Tag Archives: pets

Friendly Gardening Assistants

It’s time I wrote about our newest house-mates.  We met them in town a few weeks ago –  two blokes and four ladies. They needed food and shelter.  We’d actually been looking for some helpers in the garden, and this bunch was very friendly, so we agreed that they could stay with us.  We squeezed them all in to our van and brought them back to our place. They quickly settled in to their living quarters and helped themselves to food and drink.  Fortunately, we’ve found them helpful and charming so have asked them to board here long-term.  Providing they can do a few things for us in return.

Here’s their job list:

– weed removal

– distributing manure

– scattering mulch

– overseeing pest control

– turning over the compost

– entertaining the kids and teaching them responsibility

– eating some of our leftover food so it doesn’t go to waste

and one special task just for the men…

– waking us up in the morning (in case the kids forget).

I’ll admit, our house-mates are not living in our actual house.  They have a little one of their own.  In the orchard.  It’s an open-plan house with a miniature drawbridge style door and an upper level where they rest at night.  We close their door once they’ve settled down for the evening.  And open it for them first thing in the morning.

Our new friends are doing some wonderful work here.  So far they’ve fulfilled all their tasks on a daily basis.  Though on several occasions, I’ve had to politely move them on from certain areas of the garden where they’ve been a little overzealous with the weeding and scattering of mulch.

The girls also promised they’d produce tasty, nutritious morsels for us on a regular basis.  They said they’d start as soon as possible.  But so far only the oldest one has come through with the goods.  And only on three occasions.  I suspect the others need to grow-up a bit first.

Thankfully the men have been spot-on with their timing by not waking us before sunrise.  Actually it’s only the one fellow who’s been producing the morning wake-up call.  The other is still quite youthful and perhaps needs a sleep-in.  We were quite reluctant to have two males living under the one small roof at first – we didn’t want any fights breaking out, you see.  But we have ended up with two and they’re getting along quite well for now.  If there’s any trouble though, we’ll be finding alternative accommodation for one of them.

The kids have really enjoyed watching our helpers at work and following them around the place.  Miss Five often opens up their quarters in the morning and delivers some of our leftover food from the night before.  They appear to really appreciate this extra meal at the start of the day.  If the manner in which they scoff the food down and push each other out of the way to access it, is anything to go by.

We’ve become particularly fond of one of the girls.  She’s clearly had a very loving, attentive upbringing and is gentle and affectionate, yet sociable, and loves to come up to the house for a chat.  She’s formed a special bond with Miss Five, too.  Her name is Lulu.  She’s pretty, don’t you think?

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Filed under Growing the Garden, Living Green

Upcycling: Comfy Pet Bed

Do you have a pet in need of a comfy bed?  If you have an indoor cat like I do, no doubt its not short on beds.  But if you want to provide a special place for your pet to snuggle on its own…or just another option…take a look at these fabulous pet beds from Molly Mutt, a US based company.

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The Molly Mutt Dog Bed Duvets, which come in a range of sizes and shapes, consist of a removable and washable cover as well as a ‘stuff sack’ which is designed to be filled with old clothes and bedding that are no longer usable.  Think old socks, undies, holey shirts and tracksuit pants!  What a fabulous idea for keeping these items out of landfill…and providing your best fur friend with a luxury bed of its own.

The openable sack and removable cover also allow for regular cleaning, airing and sunning (even the clothes within can be washed), which not only keeps your pet clean, but is also an important part of environmental flea control.

When I first discovered these I had one of those ‘why hadn’t I thought of that?’ moments. Then I had a ‘how can I do this in an even more eco-friendly way?’ moment.  The Molly Mutt beds are fabulous and a perfect option if you don’t have time for DIY (you can buy them in Australia from here and here) but they are transported all the way from the US, and they’re not made of eco-friendly materials.

So I came up with my own version.  Here it is:

Find an old cushion cover that’s no longer fit for display (mine was covered in horrible brown stains that just wouldn’t vanish).  If you have a dog who likes to rearrange its bed, choose a cover with a secure closure such as a zipper or buttons.  Use the cushion cover as the ‘stuff sack’ by filling it with old clothes or bedding.  Since my pet bed was a small size, I found it worked best to use small items of clothing (underwear and socks) or cut up larger items to fit in and form a nicely shaped cushion.

Old stained cushion cover

Make a basic pet bed cover with preloved fabric.  For my cat bed I used an old baby blanket made out of a soft, thick flannelette.  Cut out a square of fabric that’s slightly larger than the old cushion cover that you’re using – you need to include the seam allowance (1-1.5cm for each side) as well as a bit extra so the filled cushion cover fits inside the pet bed cover (about 0.5-1cm).

cushion cover instructions

Then, cut out two rectangular pieces of fabric that have their length the same as the square’s side, but the width about 2/3 the side of the square.  Hem one side of each rectangle along the length (this will become the part that opens)…or use an old blanket or similar that already has a finished edge.

Cushion cover instructions

Place the square of fabric right side up, and fit the two rectangular pieces, right side down, onto the square so that they overlap.

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Cushion cover instructionsThen simply sew around the edges of the square (with your 1-1.5cm seam allowance).  For durability, double-stitch the corners and the fabric-overlap on either side of the opening.  Zig-zag or overlock the seam edges if the fabric is prone to fraying (the baby blanket was felt-like so it didn’t fray when cut).  Clip the corners…turn right side out…and you’ve made your cover.  Very quick and easy!

Cushion cover instructions

The same principles can be used for different sized beds, and if you don’t have a suitable old cushion cover for the sack, try an old pillow protector or pillow slip instead (the square European style would be ideal).  Or make one yourself in the same way as the bed cover.

Obi on cat bed

Of course, Obi still makes a bed out of everyone else’s bed, the space underneath everyone else’s bed, the lounge, the cosy chair in the study, the pouffe, the change table, the jute bag that holds my fabric scraps, and even the floor.  But he does seem extra happy when he’s curled up on his special cat bed that I custom-made with my old socks and underwear. Perhaps he knows he’s doing his bit for the environment.

P.S. This is not a paid advertisement (I wish)…I just wanted to share a clever idea!

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