Old Wicker Fence

Deep in a thicket of Western Spirea and blackberry bushes we found an old wicker fence made of spirea. Local birds feed off the millet sized seeds of the spirea and the berries in the brambles. The thicket provides a good nesting ground and the brambles offer security. The fence was likely created to protect a garden from deer on three sides and the brambles protected the other.

The spirea twigs are pliable and dry into sturdy sticks. They are easily woven when cut fresh. We’ll preserve the site and leave it as we found it. We did find some oregano, mint, and a few wild potatoes.

The old wicker fence is a mystery deep in the thicket.

Wood Ducks

A glimpse of the local feathered visitors in the pond out back: Wood ducks and Golden Eyes. (We’ll update the page with some pictures of Mallards when they show up.)

Spring is rolling around and a lot of the creations (made of actual wood) we’ve been putting off for better weather can get hauled outside an designed into interesting furniture.

A glimpse into one of the old hazelnut orchards onsite. We’ll thin and trim while leaving nesting areas and turn some of that tough hazelnut into chairs and thrones.

The Owl

This barred owl has prowled the local farms from dusk to dawn and occasionally stops in for visits. We believe this is a young owl by its curiosity and its tidy, short feathers. An older barred owl also visits and looks a little tired and ragged at the tips. The older owl has grander feather cones around the eyes.

An older barred owl watches from above.

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The owl is not shy and will sit if you approach calmly and talk to it. The behavior resembles a cat. This owl grooms, preens, and observes our activity. The body size is approximately 40 cm. The talons are very intimidating.

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The owl moves about the hazelnuts and is often in a tree that over hangs a small foot bridge. This is a good spot to watch activity on both banks.

Inspired by our visitor, a simple drawing was created to show the calm presence of the owl in its natural habitat. A ‘live edge’ border gives outline to a scene. The drawing was created as an inverse for printing on ‘night’ backgrounds, and as a positive for printing on ‘day’ backgrounds.

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We are printing several versions of the owl in ‘day’ and ‘night’ designs. Full sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, and more. We’ll make them available soon! Click here and check out Prairie Bench Fashion….

If you are interested in our original design of the barred owl on a shirt, let us know. PrairieBench.com will also provide t-shirts to help support local animal rescue.

Revisiting the Garden Gnome House

The garden gnome house was carved out of a solid poplar log that fell during a windstorm. Poplar is not the best wood for carving — it splits and rots easy — but it was big, free, and delivered from the sky in our backyard.

The garden gnomes have their house in a raspberry patch with a waterfall flowing just below the winding staircase.

A Stihl MS261c with the factory bar was used. That’s a mid-sized saw that idles well so the chain can chew slowly without too much gas. This allows for more detail work without revving the saw to high speed. The smaller bar on a MS170 was used to notch out the stairs. See more here…

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So how did it do after a year in the sun, wind, rain, and snow? Not too bad considering it had two litres of linseed oil dumped on it. There was some cracking and a polyurethane glue was injected into the deepest splits. The wood was also stained anywhere water collected. Time for another coat of clear sealer or linseed oil as winter approaches.

Patchwork Barn Bench – Table

Lots of leftovers? That’s what often happens around the wood shed. It’s Halloween and after a good harvest this KD (kiln dried) bench made of 2×6 ends makes a fine place to set out treats, or put on costumes in the hallway.

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No nails or screws involved. The legs are cut at 10° and “picture framed” with some left over 2x4s. The surface is a patchwork of boards cut square on the chop saw. The dimensions are 42″ wide, 16.5″ deep, and 18″ tall. To even the surface, a 3.5″ planer was used to give it an old fashion look and feel. Sanding was at 60 grit and the sharp edges were sanded round. The ends of the bench top were planed thinner so the top doesn’t look like lumber.

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The top is pegged to the frame with eight hardwood dowels. Some artificial aging was added with a fine tip torch. This also highlights some flaws and grain. Because this is construction grade wood, cracks and knots must be ground out or someone sitting on it might get a sliver. Then the bench is coated in a mix of thinner and poly sealer to give it a soft, safe finish. The mix has no gloss and protects the wood with a rubbery durable coat that preserves the touch of real wood.

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Budget: $0. and the end result is a strong, rustic piece that can serve multiple purposes. The legs and frame were originally made for another project, but didn’t get used. They were test legs, but very strong and can easily hold several people standing on it. The corners of the legs are under the center beam, with a direct transfer of weight through the center and down through all four legs equally.

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#10-31-19 will host a bowl of candy on a leaf-covered, spooky porch tonight, for the convenience of neighborhood ghouls.

…and for our web visitors, here’s a peek of the fall colors around Prairie Bench…