Showing posts with label Raintree Annie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Raintree Annie. Show all posts

Thursday, December 3, 2020

How To Mouse Proof Your Home Reviewed

Mouse by Raintree Annie
I am undoubtedly a nature lover. I admire wildlife and all creatures with whom we share this world. So it may seem strange and counter-intuitive to those people who know me that I am actively doing a program of mouse prevention.

However, I do feel that preventing mice from entering our homes in the first place is so much better than dealing with the consequences for humans and mice. 
 
My aim is to mouse proof our home without causing harm to any mice.  


Mice!

We are fairly relaxed about the wildlife in our patch to the point we actively encourage them. We have birds nesting in the eaves, grow flowers to attract pollinators, we carefully carry out various bees and spiders, enjoyed tree bees nesting in our extension and even shared the loft in our home with a wasps nest twice which was no problem.

Mice are also in my eyes adorable creatures, inquisitive and social. We know they live in our garden and our neighbours' gardens and most of the time outside we happily coexist.  However, due to my husband's health concerns there is the problem with wild mice potentially carrying diseases that are dangerous to him. I am also not willing to share our food with mice, so I am not wanting to share our indoor home with them. I do not like to kill any living creature so I would much rather prevent them from coming in and setting up home in the first place than having to resort to the less palatable options. 

I will only be covering mouse prevention here, not the merits or otherwise of the various methods to eradicate them.


What Do Mice Want? 

So how to mouse proof a home? The first thing is to understand what mice want from a home. They need food, warmth, water, safety and shelter, just like us. They also would like to be undisturbed and ideally not have anything to do with us. 

They are however superbly adapted to living alongside humans and many people will already have a small family of mice in their homes and be totally unaware of them. 

Mice are opportunistic and curious and where there is one mouse there is invariably two and then given the right conditions quickly a large family! They are very social creatures and breed rapidly under the right circumstances.

 Autumn/Fall is often a key time for mice to seek warmth and shelter in our homes. They mean no harm, but our nice warm, safe homes are a great opportunity for them.

 So if we do not wish to share our homes with mice, we must prevent them from entering our homes and make it inhospitable to them.


Identify Opportunities For Mice

First, walk around the outside of your property and see if you can spot any broken bricks or grates that could be entry points. Are there any holes in the fabric of your building? If so, block them up with a mouse-proof material such as a proprietary Mouse sealant, or a fine mesh. 

 We found mesh ideal for covering air bricks while still allowing for essential airflow and also in other gaps. Sometimes we used mesh together with sealant on larger gaps.

 If you look for a mesh that is designed for mouse proofing and that can be cut with scissors/clippers for domestic use that is usually best.

 Do be careful when handling as in my experience the cut mesh can be sharp. It goes without saying to keep it well away from children.

 


We just cut the mesh to size wearing thick protective gloves and used it over our airbricks with an all-weather sealant. It was a bit fiddly but now looks fine and has done the job.

Next, do the same indoors. Pay close attention to obvious holes or gaps in floorboards, around plumbing pipes and in cupboards and again block these holes.

We found sealant to be easier to use on small gaps over larger areas. Do keep sealant away from children.

As a general rule if you can fit a pencil through a hole, then an average mouse can enter through the gap and it requires sealing. 

 


I Saw A Mouse!

If you see a mouse then you have a clear sign that they can enter your property. It may just be one mouse, but if you do not take action and your home is a good, safe place for them, there may soon be more.

Even if you do not see a mouse it is wise to regularly check for mouse droppings.

 If you have any suspicion that you are sharing your home with mice, doors should be shut at night to prevent mice from roaming around your home in all rooms. That way if you do see any signs of mice it is easier to target.

If you suspect a mouse put down some baby powder to track it. It won't hurt the mouse, but if it walks through the baby powder it will leave tracks, then you can see what is attracting it and where the entry and exit points are and can block them.

If you store excess treasures in the loft, garage or basement then make sure that is kept in strong sturdy containers that are mice resistant.

Ideally, eat at the table or if watching TV or a game use bowls to catch all the crumbs.  Hoover up regularly and thoroughly. Move large furniture now and again just to check there is no unseen activity there!


