Adventures in catio building

As usual… I had all kinds of expectations for getting things done on the house this weekend…and as usual… they went awry!

The big plan for this weekend was to get the out door catio area rototilled, seeded, and get the fence up. The fence 100% HAS to be up before we move, because keeping Mr. Relic inside a house for more than 12 hours is not an option. And I’m not about to let him run free in a brand new town.

The area is about 300 sq. ft of lawn. Well – it was probably lawn at one time. As you know, the previous owner had a small dog. It had access to the same area (we took down the old fencng). Those of you with dogs know…. dog urine just destroys grass. I’m guessing when the dog was there, it was pretty bare.

But then the house sat empty for a while, and with not dog… the weeds moved in a took over. Dad and I cleared the area out the first weekend, and I’ve been maintaining it since to keep the weeds at bay.

But I really wanted to get all that soil turned up and so I could plant some grass seed, and create a nice lush green carpet for me and the fur babes.

Dad brought out his rototiller for me. It’s a family heirloom… seriously. My Grandpa bought it in the ’60s and it’s been going ever since. (with a little mechanical help). Dad made sure it ran before he brought it out… but…

Yeah… once out there, it just didn’t want to work.

It’s not the end of the world. It just means I will have to turn that soil up by hand. I decided that could wait until after I got the fence up. So I set to sorting that out.

All the fence materials had been delivered weeks ago. When we got them, we piled the boxes neatly in the garage. There were seven boxes in total – most of them big long boxes that contained the various posts needed. But a couple were small square boxes, containing all the hardware and bits to hold it all together.

As I was unpacking one of the smaller boxes, I noticed several large carpenter ants in the box. No biggie. But as I kept pulling more things out of the boxes… there were more ants. When I finally got to the bottom of the box, and started pulling out the last items… I discovered why.

The ants had decided the box was the perfect place to set up a nursery. Every time I removed a bar, I uncovered more eggs. I’m not particularly squeamish, so it was actually kind of neat. You could tell the eggs were all in different stages of life – some you could even see the baby ant through the casing. And every time a picked up another bar, ants would scurry in and start picking up all the eggs to get them to safety.

I felt kind of bad when I picked up the empty box and dumped all the ants and eggs on the lawn. But I had work to do… and they were in my way.

Finally, I got down to the last, smallest box. As soon as picked it up… well you know in movies, where there’s a whole pile of insects scurrying about an you can hear them? I always thought that was made up… how could those tiny little legs make that much noise…?

Let me just say… it’s true. I could hear literally hundreds (maybe even thousands) of ants scurrying about in the box. As I said, I’m not really squeamish… so I got out my phone and decided to record it for posterity. I knew it was going to be good…

If you’d like to see the video for yourself… you can see it here.

But fair warning – it’s pretty…. um…. wild.

For those who don’t want to watch it, there were about 20 times the ants and eggs in that box than there were in the other one. They all got dumped on the lawn too.

That made Mister Robin happy. He’d followed me around first thing in the morning as I mowed the lawn, pulling up worms from the grass behind me. Now I was giving him a full-on buffet!!! Soon a few othe robins came in an joined in on the feast. Ah – the circle of life!

After de-anting all my parts, I made sure everything was there, and then it was too late to actually build the fence. We were at the new house for two days after, but it rained both days. So… the catio fence STILL isn’t up and the clock is ticking! Just one weekend left. Pray for dry weather for me please! At least just one day!

Oh… and for anyone who’s wondering… I went out that night and got a couple bottles of ant spray. Normally I’m a live and let live kinda gal, but the garage is wood, and carpenter ants can be pretty destructive. And Dave wouldn’t be quite so calm about ants all in his stuff as I was. the perimeter of the building got a good spraying, and we’ll be keeping a weather eye out for any more six-legged interlopers.

12 thoughts on “Adventures in catio building

  1. Araignee

    Oh, good golly! I am in my mid summer bug phobia stage at the moment so I would have freaked if I had seen all those ants. One bit me the other day when I was minding my own business sitting on a bench at the boardwalk and it really hurt. For about two months I HATE this buggy, muggy place and right now we are in the thick of it. I have to lint roll myself whenever I go out to make sure I didn’t pick up any unwanted visitors. Ugh.


  2. Oh my! Oh my! That is a LOT of carpenter ants. It’s impressive watching the video and realizing just how much they want to save those eggs. But…we had carpenter ants in one of our houses and they can do SO much damage without you seeing it until it’s too late. Our tiled bathroom floor caved in without warning when a 3 year old walked on it! We had no idea the ants were even gnawing away on our subfloor. I’m glad you found them and spraying well.
    Sure hope you are able to get the fence up this weekend. It’s supposed to rain here so maybe it will stay away from you. :-). I can’t believe it’s already time for you to move in. When you said the end of July back when you bought the house, it seemed so far away.


  3. Oh my word, but bonus for Mr. (Miss) Robin? You’ll have some mighty fat birdies if this continues.

    Sending good wishes for a cool, dry weekend so you can get Relic his catio.


  4. As a kid, my parents had railroad ties around all of the gardens, and some were carpenter ant heavens!
    When our roof was done about 20 years ago, the roofers found carpenter ant nests under the no-longer-functioning shingles, where the sheathing wood was moist.
    Thankfully, this recent roofing job had no ants!


  5. A bunch of mean ants bit me last week while I was standing on their nest (unbeknownst to me)
    Not that you have asked for advice, but Val, our 9 garden areas are too difficult to weed by hand. I take the opportunity to very very carefully, blast the weeds with a blow torch. Just one minute over the weed kills it. Then I rake up the debris a day later. I always have water with a hose on, just in case. IT really calms me down about keeping up with our couple acres here.


  6. Holy Crap! I started to look at your video, but I had to stop. Now I feel like things are crawling all over me. Better you than me!! Sending all the good juju (as Kym would say) for a dry (and hopefully cool?) day to get Relic’s compound finished.


  7. Shirley Elliott

    OMG!!! I am glad you are documenting all these new house experiences on your blog. It will be priceless for you to look back at in a few years. You couldn’t make up all the things you have experienced. Hoping you get great weather for outdoor work this weekend!


  8. I’m happy the robins enjoyed their unexpected feast! Sorry, but I passed on the video. I’m not a fan of bugs. May you have good weather so the fence can be built.


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