Monthly Archives: April 2013

DIY UpCycled Vertical Planter

DIY UpCycled Vertical Planter from Farmhouse38

After doing so much renovation work on our house, there’s quite a few bits and pieces sitting around that didn’t get used.  A couple of windows, two sinks (yes, two sinks–don’t ask), and a gable vent.  What’s a gable vent, you ask?

DIY UpCycled Vertical Planter from Farmhouse38

That’s a gable vent.  It’s supposed to vent our attic.  But we thought–eh, no thanks, vents are overrated.  (JUST KIDDING–we wound up using a different vent than this one).  The second it went in the ‘leftovers’ pile, I knew I wanted to plant it–just look at it!!!  It’s begging to be planted.

The first thing I decided to do was remove the flanged edges, because they are a little sharp and added an unnecessary element of mortal danger for a planter.  In my opinion.  They are just spot-welded on in a couple of places and with a flathead screwdriver and hammer, it’s pretty easy to pop those suckers off.  And gloves.  Wear gloves.  Sharp edges.

DIY UpCycled Vertical Planter

The edgeless vent looks much cleaner….

DIY UpCycled Vertical Planter from Farmhouse38

….and much less finger-cutty.

At this point, I strung a heavy-duty wire along the upper edge of the backside of the vent (just strung it through the grating), as I intended to hang the finished product.  I neglected to get photos of this step.  FAIL.

The next step was to line the backside of each vent pocket (there is metal grating across the entire backside of the vent).  I decided to use coffee filters.  I wet them and stuck them inside each section along the inside of the grating.  I also neglected to get photos of this step.  Double FAIL.

I then filled each section with potting mix, and selected my plant material.  I decided to go with succulents, as I intended to hang this on a fence and knew I would forget to water it most of the time–so I needed to go with something that would cut me a little slack.  Yay, succulents!

DIY UpCycled Vertical Planter from Farmhouse38

For the ‘stripes’ I chose two different types of sedum, and then as an accent I tucked in some random echeveria and aeonium ‘blossoms’ (at least I think that’s what they are–I am no succulent know-it-all and these were unhelpfully unmarked at the nursery).

DIY UpCycled Vertical Planter from Farmhouse38

That bottom ledge wasn’t very conducive to planting, so I decided to display some seashells on it. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

I should probably tell everyone that I laid this flat for a couple of weeks for the roots to take hold.  I should probably say that.  But I did not.  I am impatient.  I packed those suckers in there and hung it on my fence post-haste.  It’s holding up just fine!  But for best results, you might want to let yours sit and marinate flat for a bit.  I’m just saying.

DIY UpCycled Verticle Planter from Farmhouse38

I love this so much that I think I am going to go to Lowe’s and get me a few more of these vents and hang several along this section of fence.  The expanse of white fence makes me nuts.  I must fill it with randomness and apologize to no one!!!

Scrap Wood Garden Edging

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

We have a very long driveway.  Along this driveway runs a very long planter bed.

This is what it looked like when we bought the house:

Before Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

So originally, we built a raised bed of pressure-treated wood to hold in all the dirt.  For the last few years, it’s looked like this:

Before Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Nevermind the squirrel-hunting hijinks happening here (and also nevermind the pre-renovation ramshackle garage).

When we acquired the chickens, there was a whole lot of this going on in those beds:

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

And this:

Scrap Wood Garden Edging

It looks bad, I know. This looks like roadkill. But this is a seriously contented bird lolling in the warm dirt.

And this:

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38And so, most days, our driveway winds up looking like this:

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

And this:

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Because of some very serious neat-freak issues, this just wasn’t working for me.  The obvious solution is to fill the planters with so much vegetation that there is no free dirt for the ladies to get into….but this is a huge bed to fill, and, though I am working on it, I needed a quicker solution (and also, I happen to get a kick out of watching their dirt bath antics).

Enter our ever-expanding piles of scrap wood:

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

With so many projects going on all the time, we are constantly collecting remnant wood….in fact, most moments, we are completely overrun with scrap because I refuse to throw it away.  So when we can come up with a use for it, especially a cute use for it….I get unnecessarily excited.

The scrap that I used for this started in all shapes and sizes: slabs of plywood, bits of 2×4, planks ripped off the side of the old garage, cedar fencing, and more.  You may remember this photo from a previous post about our scrap pile.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38 I selected my victims and cut the wood into completely random bits, all roughly around a foot or so tall (but sometimes as short as 6 inches tall, just to get a really good gap-toothed vibe), varying widths.  There was really no rhyme or reason, at all.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Then I gathered up all my miscellaneous cans of leftover house paint (my theory was that these were all colors I had used throughout the house and garden and so, therefore, they’d coordinate.  Right?  Right.), and painted them randomly and sloppily.  A lot of these pieces already had old paint on them–I slapped new paint on a few of them, but mostly left the old weathered pieces alone.  Also, I left quite a few pieces completely unfinished.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

I wanted the paint finish to be patchy on these, because I want them to weather a bit naturally–I like the look of old, chippy weathered wood.  Obviously, if you want these to last a good long time, you’d better seal them up really well and not follow my lead.  But I want mine to weather.  I may seal them once they’ve aged a bit.  We’ll see.  I get distracted pretty easily.