Mouse Resistant Food Storage

Food storage is key. All food apart from tins should be stored in closed cupboards preferably inside sturdy containers. There is a huge variety that can be bought made from strong thick plastic, pottery with lids and steel.

Here is an example of good food storage for flour, cereals, pasta and rice. These containers look good in a kitchen pantry or on shelves and hold quite a lot of food. It keeps food fresher and is a much better deterrent for mice than keeping the food in its original cardboard or paper containers. 

 


Pet food in particular needs to be stored in good strong mouse-proof containers. Often dog and cat food have a strong scent that is attractive to mice and they love to eat it. We avoid free-feeding pets and only keep pet food out for the time it takes pets to eat it or up to about half an hour. Then it is taken up and all food stored securely.

We also keep birdseed and fat balls in a very secure box to do our best to keep out pests and keep it dry. We do not store these types of boxes outside though but keep in a large cupboard inside. 

This type of food storage box is very useful for pet food and birdseed and also for storing seeds for the garden. 


In terms of everyday habits, it is not advisable to leave any human or pet food out especially at night. Keep all food in the fridge or freezer, or in mouse-proof strong containers. Tins are Ok in a normal cupboard but anything like rice, cereals and especially dog and cat food must be in enclosed containers.


Mouse Repelling Scents 

Some people say mice do not like strong smells though I cannot verify that. So if you would like to do that by all means put some peppermint or other strong fragrance into your cleaning fluids when you mop the floors. At worst it will make your house smell nice and at best it may help to deter some mice. Always check for any interactions with the cleaning fluid first though and obviously keep away from children.


Mouse Prevention Is Always The Best Course Of Action

One takeaway I will say is that preventing mice from entering your property is always preferable to dealing with an issue both for you and the mice. Mice do not have a vendetta against us, they are just trying to survive and prevention is far better than the cure.


Mice have just as much right to life as we do and form an important and integral part of the ecosystem. However, if we do not wish to share our homes and food with them, a few preventative measures can go a long way to protect humans and mice. 



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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

5 Wildlife Gift Ideas Reviewed

Bird In Tree By Raintree Annie
It is wonderful to buy a gift that will be appreciated and be of use and joy to the receiver long after the day it is given. 

If your loved ones are interested in wildlife or like gardening with wildlife in mind here are some beautiful gifts they will enjoy for a long time. 

These gifts are perfect for helping our wildlife and give hours of happiness and interest to your loved ones. They will enjoy watching the birds, carefully observing the many insects and spiders and learning about the fascinating world of wildlife. 

Many of these gifts are suitable for children to seniors and will keep on being of interest, not just when they open the gift but for all year long.  Here are a few ideas of wildlife gifts from my own experience.

1. Insect Or Bug House. 

These are fantastic for attracting all manner of insects and spiders. You simply hang it up in a sheltered spot away from winds in the garden and ideally about 6-7 foot high. I find it is ideal to place an insect house near a pond if you have one, or a hedge or trees or a mixed flower bed. 

You will know that you are providing a lovely home for all manner of insects such as lacewings, ladybugs and butterflies that will make it their home or resting place and often provide beneficial activities for the garden in terms of predating and pollinating. 

Gardeners will love it as it will attract beneficial insects to help them in the garden and anyone interested in insect life will appreciate being able to observe the bug hotel filling up! I have one and although it takes a little while for the insects to know it is there once they find it they move in!


 A lovely gift for a young child interested in bugs through to an adult gardener. 


2.Wildlife Books

A wildlife book for a child just starting on the discovery of nature is a beautiful and thoughtful gift. When introducing children to the fascinating world of wildlife you want the book to be fun educational and interesting.

 A book like this can be the very start of a lifelong love of nature and wildlife that will bring joy, understanding, fun and interest to children and develop a deep love of wildlife and conservation that can last a lifetime. A beautiful thoughtful and truly giving gift.
  


If gifting to an adult a beautiful wildlife book gift is Kate Bradbury's "The Wildlife Gardener."I have given this book as a gift myself and it was very well received. I then ordered another one for myself it was so good! You can read more about it in Diary Of A Wild Country Garden Why I Bought The Wildlife Gardener Book Twice! 


3.Bird Bath 

One of the most important things we can provide to wildlife is fresh clean water. It is essential for birds to drink every day and bathe to clean their feathers every day for their good health. 

