Plumbing Work–Looking for Help

I am putting this here, so that I can point plumbers to it to better understand what I need. It sure is nice to have a place to post pictures and descriptions of what needs to be done so it is accessible to lots of professionals.

Install Propane Tankless Water Heater

First, I want to remove the electric water heater and put in a tankless Plumbing water heater 1propane water heater.

There is a propane outlet in the closet, so it should not be too difficult.

There is a vent in the ceiling above. I am guessing that there used to be a propane water heater in there, before, based on the vent and the propane valve. It is not a powered vent, though. Plumbing Ceiling Vent

The top of the water heater shows the connections and that it is hooked up for electricity.

By the way, yes, I know, the wall board in there is really ugly, as it is in all of the pictures. It, like everything else, came with the house, and getting rid of the water heater will let me tile Plumbing water heater 2in the closet, and paint over the ugly wall board.

Install Propane Kitchen StovePlumbing Kitchen Stove

We bought an electric stove in the kitchen not knowing that it was already plumbed for propane. We have a propane stove coming from a friend next weekend. I can’t wait to get rid of the electric stove, even though it is supposed to a really nice model.

Remove Propane by Wood StovePlumbing Behind Wood Stove

We had a propane heat stove, but removed it and put in a wood burning heat stove. I would like the propane supply capped below the floor (crawl space access) if possible.

I will patch the porcelain tile once the pipe is removed.

Clean up Piping for Water Treatment System

The ugliness of the piping is clear. It might make sense to move it all to the water heater closet, or not. It might be fine to just leave it as is. Below are the front, side, and top views of the piping.

Plumbing Culligan 1Plumbing Culligan SidePlumbing Culligan Top

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Yogurt in the Instant Pot–3 Quart

I know many people that are in the “Instant Pot (IP) Cult” all around the world. I caved in and joined the cult. Amazon helped out by making the Instant Pot DUO Plus 3 Qt 9-in-1 model, which sells for around $100, for a huge discount of 33% off on an Amazon Treasure Truck deal. I just told my boss, “I need to run and meet the Amazon Treasure Truck. I will be back when I get back,” and I took off to buy it.

Anyway, back to yogurt. I watched several YouTube videos, and they all had lots of the steps in common. But here is what I came down to, and made my first batch of yogurt without any trouble. Since then, I have done this four more times. I combined several good recommendations, and came out with the recipe/process that is described, below.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Gallon of Milk – I don’t think it really matters if it is whole milk, 1%, 2%, or skim. I use 2% milk.
  • Approx 2 oz Yogurt w/Active and Live Cultures – I have been buying Greek yogurt. They key is the live cultures, so make sure you get something that has live cultures. Anything that is pre-mixed with fruit or something will probably kill off those live cultures.
  • Flavoring – Your choice. I like a couple of teaspoons of vanilla and about 1.2 cup of sugar.

Steps

  1. Sanitize IP – I put in a cup of water, and use the sanitize button. When it beeps, I release pressure, and dump out the water. I have no idea how long it takes as I am usually reading, writing, or watching some crazy TV or Movie at the time.
  2. Scald Milk – Put in the 1/2 Gallon of milk and set the IP to Yogurt, then hit the adjust button until it says boil. I let the IP do its magic while I return to whatever it was that I was doing. When it finishes, I release pressure and check the temperature of the milk. It is supposed to be about 180 F. If it is too low, you can always turn the IP to Sauté and monitor it until it reaches temp.
  3. Cool Milk – I take the inner pot out of the IP and let it cool on a wire rack at room temp until it is about 110 F. Some people will put the inner pot into water or an ice bath to cool it off faster.
  4. Add Yogurt Culture – I scoop out a few cups of milk and mix it with some yogurt, then pour it back into the rest of the milk and stir it all in. I have seen, and read, that you should not scrape the milk off of the bottom of the pan, but many other seem to disagree.
  5. Incubate – Put the inner pot back into the IP, close the lid, and push the magic Yogurt button. I think the default in 8 hours. I up mine to 10 hours because I saw many others doing it and getting thicker yogurt from it.Yogurt
  6. Cool and Drain – There are many ways to do this. I am a bit lazy, and very cheap, so I do it all in one simple step. I use a few coffee filters and line a colander with them, then set the colander in a bowl so the whey can drain off of the yogurt. Once it drains, which takes a few hours, I scoop the yogurt out and put it in a large bowl to mix it up and smooth out the resulting yogurt which is a very thick Greek style yogurt, at this point.
  7. Add Back in Whey (Maybe) – I have found that if I put back in about 1/3 to 1/2 C of the whey, it comes out just the way I like. Others like it super thick, and don’t add anything back. Your mileage may vary.
  8. Add Flavor

Enjoy

I have used a few different add-ons like granola and blueberry jam to get the most enjoyment possible from my yogurt. Assuming that any is left when I go to the fridge.

