Get rid of Yellow Jacket Wasps

Last summer we had quite a few yellow jackets pestering us. This summer started out no different.They like to gather in the crack of the shed door, and a few other places around the house.

We looked at traps, but who wants to spend +$20 every four-six weeks…

So… we searched for a simple cost-effective solution… and found one… at… wikiHow.

How to Keep Yellow Jacket Wasps Away

Pretty simple, and brilliant really

Crumple up a brown paperbag
Hang it where yellow jackets gather
It says,

Wasps are territorial so they will not make a nest where one already exists.

And… it’s true… so far.

We haven’t seen ANY yellow jackets in the shed area for the past three weeks.

So this summer we’ll make and deploy a few more “No Vacancy” decoy nests (more artistically appealing, and sturdier)  around the yard and hopefully keep these pesky pests away for good. We’ll keep you posted.


DIY Papercrete Brick Press

We finally tested our homemade brick press today. The design of the press we found on the internet from Leland Hite’s website: Hands-on Engineering. Our prototype is the notch version of the Micro Compound Lever Biomass Briquette Press. But we are going to use ours for papercrete bricks, and compressed earth bricks.


This little press can produce about 2000 PSI of force.


Our brick form is made from scrap 2″ x 6″. The interior dimensions are 5.5″ x 5.5″ x 12″. We decided on this size so we could use another piece of scrap 2″ x 6″ as the top. And it’s a manageable size for a papercrete brick.


A little added reinforcement as a precaution. It’s not pretty but it works.


We are still testing out various amounts of pulp to get an idea of how much to use for consistent sized bricks. Our first test was using shredded confetti document paper soaked in a 55 gallon barrel. Our next test will be a papercrete mix. Above we filled the form with a measured amount of pulp.


Next is placing the top piece in position.


Applying pressure on the top of the form by moving the lever arm down.


After the first press we reverse the form to get an even amount of pressure.


After the second press we are ready to remove the form and then pop out the compressed brick.


Here is the result. A paper brick compressed to 5.5″ W x 4″ H x 12″L.

Learning Curve

We ran into a few problems in the process.

Problem: The form and top piece got wet and slightly swelled, making the form compression process somewhat difficult.
Solution: Planed the outside edges of the top piece, and plan on buying and slathering on multiple coats of polyurethane next time we travel into Babylon.

Problem: Removing the brick from the form.
Solution: Removing the form from the press, turning the form upside down and pressing it down onto another 2″ x 4″ to pop the brick out of the bottom. (I’ll take photos of this step next test we do.)

So far we are pleased with the results. Once we nail the mix, and smooth out the kinks in the process we’ll start cranking out bricks to use for various building projects.

Here is Leland’s video showing you the original intent of the press… enjoy!

Vortex Smortex

Currently in Montana it’s a brisk -10°. That’s was today’s high.

This morning it was -25°.

You have to adapt and improvise.

We are happy to report that we managed to stave off major frostbite on the hens, and they are still producing eggs as of this post. January alone they kicked out 168 eggs, or 3.5 dozen a week. The musses found a great pickled egg recipe online if anyone wants it. And she substitutes Apple Cider Vinegar instead because it’s milder.

And also this winter we’ve been feeding the hens oyster shells for calcium, and wheat grass for chlorophyll, which makes their yokes… a pretty sunny yellow, and gives them something green to munch on. 🙂

Puss Goes Green


In a effort to lower his carbon paw print, Puss decided to enlarge the air hole, and bust out of this new $8 Petco Eco-conscious sustainable cat carrier. We were not even two miles from the vet before this 100% recyclable post-consumer waste container that saves 17 million trees and 1 million tons of emission gave way to a pissed-off groggy cat with clipped nails.

Good thing we kept the receipt, because it is being put back into the environment next time we go to town.


Like Squirrels Gathering Nuts…

Abby & Mombasa Approved


Mombasa lounges while we work…



Abby in hot pursuit of a Pack Rat in the Wood stack…

Abby Pack Rat Hunter

Abby Pack Rat Hunter

Today’s snowstorm… about one foot at the moment…


We covered the coop with plastic a few weeks back and added another layer of straw for insulation… they don’t seem to mind being “cooped up” with the snow, wind, and it being a high of twenty-one outside…

Cooped Up

Something you don’t want to see after two lightning strikes…

Something you don’t want to see after two lightning strikes…


west-fireWhich, once we figured out it was just over the hill a little under a ¼  mile west of us, in steep thick brush and a lot of dead trees…. we jumped in the truck with our shovels (after calling 911) and found the area (which was about the size of a football field) ablaze. So besides praying heavily and keeping an exit to our backs… we beat down the fire line that was moving down toward our property. We were able to slow it down enough to buy us some time until…

heli300 gallons of Missouri River arrived… the pilot went back and forth for three hours.

Then the volunteer fire crews arrived…

crewAnd we let them do their job and moved on to the fire that started just south of the house…


This was 75% contained by the time we arrived a few hours afterward. Left of the photo required another hour of water-drops from the other helicopter. (If you were to go to the bottom treeline and pull back… that’s our view from the house.) Our southern property line ends at the bottom treeline. If it burned downhill another  100 yards, we’d have a big mess on our hands. We’re keeping an eye out for any flare-ups… especially west of us.

Yes… God was with us today. Thank you Father!