After the bits and pieces dried, we screwed them in, in random order to the inside edge of the pressure-treated wood curb.  Obviously, not everyone has such a curb–I share my recipe for a stand-alone version down below.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

The real point of this edging, for me anyhow, was to keep the chicken dirt bath spray somewhat contained.  Remarkably, it’s totally working!

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Scrap Wood Garden Edging

The chickens don’t seem the least bit fazed by it.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse 38

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

The varying heights of the edging allows for some very lazy bug picking maneuvers.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Squirrel hunting is a much tidier affair now that the edging is in place. Chance approves (actually, it’s quite obvious in this photo how much he could actually care less).

We are currently in the process of turning our back garden into a ‘Chicken Garden’; what was once my enchanting, flower-filled oasis has literally gone to the birds.  As part of this do-over, I want to use this scrap edging back there, as well.  The only problem is, there’s no wood curb to attach it to….we needed to modify it so that it could be free-standing.

From Home Depot, I grabbed some cheap garden-variety garden edging that comes in two foot strips that click together on the ends.  I also got me some metal garden stakes.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

For my purposes, the metal stakes needed a couple of holes drilled into each of them (though I am sure there are stakes that come like this, I just haven’t found them yet).  This is a little time consuming, but easy enough with a metal drill bit.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Now lay out your wood pieces and attach the plastic edging to their backsides with an industrial stapler.  Let the pointy side of the plastic edging stick out beyond the bottoms of the wood pieces–this goes into the ground and helps stabilize the whole thing.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Now screw in your stakes, one on each end of the two-foot length of edging.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38Finally, pick your spot, and pound that sucker into the ground.

Scrap Wood Garden Edging from Farmhouse38

Unfortunately, the Chicken Garden is a work in progress….you’ll see the final results of this edging project when I do the reveal post on that.  Soon!  Very sooooon.  Bear with me.

Butterfly Wreath

Butterfly Wreath from Farmhouse38

It’s about that time of year when I start to fiddle with things on my front porch.  We’re through Easter, on our way towards summer, and I want some seasonal decor that will carry us along till those reds, whites, and blues start popping up.  After considerable consideration on where to go with this springtime spruce up, I decided that I wanted to run with the ‘Farmhouse Red’ of the front door (which is really a saturated orange), and do a decor scheme based on that.  So what to do for an orange-y springtime wreath?  What to do, indeed….

I feel that it is necessary for me to state that I have a bit of a closet butterfly obsession.  I love me some butterflies.  I should also state that I have a plethora of craft butterflies leftover from my floral design days (and when I say ‘plethora’, I mean plethora–ask the Texan….they are everywhere) that I am always trying to figure out what to do with besides sticking an occasional one in a whimsical flower arrangement.  So, well DUH…. butterfly swarm on a wreath.  I’m surprised it took me this long to figure it out.

I started with a wreath form that I actually made myself, from grape and wisteria vine, but any old craft store-type grapevine wreath would work great.

Butterfly Wreath from Farmhouse38

And then, of course, I selected my victims: you know the ones, those craft-store beauties made from painted feathers with wires attached.  I chose to go with a mixture of orange, yellow-orange, and coral, both large and small variety.  Those wires often come in handy, but for this project, I popped them off.

Butterfly Wreath from Farmhouse38

I fired up the glue gun, and began to glue them in a random fashion to the wreath form.  I wanted this to look like a natural cluster swarm, which meant that there was no rhyme or reason to the orientation of each butterfly; some are right side up, some are pointing down, some were glued to the sides and top of the wreath.  Asymmetry is key here.

Butterfly Wreath from Farmhouse38

Additionally, I did not want the whole wreath to be filled up; I felt it would look more natural for part of the grapevine to be showing.

Butterfly Wreath from Farmhouse38

An unexpected bonus of this particular wreath?  The view from the inside of the door:

Butterfly Wreath from Farmhouse38

Love.  It.

Stay tuned for a full disclosure of the rest of our spring porch mini-makeover.

Scarecrow Hawk Deterrent

Scarecrow Hawk Deterrent from Farmhouse38

I have to say, for the record, that every time I go out into the yard, this thing gives me a start.  The dogs spent fifteen minutes barking at her when I first put her out.  The chickens?  They couldn’t care less.

But the lady-scarecrow seems to be doing her job quite nicely; since she has been in the yard, the neighborhood hawks have not.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  But I like to think my well-dressed friend has something to do with it.

We’ve had our flock for about a year now, and in that time, there have been a couple of isolated scares that mainly consist of the girls taking successful cover, and me running and screaming like a psychopath through the yard to spook those crafty hawks off.  But then, all of a sudden, about a month ago, the attempts began to happen frequently–almost once a day.

That’s when I saw this:

Scarecrow Hawk Deterrent from Farmhouse38

The view from our ‘chicken yard’ of our neighbor’s big tree.