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Show Mode Docking Station for Amazon Fire 8 HD

Background

Yes, I recognize that I have always been a techie to some degree or another. However, I was late to the AI area, and I didn’t get my first Alexa device until I won an Echo Plus at Cisco Live last year.

At first, I did the basics like ask it to tell me jokes, give me the weather, and so on. I love the horrible jokes. Then, I took a risk and bought some KMC outlets, and hooked up a lamp, a fan, and a router that always needs to be rebooted. Then, I did something stupid and signed up for the Amazon Truck. They had a deal on Sengled lights and a hub for an incredible price, so I called my boss and said, “Hey, I have an emergency and need to go meet the Amazon Truck at the Whole Foods store.” Oddly, he didn’t blink an eye, he just said, “OK, I hope everything is OK.” Just to be clear, my current boss is not the one that I asked, it was a former boss. Smile 

Today, I have the following in the Amazon Alexa world:

  • 1 Echo Plus
  • 4 Echo Dots
  • 2 Echo Spots
  • 2 Fire HD 8 Tablets
  • 9 KMC Plugs
  • 2 Sengled Bulbs
  • 1 Amcrest Outdoor Video Camera
  • 1 Ambient Weather Station
  • 1 Moto X Phone
  • 1 Dish Network Integrated System
  • 1 DirecTV Integrated System

Buying the Dock

When Amazon started taking pre-orders for the Show Mode Docking Station, I, immediately jumped on it. After all, the price of a Fire HD 8 tablet, plus the docking station, is considerably less than an Echo Show, even when it is on sale. Besides it being a less expensive solution, it is much more flexible in that I can always grab my Fire tablet out of the dock and take it with me.

Setting up the Dock

It was pretty easy. I mean, really, it took a couple of minutes. I had already been playing with Show Mode before, so it was nothing new, but the dock is pretty easy. So here is what you get:

  • 1 Charger Plug
  • 1 Charger Cable
  • 1 Stand
  • 1 Case for the Fire Tablet

I was really curious how it would charge and recognize the tablet was in the dock, but it is pretty obvious once you see the parts.

I already have a case for my tablet, but, I guess it is just the way it goes in life. I have to either use the one that comes with the dock, or I have to switch back and forth, and I am too lazy to do that.

Dock2Dock1

Dock3

On the case, there is a plug that connects the case to the tablet. It is a pretty simple mechanism that slides out and can then be inserted into the tablet’s charging port.

On the back of the case, there are two contacts that align to the pins on the dock.

Dock5


Dock4

Once set in the dock, the tablet automatically recognizes that it is in the dock and switches to Show Mode, and it starts charging.

Issues

So far, I don’t see any major issues, but I do see the following:

  • The microphone is no better than it was before, but that is just common sense. I hope nobody expects the microphone to suddenly get better.
  • The case is less than… Well, let’s just go with it it is “less than” and leave it at that.
  • Alignment is not exactly idiot proof as I found out, being the better idiot, so it doesn’t work unless you align the tablet properly in the dock. Again, that is common sense, but it would have been fantastic if they had used stronger magnets to snap it into place.

Summary

Yeah, it is nice. It is a pretty interesting step forward, and I am going to probably buy another dock for my ranch location, too.





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Fixing up the Old Coop/Run

We bought some property in Como, Colorado two years ago. One of the goals was to fix up the coop that was already on the property and make it more secure and more hygienic.

We feel were are close enough, so this weekend, 9 of the chicklets were moved in. They are 8 1/2 weeks old.

The bones were there. But it took some significant work. First, we removed the existing roof, which was made up of 24”x24” glass window panes. Why they used repurposed windows like that, I have no idea, but they had to go. So, I removed them and put in the clear polycarbonate roof panels that I have used on my coop/run in Aurora.

