Thanks to a chat with that fountain of good advice, Kitty, my latest weapon in the battle against the munching four-footed denizens of our little neighborhood is homemade wire cages. I stopped by the wonderful Agua Dulce Hardware on my way home last night and picked up a 25 foot roll of 24-inch high chicken wire, some new wire snips and a roll of twist ties. (Also a new garden hose nozzle and new clothesline rope, but that’s another story.)
Since I couldn’t find much how-to info online about this, I thought I’d post about it. Thing is, the chicken wire was a lot easier to work with than I expected. Maybe once people make little cages to keep the critters off their seedlings, they don’t think it’s really worth writing about. But I did learn a couple of things along the way that I would have liked to have known before.
As the photo above shows, when you unroll the chicken wire, it wants to roll back up again. Just unroll it till it’s about the diameter you want it and then let the loose ends of the chicken wire poke through the holes to hold it in place. I held the roll back with my right foot while I snipped up the center of a row of holes. I let it overlap by a couple of rows.
Oh yeah, and the ends of the roll I bought were tapered to points. I just made those two cages a little shorter by folding the top and bottom to make them even.
You don’t need to go crazy and buy a twenty dollar pair of wire shears for this job. There are 24 wires to snip through on a 24-inch high piece of chicken wire and it went smoothly with this sturdy $10.99 pair of snips. (I did have some very old ones that came with a set of tools I bought right out of high school, but I’m glad I upgraded to these.)
This hopefully gives you an idea of about how far to over lap the ends. I guess my cages are about a foot in diameter.
Players of stringed instruments may want to avert their eyes for the next photo as it involves the bending of wires with bare hands. Other instructions will advise you to use gloves, but if you’re like me you are usually wearing gardening gloves with extra cloth or leather floating around your fingertips to get tangled in the little spiky wires.
Just make sure your tetanus shot is up to date and plunge in. I got through this project without drawing blood once, but I count myself lucky.
Okay, at first I was all proud of myself for using the wire that came wrapped around the roll to fasten the cages together. Then I realized I could just fold back the loose ends to bind them together. Maybe that’s the whole point of chicken wire? I don’t honestly know.
At this point I thought it might be worth it to invest in some leather gardening gloves designed for a woman’s hand. But it’s 10 miles to the nearest hardware store and I was on point!
Glorious in its lightness and efficiency the cage towers in the sunlight. Can you see how the seam is all bent in on itself, a little to the right of center?
Don’t worry if your cage gets misshapen during handling, you can easily press it round again from the inside out.
It took me about 1 1/2 hours to make 9 cages out of one 25-foot roll of chicken wire. Cost of materials was about $16.00, mostly in the chicken wire with a few cents added for using about a foot of the 50 foot roll of twist ties.
I’m sure there’s a story problem in there for those of you who are so inclined. Knock yourselves out!
On Hydra’s recommendation, I drove some little stakes I had in the shed into the ground next to the cages and tied them down, just in case somebunny’s really determined. Also dug a little bit of a trench with a trowel for the cages to sit down in.
Hey! Do these remind anyone else of the towers at the entrance to LAX? If only I could get them to light up…