snug but in the 50 mph wind gusts, half of them flew away. I had to crawl around under the bushes to retrieve them all and replace them, with rocks to hold them down. That didn’t work either so I resorted to putting shovels and 2×4’s on them. Also I had painstakingly measured and custom-cut each piece, but after they flew away I just plopped them into any old empty space, and they fit just as well. Hmmm.

So that’s where we stand right now. The next step is putting R-19 fiberglass batts between the joists, and I held off doing that in the heat because it’s such a miserable job, and I didn’t have any way to take a shower afterward. I went to work on an outdoor shower. I had purchased a pump-up pressurized garden sprayer and jerry-rigged a kitchen sprayer nozzle onto it, thinking I could have nice pressurized showers with that. But it only holds pressure for about 10 seconds, then it just lets out a pitiful dribble. So I ordered a nice 2.5 gallon solar shower bag from Amazon Advanced Elements Summer Shower

showerbag

It was the only 2.5 gallon one I could find, it got great reviews and seems sturdier than the rest, which is important since I’ll also be using this in the house. (More on that later). I got a large $3 hula hoop from Dollar General and suspended it with some light rope, and added shower curtain rings all around it. I repaired and placed two pallets under a likely-looking horizontal tree branch and I’ll use a $6 concrete mixing tub as my shower pan; that way I’ll be able to save the water and reuse it on my little trees and bushes that are suffering badly in this drought.I already have two $1 shower curtains so it is pretty much ready to go. OH. I just went out to take a photo of the concrete mixing tub and it’s gone! I had put a big rock inside it but apparently that wasn’t enough to hold it down. Bye bye bin! I suppose it’s in the same “black hole” along with my grill cover and bucket.  I guess I can take a shower and just let the water go between the slats of the pallet, until I get back to town to buy another one.  At any rate, I don’t think I can keep the shower in place in the wind or I think it will shred the curtain, even if it’s bunched up and tied together. I will have to figure out a quick and easy way to get the hula hoop up and down each time.

My plan was to not have a shower inside the house; just a tiny potty room. I was going to build a nice outdoor shower, but I can’t figure out what materials to use that would withstand 50 mph wind. Heck, we’ve had as high as 85 mph winds here! I thought I could use shade cloth and the wind would go right through it, while still being opaque, but I have found that’s not true. I use some small shade cloths on the camper and over Roxie’s pen and they actually do resist the wind a lot more than you’d think. So I guess I will buy a 24×36″ shower pan and make the whole bathroom a “wet bath”.  I hate those and swore I wouldn’t have one, but it really would be much more convenient than having to go outside to shower, especially if it’s wintertime. Instead of making all the walls waterproof, I can use two shower curtains around the whole room and hopefully keep all the water off the walls and window. I can use the bucket potty as a shower seat.  I don’t plan to have a water heater, so I’ll still use the shower bag I just bought and fill it with warm water, not try to heat it in the sun. At some point I could possibly bust through the back of the bathroom (where the window will be) and make another bump-out for a larger shower room. Maybe some day.

I borrowed the neighbor’s trailer again and went to get all the 2×4’s for the stud walls. It was one of the really hot days so I was on my way to town before 7:30 a.m. I thought I’d be home by 10:00, hah! It takes a long time to pick out 73 good 2×4’s! After an additional stop for a few groceries, I got home at noon. I unloaded and stacked them all early the next morning. The wind has actually been strong enough to blow some of the 2×4’s off the stack!!

My stud wall materials! 73 2×4’s

My camper fridge has given up. So far my strategy has been to wish and hope it revives itself, but that doesn’t seem to be effective. It probably needs a good cleaning; it’s been two years since I had that done. I guess I will find a tutorial on line and see if I can do it myself. The last time I tried it, there was one part that I could not remove but I’ll give it another go. In the meantime, I’m using an ice chest and blocks of ice.  😦

Here are some links to Amazon products that other readers have recently purchased. Thank you for using any of the links on this page to access Amazon for all your needs!

Kindle Fire 7 $39.99

Burts Bees Face Essentials Gift Set

Chocolate Dipped Insects

 

 

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Arizona DIY Micro House DIY Tiny House Micro House Off-grid living Ownen-built tiny house Tiny Homes Tiny House Uncategorized

The Heat Is On!

The heat is on! After 5 days of not being able to do anything because of high winds, we had two pretty nice days for working. And now we’re into a heat wave! Today is “only” 81, then for the next 13 days (that’s as far as the forecasts go) it’s supposed to be between 87 & 90 degrees!! You KNOW I don’t do heat! 80 is really my cutoff point, and that’s when I’m not doing any hard labor!  The average temp for this time of year is 75 degrees. This is exactly why I was so anxious to get the purple shed picked up and out of my way, but I really didn’t expect to run into temps like this until the end of May.

