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Archive for June, 2014

PostHeaderIcon Lumsing 5200 mAh Portable Battery Pack

Lumsing was kind enough to send me one of their 5200 mAh battery packs to try out at my off grid solar powered homestead. This is a small, light weight portable battery pack to charge electronic devices on the fly.

Lumsing 5200 mAh battery pack

The first thing I noticed about this battery pack is the box. Its a keeper actually. This box is a rugged and nicely made box with a soft padded place to keep the battery pack in while traveling. If you are like me, you keep the box and keep the device inside when traveling to keep it from getting damaged.

The Lumsing battery pack is small and convenient for use on the go. It is only about 2 inches by 3 inches and weighs just over 4 ounces. The portable power pack comes with a soft travel case with a pull string closure.

I was also pleasantly surprised at the accessories that came with the Lumsing battery pack. Inside the box was an adapter for Apple products and a USB to mini USB cable. But the surprise did not end there. Wrapped around the battery pack itself is a second USB to mini USB cable which conveniently stores in place for travel. This means no more searching around for a charging cable with this power pack. Plus the two ends of the cable plug into the device itself for travel and tuck neatly away. This keeps the USB ports clean and free of dust and lint.

On the front side of the battery pack is a row of 4 green LEDs which show the state of charge of the power pack. When it is charging the LEDs blink to show that it is taking a charge. When the power back is finished charging, the LEDs turn off. You can press a button on the front panel at any time to see the state of charge of the battery inside.

I plugged this battery pack into my Samsung Galaxy Note III which has a 4,500 mAh battery. It took four hours to fully top off my phone from 15 percent to 100 percent. But at that time I was using my phone quite heavily so the portable battery pack really got a workout. The power back was fully drained at the end of the test but my phone was also fully charged. Again, I was using the phone very heavily while it was plugged into the Lumsing battery pack.

It performed as I had expected for the size of the battery inside.

Lumsing has provided a coupon code for a $2 discount on the purchase of their portable battery pack. Just use the code in the image below:

Lumsing battery pack discount code

You can find the Lumsing 5200 mAh portable power back here:
Buy Lumsing 5200 mAh Battery Pack

The coupon code above is valid until July 14, 2014.

PostHeaderIcon Building A Simple DIY Summer Salad Shade To Extend Growing Season

With the summer heat coming on and the lettuce in my garden wilting more each day, I decided to build a simple shade frame to place over my lettuce during the hot summer months. This is a very simple light weight and portable wooden frame with some burlap over the top to shade the lettuce from the intense heat of the sun’s rays.

Complete summer shade frame for salad

I prefer to put all of my vegetables and plants into the ground as compared to using pots or raised salad tables because I can let nature take care of the plants for me. With my lettuce planted in the garden soil, I do not have to worry about watering my plants every day. I can also go away for a weekend without fear of losing all my plants. We get enough rain where I live so I never have to worry about setting up a watering system either. Pots and salad tables require a lot of daily watering in order to keep the plants alive. If you leave, you either need an automatic watering system or you have to make sure someone cares for your plants.

I used 1×2 wood to build a 4 foot square wood frame. The frame stands 2 feet high so that I can use it for other vegetables as well if I want. My garden rows are 4 feet wide so I built my frame to fit the garden perfectly. My salad bed is 4 feet long as well, therefore the 4 x 4 dimensions.

This was very simple to build and went up quickly with a circular saw, power driver, drill bits and some screws.

I cut all the pieces first. There were 5 pieces of four foot long boards for the top of the frame and then I cut six 2 foot long legs to hold it up. Using a drill bit to drill a pilot hole prevents the wood from splitting when the screws go into the wood.

Building a simple salad shade frame

When I had the frame assembled, it was sort of wobbly so I added two more 4 foot boards along the sides as a support. Now the frame sits stable and firmly on the ground.

I have some burlap that I placed over the top and down the sides half way to shade my lettuce plants from the sun. I used a staple gun to fasten the burlap in place all the way around.

Putting burlap on my homemade salad shade frame

This was a very simple DIY project that went together quickly but does the job. My lettuce has been growing happily now for a week and the heat of the sun does not bother it. Rain passes right though with no problem as well.

Now my lettuce will grow though the warm months but still get enough sunlight to produce lots of food for me.

You can watch the video here:
Make a simple salad shade frame

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PostHeaderIcon Using Vinegar And Dish Soap Organic Weed Killer In My Yard

Some of my YouTube channel viewers had suggested that I used vinegar and water to kill the weeds in my yard and around the electric fence. I do not use chemicals on my property and plan to keep everything organic as much as possible.

