Sunday, April 11, 2021

Playing Carpenter in My Garden

I’m not a carpenter, but I do sew.  And there are many, many similarities in how both trades function.  The tools are some of the scariest differences and why I don’t normally pretend to be a carpenter.   Sometimes I can barely handle scissors so saws are not really my thing.   I’ve held many a board while it was cut or screwed in and I’ve had many cockamamie ideas that I’ve tried to have come to life through other peoples carpentry skills, so I do have some ideas about how wood and screws come together.

Homemade cage

This time, the man was too busy to help this one come to life and I knew enough of how I wanted it to look, that I thought maybe I could do it myself.  I knew this would involve cutting wood.  The man has a battery powered small circular saw that seems much safer  to me than a table saw or a skill saw, both of which get plugged in.  The battery powered one requires that you press two things at once when using it, so the second you dismember yourself, the remaining fingers will let go of anything and the saw will stop.  

Sounds safer, right?

I knew I wanted to make this out of strapping, which is not as thick as 2x4s, so easier to cut and deal with and lightweight.  And less expensive.  For this task, I didn’t need something highly durable.  I’m not trying to keep animals in or out.  Once we bought the bundle of strapping, I explained the bones of my idea to the man and he told me which screws would probably be best and off I went to the hardware store for screws, hinges and a latch.

Little did I realize that all of the hardware cloth (the metal stuff) that I thought I had at home had already been used last year in a project, so I would have to buy a bunch of that to complete this.  But that came later.

The first task was to get the frame done, which I did between work and dark one night.  The doors were a puzzle to me from the outset and I didn’t like any of the suggestions the man came up with.  This is about convenience.  I didn’t want to be lifting anything or making hatches that were going to need to be propped up if I opened them.  

The man also couldn’t picture how big this was going to be.  

At one point, he said I should make the top removable so I can just reach inside.  I still can’t stop laughing.  I can’t reach all the way inside with this on the ground, nevermind up on this raised bed.  I knew from the beginning it would be about 3 feet tall.  I’m still laughing.

The next day, I needed to get hardware cloth and as with pretty much everything I want, nowhere in my area had the size I wanted.  If you’d like to know the expensive way to do this, I’m your man.  Had I put some thought into that part of it and been a little patient, I would have ordered a roll and saved a lot of money but I had neither patience nor enough forethought.  

I did discover that there is 1/2 hardware cloth and 1/4 inch.  1/4 inch is what I knew would make this better, but the dimensions in 1/4 were less available than half inch.  The steam coming out of my ears as I did some math to decide the lesser of all evils could have powered a city.  As it was, I forgot how long 10 feet really is, so I ended up having to run out and get one more roll but in a different size because it was a different store.

Again, patience was not for me that day.

I went to bed that night with all but the doors completed.  I started looking online at how homemade doors look and it didn’t help much.  I asked the man for millionth time how I was going to do the doors.  He told me to think about it and then look the next day at what I’ve made and what I can do that would work.  For a second I thought he had become a teacher without my knowledge.  That’s a very teacher like suggestion and one I would definitely make to a whiny student who didn’t want to solve the puzzle herself.   Not the man’s typical behavior, but it worked.

I ended up finagling doors that open and close.  They are not completely straight and it makes me mad but I also didn’t use a tape measure for most of what I did so I won’t complain .

The only thing I haven’t figured out is a latch.  The one I bought won’t work because when the doors are closed and latched to each other, they open a little bit together.  I need to think about that some more.

So what is this?  A chicken coop?  Rabbit hutch?  Play yard for the cats?

It’s this year’s attempt to keep the cabbage moths away from my cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli and whatever other brassica I manage to grow.  Last year’s farce didn’t work at all.  Every year, I get tons of them started only to have the caterpillars get the upper hand and I lose a lot.  

The cage is portable so I expect that another year it will be moved somewhere else so I can change what grows in that bed because I always rotate crops.  Most plants can’t be covered because they need pollinating but not the brassica family.

Brassica seedlings
Here are some of the babes that will get to live in the cage as soon as they are bigger.  There are kohlrabi and cabbage in this group.  

For the time and money that went into this, I hope it works!  

Not a single digit was lost, not a scrape to be had.

And there wasn’t even that much swearing.  Except when I had to “sew” some of the sections together with wire because I needed to do them in Pieces. There was a lot of swearing then!

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