In towns and cities especially, birds need birdbaths with fresh clean water in as many gardens as possible. If you have a birdbath in your garden you will attract a wide variety of birds all year round and once they know it is there it is likely to become very popular!

Our birdbath has bird visitors from robins, sparrows, blue tits and blackbirds to name a few every single day all year round!

This is a fantastic gift for many people from the enthusiastic birdwatcher, to anyone who simply enjoys watching the antics of the birds, to the bird photographer who can gain many opportunities to take amazing photographs of birds in action at the birdbath throughout the year.

Many of these birdbaths are also very beautiful decorative pieces for the garden.

 


4. Bird Feeders Station
 
Especially in winter but really all year round birds need additional food to help them survive. A bird feeder set will be lovely to look at, help the birds and give immense pleasure all year round to anyone who loves birds and enjoys watching their antics or learning more about them.

 Great if a young birdwatcher is learning about how to identify different birds as they will visit birdfeeders again and again and with luck will attract a wide variety of birds to learn about.

For anyone, it is beautiful to spend some relaxing time simply watching the birds and often getting to know regular visitors.  I can spend hours simply watching the birds without realising how much time has gone by! It adds interest to the day and a wonderful connection with our wild visitors.
 
A very useful addition to this gift is to give with a supply of good quality bird feed so that they can get started right away on Christmas day!    

There are various ideas and gifts for attracting birds to a garden along with various birdfeeder products in this post from Diary Of A Wild Country Garden Wild Birds Visiting Our Garden 

Baby Robin By Raintree Annie


5.Birdbox.

Many people like to attract wildlife to their gardens and a great way to do this is to hang up a birdbox. Smaller birds like bluetits often love to use these and I have had success in my own garden.

Anyone of any age interested in wildlife can spend ages watching the birds bringing in nest material and identifying them. If fortunate, they may see the baby birds fledge all the while learning more and appreciating wildlife!

Simply hang the birdbox in a sheltered shady spot far away from any birdfeeders or birdbaths so that it is not too busy or noisy for the nesting birds to raise their brood. Ideally, it should be sited in a place where it will not get too hot as this may be difficult for the baby birds to tolerate. 

Then it is a matter of waiting to see if you can attract a breeding pair and raise young in the garden. I feel it's a good idea to have bird nesting boxes in place by early January at the latest so that the birds have time to get used to a new feature in the garden and can assess it long before nesting time. 

It is amazing to watch and highly educational for young people and a real pleasure at any age. 
 



Whichever gift you choose for your loved one, if they love birds and wildlife they will love the thoughtful nature of your gift to them. 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Reviewing The Joys And Uses Of Autumn/Fall Leaves

Autumn/Fall Leaves

I appreciate all the seasons and I love the time of year when the leaves start to change colour. Although the vibrant colours of the beautiful spring and summer flowers are now a fond memory, Autumn leaves are equally gorgeous. 

I love to see all the different colours and when you look more closely all the diverse shapes and textures of the leaves. Underfoot if it's dry they feel scrunchy and if it's wet they are all slippery.

When the wind blows you can hear the rustle of the dry leaves and some get caught up and fly higher into the sky like wild confetti! 

In the Fall/Autumn season we are treated to the stunning show of reds, golds, bronze and russets to lift our spirits as the days grow colder and shorter. I do have happy memories of Autumn that stay with me always.

There are many beautiful and lasting memories that can be made at this time of year between children and their parents or grandparents and I wanted to highlight some of the uses and joys to appreciate this season's beautiful falling leaves.

There is nothing quite like standing under a large tree when its leaves are changing color to golds and reds gazing up at the sky as the sun is streaming through, it is truly a magical experience.


Autumn/Fall With Children

This time of year always raises memories of my childhood. My parents always encouraged a love of the outdoors and Autumn always evokes memories as a child walking through deep rifts of crunchy leaves holding hands with my Mum and Dad kicking up the leaves, having fun!

We collected leaves of all shapes, colours and sizes to press, make into a picture and learn about. To succeed in this process on a basic level all you need is tissue paper and a very heavy book. Simply lay the leaf between 2 layers of tissue paper then place in the middle of a heavy book, close and leave. Before very long you will have beautifully preserved leaves. If you wish to learn more about leaf and flower pressing this book is a great starting point to learn how to create really lovely personalised art from simple leaves and flowers.

