Everyone has old sheets and pillows laying around. If you're a dog owner and you've got a sewing machine, it's really easy to make an excellent dog bed. The flannel dog beds shown here are 27" x 35", hold two pillows, and all you need to buy is a zipper. The blue bed in the corner is a bit larger and was made by a friend of ours. She originally had it filled with cedar, but we put pillows inside.
With flannel sheets, the bottom sheet will wear out long before the top sheet does, so use the top sheet for the project. It's easiest to cut two large rectangles out of the sheet, adding at least an inch all the way around for the stitching. Sew the two sides of the zipper first, zip it up, turn it inside out, and sew the other three sides and the area on either side of the zipper. The only tricky part is the sewing near the zipper ends. You may want to consult an expert or check out your local used bookstore for a sewing book. Velcro is probably easier.
I guess I was wrong about the flying squirrel being disturbed by the boreal owl we had last week. The squirrel has been visiting our feeders regularly since, and we've even seen a pair of them on occasion. His eyes are actually black, but they're so large that when the flash hits them, they turn completely red. The photo has been edited so they're white instead.
My wife took the photo. You can see some more of her pictures at her Flickr page.
A few days ago we had this little guy show up at the tree nearest to our house. The photo was taken by my wife, standing about four feet away from it. We've got a whole bunch of bird feeders all over the deck, and we think the owl was probably harvesting voles that come out to eat birdseed that makes it to the ground. We often see a flying squirrel occupying the same perch on that tree, but he's been absent for a few days now.
You can see larger versions of the photograph at my wife's Flickr page.
I've discussed the problems with our water supply on other pages (going into the tank to clean it, new water tank, watershed) but the most recent pages end just after I finished installing the new tank.
Last winter the outlet pipe that transitions from the base of the tank inside the watershed to the warm garage froze several times. I eventually installed heat tape, but that proved ineffective. Each time it froze I had to disassemble the piping and heat the area with a heat gun until the slug of ice slid out and flow was restored. Not a fun activity at 5 AM when all I want to do is wash my face and make coffee.
This year I tried a new technique -- creating an insulated box around the opening to reduce the cold air flow and a small computer fan to gently blow warm air into the insulated area. I installed an indoor / outdoor thermometer in the insulated space with the probe extending into the shed. As winter approached, the temperature in the shed started declining, but the insulated area stayed right around 50 F.
Yesterday I put my beer thermometer into the insulated area on a whim. The indoor / outdoor thermometer read 48 F in the insulated area and 36 in the shed. But my beer thermometer was reading 30 F! Turns out the battery was close to dead in the thermometer I'd been trusting; the temperature in the shed was actually 26 F, and the temperature in my insulated area was down to 30 F.
I quickly upgraded the fan, and as you can see from the image, it's still 26 F in the shed, but it's a comfortable 52 F inside the insulated area. All the water in the shed has enough thermal mass that it can be below freezing for weeks (by which point it'll be filled again with warmer water) without freezing except around the edges. And the outlet pipe is now a steady 50+ F.
Just goes to show that you shouldn't put too much faith in a single instrument. It hit -34 F in Fairbanks this morning, and if I hadn't noticed it, the outlet pipe would surely have frozen.