A beautiful and gigantic Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) continues to take up shop in my lavender.
This apparently six foot mutant tarantula made attempts to break into my house this afternoon. The authorities were called and my sword of enchantment was charged up by my local wizard.
While watching the Democratic debates tonight, I was joined by this amazing tiny 3/16″ Southern Pink Moth (Pyrausta inornatalis Fernald, 1885). She was bored by the politics of man and flew away. But not before I got my little macro lens onto my smartphone!
Before I begin this post, I’d like to say how today was total providence!
I began this project around 9 am as overhead clouds hung low and fat with a promise of rain. After having THE hottest summer in recorded history, getting a day like today to work outside is truly a gift. As I labored away, which you will see below, I would often stop and look up with a ginormous grin on my face as fat drops of water pounded my face.
Exactly when I took my very last photograph after finishing this project, the sun popped out around 2pm and the heat came back with a vengeance. Just as I was slipping in the front door to sit in front of my many fans. My feelings can best be summed up via the masterpiece film A Scanner Darkly, based on the Phillip K. Dick novel. See it. Read it. Now.
I’m calling this a sign that today’s post was meant to be. That said, let’s begin.
My coastal coral tree, which I’ve written about a few times here, has proven to be quite the fast grower. Every year it doubles in size. Much to my immense pleasure. Here it is as a young pup. Also, this specimen was from a branch cutting . You can learn how to propagate coastal corals right over here. Or how to prune this tree over here.
It’s grown so damn fast that the paltry tree ring I placed lovingly around it is now dwarfed in only two years. It looks like a poor geisha girl with feet bound and shoes too tight. That, coupled with some incessant crab grass, has caused me to want to remedy the situation. Just look at this unsightly mess!
Good lord! You can’t even see the ring any more! Something must be done to free up the tree trunk as well as the carnations surrounding it. In case you’re about to cast judgment upon me for the length of my grass, rest assured it is completely intentional. This summers experiment involved some tight state-mandated water restrictions because of our continued drought.
I am proud to say that I’ve maintained a lush and healthy green lawn ALL season long. Using about 30% of the water I used in previous years. The length of the grass is all part of the experiment. A rather successful one at that. Interested in learning more? Go here.
Before I begin this little story, please forgive my long absence. I shan’t bore you with the messy and gritty details as to why I went off the rails, but I will say that every now and again my career at the museum tends to draw energy into itself. Like a black hole, not even light can escape.
I’m not saying that I’ve been there 24/7, but the times when I was finally home and could’ve written you many posts, something had happened to my brain as well as my will power. I sat in front of the computer and drooled. Devoid of any sense or reason, I typed the same thing over and over and over. “All work and no play makes James a dull boy”
This was then proceeded by a short stint working as the off season manager of the Overlook Hotel and then some other stuff that I can’t seem to recall. I vaguely remember some kind of hedge maze…
Regardless, I am here again. I humbly thank you for you patience. Let us continue our journey shall we?…
During my downtime at the Overlook Hotel, I also engaged in one or two projects. One of which was to design and construct a new coop for Piper to finally get her away from those chicken bullies. I had a finite amount of scrap wood and hardware in the garage and seeing as I had no extra money to spend on the project, I wanted to make said supplies work for a nice little coop design. With such tight parameters, there was only on thing to do; build it all first in a 3D program. Once again, I turned to SketchUp, the best free program in the universe. I used this program to design my larger loft style coop as well.
Firstly, I added all of the scrap pieces into the program to begin to piece them all together. With a little Tetris-like arranging, I was able to maximize my yield and crate a cut list with my meager supplies. No room for error with this carpentry project!
Full disclosure, I didn’t actually use that old-timey drill seen in the above photo. I just thought it would look nicer than my Panasonic cordless. What a deceitful carpenter I be! Yeah? Get over it.
Here’s the final 3D rendering in a futuristic video form. What wonders we shall see!
Impressive yes? I can’t stress enough how much I love SketchUp. To be able to maximize my yield as well as test all the doors and hinges is priceless. Once all the details were worked out and the design was polished, I began assembling the coop. No small task as every single piece of wood was used, full of holes and painted. So I spent most of my time sanding, refinishing the wood and pulling nails and staples.
Every Journey begins with the first step
Adding side panels
A step at a time
All built and ready for teak oil
Applying the teak oil
Detail of the wooden knobs
Yep! They work.
A view of the living room
Privacy curtain for egg laying.
The basement door opens too!
It took a lot longer to build than I anticipated but I really got into a zen state from all the sanding and shaping of the reclaimed wood. I haven’t spent this much time on a carpentry project since I was Head Carpenter at the San Diego Museum of Art. It did my soul good to work on this project. Also, it turned out pretty close to my original drawing. Check it out.
Not too shabby huh? But what good is all this work if it isn’t properly Piper approved? No good. To answer my own question. So the next stage was to get the little fuzzy fluffball inside to test it out.
“Yep, I can lay eggs in here!”
“But could you close the lid please?”
Piper, it’s time to come out and see the rest of the house.
Perch stability check.
“Wait, is that food?”
“Oh, tha master bedroom eh?”
“Wait, what’s that hole for?”
“Meh, it’ll do.”
All in all, I think she approves. However, I am not too happy with the size restrictions here. I want to get another silkie hen to keep her company and there’s barely enough room for Piper. Perhaps I should have bitten the bullet and purchased some extra lumber. Hind sight is 20/20.
I’ve decided to open up the back panels and add an additional room to the back which will double the width of her coop without causing me to lose any of the hard work I’ve already done. I’ll submit my permits for an add-on with the city post haste. No, no I won’t. Shhh!
I also was planning on giving her a mini run on those planter beds to the right of the coop so she can better peck and scratch for bugs an critters and such. Between those two additions, I’ll feel better about having two bantam breeds in this mini-coop. Until then, I’m keeping her in with the big girls. It shouldn’t be too long of a wait though.
Then I’ll just have to wait for her fluffy feathers to grow back so she can reclaim her past glory. Just look at this little fluffball! Can you tell that I’m in love with this little angel? Now I’ve always loved chickens…on my plate. This is different though, because she loves me back! Raise a glass to our poor tortured heroine for soon she shall have peace and retirement and sweet cooing happiness.