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Raised Beds Solve Rocky Soil Problem

Loretta Liefveld

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll completely understand why I decided that my vegetable garden will be planted in raised beds. This is a picture of what just the top of my back yard looks like, not to mention the black plastic that covers the entire yard about 4 inches below the soil, or the gigantic rocks lying about 8 inches beneath the surface.

Original back lawn

Large rocks in ground

I searched all over to figure out where to build my beds.  I checked both the front and backyard at different times of the day, so I could see where the sun fell at those times. I also wanted a place that was close to the house.  My previous garden was about 100 yards away from the house. In the summer, when it was hot, I just didn’t feel like walking that far to harvest vegetables. I knew I would be able to take care of them much easier if the garden were close.

I also had to decide on the size and materials. I wanted the beds to be high enough that I didn’t have to stoop down (another advantage of raised beds), so 2 to 3 feet seems about right. I wanted them to be sturdy (maybe even be able to sit on the edge) and easy to build. We decided on beds that are 3 feet wide, 8 feet long, and 2 feet tall. That would allow us to buy lumber in sizes that we didn’t need to cut very much.

I decided on alternating stacking pattern, partially for the strength and partially for the appearance. Here’s the result, before filling it.

Completed Raised Bed

I really wanted to utilize as much of the native soil as possible. Rob used the bulldozer to push a load of "dirt" over to my area.  Like everything around here, it was dirt and rocks, not beautiful, rock-free topsoil. So I had to sift the soil. Since our soil texture is primarily clay, I wanted to mix in plenty of organic material and some gypsum. 

First, I loosened up the soil at the bottom of the raised bed.  This also gives you an idea of what it would be like if I wanted to try to plant here.

Bottom of planter

Next, I needed some organic material to mix in. As I’ve mentioned before, we have lots of ponderosa pines and some red (Douglas) firs. So I took my trusty Husqvarna lawn tractor and its little trailer into the forest to gather "forest mulch."  In the old shed, I found four sifting screens made of half-inch hardware cloth in wooden frames. I wanted to sift out smaller rocks than that, so we put another layer into the frame and offset the holes, balanced the screens on top of planter, and I started sifting.

Sifting screen

The word sifting doesn’t really impart the effort involved.  I wanted about a 50/50 mix, so I would put three shovels of dirt/rocks onto the screen, and then four shovels of forest mulch. I used a short handled shovel to push the material back and forth until I only had rocks, pinecones, and small sticks left in the screen. I put this leftover debris into a wheelbarrow and started all over again.

Screening into raised bed

Little did I know that I would never be able to move that wheelbarrow once it was filled with rocks.

Wheelbarrow full of rocks

Needless to say, this was a long and arduous process, but finally it was finished, and I planted my first bed with some seedlings I had started earlier from seed, green bush beans, watermelon, basil, and peas (right to left). I also planted some carrot seed, but only two of them broke through.

Newly planted 1st bed
(June 30 2017)

I quickly realized that one bed wouldn’t even begin to be enough – even just for now.  

First planter plants grown
(August 27, 2017) 

I decided I needed at least four beds, just to get started. Fortunately, we recently moved the backyard fence out about 10 feet, giving me more room. We leveled pads for three more beds. It was really quite easy. I have a secret, little-known tool that makes this super easy…my husband (haha. He loves it when I say this).

Leveling ground for remaining beds

Soon, the second bed was finished as well, and ready to fill.

This time, I decided it was just way too much work to sift all that dirt and rock, so I bought raised bed mix. Most of the other bagged material that you can buy is meant to be mixed with the existing soil, and I did NOT want to go through that again. But, I finally figured out what to do with that huge rock-filled wheelbarrow that I couldn’t move. I shoveled it into the bottom of the raised bed! Shovelful by very heavy shovelful. But it was still easier than all the sifting I did for the first bed.

The raised bed mix was just a little to "fluffy" for my liking and I was afraid it would dry out too easily, so I mixed in some garden soil mix as well.

I planted two kinds of snap peas, two kinds of spinach, two kinds of kale and two kinds of kohlrabi. I also replanted my carrots. I have a couple of clear shower curtains that I’m using to cover the top of the raised bed when the nights were getting down to 32 degrees. But the days are wonderful, so I can open it up easily. 

First 2 beds planted for winter

I also took out my green beans, which were pretty much finished, and hung them up on the fence as a treat for the deer.  They loved it!  Two days later, they were all gone. 

