Rhubarb leaf bird bath

Our cat died a few weeks ago.  Obviously that is a sad thing but he was a risk taker and it caught up with him.  Since his passing, and within only a couple days we noticed an HUGE increase in the number of birds in our backyard.  Now, I’m pretty sure we are in the middle of a migration season around here, but even still, I’ve seen woodpeckers, and solitaires!  A nice change from just the daring sparrows that were our only visitors who would brave the cat.  I want more birds to hang around so I thought it was time I made a little bird bath  Maybe with some insane luck in a year or two, I could even get a frog around.

The materials you need to get this happening:SAM_0501

1-2 Bags of cement (I didn’t use sand to keep it simple but you can add sand in ratios found elsewhere)

Bucket with water (maybe about 3-4 gallons tota)

Shovel

Plastic wrap

Rhubarb leaf

Rubber gloves and dust mask

Dirt fairly fine (a few spades full)

Directions:

First, select the rhubarb leaf of your choice.  Cut it with little to no stalk.  Holes that not in the middle of a vein are not a big deal.  Lay a flat surface down (like plywood) and then make a kind of hill with the dirt.  You want the dirt to extend right to the leaf  edge.  (I took this picture too late but you can seewhat it will accomplish)).

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EDIT: Post product: Do not go near the edge In fact, I’d recommend  going about 1-2 inches in from leaf edge!

After you are content with the pile under the leaf, cover it all with saran wrap.

Note: This is not easy on a breezy/windy day; weigh down the corners with dirt clods.  The set up is now ready for cement.

EDIT: Post Product: The wrinkles of the saran wrap ended up on the leaf.  Totally not worth the effort this step.

Cement gets its own time though.  It can be a bit intimidating to work with cement if you haven’t before.  If you add too much (or too little) water it can be hard to mold with and how do you know when it’s done.  Well, hopefully I can help you with that.

Cement Directions:

Empty all the dry cement into a wheelbarrow.  Soften it up with a very quick stir.  I would recommend using an dust mask for this.  Then start adding about 1L water along an edge of the wheelbarrow.  The best way to mix cement with a shovel is to use the “stabbing” method.  Basically, you stab into it; many times and as quick as you feel comfortable.  start stabbing on the far side of the wheel barrow from where you’re standing and pull the shovel towards you as it goes down.  Do this a few times and then fold what you just mixed over and do it again.  You can add more cement to the section you are working on (or water) as need be)

Regarding adding water; It will be better to add too little water than too much.  I would say that for every bag of cement, maybe about 2L of water is used (I could be way wrong, but at 2L I start adding only about a cup at a time and mixing it in).  Every time you add water, you HAVE to mix it all in (ie. don’t leave any pools of water).  Try to mix the cement and water completely into small and increasingly larger volumes once you figure out the EXACT texture you want it to be.

How do you do that?

Well, as you are mixing and doing the stabby stab,  look at the cement that is being mixed.  You want it to look like this:

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Note that it is shiny and binding together.  Also, as the face of your shovel slid along the cement (while mixing), it made it smooth and a little bit clumpy.

I had a pretty big leaf and I mixed two bags of cement.  I would say I used about 60%.  The remaining 40% will have to be…I dunno…discarded I guess.

SAM_0505

Cement should cost only about 4-5$ a bag so this project is quite cheap.

Now, the…

Forming Directions

I spooned out 4 good sized shovels onto the leaf, directly onto the plastic.  With plastic gloves on, grab blobs of it and move it around the leaf.  Once the lumps are moved around, start smoothing it, getting right to the leaf edge.  You want your cement to be about 2″ thick (or at least, not much thinner).  Once you have it sorted, you start patting it; somewhat firmly.  People say that patting removes the bubbles.  I think it moves the bubbles by forcing the liquid in the cement out.  As you see it getting smoother, gently move your hand along stubborn (or too big) holes.  Sometimes a bit of water may help a tiny spot.  Instead of splashing water; just spit.  It really only a needs a tiny bit.  I probably could have even done a bit more.

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EDIT: Post Product: I did not pat it enough and there were air bubbles on the bottom side of the leaf.  I didn’t bother to seal them (cause I don’t care if this thing breaks).

One last note, for mine in particular, I made a flat spot on the back as best as I could.  I’m hoping it’ll be able to sit a bit more steady by doing that.  You can kind of see it here:SAM_0508

Lastly, ensure that the entirety of the area near the stalk is cemented as water may run out from there in the future).  I probably added a bit more than necessary:SAM_0506

Edit: Post Product:  I did not do this properly at all.  Picture to come.

The cement will need a day to dry before I move it.  I will put up a new picture tomorrow with the result!

EDIT: Post Product

I have not yet put up a picture.  My result is not… “robust”.  I will have another go in the spring.  I will put up a blog post “photo critique” and a second effort at it.




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