I guess I’ll just plan to only work a few minutes at a time, then rest and cool off. But that brings up another problem; I don’t have any place cool. I haven’t found anyplace better to put the camper where it’d be shady and still head into the wind.The Fantastic Vent fan does help but it’s no substitute for air conditioning!  I need to somehow rig up a big shade cloth over the whole camper.

In the past two days I got a lot done though, at least by my standards.  I built the floor framing for the sofa/bed bump-out, attached the hardware cloth, built the foundation piers and dropped it in place! It’s temporary; I did that just so I could make sure the foundation was right and everything was level. Now I have to pick it up again and permanently attach the two 2×6 foundation beams to the 4×4 posts.

The bump-out is 39″ x 85″. The finished interior size will be 34.5 x 77 and the sofabed will be 32×75.  The back is even with the back of the main house but the front is about a foot shorter, and it will not be part of the main roof; it will have it’s own little shed roof coming off the side.

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Oh how I love those nice clamps I got at Harbor Freight! It’s like having four extra hands. I don’t know how I ever built anything without them before!

My garden is officially dead and gone. It was warm last night so I left nearly all the plants outside in Roxie’s exercise pen, to protect them from the rabbits. Oops. Something smaller than a rabbit had a feast! All my dear baby tomatoes got eaten off at ground level, it ate all the buds off the marigolds, and it even ate the radishes that the rabbits didn’t like. Luckily the 3 little lettuce plants and two rosemary babies were inside the camper because the lettuce is kind of limp and wimpy-looking, and it didn’t bother the two green pepper plants.  If I have a garden next spring I’ll have to figure out a way to keep those predators away.

Here are some links to Amazon items that readers have purchased recently. Feel free to use these link to access Amazon for all your needs. Amazon has everything, you know!

Toy Storage Net for Stuffed Animals

Nature’s Truth Ultra Tart Cherry Extract

Alpicool Portable Compressor Fridge Freezer (I want one of these!!)

Hot Logic Mini-Mac Personal Portable Oven

 

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Arizona DIY Micro House DIY Tiny House Micro House Off-grid living Ownen-built tiny house Tiny Homes Tiny House Uncategorized

One Step Forward

You know that old saying, “One step forward, two steps back”? Yeah.  That’s the dance I’m doing today. The great feelings I had for yesterday’s progress are gone.

Yesterday I opened the outlet valve on the water tank to see how it worked, and to make sure it was closed when I got the tank filled. Some water ran out! It was supposed to be a brand new tank, but I thought “Well, maybe they put some water in it to test it or something”. Didn’t think a thing more about it until this morning when I went out to wash off the valve so I could attach the thingie to convert it from 1 1/2″ opening down to garden hose size. I decided to catch that valuable water in a pan and use it to water my baby pinon tree. So I poured a couple pans of water on the tree, and it was still coming out pretty good so I went and got a bucket. As it was running into the bucket I put my hands into it to splash it around and get the dust off that area. “Hey, this isn’t water, it’s oil”!!

 I called the place I got it and he said nonchalantly “Oh yeah, it’s new but it’s got some MCT oil in it, it won’t hurt anything or you can just rinse it out.” Don’t you think that’s something they should have MENTIONED when I bought the thing????!! If it’s been used for oil, IT’S NOT NEW!!! Now I know why it was cheaper than everyone else around here. Won’t HURT anything!? It would totally ruin my water filter if I tried to run water with oil through there, and there are plenty of things I don’t want OIL in, no matter how harmless it is. (Including my baby tree that I’ve probably killed) I’ve already drawn off about 1 1/2 gallon and there’s still more in there. And it’s all over the ground and the wooden platform, what a mess.  I’m so glad I found this out before I took delivery of 275 gallons of water!!
Just rinse it out, he says. Sure, if only I had any WATER to rinse it with!! And I don’t think oil is going to come out without some kind of soap or emulsifier. So if I do put soap and water in it, how do I swish it around? Maybe a mop stuck down from the top, although now that the top of the tank is about 7′ off the ground, that would not be easy.   And is the outlet valve at the lowest point so all the soapy water would come out?? No, it is not. I would have to put water in it several times in order to dilute the soap that’s left in the bottom!!  I am SO MAD!!!!!
MCT is Medium Chain Trigliceride oil; usually from coconuts. So he’s right that it wouldn’t hurt to drink, and it’s actually very expensive to buy. ($30 a quart!)  But I don’t want it in my drinking water, and I don’t want to water my plants with it.
Also when I was awake in the middle of the night again, I realized my foundation is not good enough at all. What was I thinking??? I’ve got the whole weight of the house resting on just two 2×6 crossmembers!  I will need to add a support in between the existing two, with 4×4 going across. I should be able to do that while the floor frame is sitting in place; in fact it’ll make it easier to get the height exactly right.
And here I was feeling so optimistic about progress. Silly me, I totally forgot about the Paquette Curse. I’ve just taken a bunch of steps backward. My heart is down around my ankles and I just want to cry. I never would have bought that tank if I’d known there was anything in it, because of the difficulty of washing it out with so little availebl water. I’m probably going to have to buy some 5 gal. water jugs, and I don’t want to spend money on that! All I have is eight 1 gallon jugs, which normally last me about a week.
And I think I’m going to have to ask Frank and Tracy to lift the tank back down to the ground, and I hate to ask for help in the first place, let alone to UNDO something they just did yesterday!  Very discouraged right now.
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Arizona DIY Micro House DIY Tiny House Micro House Off-grid living Ownen-built tiny house Tiny Homes Tiny House Uncategorized

