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Raccoon Proofing an Ergo Automatic Pet Feeder for Outdoor Dog or Cat

by Barbara 31. May 2012 07:03

Question about the Ergo Auto Pet Feeder 5 lb. Capacity Timed, SMALL

Q: "We have an outdoor cat on our acreage in the country. Sometimes we are gone for several days at a time. We have no close neighbors. The raccoons get into the cat food no matter how hard we try to keep them out. Is this unit the best choice for us and how do we keep the raccoons out?" Thanks. Bill

Answer: We decided you really needed a pet feeder that would dispense into a bowl, which would be the Pond Feeder.  I consulted with the manufacturer after we discussed the Ergo Small Automatic Outdoor POND FEEDER as an option. Your comment was that your cat ate once a day and about 1 cup of cat kibble. The manufacturer's suggestion was to purchase the Ergo Outdoor Automatic POND FEEDER. MEDIUM. That is because this unit has an agitator so that the kibble would flow even if it got damp. Your response was that the unit would be in a sheltered area, that you only needed a 5 lb. capacity.

The anti-raccoon suggestion given by the manufacturer was to enclose this pond feeder unit in a metal cage or fencing that would have openings no larger than 4 inches. That way the kibble would dispense into a bowl through the holes and the raccoon could not get into the feeder itself. We concluded that a caging with a smaller hole, perhaps two inches maximum would work as well. We hope to hear back from you about your cage/enclosure so we can pass this information onto others.

Thanks for your very interesting question.

Sincerely,

Barbara

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pet products | pet feeder | cat feeder | automated pet feeder

Facts and Questions About Using Fi-Shock Electric Fencers or Fence Energizers

by Barbara 19. May 2012 08:14

Questions about the safety and advantages of electric fencing and electric fence chargers or fence energizers

Q: "What are the advantages of using electric fencing over barbed wire or wood fencing? Aren't the animals injured? I see that you sell Fi-Shock. Thanks for the information. Tom"

Answer: My knowledge of electric fencing is very limited.

I turned to the Fi-Shock web page where I found a great deal of information about electric fencing and energize. This includes informative writing as well as questions and answers. All the following comes from the Fi-Shock website or their catalog. All credit is given to those sources.

This is from the Fi-Shock Catalog:

"A typical energized or electric fencing is a psychological barrier that keeps farm animals in and wild animals out, even over long distances. High Tensile energized fencing systems can be both a psychological and a physical barrier for animals being controlled. Safety: Energized fencing systems provide a safe alternative to woven and barbed wire fences. A pulsed electrical current is sent along the fence wire, about one pulse per second, from an energizer. These short electrical pulses produce a short and sharp but safe shock which translates to a psychological barrier that trains the animal to avoid the fence. The shock is sufficient enough that the animal will remember and stay away from the fence.

Ease of installation: Energized fencing systems install quickly with minimal tools, saving on labor. Low cost: Cost savings is significant when compared to other fencing options such as wood rail, vinyl fencing, woven wire or barbed wire.

Flexibility: Fi-Shock systems give you the flexibility you need to design an ideal enclosure, whether a portable application, semi-permanent, as an add-on to a permanent perimeter fence or as a stand-alone high tensile permanent perimeter fence.

How energized fencing systems work: A typical electric fence is a psychological barrier meaning that the animal will touch the fence and become “trained” not to go near the fence. The fence must be well-designed and constructed to absorb some pressure from animals, snow and wind. The energizer must
have enough power for the length of the fence and for the animals being controlled. When an animal comes in contact with an electrically charged fence wire, the animal will feel the electric current because the electrical charge passes through the animal to earth ground, thus completing the electrical circuit. If the animal and the ground terminal of the energizer are not sufficiently grounded, the path of electric current cannot be completed and the animal will not feel the shock. Since the earth is half of the electric fence circuit, it is very important to have a properly installed ground circuit. In areas where poor soil and earth grounding conditions exist, a two-wire system can be used with one wire being electrically charged while the other wire acts as earth ground. The two-wire system is utilized when there are alternating “hot” and ground wires installed. Also, the electrically charged fence wire must always be properly installed and not be allowed to come into contact with shrubs, tall grass, and any other conductive objects on a continual basis. Otherwise the electric charge from the fence wire will lose its “shocking” power. Regardless of what wiring system is utilized, ground rod(s) and their connection to the energizer’s ground terminal must always be used."

More from Fi-Shock:

"Q: What is the benefit of electric fencing vs. barbed or woven wire?

A: An electric fence system is a positive alternative to barbed or woven wire for two reasons. First, it is easy to install and maintain while also costing less than barbed or woven wire fencing. Second, it is a safer alternative because animals are trained to stay away from the electric fence and in the case that an animal does lean against the fence, it will not be harmed or push the fence over. With an electric fence, there are also fewer edges and points that may cut the animal and cause harm.

Q: Is electric fencing safe for the animals I am containing?

A: Electric fencing is a safe alternative because animals are trained to stay away from the fence and in the case that an animal does lean against the fence, it will not be harmed or push the fence over.There are also far fewer edges and points that may cut the animal and cause harm.

Q: Will energized fencing interfere with my power lines or phone lines in the ground?

A: They should not cause a problem to power or phone lines. To insure that there is not a problem make sure to locate the grounding system for the fence energizer at least 50 feet away from the grounding system for the phone or underground phone or power lines.

Q: Does energized fencing cost more than conventional fencing?

