Tuesday, April 30, 2013

For The Birds (Literally)

And for me, too!

Yesterday I was surfing the inter-webs for some kind of upcycled DIY birdbath that would cost me less than an arm and a leg, or even just less than one arm OR one leg. I found a few that I thought were sort of cute and pinned them to my Pinterest - this for instance, from HGTV - a sink recycled into a birdbath:

It really did not work for Gene at all. There was even nose-wrinkling and a clearly and simply stated "...tacky." in response. I saw some baths made of logs with empty pots atop them, some made just of a pot set on a rock or slab on the ground. I found these - teacups - from Something Wonderful! Loved-loved-loved this, but Gene didn't, and so the idea was discarded:

But then I found this at Home Stories A to Z...:

Now this I love with one exception. It's entirely too... blue? Too ... matching? Too something. It doesn't look like something you'd find on a farm. Not that I am a farm, but I still have a farm brain. I wanted something more earthy, maybe mis-matched, and as cheap as possible - preferably made predominantly with stuff I already have on hand. And as the Beth at Home Stories A to Z says right in her entry about this bit of adorableness "Be creative and add your own flair, pot sizes, rebar size, birdbath top, paint color, etc." In the end I came up with this, and I'll even tell you how!

First, remember that I am hugely cheap and will find a way around spending money any way I can. I foraged in my basement in the tag sale pile until I found a red-rimmed white enamel basin that was destined for a new home. Then I dug up some terra cotta clay pots from the wealth of them that I have acquired over the years. They aren't all the same size, some are stained and chipped, and I didn't even measure them - which became a small issue later, but I am getting ahead of myself. 

We did not have any re-bar, which the original plan called for, and I needed some annuals to fill the pots, so I headed for the store. I found 1/2 inch EMT, a type of electrical conduit, for $1.20 a 5-foot length. Re-bar was $5.20 for 10 feet, and I'd have had to cut it. By using the EMT I saved money and time. It may not last as long as re-bar, but based on my experience with EMT in the past, I suspect it will come pretty close.

I pounded the EMT two feet into the ground in the not-yet-finished (so please don't mind the dirt piles and uneven mulch and infant perennial plugs!) pond garden. At the base I set the largest pot, and then began to slide others down, tipping them as I went. Two wider pots were not cooperating with me - the width of the pot was too great to allow it to rest against the EMT center post AND on the edge of the pot below, which it must in order to be stable. It kept tipping, slipping, and in general annoying me. To compensate, and to avoid a trip back to the store, I used pliers to gently chisel away at the 1/2 inch center hole of the pot until it was more of an oblong shape. This allowed the wider pot to rest against it's neighbor below and the center post, giving it needed stability. I continued placing pots up the post, dry-fitting as I went along.

"Measure twice, cut once" as the saying goes. Or, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Either way, I am a big fan of dry fitting projects. Once I was certain that all of the pots would stay in their angulated positions, I filled them with potting soil. I glued the second-largest pot to the underside of my enamel basin and set it aside. It will take 24 hours to cure fully, so after taking the "finished" picture I removed it from the post - carefully - and set it enamel-pot-side-down to cure.

Oh! I was really frustrated that my last pot would not sit squarely on it's tipped downstairs neighbor. There's really nothing for it to rest on but a bit of pot edge. I solved this by putting a hose clamp onto the EMT at the height of the pot rim so that the screw part of the clamp is opposite the edge of the pot, as above. This way the last pot rests on the pot below and on the hose clamp, which allows it to be more stable and level.

TAH-DAH! Not to bad for an hour and some pondering and even a tiny bit of sweat (it's getting warm out there in the sun!). The pots are planted with very inexpensive sweet alyssum in purple and white, and dusty miller. I love the sage-y silvery haze of dusty miller, and it is very likely to self-seed at the end of the season, so really it's a two-fer.

When I got home from the store the Asphlundh guys were almost in my door yard. These are the things that drive Yoshi completely mad, or used to. Today I convinced him to be more or less silent while they did their job and trimmed our trees away from the wires. He was less than amused by my demands for silence.

When I took baby chicks to visit my neighbor the other day, she asked what was up in my backyard...if you don't know, it does look a little unique. I told her, and I will tell you, too. 
Above, believe it or not, is a tiny little vineyard. Between each pair of posts is a grape vine. Some make wine, some make raisins, some are just for eating and juice and jelly.
And below, we have an orchard. Can you see it? Hint: I was standing right in the middle of it.

It's a little harder to see. But look closely - that's apple, quince, peach, plum, cherry and apricot trees; 15 in all. Mostly apples, though!

Last fall Girl and I planted a bunch of daffodil and narcissus bulbs in the front yard. We naturalized them, just scattering them around. I hope that someday they will fill the whole yard. I think the squirrel dug up about half of them, so of 75 original bulbs we have many fewer flowers. But they will grow and in time there will be hundreds! For Mr. W. this means no mowing until the flowers go by. You think he'd be pleased with this, but he seems rather insistent that he needs to mow soon. Luckily his lawn tractor is down with some sort of illness that prevents starting. (It wasn't me, honest!).

Last but not least, who wants some gratuitous chick pics? Ready?




OK, that's enough of that for now. I love it when they do "normal chicken" things, like the little Polish scratching and preening in those last two images. I am starting to make more guesses about what breed some of the more obscure chicks may be. I think we may have Delawares and possibly some Hamburgs. I can't wait to see them all grow!

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