Foundation Piers and Water Tank

Well construction has gone slowly; for two weeks we had very high winds (35-65 mph) at least 4 days a week. I tried but it’s really impossible to work in those kinds of wind, with silt blowing into my face. And sometimes it’s hard just to try to stand up against it! One day it blew down one of the little trees in front of the house site, which I really needed for shade! (Even though it was a little scraggly) Turns out it had been sawed nearly all the way through at the base..?? Maybe the shed guys did that. It would not have lived anyway. Maybe someday I can plant a prettier tree there.

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Finally I have the foundation piers done. For each one I dug down a few inches and filled the cavity with small gravel and tamped it down good, then added a large 16×16″ patio stone and leveled that. Then added a cement deck block and made sure everything was level again. The trouble I ran into was trying to get all the piers level with each other, and it was really hard and heavy work, having to keep removing the deck blocks, lift up the patio stones and rearranging the gravel underneath. Actually the first three went fairly easily, it was the last one that gave me fits. Then on one of my 2 a.m. think sessions, I decided to back up and do it differently.

The cement deck blocks have indentations that will accept a 2-by board going horizontally, or a 4×4 post vertically.

DSCN7693I was trying to use the 2×6’s horizontally but I remembered that with both my first and fourth house, I attached the floor joists to short lengths of 4×4. Then in order to level it, you just adjust the height of the 2×6 on the 4×4, it doesn’t really matter if the piers are level to each other! Phew….SO much easier! After struggling with the first ones for three days, I had the new ones all set up, level with each other and clamped in place in just a few hours.  I  had to use shims to hold the 4×4’s in place and plumb though, as the spaces in the deck blocks was considerably larger than the post. Then I drilled holes and bolted the 2×6’s to the 4×4 posts. Done! The floor frame will be cantilevered out from these supports on all sides. Now I’m waiting for some help to lift the floor frame onto the foundation.

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Another thing that I had to change was how to attach the hardware cloth to the underside of the floor. I am using 1/4″ hardware cloth as rodent protection. I got the floor all squared up and screwed braces across each corner plus added joist hangers, hoping it would keep it in square. Neighbor Frank helped me list it up and lean it against a tree so I could staple on the hardware cloth. Here it is leaning against the tree.

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I got out my handy clamps and unrolled the first piece of the mesh, clamped it evenly across the top and then when I clamped it to one side, I noticed that it was not lining up straight with the floor joist. So that meant the floor was not square any more.  Frank thinks the only way to do it is to lay it on the foundation, square it up and add the mesh, then flip it over. Ugh! That’ll be a lot harder than just standing it up, attach the mesh, and lay it back down. But I’m afraid he’s right.

I’ve also been working on the water tank support in my spare time. Three sides are done and I got the first course of cement blocks all laid and leveled on the 4th side, ready for the really heavy corner pieces which are two cement blocks stuck together, with post holders embedded in the centers. I managed to get one of them down so I could work on the leveling but they are too heavy for me to lift back up, so will have to wait on that also until Frank can come back and help with the lifting. I wish I was stronger but I already have back degeneration problems and the bad knee; I’m terrified I’ll injure myself and then not be able to work on the house at all. News Flash…Frank and his friend Tracy just left,  and they helped me finish up the water tank! Wow, now I can order some water! And they also laid the floor framing down and we got it squared up so I can now attach the hardware cloth. Yippeeeee! What a good day!

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Most of my seedlings are doing well, though they seem to grow really slowly. I think they are sooo cute, especially the teeny tiny lettuce plants. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about a garden; a discussion on Facebook about gardening showed that a lot of people have given up on it around here because of the critters who come and eat it all. Even in a friend’s greenhouse! I think I will maybe just have some container vegs and maybe even put them up on a table to keep the critters away. Right now they reside inside Roxie’s exercise pen during the day, or in the car if it’s too windy.

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Two varieties of heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, chives, rosemary and a couple onions. The bell peppers never did germinate.

Oh and here are a few Amazon links; items that other readers have recently purchased. You can use these links as a gateway to the rest of Amazon’s products, and I get a small percentage. (It doesn’t cost you anything extra) Thanks! Also there are a couple links at the top right for donating……if you like the blog, please consider “a cup of coffee” for $3. I promise I won’t waste the money on buying coffee, LOL!  And for those who have donated, thank you so much!!

Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Colorful Kids’ Telescopic Butterfly Nets

EHP Myristin Canine Joint Formula