Existing Benefits

Welded Wire – The previous owners put in welded wire for the first four feet up, Coop5which is incredibly strong. The main issue with using welded wire is that the holes are fairly large and many predators can get in through them, like weasels, rats, and other small vermin. The benefit is that dogs, coyotes, and such will not be getting through the welded wire without working on it for a long time and will likely leave for easier pickings. At least, that is the hope.

Chicken Wire – Chicken wire is not for keeping predators out, but works very well for Coop2keeping chickens in. Chicken wire is run the entire length and width of the exterior walls, and it will keep out predatory birds, and most other wild birds that might carry disease, while keeping the chickens in their run.

Solid Coop – The coop, inside the run, is incredibly well built, and is draft free. It does need some more ventilation, so we will add some more venting this coming weekend. By the way, I love the old wood. You can see the coop to the right and in the back of the run, in this picture. Well, you might not be able to see it very well. Smile 

Secure Entry – The door is large, but is well built and secure. No predator is going to get through the exterior door to the coop/run.

Improvements

Polycarbonate Roof – Lots of metal roofing screws were used to lock the panels into place, with good overlap. I expect the roof will keep out the rain and snow, except that blows in the sides. We have had great luck with the polycarbonate roofing, but I am a bit worried about the high winds we get up in Como, and them being ripped off. If that happens, I will replace it with metal roofing.

Predator Apron – This is the term that I have heard Coop1used, and I like it. Basically, rather than digging into the ground a couple of feet and burying welded wire or hardware fabric, you just bend it and secure it against the side of the run and run it along the ground and out a couple of feet away from the exterior walls. Most digging animals will try to start digging closer to the wall, and will give up if they can’t get through. Of course, the rocks also provide some protection, too. So, we combined them.

Electric Fencing – Yeah, we went way above and beyond. We put in two lines of electrified Coop4wire. The first is about six inches off of the ground. The second is about eighteen inches off of the ground. It is hard to see the two wires in the picture, but they are there. The lower wire should be a nice shock to smaller predators and the higher wire should be about the right height for dogs and coyotes. I may change the height, but I think it is a good start.

Waterers and Feeders – This is my first attempt at doing my own side nipple and bottom nipple waterers. Hygiene is pretty important, and using these nipple waterers will make a huge difference when it comes to a clean water supply. So far, the chicklets love these waterers and needed no training in using them.  The feeders are PVC feeders. I will have to get some good pics of them. They don’t work too well for crumbles in that it is easier to “bill” the feed out onto the ground, but this isn’t a big issue for the crumbles. It is almost a non-issue with pellet feed. I will get some good pics in the near future.

Diatomaceous Earth – I know many people are against its use, but with the wild birds in the area, I feel the benefit outweighs any negatives. I feel DE is great at keeping mites and lice at bay, so it gets a good sprinkling in all wood joints, perches, and nesting areas. Of course, it also gets a sprinkling in their dirt bath areas.

End Result

I think this will be a good secure run and coop. However, only time will tell.

 Coop3

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Tortilla Recipe

I have been testing different recipes for the last couple of decades. I think I like this last one the best.

Ingredients

  • 3 C Flour
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/3 C Vegetable Oil – I have only tried corn oil, so far
  • 1 C Warm Water

Directions

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together, well.
  2. Add the oil and water and mix them using a large spoon or something along those lines until the dough forms.
  3. Remove the mixture from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface.
  4. Knead the dough a few times until all of the ingredients are well mixed.
  5. Let the dough rest about 10 minutes.
  6. Portion the dough into 14-16 small balls of dough.
  7. Let rest about 10-15 minutes.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball of dough to about 7-8” in diameter, it should be nice and thin and almost translucent.
  9. Cook on a flat griddle, or a Comal for those that have one. It may take awhile to get the heat right. The tortilla will begin to bubble, at that point, flip it, and cook the other side for about 10-15 seconds. Both sides should have small light brown spots of them.
  10. Place the finished tortilla into a warmer, I use a dish towel folded in half, and then move them to another container after I am done.
  11. Roll out the next ball of dough and repeat until all are done.
  12. Eat

Storage

Once the tortillas have cooled off, you can place them in a plastic bag, a gallon bag is about the right size. You can reheat them on the stove or in the microwave as needed.

