The Ducks Project

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I have two wooden ducks for outdoor decor donated by my parents.  Applying the permaculture principle of “produce no waste”, the plan is to fix them up and put them in the children’s garden section of the backyard once we are at the implementation phase. Miss Z always loves the sculptures whenever we visit a nursery and this way she’ll have her own ducks to peek out of the plants. Our property has a caveat of no farm animals, which means no horses, donkeys, cows, sheep, goats or pigs, and strict limitations on poultry and how they are housed. Luckily, we also have a lake nearby with lots of birdlife, so with all our visits “duck” was one of her first words.

The ducks are laid out on newspaper, ready for painting

The ducks are laid out on newspaper, ready for painting

As you can see, the ducks are dry, weathered, and the texture is quite rough.  Their feet rotted away in the garden, but otherwise look like they can be fixed up to my untrained eye.  I’m not particularly crafty or into DIY although I love seeing what other people can do, so there is a learning curve in this for me.

I asked for advice at the local Bunnings about whether to use an oil or other paint to preserve the ducks and chose a deck stain. This means no sanding involved (too fiddly with set up and maintenance and I just know I wouldn’t do it), and no need for careful painting. It’s also a sample pot, which keeps the costs down.  I chose European Oak to give a more naturalistic duck appearance. 

Deck stain sample pot

Deck stain sample pot

After one coat of deck stain, this is how the ducks looked.

Staining the ducks

Staining the ducks

Really rich and wet, don’t you think?  Then with some drying time, you can see the stain really sunk in.

The ducks after some drying time

The ducks after some drying time

I like the little nail eye.

Hello duck

Hello duck

The ducks stained with a second coat

The ducks stained with a second coat

The ducks look a lot darker with the second coat.  I stood them up so they could dry all over without sticking to the newspaper.

Standing ducks to dry

Standing ducks to dry

And this is how they look dry.  I’m very happy with this, and I notice the rain beads on them nicely so the deck stain is doing its job.

The ducks after the second coat has dried

The ducks after the second coat has dried

Project costs

Ducks $0.00 (donated)

Deck stain $14.95

Pack of 2 paintbrushes $1.99

Off cut of sleeper wood as a base $0.00 (excess from installing new sleepers in the front yard)

Total: $16.94

I think that’s very reasonable for preserving two cute additions to the backyard.

As a little aside, there is a point to consider – the clean up. Again, I’m trying to produce no waste here. The paint recommended using turpentine to clean the brushes. Used turpentine is a highly flammable and volatile substance and definitely not to be poured down the sink, and I have no intention of ruining the soil in the backyard by pouring it on there. So, what do you do?

Ehow says Do not use a plastic container to dispose of turpentine; the solvent will corrode the plastic.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how_8313285_safely-dispose-turpentine.html#ixzz30bvqgU4Z

Safety tips

  1. So use a metal or glass container, preferably with a lid, and grab a sticky label so you know what it is
  2. Handle turpentine in a well-ventilated area
  3. For small amounts, leave the container outside (away from children and animals) to let it evaporate
  4. For larger amounts, put the lid on and leave the paint to settle. You can pour off the clear liquid to be reused in another labelled container. Then add an absorbent such as cat litter to the solids remaining until it becomes completely dry.
  5. If you’re not sure, contact your waste collection centre, local council or other environmental agency for advice and disposal

Links:

http://www.ehow.com/how_8313285_safely-dispose-turpentine.html

http://thriftylink.com.au/Easy-Solutions/Environmental-Tips/Paint-Disposal

http://www.resene.com.au/comn/safety/dispose.htm

Back to the ducks, there are 2 more steps to finish.  1. Find a way to stand up the ducks, and 2. Place in the backyard.

Number 1 will be tricky as the ducks’ legs are slim and have a nail embedded through them.  I want to find a way to prevent more of the ducks from rotting as they would if they are just staked into the garden as they are.  I’m happy to use the off cut sleeper if I can find an easy way to make it work.  Or try something else, like a duck nest maybe? 

What would you do to settle the ducks into the backyard?

A Feast for Wattlebirds

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…or maybe high tea?  I spotted a wattlebird sampling one of the growing grevilleas in the backyard and am so pleased to provide a food source for the local birds during winter.  I’m sorry I didn’t get to take a photo of this moment to share with you.  The wattlebird was nervous that I was there and shortly flew into the safety of the grevillea tree.

The beautiful red flowers of the grevillea are attracting wattle birds

The beautiful red flowers of the grevillea are attracting wattlebirds

You can see there are plenty of flowers to keep a few birds occupied.

The grevillea shrub is showing new green growth and plenty of red flowers

The grevillea shrub is showing new green growth and plenty of red flowers

The other shrubs in this garden bed are focusing on growing.

The tick bush has really settled into the garden

The tick bush has really settled into the garden

The tick bush has lovely soft growth and I can’t resist running my fingers over it as I walk past.

The banksia has dropped all of its leaves

The banksia has dropped all of its leaves

Sadly, the banksia has suffered.  I’m not sure if it has died or will show signs of life come spring time.  These photos from March show how many caterpillars found it delicious.  I picked them off to prevent more damage to the banksia.  Miss Z still remembers there were caterpillars there.

Mmm banksia, says the caterpillar

Mmm banksia, says the caterpillar

The caterpillars eat quickly

The caterpillars eat quickly

Curiously, nature has now planted something else in the pot with the banksia.  Does anyone know what this is?

A new plant is happily growing in the pot with the banksia

A new plant is happily growing in the pot with the banksia

It looks like it will flower soon too.  I’m inclined to leave it there to see what happens.

A closer view of the new plant

A closer view of the new plant

Next to it is the common mint bush, which will have purple flowers when it blooms.  If it keeps that shape as it grows, it may have room for some ground covers around it in future.

The common mint bush has an upright habitat

The common mint bush has an upright habitat

The rock correa is much more rounded.  It looks like it will fill this space well.

The rock correa is in the foreground

The rock correa is in the foreground

The other garden bed is blooming.

Flowering away

Flowering away

This is an existing shrub in the garden that I’ve seen in other gardens in the neighbourhood.  It’s drought-tolerant and provides some winter colour.

Another view of the shrub

Another view of the shrub

Its blooms are past their best now.

Colour during winter

Colour during winter

This shrub seems to flower for most of the year.  This is also an existing shrub and looks happy where it is.

The hardenbergia is showing its purple flowers and is now providing habitat too.  I have to keep an eye on this plant to train it to grow sideways instead of just up as it is a keen grower.  It’s wonderful to bring life, habitat and beauty to the garden.

A spider is resting on a web in the hardenbergia

A spider is resting on a web in the hardenbergia

How about your garden?  Do you have blooms in winter?  Has something you’ve planted brought in other visitors?  Or has nature decided what will grow in your garden?