The Art of Pressed Flowers and Leaves


For younger children dried leaves can be laid down on white paper, the outline drawn and then coloured or painted in whatever authentic or imagined colours they like!

Autumn leaves are so beautiful to paint and also to take photographs of. They have amazing colours and shapes and are always interesting for the artist. Such gorgeous rich colours and moods to capture. 

When older children are involved in looking at and experiencing nature in this way it is then very educational to teach children about the different leaves and which trees they come from. 

This gorgeous book is a wonderful resource, beautiful, visual and well organised to teach children about leaves, trees, seeds, flowers and so much more to encourage an interest in and appreciation of nature.


Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom




Children and adults can enjoy making a collage of beautiful shapes and colours together from collected Autumn leaves.

As a child, I did this activity throughout Autumn with my parents and it was an enjoyable craft in the long dark evenings.

 All we need is a large sheet of paper, a safe means of adhering them to the paper and dried pressed leaves. The only limits are our imagination!




Making Leaf Mould For The Garden

I heard a neighbour say the other day how he would like this time of year if it wasn't for the leaves falling. I was surprised to hear this as I always see this time of year as a bounty! Fallen Leaves are a great harvest for me. Each year I eagerly wait in anticipation for the leaves to change colour and then fall. My task is then to gather them all up to make gorgeous leaf mold.

I make it by first raking up all the leaves on a dry day, then I set the mower blades on the highest setting and give a gentle mow over to break them down into smaller pieces. This helps to speed up the process. Next, I either place the leaves into black bags or a simple chicken wire crate.

If they are in black bags I make holes with a fork for drainage.  If it is not raining I water them and place them out of sight around the back of the garage. This is so easy to do and I simply wait a year and then I have lovely crumbly free leaf mold to mix in with potting compost and use freely on our beds and borders!


Autumn/Fall Leaves And Wildlife

We can all enjoy the fall leaves but we should not forget about our wildlife. I always leave piles of leaves around in the borders of the garden in sheltered places so as not to be destroyed by strong winds. If we add large or medium-sized logs or piles of sticks that assist wildlife even more by providing protective cover.

Over the years I have seen blackbirds kicking these piles of leaves around to find dinner beneath, hedgehogs taking the leaves to another place getting ready for their winter hibernation, or even deciding that the pile itself will make a cosy home!

There are also all the unseen bugs, creatures and minibeasts who will inhabit the leaf pile to make it their home and find some winter comfort there. 


So just a few examples of how we and our garden creatures can enjoy and use this bountiful resource that is the fallen Autumn/Fall leaves. How do you enjoy Autumn/Fall leaves?   



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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Review Of Wolf ByPass Secateurs

 




As an avid gardener, there is a myriad of tools to buy to help with everyday tasks and it can be confusing to know what you really need. You could spend a significant amount of money on dozens of tools. With an experience of your needs and your garden's requirements, you will probably find you settle in to a few that become old friends and you use them all the time. 


Uses Of Bypass Secateurs

One of my most treasured and most used tools is a pair of bypass secateurs. They are so well used I just keep them in my pocket or hang around my waist whenever I venture into the garden. There is always a spent flower head to be snipped off, a stray tendril to be clipped, flowers to be cut for the house, or a shrub that just needs a little neatening around the edges. 

 



We have a  lot of beautiful roses and so there is much deadheading in the summer months. Bypass secateurs give a nice clean cut to snip off the faded flower heads and do not damage the plants. I also love taking cuttings of a variety of plants and find bypass secateurs are great for this job. 

Over the years I have had many secateurs, some good, some awful. There were the ones that hurt my hands due to the jarring action. The ones which broke all too easily, the green ones I lost and never did find and the ones that were just not up to constant use in my garden! The best pair I had I inherited from my Mum, but after years of use, they needed to be retired. 




For those few months I didn't have any secateurs  I felt a little lost walking around the garden and certainly frustrated trying to prune with a large pair of kitchen scissors which did neither my plants nor me any good!! As my most used tool I always coveted Wolf secateurs and this spring my husband gifted me a pair.