Don’t see it?  Let’s look closer:

Scarecrow Hawk Deterrent from Farmhouse38

Well, looky-there.  Those hawks went and built themselves a little penthouse with a view.  Of my chickens.  That dark mass in the tree is a big, fat hawk’s nest.  *&#$*%&!!!!

Immediately, I went online and started researching how I might be able to thwart their efforts without bringing harm to them or to my chickens (hawks are federally protected animals and killing or even hurting them comes with a hefty, hefty fine, at the very least).  I have always admired the red-tailed hawks around here–I find them to be incredible birds and wouldn’t ever dream of harming one–I just wish they’d take their incredible somewhere else at the moment.  So that’s what I was after in my research: hawk deterrent….come on, internet!

The best, most reliable deterrent I found, of course, was to completely pen in your chickens.  This is a no-brainer, and in an ideal world, I would have a big, spacious, fully-enclosed, state-of-the-art free-range yard for my girls, but as I live in the suburbs, I am not allowed to build this sort of structure, and I am not willing to keep them cooped up in a tiny run.  So that’s out.  Beyond the no free-ranging option, the internet was rife with suggestions about small modifications you can make to your chicken yard that may, or may not help deter aerial predators; among these are things like setting out an owl statue (as birds of prey are territorial and will often steer clear of another bird’s property), putting out flags or banners in the chicken’s area that will flap in the breeze, stretching string across the chicken yard with streamers attached (though I feel like this poses a threat to any hawk that gets bold enough to still attack–it seems likely that it could get tangled in string or wire that is implemented like this), and I even read one account of someone having success hanging a disco ball in the chicken yard.  I’m not going to lie, I heavily considered the disco ball.  I might still put up a disco ball.  I think the question is, why wouldn’t I put up a disco ball in my yard???

Ultimately, I found many accounts of scarecrows working.  Theoretically, hawks won’t attack with a person standing in the yard (of course, there are exceptions to this rule, always), in fact, there has never been an attempted chicken-murder while I was in the yard–it always happens when I am inside at my computer (probably on Facebook), and when I hear the chicken alarm call, I go tearing outside usually just in time to see the hawk flying away empty-taloned.  I like to think that my presence in the yard helps.  So the theory is that if you make a scarecrow, and move it around every couple of days in the yard, the hawks will believe it to be a real person.  This was definitely worth a try, in my book.  It would be inexpensive, quick, and hey, it sounded fairly logical.  Game on.

I decided, ultimately, that I would use a mop as the backbone of my scarecrow.  Why?  Because, digging way back into the depths of my childhood memories, I vividly recall the decorative scarecrows my mom used to make at Halloween–always a Mr. & Mrs. Scarecrow, and the Mrs. always had mop hair.  Little did she know it, but my mom had her finger on the pulse of cutting-edge scarecrow-building.

Scarecrow Hawk Deterrent from Farmhouse38

I attached the mop to two 4 foot garden-variety garden stakes.  The first was attached lengthwise, to give the scarecrow appropriate height, and also to have a ‘stake’ end to be able to drive into the ground.  I attached it with two pre-drilled screws along the length of the mop handle.  The second stake would be attached perpendicular to the mop handle, to act as arms.  It was secured with one pre-drilled screw right into the center.  To keep the ‘arms’ from pivoting too much, I then secured the intersection with tightly-wrapped wire:

Scarecrow Hawk Deterrent from Farmhouse38

Next, I took some plastic sheeting (leftover spray-paint tarp) and bunched it up and stapled it to the mop handle in such a way that it would give her a bit of shape–I knew I was going to put her in a dress, so she needed to ‘fill it out’ up top, and then have a bit of petticoat action going on below.  I then arranged her ‘hair’ into two ponytails, securing them with twine.  Finally, it was time to dress her; I selected an old dress, button-up shirt, hat, gloves, and neckerchief.  I stapled the shirt and gloves into place, but everything else seemed to stay put well-enough to leave alone.

Scarecrow Hawk Deterrent from Farmhouse38

This is when I decided that she needed some accessories….I planted a little red hanging bucket with petunias and moss and stapled this to her hand, and at the same moment, decided I wanted her to be holding a bit of her skirt (I like that she looks like she’s dancing, but really, this is purely scientific–the skirt billows more in the breeze like this–more predator-spooking action!).  And finally, I felt like she needed some sparkle (again, to deter hawks), so yes, I gave her some earrings.  What.

Scarecrow Hawk Deterrent from Farmhouse38

Scarecrow Hawk Deterrent from Farmhouse38

Scarecrow Hawk Deterrent from Farmhouse38

The girls approve of my accessory choices.

Is this a fool-proof predator-deterrent method?  Probably not.  But scarecrows have been implemented by farmers to spook birds for thousands of years.  So I’m giving it a go.  As I stated before, it could just be coincidence, but I have not seen a single hawk since putting the lady-scarecrow out.  I move her a bit, every morning when I go to let the girls out (as allegedly, if you leave it in one place, the hawks will get used to it and no longer see it as a threat).

At the very, very least, I get a good laugh from it every time the Texan goes into the yard and has a heart attack because the creepy thing has moved again.  Good times.

Scarecrow Hawlk Deterrent from Farmhouse38

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