Tuesday, August 2, 2016

For The Times You Need a Temporary Fence

Zareba 48-Inch Step-In Fence Posts

Every so often, we find a need to put up some temporary fencing. It might be to keep our dogs out of muddy spots, it might be to seal a hole in the boundary fence from a wind-blown tree. Whenever it happens, though, we dig though the garden shed to find a handful of Zareba Step-In Fence Posts.

Each of these plastic posts is 48 inches long, plus the 5-inch steel spike at the end. It has a pedal molded into the plastic just above the spike, with a little fin on the bottom to make it harder for a post to twist in the soil. There are eight plastic clips spread out on one side. To use the posts, you pick a spot where you need a post and stomp the pointy ends into the dirt. You can run string, bare or insulated wire, or plastic tape between posts, sliding it into the clips to hold it in place. The eight clips let you run several strands or put up diagonals.

We've used our posts over long term (several years) for hot wires to keep pets out of flower beds. The non-conductive plastic post doesn't ground the wires. Even left in place year-round (in a snowless climate, mind you), the posts stood up to weathering, even heavy storms. In the short term, we’ve used them to keep visitors and pets out of muddy spots, holes, and other hazards. When a storm sent a tree trunk through the boundary fence, we threaded temporary plastic fence through the posts to keep the dogs in the yard. They’re a lot easier to use than wood stakes, easier to attach materials to temporarily, and durable enough that they’ll last for years.

Our posts are white, but they are also available in green and black and in other lengths besides the four-foot version. Admittedly, they aren’t particularly pretty; and the five-inch spike means they aren’t sturdy enough to use for larger animals. If it’s light-duty fencing you need on a temporary basis, however, these step-in posts are just what you need.



Plus: non-conductive, durable, easy to use
Minus: won't win any beauty contests, fairly pricey
What they’re saying: If you sometimes need a temporary fence, Step-In Posts from Zareba are just what the doctor ordered.
copyright © 2016-2017 scmrak

Thursday, January 28, 2016

With a Heated Bird Bath, We're Getting Even More Birds

Allied Precision 14-Inch Heated Bird Bath #145

One of the quickest and easiest ways to get a little “nature fix” in the middle of our Midwestern winter has been to install a cluster of bird feeders in our back yard. We packed up the hummingbird feeders for next summer, and put up a couple of arrays of seed and suet feeders. The neighborhood finches, titmouses (titmice?), doves, juncos, woodpeckers, flickers and cardinals have been welcome visitors – the starlings less so – and we’ve also been gratified to see that a handful of bluebirds has begun visiting. Our home in central Indiana is, according to the bird books, near the northern limit of the bluebirds’ winter range, so we were a bit surprised to see them.

Monday, January 4, 2016

We've got Woodpeckers Galore Now!

Kettle Moraine Cedar Single Cake Tail Prop Suet Feeder 

Downy woodpecker at our feeder
The bird feeders that rim our deck attract a wide variety of birds, which we find to be fascinating and fun as we view the activity from our kitchen. Our back yard borders on and partially includes a small woodlot dotted with standing dead trees (damn you, emerald ash borers!), which supply a steady source of food for the local woodpeckers. The several feeders we put up back in fall have continue to attract three different woodpecker species – the hairy, downy, and red-bellied type – but didn’t pull in the majestic pileated woodpecker we occasionally saw (and heard) working on nearby trees. 

From our research and a friendly bird-watcher neighbor, we learned that larger species of bird don’t like those small suet cages, mostly because the birds have a difficult time maintaining their balance while feeding. The cages aren’t massive enough for a 10 to 12-ounce bird, plus the birds are accustomed to resting their tails on tree trunks while feeding in the wild. We researched feeders that meet these needs, and chose this Kettle Moraine Cedar Suet Feeder with a tail prop.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Flex-a-Spout on Your Downspout Just Might Save your Foundation

Amerimax Home Products Flex-a-Spout

Check Price at Amazon
Your average homeowner learns to hate water, often within the first year of home ownership. When you aren’t fighting to keep the water within your pipes in the home's interior, you find yourself battling to keep other water away from where it doesn't belong on the home's exterior. That’s why a house or other building has gutters and downspouts: they direct the rainwater that lands on the roof away from the foundation, the farther the better. If too much water gets too close to the foundation in homes with a basement, it often causes moisture problems. If the building's on a slab, an uneven distribution of moisture around the perimeter may cause cracking, even damage all the way to the partial collapse of exterior walls. The flatter the land around your house, the farther away you want that water sent.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Anti-Siphon Devices: Keep Contaminated Water out of Your Water Supply

Lasco Brass Hose Bibb Vacuum Breaker

Gardening enthusiasts, here's one more oddball device you can add add to the list of items that A) you weren’t aware exist, and B) didn't know you probably need. Fact is, though, that if your home sits on a space that isn't level, you probably need a Lasco Hose Bibb Vacuum Breaker.

Why would you want a Vacuum Breaker?

Because of the siphon effect: if water in a garden hose is sitting higher than the hose’s connection to the water supply, the water’s weight will force it back through the hose and faucet, straight into the water lines. If a little rubber or vinyl taste in your drinking water doesn’t upset you, it’s your right. But if you’d rather not have dirty water contaminating your home’s water supply, a vacuum breaker is the simple, inexpensive anti-siphon solution. Even if you don’t run hoses uphill, you may still need a vacuum breaker if you often fill water features or other large reservoirs like an above-ground pool.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Bird-X Prowler Owl is a Washout

Bird-X Prowler Owl Bird Deterrent

At first, we figured the holes showing up in all our tomatoes came courtesy of those damned squirrels who live in the oak trees hanging over the yard. We thought that until one day I saw a mockingbird land on a tomato cage and snack on a big ripe tomato. The next day found me at Wild Birds Unlimited looking at "bird deterrents." Besides all those phony-looking stationary owl statues, they sold a "decoy [that] resembles the ultimate, most-feared aerial predator; the Great Horned Owl, which catches and eats almost anything that moves." How could I resist? I shelled out 50 hard-earned smackers and took a Bird-X Prowler Owl home with me.

Manufacturer's Claims

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Radishes: Easy to Grow, Tasty and Good For You!

Cherry Belle Radishes

For people making their first stab at gardening, radishes are just about the perfect plant. They’re easy to plant, hardy, and – above all – tasty. They’re great for getting kids interested in gardening, too: the seeds are big enough for little fingers to handle (unlike carrots or lettuce) and you get quick results, too. Most varieties poke up those first little leaves in six or seven days and even better, you can start eating your bounty in less than a month. Also great is that you can plant radishes, even the first of the season, while your tomato and pepper plants are still baby-sized.