Green beans for deer

 I’m always absolutely fascinated by how quickly plants grow. The bed starts out looking so lonely and it just isn’t any time at all before it’s filled to the brim. I can hardly wait for this one.

Dehydrating Wild Apples and Plums

Loretta LiefveldYesterday was another rainy day in Kamiah. I love the rain. I love watching it rain. I love doing indoor projects while it’s raining. 

I decided to dehydrate some wild apples I picked several days ago. I know, you aren’t "supposed" to dehydrate when it’s humid or raining, but I really don’t think it matters as long as you make sure the item is thoroughly dried. It just might take longer than usual. But since I normally just let my dehydrator run all night, it doesn’t make a lot of difference.

We have lots and lots of wild apple trees. Most of them have very small apples, but a few have some that are almost as large as the "small" apples sold in the stores. Most of them turn somewhat red-streaked when they are ripe, sort of like a ‘Fuji’ or ‘Gala.’  Most of them are also wormy, but I’ll just cut out the bad parts. The good parts will still be good for dried snacks and apple pies.

First, I used my electric slicer to slice them into ¼-inch slices. They are small enough that I can line up two or three at a time.  As the slices pile up, I immediately put them into a bowl of water so they don’t turn brown.

 2_20170919 Apples slices in colander

You can see that some of the slices look pretty good, but some have bruises or bad spots. On one apple slice, I noticed a worm that had been sliced in half. Yuck!  But at least it wasn’t crawling around.

I use an apple corer and a paring knife to make quick work of the bad spots. The apple corer quickly removes the core, and the paring knife cuts out other bad spots. I don’t worry about making "pretty" slices. The good slices go directly into a lemon juice/water mixture. The scraps go into a colander.

 3_20170919 3 apple slices and tools


4_20170919 Apple slices being cut 

You can see the proportion of good slices versus scraps in this picture. The scraps will go to my worm farm and my compost pile.

 5_20170919 Cleaned slices and scraps

Taking them out of the lemon juice mixture, I dry them in a clean towel, then arrange them on a dehydrator tray.

 6_20170919 Prepared Apple slices on tray

The apple slices didn’t use up all of the trays, so I decided to also dehydrate some of the plums I had picked.

8_20170919 plums in colander cropped 

The instructions said to blanch them for 30 seconds, which I thought was weird, but I did it. The skins all split, making it difficult to then cut them in half and remove the pit while still keeping the skin on.   

 9_20170919 plums in ice water cropped

The instructions said to put them on the tray with the skin down, so I tried to do that. In some cases, the skin had come completely off, so I put the skin on the tray, and then grabbed a skinless plum to put on top of the skin.

This morning, I took out the apples and checked the plums. The apples look great! I tried one, and they are the perfect consistency for a snack. I loaded them up into a quart jar. They barely fit.

7_20170920_Dried apple slices on tray


120170920Dried apple slices in jar cropped Small

The plums looked pretty weird. They stuck to the tray, and the skins that didn’t have any plums on top were crispy. I turned them over, according to the instructions, but I’m not holding out any hope. I’m sure they will taste fine, but they sure look weird.

99_20170919 Dried plums on tray before turning cropped 

Meanwhile, the store had a fantastic sale on strawberries, 4 pounds for $5! I bought 8 pounds! I'll freeze some with sugar (Rob's favorite dessert — sugared strawberries with cream). Then I'll slice some and try dehydrating those.

20170920 Strawberries 8 pounds cropped

Dehydrating Kale

Loretta LiefveldIt’s been smoky all week due to all the fires in the Pacific Northwest — 74 fires at last count.  With a high-pressure area above us, the smoke can’t dissipate, so it’s hanging around causing the air quality to range between "very unhealthy" to "hazardous."  Since I’m staying inside as much as possible, I decided to do some dehydrating.

I ventured into this experience once before, but didn’t really follow through. Recently, I bought a book about dehydrating that encouraged me to really pour myself into it this time.   So far, I’ve dehydrated zucchini, crookneck squash, apple cinnamon chips (from our wild apple trees), corn, broccoli, and cauliflower. Today, I’m going to try kale.

I’m not a huge fan of kale, mostly because of its super curly edges, which are just too dense for my taste. I’ve had "baby" kale (which is flat) in salads and loved it, though.  The only kale in the store has curly edges, but since this is sort of an experiment, I guess it will do.  I bought one bunch.

The book says to wash it thoroughly and then pat it dry. It also says the kale flattens out more if you blanch it before dehydrating.  It didn’t make sense to me to pat it dry and then plunge it into boiling water to blanch it. So, I washed it thoroughly, but then just went to the next step, which is cutting out the center rib.

