Cat update for week ending May 18

I had 71 cat pictures this week, but pared it down to just 18. You’re welcome.

More dinner please? A couple of cats waiting for more food in the evening.

More dinner please?

The same cats a few minutes later, relaxing on the deck:

Two cats on the deck

Another arrives:

Three cats

A cat is startled by the sudden arrival of another, and rears up:

A cat is startled

Four cats at breakfast time:

Four cats

Waiting for more breakfast:

Waiting for more breakfast

I got a bale of straw for the duck house, which I put in the shop, and Pepper has been having fun playing with loose bits of straw. I think she’s been sitting on the bale, and scratching at it, too. I’m fine with that; she’s also guarding it to make sure no mice nest in it:

Pepper playing with straw

A scrub jay making poor life choices by eating cat food while a cat is in the house, as captured by a screenshot of my iPad cam app (it was fine; the cat was too comfy to move):

A bird making poor life choices

Still very comfy:

Comfy cat

Squirrel:

Squirrel

The orange cat paid a visit:

Orange cat

Followed by a possum 17 minutes later:

Possum

And a raccoon a couple of hours after that:

Raccoon

A couple of cats watch a couple of deer:

Deer & cats

The deer have been hanging around a lot recently, nibbling on our flowers (grrr):

Deer

A rare sighting of Pansy in the back of the shop:

Pansy

A cat at the bee water pool (that linked post included a couple of night-time cat sightings too):

Cat at bee water

Three cats:

Cats

Bee water pool

Like any creatures, bees get thirsty. So they have to get water from somewhere, for themselves and their hive. They also use water to control the humidity of the hive, as part of the process of making honey.

We have a big pond they can drink from, but it’s easy for bees to drown if they’re not careful. We also have a stream, and in summer a swimming pool, but those aren’t ideal water sources either (Jenn has rescued several bees from the pool when swimming).

So we also have a small kiddie pool that has rocks in it to act as safe landing zones for the bees. It is by the closest tap to the hives, near the greenhouse. Bees will fly for miles to find water, but if they have a ready source close to the hive, they don’t need to go to less ideal places.

The pool was immediately below the tap, but that made it hard to turn it on to top up the pool, when lots of bees are buzzing around. So I recently added a splitter and a couple of short hoses; one going into the pool, which can now be a bit further away, and another for use when working in the greenhouse (until I get around to adding taps in there):

Hoses and bee water pool

I also added a couple of bits of wood as additional landing pads for the bees:

Bee water pool

As a temporary thing, I set up the mobile cam above the pool, so I could watch the bees using it, just for fun. In the above picture, you can see the beehives and greenhouse in the background, to give a better idea of the location.

One interesting observation was that birds and cats also take advantage of the water source. Here’s a crow drinking from the bee pool:

Bird drinking from bee water pool

A cat drinking:

Cat drinking from bee water pool

Bees drinking from the pool; notice some on the wood, some around the edge, and a bunch on the rocks:

Bees drinking from bee water pool

If I zoom in on the pile of rocks, you can more clearly see lots of bees:

Zoom on bees

A crow drinking again; it doesn’t care about the bees:

Bird drinking from bee water pool

Another cat:

Cat drinking from bee water pool

The crow decided to walk across the platforms, somewhat unsuccessfully:

Bird walking in bee water pool

Cat update for week ending May 11

Welcome to another Caturday.

A good yawn:

Good yawn

Four cats:

Four cats

Big stretch:

Stretch

Dinner greetings:

Dinner greetings

An alien cat:

Alien cat

Three cats; eyes in the dark:

Three cats

Breakfast:

Breakfast

A scrub jay helping itself to cat food, several times:

Bird

Pepper contemplating her water dish in the shop:

Pepper in the shop

The scrub jay returns:

Bird

I currently have the mobile camera watching the small pond next to the cat house, as it recently had a leak where water was overflowing the liner of the stream, causing the water level to go down quickly. The camera was so I could see when it was low and top it up. I’ve since fixed the leak, but have left the camera there for now. It captured a cat drinking from that pond:

Cat drinking from pond

They have a water dispenser in the feeder area, but I’m sure pond water is tastier. Here’s the cat looking through the grasses:

Cat by pond

Duck house: installation!

The previous post for the duck house project was about installing the floor joists. This time, installing the house itself!

We used a cart to transport the duck house (without the roof) from the workshop to the pond edge. So to make it easier to get it onto the cart, I raised it up onto concrete blocks:

Duck house on blocks

I then backed the cart under the house, with some carpeting for padding:

Cart under duck house

Pulling the cart and house out of the shop:

Pulling cart out of shop

I pulled the cart down the driveway and across the grass to the destination, with Jenn’s help to keep it steady:

Pulling cart down driveway

Arriving at the destination, where we lifted it from the cart to the floor joists:

Arriving at destination

Next up was the roof. To make it easier, we loaded it into the bed of our truck, and Jenn drove it off-road to near the pond. I rode in the bed, just for fun:

David in truck bed with roof

We then carried it from the truck down the hill and onto the house walls:

Putting on roof

Many thanks to Jenn for her help transporting those heavy parts.

Next, I screwed the three parts together: floor joists, floor and walls, and roof:

Screw

I also added more hooks, including for the LED light strip:

Hooks for light

And to tidy the electrical cords (the two orange ones are temporary; the one going out through the wall goes to the pond pump, and will be replaced with a more subtle green cord later, and the one on the right is for the electric screwdriver):

Electrical

More cord hooks:

Electrical

Here’s the duck house, installed:

Duck house installed

Duck house installed

Duck house installed

Duck house installed

From further back:

Duck house installed

From across the pond:

Duck house across pond

Duck house across pond

An exciting milestone! There’s more to do: finishing the landscaping, adding the ramp, adding the bedding and food and such, and of course adding the ducklings. So there will no doubt be more posts about the duck house, and its future residents, but the building part is basically done now. Three weeks before the ducklings arrive!

