Posts Tagged With: Esme

Palletgate 2: The Next Day

Back to 1.0

Back to 1.0

As the sun rose over the sleeping snails, I crawled from my shell and went to release the already vocal chicks from their bedroom. Bleary-eyed, I reached the gate and, swinging it open, I fell over its predecessor, landing against the soft netting of the fruit cage, making it lean even more than it already was (it makes other leaning things look straight, believe me).

I remembered, then, of course, about the state of play, gate-wise.

Later on in the day, I had had sufficient caffeine to corrupt my brain enough to want to fix the problem. Armed with a drill, some screws and absolutely no idea what to do, I surveyed the damage.

A Not-at-an-angle-challenged Hinge

A Not-at-an-angle-challenged Hinge

I had already had an inkling of what had happened. I inkled that the hinge(s) might buckle under the strain from supporting the load from the gate. A quick inspection revealed that that was, indeed, the problem. What was needed was more support (something true of so many things in the world today).

A Fix of sorts

A Fix of sorts – insert screwing up joke here

Hey presto! Palletgate 2.0 returns!

Hey presto! Palletgate returns!













The block of wood was from a piece of another pallet I think – it was just lying around the place doing nothing in particular.

Suitably supported, the gate was now back to its (one day) old self! In the part of my brain that deals with DIY, it was sunny again!

Palletgate in action - Esme is not impressed

Palletgate in action – Esme is not impressed

Two weeks later…

Remember the leaning fruit cage? During a spell of a) good weather and b) enthusiasm for sorting out garden-related tasks that had been growling at me from the list on the dryboard in my office (I am unsure when my dryboard learnt to growl), I decided to attempt to reduce the tilt – the emphasis very much on attempt. When I had put the cage up, about 4 or so years ago, we had then had torrential rain for about a fortnight afterwards and the posts started to move in their holes, presumably in response to the way the netting, pegged as it was to the ground, was pulling them. After a year or so, the cage was at a very jaunty angle indeed, the kind of jaunty angle I could attain after an evening being sociable in my previous life in Reading.

So, three-ish years later, I decided to spring into action and straighten the fruit cage. After an hour, I came to the conclusion that the fruiting thing just didn’t want to be fruiting-well straightened. In my attempt to relocate the pole nearest the Palletgate, I rested the top strut of the cage on the top of the wire mesh of the gate, as they were at similar heights.

I am guessing that that is when Palletgate yielded to the stress and twisted the top hinge, pulling the slat that the hinges are attached onto off completely. I cannot tell you how overjoyed* I was to see this but I added at least three new words to my “lexicon of utterances that should only ever happen in my head but will probably spill out at an inopportune moment”.

I removed Palletgate, bruising various body parts as I moved it to somewhere where I could lay it down. The temptation to stamp on it until it resembled an entry for the Turner Prize was almost overwhelming.

I straightened out the top hinge (well, kind of bent it straight again).

I reattached the slat, using more nails and another piece of pallet that happened to be lying around as an extra tie to the main body of the gate. I realised that I didn’t need to stamp the gate to death as I was now wielding a hammer. I thought calming thoughts, added another word to that secret stash of mine as I stubbed my toe on a hammer some idiot left lying around, and reattached the gate to the hinges.

It worked. Even today, it still works, which is a minor miracle, growing bigger with each use. Every time I open or shut it, I vow never to build anything ever again. And although only a big glass of wine can numb my realisation of how much I detest DIY, I am still thinking “Hmm. a garden bench from pallets? How difficult could that be?”

I’ll just clear some space in that secret lexicon of mine. Or maybe buy a bigger glass for my wine.

Large Wine Glass



* I really, really can’t.

Categories: Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 8 Comments


From this...

From this… this in four easy steps.

…to this in five easy steps.












As regular readers of thesnailofhappiness will know, there are four chickens who take delight in trying to escape from their end of the garden in order to wreak havoc in the vegetable beds. Indeed, now Purdie seems to be having a holiday from laying eggs (perhaps she has reached the henopause, I don’t know), half our hens appear to have formed an escape committee.

To thwart their attempts, we had put a makeshift barrier across the path, between the house and the fruit cage. However, the chicks have become more and more resourceful and were making use of their returning flight feathers to scale the ever-increasing height – we were in an arms race (a wings race?) with the hens!