20170908kale first wash cropped resized 50 pct Custom

20170908kale cutting center rib Medium Custom

The instructions state that if you want kale chips, cut it into 3-by 4-inch pieces. Otherwise, leave them whole. Well, I don’t know if this kale is just small or what, but once I cut out the center rib, the kale was already in pieces smaller than 3 inches by 4 inches.

I prepared to blanch the kale. I have a ceramic flattop range, and my pot that has a removable strainer doesn’t have a flat bottom. So, I used the inside strainer from that pot separately in another pot that has a flat bottom. It doesn’t exactly fit perfectly, but I think it will be a lot easier than not using it. Once the water came to a boil, I grabbed a large handful of kale and pushed it into the boiling water with tongs. I only used a handful because I thought it would take longer to come back to a boil if I put all of the kale in at one time. The water has to come back to boiling before counting the blanching time, so I put the lid back on. After 15 seconds of blanching, it was ready for the ice bath (which was my kitchen sink filled with water and ice cubes).

I realized there was no easy way to get the inside strainer out, drain the boiling water out of it, and then dump the blanched kale into the ice bath, so I just used the tongs again to pull the kale out of the boiling water and put it into a colander over a pan. I then dumped the kale from the colander into the ice bath.

20170908kale in colander Small Custom

20170908kale in ice water Small

Having never done this before, I was shocked at what a beautiful green it now was!  

It took three handfuls to complete the blanching and ice bath. Once the kale was cool, I put it back in the colander and shook it up and down to drain as much water as I could. It was now time to pat it dry. I think I used four or five dishtowels before it was dry enough. The blanching had flattened the kale somewhat, but all those little curly edges were still there, and they held onto that water as if they were dying in the desert.

Finally, I laid all those kale pieces onto the drying trays. I turned them upside down, hoping they would flatten out more. I ended up with four trays. I sprinkled salt on three trays of kale, and I seasoned one tray with Maggie, which is a soy-based seasoning. It’s very strong, and I just used a brush to pat the Maggie on the pieces of kale. Afterward, it still looked like a lot, so I gently used a paper towel to pat some of the Maggie off the kale.

 20170908kale in deydrator teray Small Custom

I just let the dehydrator run all night, because it was already late in the afternoon. How’d they turn out? Well, they aren’t my favorite snack; the texture is a little weird. They sort of disintegrate in my mouth, and then the ruffled edges are very dense. I’m going to grow some non-ruffled kale and try with those. The ones I flavored with Maggie were definitely much better than the ones that were only salted.

Does anyone have suggestions for a non-ruffled kale to try?

Tree roots and hardpan and rocks, oh my!

Loretta Liefveld 

After we bought our home in Idaho, I just couldn’t wait to start planting. While in Costco one day, I saw several different types of blueberry plants. These were remarkably good-sized plants, not like the puny ones that were available in Central California. So I bought three: Spartan, Duke and Sunshine. Little did I know at that time how hard it was going to be to plant them! Nevertheless, now that I had them, I couldn’t let them die. I started to dig my first planting hole.

The hole needs to be larger and deeper than their existing pot. Here’s a picture of how far my shovel went into the ground on my first attempt to dig a hole. I knew I could ask my husband for help, but this is my project, and he has enough on his hands right now, since we just moved.

 1-20170820 shovel going in cropped

Oh, no! This will take forever. I rummaged through the tool shed to see what kind of treasures might be in there. Aha! I found a post hole shovel that the previous owner left. This shovel has a blade that is much narrower than a normal shovel, and it goes into the dirt much, much easier. Here’s a picture so you can see how much further it went in.

 2-20170820 post hole shovel going in cropped

A spading fork is pretty useful when digging in hard dirt, usually. But take a look at what happened to it when I managed to accidentally get one tine under some roots (of course, I wouldn't give up when it got stuck).

 3-20170820 Spading fork bent tine cropped

Altogether, I used all of the available digging tools on this hole, including the small trowel, which I used to get into small spaces between the rocks in order to loosen them.420170820 different types of shovels Medium

Filling the hole with water softens the dirt and makes it easier to dig. It’s also easier at first to take very small cuts at the edge of the hole.

 520170820Fill hole with water Medium

Unfortunately, after about 6 to 8 inches of topsoil, I ran into hardpan clay and rocks.