Duck house: pond edge & floor joists

Over the weekend we installed the duck house! That seems like such a momentous milestone, I’m going to split it into two separate blog posts.

Firstly, I took the footing blocks and floor joists to the site, and determined the positions by temporarily resting the blocks on top:

Determining footing positions

I then dug out the bank of the pond a bit, repositioned the pond liner, and moved some of the rocks, to work better with the duck house:

Adjusting pond edge

Here’s a view from the pond cam of me wading in the pond, moving rocks. The pond is about 2 feet deep at that point, with a steep slope up to a small shelf at the edge:

Cam view

Here’s the adjusted pond edge:

Adjusted pond edge

I then dug in the concrete footings, using the level to make the floor joists flat:

Footings & floor joists

Here’s the footings & floor joists in their final position, with the footing holes filled in. There’s only about an inch of clearance between the joists and ground, as I wanted it to be as low as possible so the ramp into the pond doesn’t have to be any longer than necessary. The ramp will later be attached to the angled board at the front:

Footings & floor joists

A view from across the pond:

From across the pond

Next, I added scraps of wire hardware cloth to help keep small animals from going under the house. It won’t stop burrowing creatures like moles, but it’ll help:

Adding hardware cloth

The hardware cloth was stapled onto the inside of the boards, for tidiness, and buried a bit underground:

Hardware cloth

The final footings & floor joists:

Footings & floor joists

Next up: bringing over the house itself. Stay tuned!

Duck house: landscaping

Over the last week or so, in between paying work, I’ve been doing a different aspect of the duck house project: landscaping and earthmoving at the pond edge.

Here’s where the duck house will go, between these two rocks. So of course all these plants needed to be moved:

Plants

In order to make a path to the duck house, we also wanted to take out a very leaning and half-dead tree:

Leaning tree

So I used our chainsaw to chop it down and chop up the pieces:

Chainsaw

The tree removed, and starting to excavate around it:

Ex-tree

I moved the irises and such to next to the path location, as indicated by marker spray paint:

Moved plants

To get the wheelbarrow over the stream, I made a temporary bridge out of a pallet:

Temporary bridge

Later, I will make a nice arched bridge over the stream. Stay tuned for that project!

(The stream pump is usually turned off, since it loses a lot of water, but we turn it on occasionally.)

With the plants out of the way, I started excavating. I want the duck house to be as close as possible to the pond water level, so the duck ramp doesn’t have to be too long or steep. So there was a lot of dirt to dig out:

Excavating

More excavating. I did it all by hand; I could have hired someone to do it, either manually or with heavy equipment, but there’s a certain satisfaction to doing it myself, as silly as that is:

Excavating

Here’s a camera view of me digging:

Camera view

Getting close to the desired level. I marked the planned location of the duck house:

Excavating

Excavating the path:

Excavating

Those many barrowloads of dirt had to go somewhere. I put some in the chicken run grazing box, and some elsewhere, but the majority of it went onto the back lawn, to fill in the numerous holes and bumps, left from when the veggie garden used to be there, before a previous owner moved it. Once I’ve finished the excavations, I will add grass seed to the dirt:

Dirt on lawn

It’s me!

David

Contoured dirt for the path; we’ll wheel the duck house down this slope when moving it into place:

Contoured dirt

More of the path space; later I will add gravel to the path:

Contoured dirt

Looking down towards the pond:

Contoured dirt

The flat(ish) area next to the pond, with the duck house location marked:

Contoured dirt

Next up: installing the duck house!

Transplanting fir trees

Last Sunday I transplanted five volunteer fir trees in various places around the property.

This one self-sprouted in the southwest corner of the property, in the middle of a shrub-sized tree, so I dug it up and moved it to a grove of leyland cypress trees in that corner of the field, where it’ll eventually do more good:

Transplanted fir tree

This one sprouted next to a rock by the pond, which would have been fine, except it’d eventually block the view of our weeping willow. So I dug it up:

Dug up fir tree

And transplanted it to a better location a little further from the pond:

Transplanted fir tree

I then headed down the slope on the east side, which is left wild. There are a bunch of tall and not-so-tall trees there; a nursery of baby fir trees amongst the weeds:

Trees

I was pleased to see many little seedlings sprouting up in the uncut grass; I’ve been hoping for that, both to fill out the wilderness with more trees, and provide a supply of more young trees to transplant to useful places in the future:

Seedlings

You win some, you lose some; further down the hill, I saw a fallen tree that took out a section of fence:

Fallen tree

Plus some fallen tree limbs, though many of those have been there for years.  You can also see the road below our east boundary:

Fallen tree limbs

They came from this tall tree:

Tall tree

Back up the hill, I dug up three decent-sized young trees. Here’s the first in the cart:

Tree in cart

I transplanted that one behind the white gazebo. It’s currently next to another mostly dead tree that we’ll cut down… once our chainsaw is done being serviced:

Transplanted fir tree

The final two fir trees I transplanted to the bank behind the pond; you can also see a portion of the north fence:

Transplanted fir trees

Wild ducks visiting pond, and more pond wading

This morning a pair of wild ducks visited our pond for a pitstop of about half an hour.

Wild ducks in pond

Wild ducks in pond

Wild ducks in pond

Wild ducks in pond

Wild ducks in pond

The pond pump fell (or was pushed) over again, so I added a wider pot to hopefully give it more stability:

David in pond

Me in the pond next to the pump:

David in pond

I waded a bit deeper to clean out more debris (and just for the fun of it); this is about two-thirds of the way back towards the deep end:

David in pond