I bought a 1.5 gallon sprayer at Harbor Freight and got a couple gallon jugs of vinegar. I already had the next ingredient left over from the last time I lived in a real home which is Dawn dish soap. For explanation, I now use my own homemade soap for everything from bathing to dish washing to laundry.

So, to kill weeds using no chemicals and in an environmentally safe manner you simply pour the vinegar straight into the sprayer. Add a couple tablespoons of dish soap to the sprayer and mix it well. For short term weed spray, this is all you need. I have heard that using salt in the mix will kill weeds permanently but have yet to try that. I will do that experiment soon and post my results.

Natural vinegar and dish soap weed killer

One important note is to spray this solution on a warm sunny day when there is no rain in the forecast for the next two days to give the solution time to work.

I sprayed the whole perimeter of my garden and chicken run which is 100 feet long by 50 feet wide. I had enough to spray the inside edge of the garden as well, which is 50 by 50 feet. After all that spraying I still had enough to spray two walk ways between the rows in my garden. Not bad coverage for a gallon of vinegar.

After only 30 minutes stuff was turning brown and shriveling up. I was quite amazed really at the fast results.

The next day most of the plants that had been sprayed were totally dead and dried up. By the third day everything that I had sprayed was dead and brown. This stuff is very impressive.

Natural Vinegar And Dish Soap Weed Killer

Now the bad news. On the fourth day new growth started to show up and by the sixth day you could hardly tell that I had sprayed the place at all. We had rain on about the fourth day which brings out new growth with a vengeance.

This stuff works but it is only for a short time until the weeds grow back again. As I said, I plan to try adding salt to the mixture and doing the whole experiment again. How it works from what I have read is that the soap is only there to hold the vinegar to the plants. Otherwise the vinegar would slide right off and be gone. So the soap clings onto the plants, trapping the vinegar to the leaves. The sun beating down on the vinegar leaches out all the moisture from the leaves and they die.

So there you have an all natural and environmentally friendly way to get rid of weeds from your yard.

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PostHeaderIcon Use Diatomaceous Earth & Wood Ash To Treat Chickens For Lice & Mites

I lost a chicken the other day to mites I think. It was completely covered in them. Literally swarming with them. They must have infested the bird very fast because I was just holding him a couple days earlier and he was strong and healthy plus I never saw a single mite on him. He died in the night a couple days later.

I burnt his body first thing to help prevent further infestation of the other chickens. The next thing I did was to clean out the chicken coop and put in fresh bedding.

I ran into town and got some diatomaceous earth from TSC to spread out for the chickens to dust bathe in. Diatomaceous earth is composed of tiny fossilized water plants and look like a powder. The stuff from TSC is gray in color and mixed with red lake earth which is supposed to have a lot of health benefits. Diatomaceous earth can also be taken internally to kill off internal parasites but it is harmless to animals and humans.

Use Diatomaceous Earth To Treat Chickens For Parasites

Diatomaceous earth works because it has tiny microscopic razor sharp edges which literally cut up small parasites. The parasites then dry out and die through their wounds. Diatomaceous earth is safe to take internally as well to treat tape worms and other parasites. It cleans out the digestive tract as well, leading to better overall health.

Be careful working with diatomaceous earth though because you do not want it in your lungs.

I read online that some people use wood ash and literally bathe their chickens in the dust to kill off lice and mites. I decided to hit them with both together.

TSC sells diatomaceous earth in a small bag, a 20 lb bag for only $12.99 and a larger 40 lb bag for $20. They were out of the smaller sizes when I went there so I got the 40 pound bag.

I spread some of the diatomaceous earth around inside the chicken coop and then in the chickens favorite dust bathing places. The chickens will dig into the earth and form a small bowl shaped depression where they will toss dirt and dust into their feathers to help kill off parasites. Putting the diatomaceous earth into their favorite dust bathing holes allows them to automatically treat themselves next time they use the dust hole. My chickens have about 4 or 5 places they like to lay in the dirt so I treated all of them.

I also have a bunch of wood ash left over from my winter heating. I am happy I did not toss it out yet. I spread it out in the dust beds along with the diatomaceous earth and let the chickens self medicate.

Another benefit is that since chickens will eat just about anything and have stomachs made of iron, they ate some of the diatomaceous earth out of curiosity. This treats them internally for worms and other internal parasites.

Four to five days later, all of my chickens are still alive and well. I have been checking them for mites or lice and have found nothing at all so far.

I will continue to spread out diatomaceous earth on a regular basis in the chicken coop and in their dust beds from now on as a preventative treatment.

You can watch the full video I did of the process here:
Video How To Use Diatomaceous Earth To Treat Chickens For Lice

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