Using Wolf Bypass Secateurs

Wolf Bypass Secateurs

I am impressed. They look good and are mainly red in colour and therefore easy for me to see in the garden. This is important as if I get distracted I can and do leave them anywhere, but red is a good colour for me to notice! 

They are light, so carrying them around is not a chore and they are small enough to fit easily in my pocket. The handgrip is good and the correct size for me. I have not yet felt any hand strain from using them and I can be out in the garden for hours at a time.

They are strong! I have so far had no problems with any of the cutting and pruning jobs I needed to do. These have coped admirably with small jobs and the more challenging tasks. For example, I have deadheaded flowers, taking cuttings of shrubs and lightly pruned back a large jasmine plant, ivy and hebes with no issues. They are not for heavy pruning jobs and thick branches though, we need different tools for that task. 

Do check the width you are supposed to cut when buying any secateurs and try to stick to it. You will feel if they are struggling and it's best not to push too hard or you will shorten the lifespan. Get the right tool for the job and you will be fine. I have included two Wolf Bypass secateurs in this review because they cut at different widths and you need to choose the correct one for your garden needs. 

The bypass action makes them precise and neat enough to do more delicate pruning as well and I can now power round all our roses and other flowers deadheading with precision speed and ease!  





Generally, in my experience, these secateurs glide through jobs with no problems. I have noticed occasionally if I am doing a lot of jobs one after the other, where they might become sticky with sap, sometimes the blades clamp together.  I then need to clean them with either just a damp cloth or sometimes WD40 and a cloth. They are easy to keep clean and I have always had to do this with secateurs though, so for me, it's just a part of the process. 

These secateurs also come with a guarantee. This is important to me. I want to know when I buy garden tools now that they are going to last. If I am going to spend money and buy quality, I would like to have them for a long time. Like with any tools, if we want them to have a long life, we do need to look after them, clean regularly and don't leave out in the rain!!
 

As we all have different needs in the garden I also wanted to include this pair of secateurs for if you feel you need a pair of secateurs that will cut greater widths.

Wolf Bypass Secateurs


 

More than all of that I simply enjoy using my Wolf Bypass Secateurs. It is a pleasure, not a chore and so lovely to be able to do those tidying jobs and pruning required with ease to make our plants and gardens look and feel beautiful! 



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Friday, August 21, 2020

About Raintree Annie On Review This Reviews

About Raintree Annie On Review This Reviews  


Raintree Annie Hi, my writing name is Raintree Annie and I am otherwise known as Jasmine Ann Marie. In life and online I get called any combination of those names! I am really happy to be a part of the Review This Reviews writing group. I started writing many years ago and always love it most when I am part of a creative and enthusiastic writing family. 

I like to write about what I know and experience. From a young age I developed an interest in nature and loved animals, birds and plants. I was given my own little patch of garden by my parents who encouraged me in these interests. 

My interests merge together really. My love of creating a beautiful garden that has wildlife at its heart, has become a passion and I find a great sense of calm, peace and happiness from learning about and nurturing our garden.

I am never happier than when I am immersed in nature and wildlife. I also like to have plants in the house to carry the natural world through into our home. 

I love taking photographs of natural environments, wildlife, flowers, plants and landscapes. I spend hours in the garden and whenever we can my husband and I go out to visit the countryside, beaches, woods and nature reserves so we can exercise and spend time together relaxing in nature. I enjoy making unique cards and gifts from those photographs. 

I gained a significant back issue over a decade ago and now take good care of my back and keep as fit and healthy as I can in order to continue to care for our garden and be out and about in nature. I always take my back into account when I am gardening and choosing products to assist me.

   

Articles By Raintree Annie


Joy of First Snowdrops
When I am not in our garden, the countryside or a nature reserve you can find me online at these places! 

Diary Of A Wild Country Garden, my blog where I write about my reflections of everyday life gardening and looking after wildlife in our wild country garden.


Life With My Pet Back blog covers reflections on life with back pain and the journey to recovery. 


Raintree Earth Designs is my blog where I share my love of photography with cards and gifts made from my photographs of wildlife and countryside with the stories behind them from my Raintree Earth Designs Zazzle Store. 


Essential Wildlife Gardening Gifts where I share practical, fun and beautiful gardening items which make lovely gifts for the gardener.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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