 620170831 Hole with hardpan and rock captioned Medium

In order take the above picture, I had to act like an archeologist, going so far as to use a tablespoon and a brush to get the dirt off of the rocks and hardpan. I also squirted water from the hose into the hole to wash the dirt off the rocks, resulting in just covering the bottom inch and a half with water (you can see the dried mud at the bottom, right below the hardpan clay). Two hours later, the water still had not drained.  So, it’s imperative to get past these layers so the plants don’t drown. 

You might not be able to see in the picture, but these rocks are wedged in such a way that it’s sort of like a Chinese puzzle. You have to find the "key" rock and take it out in order to take other rocks out. Of course once you do that, there are a whole bunch of more rocks. The visible area of the larger rock in the picture is about 9 inches by 5 inches. The small rock to the right of it is one of the key rocks. 

To be honest, I still haven’t been able to finish this particular hole. The larger rock and the medium rock next to it are wedged under the tree root that you can see running diagonally next to them.  Digging out the dirt surrounding them, I found a tree root 1 inch in diameter winding it’s way around a rock under the dried mud just above it in the picture. It was literally hugging the rock, encircling it at least on two sides. I’m still working on it. I’m so stubborn that I will just not give up. Stay tuned for the results in a subsequent post.

In the meantime, here is the comfrey plant that I dug up and brought with me from my previous home, along with a container of organic material I gathered to help improve the soil.

720170831 comfrey ready to plant cropped Medium

I have lots of Ponderosa pine and red (Douglas) fir around my home, so I gather the "mulch" and mix it 50-50 with the native soil to put in the hole.

In the picture below, on the left is the ground where I gather the mulch, which doesn’t look like much. But sweep away the surface debris, and there you can see the 2-inch deep mulch of decomposing needles (picture on the right). It’s not yet completely decomposed, so I will add some nitrogen, since the process of decomposition uses up a lot of nitrogen.

 820170831 mulch location and closeup Medium

After mixing the mulch 50-50 with the native dirt, I’ll mix that in with the dirt that is currently in the pot from the plant. 

Here’s the result of planting just my three initial blueberry plants, and a few of the plants I brought with me, lemongrass, peppermint, Lion’s Tail, and lemon balm.

8- 20170701 Front lawn blueberries and plants from 3R cropped captioned

Doesn't look like much, considering the amount of time I've had to spend just to dig each hole. Around each hole, you can see the rocks that I was able to get out while digging. You can see some rather large rocks around the the closest blueberry.

If any of you have successfully conquered this kind of rocky nightmare, please share.

Extra! Extra! Weed All About It!

Loretta Liefveld

I love getting my hands in the dirt.

There’s something about the sensation of the dirt between my fingers that’s soothing, yet primal. I can feel the texture and moisture of the soil, and I can see the earthworms close up and personal as they do their magic. I’m also less likely to accidentally pull up a newly sprouted seed that I planted.  Therefore, I never weed with a hoe or other "stand-up" tool.  Instead, I put on my grubbies, grab my favorite hand tools, and plop myself down on the ground. Sometimes I even put on gloves. But, in no time at all, I’m pulling them off so I can really feel the dirt.

My favorite tools are the weeding claw and hand-weeder, shown in this picture:

 20170820 weeding claw and hand weeder rotated Medium

Here’s the method I use:

Push the weeding claw into the ground as far as it will go and pull toward you.

Claw pulling weeds

Many weeds will dislodge by themselves, leaving weeds with long taproots and grasses that have mats of roots.

20170814 digging weeds next to clover Medium

Grab underneath the grass mats with your hand and pull up, just like a carpet.

Grass mat pulled up

For long taproots, push the forked end of the hand-weeder deep into the ground right next to the root and pull the top of the handle toward you. This will cause the forked end to move away from you to loosen the root. For some weeds, you can simply grab the weed in your hand, right at the base of the weed, and wiggle the root until it dislodges.

20170814 weed pulled with root Medium

Remove as much dirt as possible from the roots by shaking, rubbing the dirt between your fingers or hands, or hitting the dirt-laden weed against the ground or your other hand.

Turn the weed upside down, exposing its roots to the sun, and put it in a pile to dry out.

20170813 Upside down weed cropped Medium 2 

I usually leave the pile of weeds there to dry.

Newly pulled and dead weeds

Once the weeds are thoroughly dried out, I can spread them out as mulch.


I can hear the gasps now, as you think, "But won't that just propagate more weeds?"

