Use Recycled Materials They Said….


G’day everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve put pen to paper (or should that be fingers to keys in this age of technology) due to getting my video series ‘On This Day in Australia’ up and running. If you haven’t seen it, firstly let me say I’m very disappointed in you, and secondly pop over to Youtube and have a squiz.

So as well as writing, filming and editing the series, continuing work on my next novel, working full time and all other necessary requirements I am also in the process of turning a back yard which resembles Berlin circa 1945 (ie pretty desolate with lots of building stuff lying around), into a thing of beauty.

Why is the yard in such a condition, you may ask. Well go on, ask……

I’m glad you asked. You see late last year me and the financial burdens (kids) moved in with the poor individual who is soon to voluntarily join this mob through matrimonial processes. I know what you’re thinking – who in their right mind would volunteer for that? Please don’t ask her that question though, as we’re all working on the theory that it’s best not to get her thinking about such things.

Prior to our arrival, her abode was a nice cosy little two bedroom job, with the outside laundry attached to the back. Obviously it was going to be difficult to accommodate a grand total of five nearly-adults in that kind of accommodation. So what does One do is such a situation? Well my lovely future marital partner decided to whack on a wee extension to the house. Ya know, nothing major. Just three new bedrooms, a bathroom, toilet, lounge room and covered deck with a new laundry. I know what you’re thinking “is he the luckiest Bogan ever to live”, and the answer is “yes, yes I am.”

Anyhoo, the construction of this mansion required the dismantling of the old laundry and the removal of about six inches of top soil from about 90% of the back yard. All the old posts, beams and palings from the old laundry as well as doors, windows and some left over material from on old shed were left in a pile up against the back fence, and the top soil was never seen again. Hence the yard now looks like Berlin circa 1945 as previously mentioned.

What to do with all this left over stuff? Well any normal person would just hire a skip bin, dump it all in and be done with it. But nay, that would be too easy for this husky gent.

“I shall build stuff with it.” Said I, grandly implying possession of carpentry skills which in reality do not exist.

And so construction of the bird cage began.

First up were the posts left over from the old shed. These posts were, rather inconveniently still in the ground, secured with large amounts of concrete. This would’ve been great except they weren’t where I wanted them to be so they had to be extracted.

Too easy Campese. On the end of the crow bar and a shovel and after working furiously for an hour, I was about two inches down on the first post. Dang that ground was hard. But fortunately, dear reader, good old Mother nature came to my rescue with a deluge of rain which managed to soak in improving digging conditions and over the next few weekends all four posts were extracted with their concrete bases intact.

Now to dig the holes where they would now be placed. Now a wise man would go hire a post hole digger to permit a more accurate placement and digging of the holes, but I’m not a wise man, and I kind of have a penchant for doing things the old fashioned way – by hand. So again with the shovel. It was only after all the posts were in that I noticed one of them was not where it should be, in fact it was about thirty centimetres out of place. Did I dig it up and try again? Hell no. I was over the whole digging thing well and truly by this stage.

But then, good old Mother Nature showed her sense of humour. Having gone to great lengths to ensure the holes were deep enough to fully cover the concrete, old Mum sent down another deluge which washed away the loose soil, leaving the tops of the footings exposed. So much for a nice smooth, flat working surface for the frame to go up on.

So with a quick change of plan, boards from the old laundry were hastily nailed around the base, a heap of sand thrown in and some semblance of a base was established, but not with incident. It appears the posts were not exactly square, with each of them having some degree of a twist. So when attempting to nail boards between two posts some ‘encouragement’ was required to bend the boards sufficiently to enable the nails to hold them in place. Unfortunately this was not always successful, with the occasional end springing free and providing a wholloping great whack on the shins. This was usually followed with expressions such as “oh my golly gosh that does hurt somewhat” or “fiddle dee dee, that will leave a bonzer bruise.”

With the top beams going in slightly easier it was now time for the wire. Now for those who have never done this before, here’s a bit of a heads up for you. Aviary wire is distinguished by one stunning feature – it will defy all your efforts to nail it up straight and true. It’s only after you’ve constructed the entire frame and have it all in a vertical position that you come to realise it would be exponentially more effective, with much less swearing, to secure the wire to the frame before introducing the added difficulty of gravity. I won’t tell you how I succeeded in overcoming this challenge, not through any desire to spare you the tedium of reading about it, but more out of a deep desire to ensure that at least one other person in the world may suffer the suffering that I suffered. I’m a tiny, petty man sometimes.

Anyhoo, with a bit of old corrugated iron a roof was installed and a strip of turf filled in the bit of the floor which an insufficient quantity of paving had left bare, and all that was left was the door. We had an old screen door laying around which would make for a fairly decorative door for an aviary. The old insect screen would have to go, to be replaced with aviary wire (yes in the bloody vertical orientation again, no one ever accused me of being a quick learner). But it was during the hanging process (the door, not me) that the old ‘nothing is square or straight’ problem reared is ugly, deformed head once again. The door was straight and square but the posts, as previously discussed, were not. Square peg into a not-so-square hole. So what is one to do? Bend the bloody door, and say it’s close enough of course. What else!

Photo of DIY birdcage/Aviary
The Taj Mahal of Birdcages

Anyway, it’s now installed and operational with four little budgies flapping around in total ignorance of the trouble undertaken for their benefit. A lesser man would begrudge them their luxury, but as a tragic indication of my total lack of carpentry skill, it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever constructed in my life, so they’re welcome to it.

Life is good.


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