Troubleshooting

If your tortillas are too crunchy, it is probably because you cooked them too slow or too thoroughly.

If the dough is sticking the rolling pin, flour the rolling pin a bit.

If the dough springs back when being rolled out, that means that you didn’t let the dough rest long enough.

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Starting the Wood Burning Heat Stove

Since we purchased our ranch last year, the most important purchase we made was a wood burning stove. I love it. I love starting it and enjoying the almost free heat that it provides.

Most of us know how to start a fire. At least we think we do. Being the geek that I am, I did some research. I wanted to know how to make wood burning as efficient as possible. After collecting some paper, which is really easy when you get those pink notices in the mail. Smile  Here is what I am doing:

First,  put in the larger logs in the bottom. As we have Fire1tons of free Aspen, and it burns pretty easily, there is really no need to split the logs until they are pretty much huge. With the first logs in, I crumbled up paper and put it between the logs and around the sides. The pink stuff doesn’t burn as well, but I get lots of gratification from crumpling all of my bills and using them to get the fire started. Am I seeing stuff or is there way too much pink paper in there? Fire2

Second, another set of logs goes on. Of course, some more bills get crumpled up and then are put around the second set of logs. I hear some people use newspaper, as it lights easily and is readily available. However, in the digital age, our news comes via the Internet. It doesn’t burn very well.Fire3

Third, a little kindling is put on top. I invested in this really cool kindling cracker that mounts on the wall in my garage. It is easy to cut up some kindling without loosing a finger, so I am into it. You might want to stack some kindling going multiple directions to get that fire started up and nice and hot. In this case, I am pretty much running out of room in the firebox. Fire4

Fourth, it is time to light up that fire. The fire catches and gets the kindling burning. I, generally, will light some of the paper on each side and in the middle, too. I like fire. Fire! Fire! Fire!

Last. Enjoy the flames and the free heat. Most of all, enjoy the bills that are turned into ash as you yell at them, “I have you creditors and Fire5service providers that take all of my money!”

By the way, I have been told this is the top down fire starting method. I just know that once it starts, you can close up the firebox and walk away, and know that it will start just fine.

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Breaking a Broody Chicken

Until this year, I have never had an issue with a broody chicken. I have one new Olive Egger that has gone broody twice this summer. She is driving me crazy.

Wait, I better back up for some people. A broody chicken is one that is intent on hatching eggs. She will sit on the nest and not get off of it. In most cases, she will also steal eggs from other chickens and put them in her nest. A broody chicken doesn’t care that there isn’t a rooster and that the eggs aren’t fertile. They will often get very defensive of their nest and will peck, and hard, when you trying to pull eggs out from under them. In fact, even if there are no eggs under them, they will still continue to set on imaginary eggs.

Some of us don’t want them to hatch chicks, and we want them to get back to laying regularly, and some of us don’t have roosters because of local codes. So the real question is how to make them stop. If you don’t get them to stop, they will continue to set on the eggs (existent or not) and will starve themselves and suffer significant malnourishment. I have heard the following:

  1. Remove them from the nest and put them out in the run or yard and try to distract them with a treat of some kind. Basically, we are trying to get them off of the nest. You will have to repeat this many times, in most cases.
  2. Put them in some cool water. The idea with this is that it will cool off their underside and lower their body temperature which is caused by broodiness. Hopefully, it will snap them out of it and discourage them from sitting on the nest. This may need to be repeated several times.
  3. Chicken Jail is an option. Basically, you put your broody chicken in a small enclosure without a nest box. Many people use wire dog kennels. The idea is to make it impossible for her to sit down and spread herself out, comfortably. Our chicken jail is a small coop with the nesting box blocked off. To prevent the broody from trying to make a nest in the dirt, I put a sheet of plywood under it. After a couple of days, she gets paroled, but if she runs right back to the nest, she has her parole violated and gets two more days in jail. So far, two trips to jail has helped.
  4. Some people will just let it run its course by putting some fake eggs under the broody, and at 20-22 days, they will get some day old chicks and sneak them under the broody in the middle of the night. This may work, and it may result in the broody killing the chicks.
  5. The last option is to go out and get some fertilized eggs and just let nature take its course. What is ironic is that I have heard of many people scrambling for eggs only to put them under the broody and watch her get up and walk away and not return.

Good luck in getting your broody back into production.

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