Sunday, 8 July 2018

Working on a chain gang

Did you sing that line? I did, while typing it out. "Workin' on the chain.... gaaayang!"

My house has a hip roof, meaning it has four sides, not just two. The eavestrough runs all the way around but there are only two downspouts, both at front corners. And (of course) one of the back corners always drips where there is often standing water in it. It is annoying. I don't want to spent a ton of money getting them redone so I decided on a DIY solution.

Did that surprise you? LOL!!

I decided to make a rain chain for that corner. I looked at lots of different ones online. Really liked one made of a copper chain with clusters of copper leaves hanging on it, but buying one was a bit pricey. I did find a DIY site on how to make one, but it involved making the chain from copper tubing, and the leaves from copper sheeting, which is definitely doable but also time consuming and I wanted something put up quickly as we've been having a lot of rain storms in the past few weeks.

(isn't it pretty?)

I found one that I thought looked cute and functional, made with galvanized chain and tiny galvanized metal buckets from a craft store. I bought 5 - 4" buckets and made holes in the bottom, strung them along the chain, spaced equally, and secured the handles with wire. My idea was for it to look something like this:

To make it a little more interesting, I bought galvanized letters to spell out R A I N in the place of every second bucket. So I made the holes in the bottom of the buckets and strung them on the chain but it was so noisy! This chain will be on the corner of the house closest to my bedroom window, and it is often fairly windy here (you know, on the bald ass prairie, there is nothing to slow the wind down ~ this part of Manitoba is as flat as a table top) so that wasn't going to work. So I opted for using just the chain and the letters.

At the bottom, I put a tall planter made of recycled rubber. I drilled a few holes in the bottom on the side away from the house for the water to drain away from the foundation. The patio block it sits on is slightly angled away from the house as well. It is weighted in the bottom so is stable, and is year round durable so I can leave it out in the winter. That bit will be important during the spring thaw when the snow melts off the roof and drips down this corner. I am going to fill it with river rocks (to be purchased from the local hardware store) as pea gravel is small enough to plug the holes I drilled and I want to make sure unimpeded drainage is maintained.

So what do you think?

Friday, 22 June 2018

Going Squirrelly

This morning, on the second day of summer, Pips and I wandered out to the back yard, where I sat with my coffee and supervised her roamings. There was a robin with a beak full of worms that stopped by, high up in the old elm to peep and chirp at us before flying off to stuff those worms down the gullets of hungry chicks. A tiny little bird, whose identity is unknown to me, flitted through the trees, peering down at us from around branches. Pips watched with interest but made no move to hunt.

Then came the squirrel. I have seen it many times in the trees in my yard. It is a small red squirrel and not very noisy. I have found when grey squirrels are about, they raise a cacophony of chitter chatter that gets irritating pretty damn quick. This little one occasionally cheeps but usually just shows its annoyance with a frantic tail bouncing rear end dance along the tree branches.

As we watched squirrel's antics, I could see it was inching its way lower along the tree trunk. So could Pips. She was being very patient, sitting very still in front of my feet.

Then suddenly, the squirrel took off down the tree to the ground and zipped behind the shed. The base of this tree touches the shed, so it was a pretty easy get away, but both Pips and I burst into action in time to see it disappear under the far side of the shed. There is a wooden base under this metal shed and I have noticed it is getting a bit worse for wear but I had no idea squirrels were living under it. For all I know, there are rabbits as well, although I have not seen any evidence of rabbits in the yard for several years. There are mice, though, of that I am sure.

There are white footed deer mice living under the shed, and I have a poison bait station inside the shed. They can transmit hanta virus through their droppings and urine, which can aerosolize once dried. I sure don't need to be breathing *that* shit in, thanks but no thanks. (Infection with hanta virus can lead to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which can be fatal, and is a reportable disease. I knew someone a few years ago whose son died of this after working on the plumbing under a cabin without the proper respiratory protection. It was a long slow demise, terrible to watch as he withered away, struggling to breath. He was 25.)

I know for a fact that three mice have already succumbed as I have found their little carcasses, which have been disposed of so nothing else will eat them (read: Pips) and die. The poison is warfarin (ie: rat poison), which is an anticoagulant (thins the blood) and they die from massive internal hemorrhage. Sorry for the gruesome imagery but I don't want that to happen to my cat by accidental ingestion. When I have the shed open, she is not allowed outside the house. That pisses her off to no end!!

I have not seen evidence of the squirrel inside the shed, which is good, because the lawn mower and all my yard maintenance equipment is in there, plus my bike. So far, nothing obviously chewed. If that becomes evident, trapping and relocation is going to happen fast! There is a large park with a heavily forested area nearby, which would be the transplant location. Here is the little furry one in action.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Sunny Sunday

It has been a beautiful sunny and warm weekend here in Central Canadia. Today it is Mother's Day here but as no one's mother (no, I am not my cats' mum!), I only offer my celebratory salutations to those I know who have children.

As is her wont in warm sunny weather, Pips demanded I take her outside. She would prefer I just open the door and let her out to wander and do whatever cats do, but I really have no desire to scrape her carcass off the pavement, or pay large vets bills for injuries, or have her just disappear for ever. So she is supervised, much to her chagrin.

We both lounged around the yard for a while, she rolling in the dirt and me lounging in a chair listen to a podcast (and sipping a tropical cider, a local brew of pineapple, cherry and pear juices). As she kept eyeing a tree to scale (from whence she could jump the fence and escape into the neighbour's yard), I got her harness and leash and we went for a walk outside the yard.

She doesn't always walk down the sidewalk (in fact, she often just sits in one spot), but when she does, she walks down the sidewalk like a boss. And afterwards, because it is a pretty warm day (and we aren't used to the heat yet as it has been pretty cool so far this spring) and she is mostly black, she had to lie down in the shady dusty lane for a bit to cool off.

Wishing everyone a quiet and peaceful week ahead.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Thirsty Bird

Walking back from the grocery store, I stopped to watch this crow drink from a tiny puddle. It was 30C at the time and the sun was hot. We have had a very dry spring this year and I am sure the birds drink from any source they can find. I was only about 10' away from the bird while it was drinking. My presence did nothing to deter this thirsty bird.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Rummaging about

Spring has seen a mass influx of common grackles to these parts. They eat a lot of insects and anywhere there is leaf litter (like my front yard... I haven't raked that up yet), the birds can be found scratching through the leaves looking for bugs.

Pips and I watched this guy out the front screen door. I got a few still shots, and shortly after I started filming, he very rudely walked off the stage.

I mean, really... how rude!