The ideal time to weed is before seeds are produced.  If the weed has matured and seeds have already been scattered about, then it makes no difference.  The only time you need to worry about the seeds is when the weed has matured, and the seeds have matured, and the seeds have not scattered yet.

In any case, leaving the weeds (and potential seeds) above ground as mulch is at least no worse than leaving the weeds in place.

Note that I do NOT till the dried out weeds into the ground. That would just be asking for trouble. They are just lying on top of the dirt, helping to conserve moisture.

That’s it, except for my 3 rules of weeding:

1. Only weed as long as you feel like it. Whenever weeding becomes a chore, when your back starts to tense up, when you get hot and sweaty, just stop. Sometimes that’s in 15 minutes,  sometimes it’s an hour or even two.

2. Only weed when the soil has the right moisture content. Weeding when the dirt is dry and hard will only bring frustration and pain. You can’t dig the dirt with a hand tool, and the dirt is like concrete grabbing the roots of the weeds. Mud is also impossible. The weeds may come out easily, but you’ll end up with giant globs of gunk that will dry to a hard concrete-like mass.   

For easy weeding, you should be able to sink the weeding claw into the dirt up to where the claws turn toward the handle. When pulling the claw through the dirt, the resulting dirt should be loose.  When you pick some dirt up and squeeze it, it should form a ball that can easily be broken. If you need to, water thoroughly the day before. Depending on the temperature, the moisture will be perfect the next day. 

Squeezed ball of dirt

Crumbled ball of dirt

3. Don’t try to get it perfect the first time. There is nothing more discouraging than spending an entire hour weeding and only finish a spot as big as your laptop.  So give yourself a break by using  one of these methods: 

• Target just one kind of weed (you can get the others next time).
• Pick just weeds of a certain size (there’s an optimum size. If they are too small, they are hard to grasp.  If they are too large, the roots go very deep).
• Don’t agonize over getting the entire root (I know, that goes against all conventional wisdom, and it’s true that if you don’t get the entire root, it will grow back. But you can get a lot of satisfaction in  getting that weed-free look, and you can get the weeds with stubborn roots one at a time later). 


20170813 Unweeded section cropped


After being weeded

Neglected Rocky Nightmare Transformation

Loretta LiefveldWe recently moved to North Central Idaho, and I have absolutely no idea how potatoes or any other root crops are ever grown here! Around our home, we have about 6 to 8 inches of topsoil. Under that is a 3- to 4-inch layer of hardpan clay. Honestly, at first, I thought it was leftover concrete from building the house. When I was finally able to break through and get a few chunks out, I found that it was red, and I could break it. Beneath the clay are rocks. Ranging from egg-sized to fist-sized, and sometimes even larger, the basalt rocks are something to be reckoned with.

No one has worked the garden area in over 20 years. The front "lawn" is mostly just mowed weeds with a border garden of white rock over heavy-duty landscape fabric, and a few flamingo statues.

Original front lawn_resized

The backyard also consists of weeds, growing in between 2-to 3-inch flat rocks that have been placed there in a single layer. I discovered that under the flat rocks is a layer of soil about 3 inches deep and then black plastic. All of this in rock-hard soil.

Original backlawn _resized

I have my work cut out for me. I don’t want a lawn. Period. Full-stop. A lawn wastes water and has to be maintained.  I’m going to transform this area from mowed weeds to an oasis of bushes and herbal ground covers. This is such an onerous task that I can’t do it all at once. I hope to share some insight with all of you as I struggle to transform this nightmare.

I started with three blueberry bushes that I bought from Costco. It took a full day to dig a hole big enough for each plant. This is how I discovered what the soil was like. I can normally dig several in one day.  These are good-sized plants, so for each one I dug a hole that was about 2 feet wide at the top and about 2 feet deep. There are ponderosa pine and red fir trees all around, so several inches of fallen pine needles went in the bottom of the hole. Once the blueberry bush was put in the hole, I back-filled with a mixture of dirt and pine needles, topping it off with 2 inches of pine needles and pine cones.  Next, I planted a few plants that I brought with me: lemon grass, lion’s tail, Mexican verbena, and peppermint.

I started to lay out a path using a garden hose. Once I had the basic path outlined, I filled it in with cardboard boxes. The cardboard should smother the grass, making it easier to remove the grass later.

 Front lawn blueberries and plants from 3R cropped_resized

Three blueberries and a path_resized

It doesn’t look like much yet, but one step at a time. 

Bat Box for Babies

Loretta LiefveldNow that we’ve excluded the bats from our home, we need to give them some new housing. We wanted to get it done before maternity season. But it’s been triple digit heat for 4 weeks, so I could only work on it a couple of hours a day.

