Becoming Independent and Off the Grid

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Daisy State Park and Camp Grounds Review

In September we had an opportunity to camp at Daisy State Park, Arkansas.  The park was beautiful.  For the most part we had the park to ourselves because school had already started.

Features offered at the park includes:

  • bath houses
  • a convenience store
  • propane tanks
  • boat ramp
  • kayak rental
  • reasonable prices
  • free WIFI at the park office
  • hiking trails
  • walk-in camp sites, no electric, water, nor grills
  • tent-only camping pads with water and electric and grills
  • hardwood firewood for sale

Each RV camp site had:

  • fire pits
  • rock bed tent pad
  • concrete RV pad
  • boat ramps
  • Charcoal grill
  • water hookup
  • electricity hookup

The five days we spent at this camp were some of the nicest we have spent away from home.  We used our propane cook stove instead of the charcoal grill because this trip was not about survival, it was about relaxing.  And relax we did.

We spent two days on the water with our kayaks.  The fishing wasn’t that great because of the heat and water level was down due to drought and water let out the dam.  But it was fun trying.  Certainly if we relied on fishing for our dinner we would have starved.


Duck Eggs

One of our young ducks has started laying eggs.  If the others would join her that would be great.  However, today we enjoyed our first breakfast made with duck eggs.  We both enjoyed the treat!

Duck Eggs

Fall Garden Plans

Setting seeds for fall garden.Three weeks ago we started our vegetable garden seeds in the house so they would be ready for the fall garden.  Great plan, right?  You would think it was a great plan anyway.

For some unknown reason the seeds sprouted in less than half the time on the package.  Then instead of growing like normal plants they grew into tall spindly things that would never survive in the garden.

It seems leaving the lights on 24/7 wasn’t the right thing to do.  The light from the light bulbs were not enough light for the plants.  They are fluorescent lights and not full spectrum.  So the plants stretched to get more light.

I decided to let them die.  Yep.  I’ll have to reseed the entire bunch of seeds.  Which may not be easy since most of the seeds in the area are sold out.

It probably won’t freeze until late December or early January, and then only a few times and only for a few hours.  If I get busy I’ll still be able to have them ready for the garden to get a fall harvest.


Dirty Dishes and Other Water Related Issues

Some time ago my dishwasher began to malfunction.  At least that’s what I thought.  It was relatively new, but no matter what I did, the dishes started coming out dirtier than when they went in.

White film forms on dishes in the dishwasher and has to be washed again by hand.My husband and I set about solving the mystery.  He checked to be sure the drain wasn’t clogged and the screen wasn’t covered in food particles.  We put various kinds of cleaners in the dishwasher to make sure no food particles were hanging around in there.

We used the citric acid dishwasher Unless your dishwasher is stainless steel inside, you can't see the white film build up caused by poorly performing dishwasher detergents.cleaners, twice.  We used vinegar too.  Still, everything was coming out with that horrible film and sometimes little specks on the dishes.  Since our dishes are bright red, you can pretty much see that stuff a mile off.  To be honest, I was glad they were such a bright color.  If the dishes were white, we might not have noticed that nasty film.

People said, “Oh, just rub it off!  It will be fine!” and “Don’t be so finicky”.  Eh, no.  Gross.  I’m not eating from those dishes.

These dishes were clean when they went into the dishwasher. It was an experiment to determine the cause of the film. Clearly it was the detergent failing to rinse away.We changed dishwasher detergents, three times.  No help.  The problem seemed to be getting worse!  Now I don’t even want to use the dishwasher because I’ll just have to wash most of them by hand again when I take them out.

Having such a mess all the time and so much extra work makes cooking a pain and chore instead of a pleasure.  Finally, I stopped using the dishwasher.  Everything was being washed by hand.

When there was no possibility that the dishwasher was an issue, I called the company that made the detergents and asked them why their product wasn’t working.  I won’t say any names but it started with a “C” and sounds like the names of some mountains I know.

Their response was that it was the fault of my dishwasher.  After all, it couldn’t be their product.  When I tried to assure them there was nothing wrong with my dishwasher, the next solution was that it probably needed to be cleaned.  Seriously?  What were they thinking?

My response was the same one I gave the computer companies.  Each product maker blames the others so that none have to take responsibility.  You know, Microsoft techs blames Dell, Dell techs blames Microsoft during any phone call to get help.  You can’t win with a system like that.  In the end, the customer takes it in the shorts and is left with no resolution to the situation.