The barrier, as you can see, had become completely unwieldy to move and was also slowly falling apart. Time to build Barrier 2.0!

Here's one I found lying around earlier

Here’s one I found lying around earlier

In the good traditions of re-purposing, I decided to use a pallet to construct the gate. The only things I ended up buying were a set of hinges, some fence staples and a large bottle of whisky (I hate DIY, it always goes wrong for me and that’s before I have even started on the alcohol).

This pallet came from the builders’ supplier down the road, and had already been reused as a step (into the raised area where the chickens live) and a piece of decking (well, OK, I left it lying around but it could’ve been decking if I had chosen to view it that way). Then I decided to put some shelves in a cupboard in my office and used the middle strut of the pallet as a shelf support. I was pleased I had done this because it cut down the overall weight of the finished gate whilst not detracting from structural integrity*. It was like I had planned it or something.

The mesh came from Perkin’s old aviary/building-of-a-million-and-one-uses at High Bank. We already know how good it is at keeping in the chickens, as there are five sheets along the front fence protecting the outside world from Esme and her beaky gang (a.k.a. “Beaky Fliers”).

So, in five easy steps (and a million little, really difficult ones)…

1. Attach hinges to pallet

Attaching the hinges. Note the spirit level - it told me I needed another whisky.

Attaching the hinges. Note the spirit level – it told me I needed another whisky.

Having removed one of the slats, there was nowhere really to attach the hinges so I replaced the slat (it had only taken about half and hour and a bruised thumb to remove so, hey!) just slightly to the left, nearer the middle. I still can’t use all the holes but the worst that can happen is the hinge can bend if it isn’t thick enough.

2. Drill holes in the wall of the house for the hinges.

I hate this bit. I like to think I worked hard to earn the money to pay for that wall (well, buy it off the mortgage company) and the thought of removing a piece of it, however small, makes me very nervous. The fact that I might hit the water pipe or an electricity cable is also kicking around my brain somewhere, but frankly it is eclipsed by the idea that, by drilling 6 holes in the wall, the house might fall down.

As you can see, it didn’t. Still, if it did, I know how to put up a yurt!

3. Make sure that the gate opens fully as intended.

Here, because there is a window sill one way and a pipe the other, positioning the gate so that it can hit both is very important. OK, it isn’t. The pallet is just too tall to fit under the window, but that doesn’t matter too much, as long as there is enough room to push our SmartCart** past.

4. Attach mesh to pallet and fashion an anti-wobbly device (Patent Pending***)

The mesh is so tall that it is prone to wobbling in the lightest of gales so I used another slat from a different pallet, removed the nails (having prised it off with a combination of a screwdriver, a jemmy and some interesting Anglo-Saxon) and cut the end into a T shape to fit between the slats. A few nails later and hey presto! No more wobbling. Well, not much anyway.

Stapling the mesh to the pallet

Stapling the mesh to the pallet

Fashioning an anti-wobbly device

Fashioning an anti-wobbly device









5. Attach gate to wall, fashion a latch arrangement and make a cup of tea

Look! It even opens!

Look! It even opens!

Note the strange bit of wood just below the top on the right-hand side. This is a latch-thing that goes behind the not-very-upright upright of the fruit cage. It’s just a bit of wood that fell off the pallet when I removed a slat (I think it was a spacer or something) that I kept because “it might come in use one day”. It’s good, because I have a million other bits of crap whose days have yet to come.

After a cup of tea, I went back to admire my manly handiwork. The gate opened but…now it was dragging on the ground. I could see the problem immediately – the lower hinge had bent because there wasn’t enough support for it. I removed Gate 2.0, replaced Gate 1.0 and went in for a large glass of wine****.

I swear I could hear the chickens laughing on the other side of the barrier.


* As a Star Trek fan, I know just how important structural integrity can be. It even has its own field, for crying out loud, and usually goes wrong just minutes into an episode.

** A posh two-wheeled wheelbarrow. We have had ours for years and apart from a bit of a crack in the buckety-bit (I don’t know the technical term), it still does sterling service.

*** Pending the Patent Office regressing to 1852.

**** Or a bottle, as I call it.

Categories: Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , , | 20 Comments

Create a free website or blog at