There are many plans available online. I chose the Four-chamber Nursery House from The Bat House Builder's Handbook. You can make two houses out of 1/2 sheet of 1/2-inch plywood, 1/2 sheet of 3/8-inch plywood, and 2 pieces of 1x6x8 pine or cedar. If you don’t have the tools to cut the wood yourself, or you don’t trust your ability, many lumber yards and big-box home improvement stores will make the cuts for you, for a small fee. I’m lucky to have a husband that does all that stuff, so I asked him to help. Here are all the pieces, all cut out.

Pieces cut and laid out

Pieces stained

I think the hardest part of cutting it is the bevel. I can’t imagine doing this without a table saw.

Bevel cut with table saw

We cut horizontal grooves on the interior and landing surfaces, so the bats can grab hold. The instructions said you can do it with a sharp object or a saw, so I chose to use a screwdriver, since I’m not very handy with a saw. But that took a long time, and they didn’t look very good. So my husband, Robbie, did it on the table saw. He did the cutting and I handed him pieces, and we whipped through all of it in no time, and the cuts were beautiful.

Grooves made with screwdriver

Loretta helps

The partitions need holes so the bats can pass through from one cubby to another, the sides need a slot for a vent, and since we’re putting 2 houses back-to-back, we need a slot in the back of each, so they can go from one house to the other.

Cutting pass-through holes

Drilling holes to make slot or vent

To make the slot (or the side vent), the easy way is to drill two 1/2-inch holes the correct distance apart. Cut between the holes, then cut from the hole to the edge of the board.

Cutting between holes on table saw

Final cuts for slot

Final slot

Now we can assemble it. Put caulk on the side pieces and fasten to the back panel with screws. The back is longer than the rest, and should be several inches below the rest of the house. Next, attach the spacers to the inside corners from the back, screwing through the back panel and into the spacers. Place one of the partitions on the spacers and put spacers on top of that. Screw through the spacer and partition, into the spacer below. It will look like this.

Sides and spacers on partition

Continue with the remaining partitions and spacers, ending with the 20-inch spacers. Each partition will sit lower and lower at the same angle as the top of the side. Here it is, ready for the front piece.

Caulk front panel

The front piece consists of two pieces, to allow for a vent in the front. Put caulk around the edges of the sides and attach front pieces. Put top piece on first, lining it up with the lowest point of the angle. Leave 1/2 inch vent space between the top and bottom pieces. We used a 1/2-inch board to line up the bottom piece with the correct spacing.

Top piece of front added

Bottom piece of front added

Attach spacers to the top inside of front and back as roof supports. Caulk all around the top surface, and attach roof with screws. We put 2 houses back-to-back, joining them with 1x4 pieces of wood, so we left 3/4 inch between the front and back, and put the roof over them both. Here are the two houses back-to-back, without the roof yet.

Two houses without roof

Check one side of roof

Checking roof both sides

Above, we’re checking to see if the roof fits, and below shows the caulking. We put it on really thick like this, so it oozes out. Then we wipe off the excess. That way we know it’s completely sealed.

Caulk roof peak

Bats like high places, so the house should be 15-20 feet from the ground. We decided galvanized steel poles would be best, because this is a lot heavier than we thought it would be. We bought two 1-1/2-inch x 10-foot poles and two 1-inch x 10-foot poles. We slid the smaller pole into the larger pole, and then welded them together. We put caps on both ends so no water could get in.

Pipe joint

Pipes ready to weld

Caps on pipes

We fastened each pole to a 2x6 with U-bolts, and then fastened the 2x6 to the sides of the bat house. A little paint to protect them and for aesthetic purposes, and we’re all set.

After considering no less than 5 different locations, we finally decided to put them up at the end of the chicken coops. A little coop reinforcement, a couple of more U-bolts, and we now have our Bat Box for Babies. This should be able to accommodate about 1,000 bats.

How did we get it up there??? You can see the rope that we fastened onto it. I climbed on top of the chicken coop and pulled on the rope while Robbie and our son Tommy ‘walked’ it up. They started by lifting the bat house up as high as they could. Then they used a long wood pole to push it up farther, and walked forward with it, until they could go no further. I pulled it up the rest of the way. The legs are in the ground, with cement around them, and the poles are fastened to the side of the chicken coop with U-bolts.

Here it is, completely finished.

Completed and installed

Final update: A week later, the bats had already found it!

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