As the buds surprised me by coming up this early I needed to get a cage in place before the birds, squirrels and chipmunks got to the food. It was one of the projects I had to do and I was hoping to do it this weekend but the seeds had other ideas. So this afternoon after work I went out and cut my legs and arms to pieces with chicken wire whilst making the cage. For anyone else doing this, don’t wear shorts and a t-shirt and do it outside so you don’t get blood on the carpet!
It was actually quite pleasant outside whilst I built the cage, very hot – I was sweating just standing still but nice and peaceful and my hay fever didn’t kick in until after I had finished which made the whole experience a lot more pleasant. I cut a piece from the roll about 8.5′ long to give a 4′ top and 2′ high with the overlap to let me staple the sides to the underneath and outside edges of the frame. I then cut two more 2′ long pieces and stapled those to the side of the frame. The mesh came tied up with a long piece of wire to hold it together so I was able to use this wire to twist it through the mesh on each side like a bread bag tie, snip the edge off and then repeat for every 2nd hole on the sides. The top edges didn’t need extra wire as I could loop the cut edges around the solid edge from the longer piece. (This sounds complicated but should be obvious when the cage is built). The end result is a fairly sturdy (yet flexible) cage.
There are a couple of drawbacks with this method – the first is that the pieces don’t fit exactly over the box due to the initial box not being cut at exactly 4′ square but the gap is pretty small. Also, because the laths are screwed on top of the base box, there are gaps between the cage and the base unit – hopefully not big enough for a chipmunk to get in – I know that Bruce and Sheila the rabbits won’t be able to get in, nor the squirrels – or at least I hope not.
The other drawback is that the cage needs to be removed for the evening water which is a bit of a pain but not too much of a hassle. I’m also not sure how this is going to work when I put the main vine frame up too as that will be bigger than the cage. I’ll have to see if anyone else has some ideas.