Living rural in the city is great – you can do it, too.

Category: Arts, Crafts, and DIY (page 1 of 2)

A fence of welded wire and cedar posts

This story was originally posted on May 9, 2013. There’s an update down below

At long last, I finally have a new front fence. I could go digging through my photographs to show you its somewhat ugly predecessor — which I built with limited resources in 2010, just to try to keep my rabbits hemmed in—but no, we don’t need ugly temporary hacks here. It never really worked to corral the rabbits anyway.

The kind of fence I wanted was page wire, a wide-grid braided (wrapped, not welded, at the cross-points) wire fence that you find in farm country, with or without barbed wire to keep people out or critters in (some cattle will knock it down if they really want to, but it isn’t a safe fence for horses). However, when I easily found welded-wire fence at the hardware store, I bought it just to commit to the project. I posted it would look something like this when done, except with nice round cedar fence posts from the country, not square city posts.

I don’t have a post-pounder, an auger, or a sharp-shooter for digging the post holes, so I rented a post-digger shovel from Home Depot for a day. I got the help of my friend, Marc. The sun was bright, and it was hot, and hair-metal music played on the boom box (called a Ghetto Blaster, back in Mr. T’s day). We joked about wearing beer t-shirts just to fit the work image. Marc had too much beer the night before, so we saved the cap-twisting for when the work was done. We dug six posts for the fence (I later dug a seventh). Each one took about 45 minutes to dig – or at least it felt that way!

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New project: build a nest box for bluebirds and chickadees!

It’s been on my to-do list for a few weeks to build a couple of bird houses with the scrap wood I have leftover from other projects, and so finally I did the job just in time for spring migration.

In fact, by May, it’s almost too late — except that some species breed more than once. Those birds who arrived earlier already have young, but those just arriving are getting ready to make a nest. A ready-made niche is often accepted — and that’s what I’m going to provide!

And so can you. Do it this weekend!

Using Old Wood To Build A Birdhouse” is a into a new kind of post here called a Project or Portfolio post. I decided it this was a nice way to do it with a picture gallery, and I could centralize all the DIY projects that way.

The birdhouse I built for the chickadees

Leave a comment if you do get this project under way / done. I’d love to see the results!

Resource: NestWatch’s All About Birdhouses has everything you need to know about different birdhouses and nest boxes for different types of birds, and also how to set them up with a nest camera!

Cornell Lab of ornithology

DIY: easy Acopian Bird Savers for apartment dwellers and 2nd floor windows

Acopian Bird Savers are a relatively inconspicuous (visible, but not unsightly) way to prevent bird crashes, guaranteed. They’re a light curtain of strings that wave in the wind, in front of your windows – so birds see the obstruction and don’t mistake the windows for trees or sky.

They have a Build-Your-Own tutorial on their website; if you need a more custom solution or just want the materials done right from the get-go, you can order it from them online.

It’s fairly easy apply decals and UV liquid (remember, these are only useful for some bird species, not all!) by leaning outside, cleaning the windows, and sticking them on, but the real fix — Feather Friendly — requires access and time to apply it properly. Feather Friendly is probably the most effective solution out there, and it’s meant to last. It’s easy to apply when you live on the ground floor, but not so easy at higher floors. But higher floors still need effective protection.

That means many apartment dwellers and homeowners who don’t have access to an extension ladder might find it too much trouble to try and prevent birds from crashing into windows. (And because they aren’t there when the crashes happen, or see what happens next, they doubt they occur, or that they’re serious enough to kill the bird.)

I wrote this to help people who either have casement windows or modern sash-hung windows where you can tip the window inward in order to clean it (or pop the window out of the frame, as many can!). Sliding windows are even easier. You need to be able to access the top of the frame of the window on the outside. Also, this DIY fix is super-affordable, and as it’s not a permanent alteration to the dwelling, you don’t need your landlord’s permission to use them.

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My quilting-from-scraps project

In 2011, when I lived at the cottage on Sand Lake,  I started reading up on patchwork and cutting up blocks of cloth to make a queen-sized quilt for my bed. Ever since, usually over the winter months, I put in a few hours here and there stitching it together. It’s made from honest-to-goodness scraps made by my adorable pets: non-reparable, almost-unforgivable holes in various sheets sets and a duvet cover. There was nothing to do but quilt them. Though I did make a hot plate pad out of turning scrappy cloth into “yarn” and then knitting it. That was hard on my hands – the knitting was tougher work than with wool.

So I turned the scraps into a pattern and stitched it all together. As soon as I had the top layer and found a bottom piece to match, I ordered a wool batt from Cedarview Farms in southwestern Ontario. I’ve “bagged” it, though it won’t be a complete bag where all seams are sewn, like a duvet or sleeping bag; instead I might need to create borders on two sides. As my theme is a windmill, I’ll use the border called “Flying Geese.”

I’m getting ready to start quilting it. This is where the handy book The Quilting Bible (3rd edition), and a website called Quilting Made Easy, come in handy. I have a quilting wheel I inherited from my grandmother, which I can use to perforate the copies of the stitching patterns I’ll use. Then, one rubs coloured chalk into the pattern to transfer it to the area for stitching.

Thanks to the help of the ladies in the Westmount Quilter’s Guild, I’ve tacked the quilt. I’ve partly quilted it too, along the seams, and as soon as that’s done, I will finally be able to quilt it by machine. I’m looking for a long-arm sewing machine, because it’s going to be hard to feed a queen-sized quilt through any other kind.

I’ll show pictures when I’ve made more progress. It’s been six years since I started it. The going is very, very slow.

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