About three weeks into the dishwasher woes, the local news commented that we might notice our dishes are not getting clean.  Why?  Because this was the year they removed phosphates from the dishwasher detergent.  Oh, great.  First our clothes got dirtier and now our dishes are dirtier.

With the cat out of the bag, the dishwasher detergent producers are in big trouble because people everywhere are now complaining about how horrible their products are.  People everywhere are switching to paper plates and Dawn dish detergent.

The companies all scramble to come up with better products.  I’m pretty sure the government told them years in advance to figure something else out.  But they didn’t.

Now you see the various brands advertising how their new “platinum” version will clean your dishes “over time” and will even make your dishwasher cleaner over a longer unspecified period of time.  You know, the one with the kitchen counselor?  She tells you how it’s done.

What did I hear?  I heard that the companies didn’t care enough about the major disruption of the everyday lives of the families who purchase their products to get off their duffs and make a product that would meet the federal guidelines and perform well.

I heard they wanted to sell every last one of the old product they produced before they were outlawed.

I heard they didn’t mind giving us inferior products they could sell for the same or higher prices.

Lastly, I heard they would not have begun to work on the problem if so many people would not have complained and they faced losing business to paper plates and plastic cups.

Now that they have come out with their “platinum” version, how long do they want me to purchase a product that does not clean the dishes before they will come out with another product that will?  Do they really think I’ll keep purchasing a product from companies that have proven they really don’t care about the distress of having to do the chores over when families are busy?

Just when I am resolved to doing dishes by hand, we hear yet another voice chiming into the conversation.  It’s like someone coming into the back of a large convention hall waving their hands and yelling, “Hey!  We have an answer!  Does anyone hear us?”

The latest argument on cause and effect and who is to blame?  It’s the detergent.  No, it’s the water.   It’s a combination of them both.  If you have hard water your dishes will never be clean again with the new federal guidelines for acceptable dishwasher products.

Hard water is water with minerals in it.  How to know if your water is hard?  Easy.  Use a brand new tray to make ice.  Use tap water.  Don’t filter it.  Did the cubes stick to it when they were ready?  Hard water.  Now, if you are able to get the cubes out, what do they look like?  Can you see through them or are they cloudy?  Again, not pure water.

Place the cubes in a crystal clear glass of water.  Don’t touch them or bump the glass.  Come back later to see what happened.  Is there a pile of sediment in the bottom of the glass?  The more sediment, the harder the water.

You can also buy a water test kit to tell you what you can find out by using the ice cube test.  It doesn’t mean the water is unfit to drink.  It just means you have stuff in the water.  Even city water has stuff in it.  Well, I wouldn’t drink it, but they claim it is safe.

So, back to the dirty dishes.  It is the premise of the water filtration companies that the dish detergent binds with food particles and the stuff in the water to create a film on your dishes and dishwasher.  Ewww.  Gross.

They say with a good whole house water filtration system you can have clean water for drinking, cooking, doing laundry, and bathing.  With their systems you can even have water clean enough to run a dishwasher.

Your clothes will be cleaner and your skin less irritated.  Not running the dishwasher so many times or doing dishes by hand would be a great benefit of a whole house water system.   I just talked myself into making an appointment for an estimate.  Ouch.  $$.



Summer Heat Causes Garden and Bird Blues

It’s that time of year again.  The garden is withering in the summer heat.  It won’t matter how often I water the the garden, it’s still going to die from the beating the sun gives it.  Providing shade only provides minimal relief.  The tomatoes are still producing, but not as well.  Everything else is pretty much over for the season.

The birds are feeling the heat too.  They aren’t eating as much and spend most of their time at the water fountain or water buckets.  Less food intake means less energy so they are more docile and won’t produce as many eggs.   They spend their time inside the barn to avoid the burning sun.

Their food is in the barn to encourage them to eat and to keep it from baking.  Since we close their barn doors every night and open them every morning, I’m able to pay close attention to how much they are eating and when.

Quite by accident, I’ve found that if I leave them in the barn until 8:00 a.m. instead of getting them out at dawn, they eat more.  It might be that they don’t have anything else to look at and it’s still cool that time of day.

While the summer garden is winding down and the birds are resting, it’s time for me to get in high gear again to plant seeds for the fall garden.  Here, the best growing season is from September until June.  I better hop to it if I want the plants to be ready by September 1st!