I spent the last two days building and installing a cedar gate to the deck. As I've mentioned before, we have bears. And they like sunflower seeds. A lot! It's cute to see them come up on the deck--when they are alone and/or tiny little cubs, but when they are nearly full grown and still hanging together. This year we have a sow and her three cubs returning. Last year the cubs were about as big as Chester our oversized cat. This year they are as big as St. Bernards and growing yet they are still hanging around with Mom as she explores all possible food sources including any birdseed that may still be on my deck. They were here Wednesday night sometime after the rain and left muddy footprints on the deck including a pair that stopped right in front of the sliding door for a bit. Someone was probably scoping out one or more of the cats who were looking outside. That's when I decided to do something I've been thinking about for some time: build a gate.
I went to Lowe's Friday morning and got some 1x4 and 1x2 cedar and spent the day cutting and assembling the gate. Saturday morning I went down and got the hardware to hang and latch the thing. Then I put the thing in place.
The 1x2s are on 4 inch centers leaving just 2-1/2 inches between them. That's enough room for the squirrels but not nearly enough for even the tiniest bear cub. The top is 33-34 inches above the deck floor. Add another 7 or 8 inches for the final step and we're talking about 40 inches from the outside. It's held closed with a very sturdy gate latch and the hinges are quite sturdy, too. Oh, I'm sure a 250+ pound bear putting its shoulder to this can do some damage--IF it wants to. I just hope that the bears are not that desperate for food.
As for the "Almost" in the title of this post, I'll be putting a layer of stain on this as well as the top of the rails when I can be sure the night time temperatures won't be below 40 degrees. (Last night it dropped down to 24.)
I had cause to go into the shed this afternoon and discovered that there have been some very busy mice in there. They chewed--and ruined--two plastic gas cans. One was nearly full of non-ethanol gas and the other was a third full of 32:1 mix for one of the chainsaws. I was able to salvage the fuel, but the cans will be going in the trash on clean-up day. They have also completely shredded a cardboard box in the back. I hope they haven't been at the fuel lines for the mower, chipper or weed wacker.
I need to attract some more outdoor cats--the four or five we see from time to time aren't doing their job--or a weasel.