Scaring Squirrels…

This year’s garden experiment is about trying to scare some squirrels away from my strawberries.

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The squirrels think I plant strawberries just for them.  To date, that has been true. I believe I have had only about a dozen strawberries ever from my own garden. The squirrels sit on the fence to monitor the ripeness of the strawberry field from above. The second a strawberry is ripe, they swoop in and steal it.

Obviously, the best way to keep the squirrels away would be to net the plants. We have a neighbor down the street that has her strawberries contained in a raised bed that she successfully nets each year.  The problem is that my strawberry plants are mixed in with all my other plants.

Some are with the sedum,

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some are hanging out with the hostas,

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others are mixed into the rose garden,

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and, most recently, I have planted some amongst the blueberries.

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Netting doesn’t seem a realistic option in my urban garden.

You may have noticed that the strawberries in the above pictures aren’t of the edible variety.  Why would I have decorative strawberries in my garden, you ask? Or, maybe, you aren’t asking that at all.  Maybe, you are just saying to yourself “Oh my gosh, can we just get to the scaring squirrels part.”

Yes, let’s get to the scaring squirrels part.

First, though, I want to point out that I have successfully scared away other forms of wildlife. Once. My fake wasp’s nest doesn’t kill the wasps – it just scares them away from my outdoor living space.

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So, I am definitely open to trying to scare other pests.

I had read somewhere that painted rocks fool squirrels into thinking you are growing really bad strawberries. They move on and they don’t come back. As a result, you enjoy a sizable strawberry crop that you don’t have to fight the squirrels for.

I will admit, I find it hard to believe that squirrels don’t have more sense than to realize the difference between fake strawberries and real ones.  Hmm.

At the very least, it was fun to paint a few rocks.

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And – they look pretty cool in my spring garden.

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Stay tuned for the answer to “Are squirrels smarter than painted rocks?”

What is it?

You might think I have lost my mind? Maybe – a little…

You might think that I’ve not got enough to do? Likely not the case, but occasionally I do have a little insomnia – and this is the perfect project for the middle of the night when insomnia sets in…

What is it?

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You might recognize the neighbor’s garage in this picture. I recently talked about the shedding roof and it being a haven for rodents and such. So, you can deduce that this thing is intended for outside use. After all, it is hanging outside. And – the “haven for rodents and such” is a hint.

I actually made this thing from an odd shaped gourd,

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some paint,

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left over caulk,

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and a weather protectant/sealer.

Since it is technically organic and edible (minus the caulk), I hope that the squirrels don’t discover that it could be a tasty snack. It doesn’t sound very tasty, but those squirrels will eat anything. They sometimes eat the fence pickets in desperation – or maybe they do it just to annoy me.

Anyway, back to the task at hand…

The concept of this little painted gourd is similar to a scarecrow. It’s supposed to scare away something.

It’s made to look like something that is built in nature…?

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It’s a fake wasps nest!?

I realize that wasps nests aren’t decorated with glass beads and wire, but I needed to do something to spruce up that grey gourd. I am hoping that the wasps think the glass beads are fellow wasps – from afar.

I don’t like wasps near my outdoor living space.

We seem to have our fair share of wasps each summer. Most recently, the neighbor’s garage has been a haven for a pretty large wasp colony. Their garage is near our outdoor space so the wasps are kind of pests for us.

I feel bad hanging the yellow traps around and killing them off. Though, that is what I have done in the past because my fear of getting stung outweighed my desire to preserve the planet.

This year I wanted to try something different. I wanted to scare them away rather than trap them.

I stumbled upon this fake wasp nest thing while looking for garden inspiration ideas. It is from Gardner’s Supply Company.

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Apparently, wasps are pretty territorial so they won’t build a nest in the area of another wasp community. Wasps are supposed to mistake these fake nests for real nests and quickly move along.

These commercially manufactured fake nests are made of paper and are intended for protected areas like patios. I searched around for a weather resistant one, but no go. Thus, my painted gourd – it should last longer than a paper version – unless the squirrels starting snacking.

Functional and decorative?

Possibly, an interesting sociological experiment as my summer entertainment – we’ll see?

Call me crazy now, but if this works…

Zebras will frolic…

So, we’ve got some frolicking zebras around here :)

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Now for the real reason we are talking about zebras.  My desk.  It’s made of zebrawood.

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My zebrawood desk was a DIY project.  It was a really easy, weekend DIY project. I didn’t do it this last weekend, but still.  Maybe, it will inspire you to make your own desk?

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My workspace is pretty small at 6 feet deep and 6.5 feet wide.  It is located in a corner of our sunroom.  The evolution of my workspace location is a bit of a long story – and a story for another day – maybe, another day this week.  In the meantime, back to the zebrawood desk.  Considering the small size of my workspace, I figured I had to get creative in order to optimize the area.  I only need a desk, a chair, and a bit of storage.  So, I got my favorite tool out.  As you might know, my favorite tool is the tape measure.  You might think a 6′ X 6.5′ area doesn’t really need much measuring, but a few inches here or there can make a big difference when you need to fit 3 pieces of furniture within that tiny space.

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I decided a table type desk, no drawers, long and shallow would be best for my work habits and the space.  The reason I chose a table type desk was that I wanted to keep the space feeling open and roomy.   I think a big block of a desk would have overwhelmed the space – especially since I wanted to face the center of the room rather than the wall.  I also decided to keep an existing storage cabinet.  This storage piece is a bit bulky so not optimal for my small space, but I am happy with the function of it for now.  It holds a big work printer, all my paperwork, and some miscellaneous things.  I am hoping to downsize someday.

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Anyway, I searched around for the perfect desk.  I was not successful.  So, I figured a custom piece of furniture was in order.  I also wanted to do something unique – something a little industrial and a little rustic.  I asked the welder who created our stair railings to make a base for my desk – inspired by conduit and piping – taking care of the industrial part.  The rustic part is accomplished by the rusty looking finish.  I like the combination – it’s unique.

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I debated the table top options for some time.  Finally, I went to the lumber yard and checked out their inventory.  I ended up with Zebrawood.  I wish I could say that it was salvaged or vintage or something other than “exotic”.  I can’t.  The amazing contrasting grain is what snagged me.  It is like nothing else we have in our house.  I like to buy local products.  I struggled with the whole idea of buying wood from across the globe.  And – they couldn’t even tell me that the wood was FSC certified.  I thought about it for weeks.  Eventually, I gave in – obviously.

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The lumber yard cut it to my specifications, planed it smooth, and glued the 2 pieces together to create the width I wanted.  I just had to pick it up, pay for it, and apply the finish.  Zebrawood is very heavy, very dense, and very hard.  I wasn’t quite sure how to finish this sort of wood.  So, I did some internet research.  Wow – there are a ton of extreme opinions out there about finishing zebrawood.  My internet research only resulted in confusion.  So, I went with what I knew.  Watco Danish Oil.  We used this product for all of the cherry and maple woodwork around our house and we like it.  I ended up using Watco Teak Oil for dense woods when I accidentally discovered it while shopping for the original stuff.  It was a good discovery.  I applied multiple layers of the finish, sanding between applications until it was velvety soft and well sealed.

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The final measurements of my desk ended up being 6.5′ long by 22″ deep – it is very functional – and quite dramatic in appearance with it’s highly contrasting grain.  A welder to make a base, a slab of interesting wood, some Watco finishing oil and the desk is done.  It was one of the easier DIY projects I have tackled.  It was significantly easier than I expected.  That never happens with my DIY projects.