A: The most costly piece of any fence is the posts. In barbed and woven wire posts need to be set every 12-15 feet; however in High-Tensile fencing posts can be set 30-50 feet apart, which automatically lowers the cost of the fence. Here are some typical costs for various type of fencing options: (cost estimates per foot) Barbed Wire Cost: $.84 per foot Woven Wire Cost: $1.07 per foot High-tensile Cost: $.57 per foot Conventional electric Fence Cost: $.08 per foot

Q: Is there a benefit of using a certain voltage over another when getting an energizer or charger? A: Voltage is the measure of electrical force in a circuit to push the current down a long length of wire. Generally, the higher the output voltage the longer the fence line that can be effectively loaded. Q: Can electric fencing be used to keep certain animals out of an area?

A: Electric fencing can be used for both containing an animal while also deterring predators or nuisance animals from specific areas. Animals will receive a small shock every time they come in contact with the fence no matter which side of the fence they are on.

Q: Do you have fencing systems for horses?

A: Yes, in fact Fi-Shock offers a complete assortment of products for equine fences. By offering a wide array of polytape, polyrope and polywire as well as insulators and energizers, the equine offering is a safer and effective alternative to keep your horses contained.

Q: Will it hurt my children/my pets?

A: NO, electric fencing is the safest form of agricultural fencing. Even though voltages are high, current (Amps) is very low and is generally intermittent or pulsed. Amps are the dangerous part of an electrical charge."

Our thanks to F-Shock for supplying such complete information about electric fencing and energizers. And thank you for your question. Do choose your energizer according to what kind of animal you want to keep in or out.

Examples:

  • FI-Shock Havahart Pet Battery Powered Fence Energizer is pet containment or exclusion for dogs, raccoons, skunks, possums, etc. Or use the Fi-Shock Economy Pet Deterrent Electric Fence Kit which includes an energizer and 100 ft of aluminum wire plus the accessories.
  • Havahart Fi-Shock Low-Impedance Solar Fence Charger lets your electric fence work when no electricity is available to power a pet fence (not included) that can also keep small animals out of your garden. Charges up to 3 miles of electric fencing. Included is a built-in solar panel and a 4-volt battery. Low-impedance technology means 1/3 less drain on your battery than in standard fence energizers. This solar electric fence energizer resists shorts when the electric fence is in contact with weeds and grass. In addition to all of those features, it comes with a one year limited warranty.
  • Small Animal Containment such as Sheep, Goats, etc
  • FI-SHOCK 20 Mile AC Fence Charger works well to keep larger animals contained or excluded when you have electrical power available. Use for Pigs, Cattle, Horses, Deer, Elk, Etc.

Please visit our website SafeHomeProducts.com and type in "electric fence" or "fence energizer" to see the variety of electric, battery powered and solar powered fencers, fence wire and accessories that we sell.

Thanks for your questions.

Sincerely,

Barbara

Hang Gourd Bird Houses for Purple Martins to Control Flying Insect Populations

by Barbara 15. May 2012 09:22

Question about attracting Purple Martins to my yard to keep insect population under control

Q: "I'm looking for an easy-to-clean bird house for Purple Martins. Our yard attracts a lot of flies and other flying insects because we are next door to a farm. Please explain to me about the Gourd bird houses and which ones would work the best for me. How many would I need? How would I hang them? Thanks. Dave"

Answer: Currently we sell two brands of manufactured gourd bird houses. These are the Bird Adobe SuperGourds and the Purple Martin Gourds by Heath. Both come in light colors, white or almond.

The SuperGourd is a unique "bird house" was invented by James Hill Founder and past Director of the Purple Martin Conservation Association. His research revealed that martins fledge one extra nestling per nesting attempt in gourds compared to aluminum martin houses with 6” x 6” compartments. So he developed the Supergourd,

There are three models of SuperGourd. The main difference is the bird entry hole size. Each SuperGourd is a 10”, one-piece, plastic gourd with a molded-in, threaded access port, covered
by a screw-on cap. The access port is 3 7/8” in diameter, large enough to admit a human hand. The cap has a liner that makes both the cap and access port totally watertight. To do nest checks, twist the cap off. At the end of the season, clean out the old nest. The access port has a high viewing angle so it is easy to see the nest contents. The large molded-in rain canopy doubles as a perching platform. The canopy is placed high enough above the entrance hole to allow the perfect amount of head clearance for hole-perching martins. The SuperGourd weighs about 32 ounces, slightly more than a natural gourd its size. This one piece unit has no seams so there are no leaks possible. There are seven 1/4” drainage to drain any rain that may blow into the gourd. The SuperGourd is blow molded in a white (sun reflecting), opaque, high-density polyethylene plastic, with ultraviolet inhibitors added for long life. These gourds are an attractive alternative for those
landlords too busy to grow, paint, and modify natural gourds. It has all the advantages of a natural gourd without the fuss and muss of making one.

For Purple Martins, the best choices are the Round-holed SuperGourds with 2 1/8 Inch Diameter Entry Hole shown here on a gourd rack system. Or choose the Crescent-holed SuperGourds with 1-3/16 inch entrance hole that are Starling-resistant.


Easy to Hang:  SuperGourds can easily be hung underneath an existing martin house, from a gourd rack, or strung on a line between two poles. One set of 1/4" hanging holes (side-to-side) are predrilled and will accept a hanging wire; a set of front-to-back holes can easily be drilled by the purchaser if so desired.Easy to Hang:  SuperGourds can easily be hung underneath an existing martin house, from a gourd rack, or strung on a line between two poles. One set of 1/4" hanging holes (side-to-side) are predrilled and will accept a hanging wire; a set of front-to-back holes can easily be drilled by the purchaser if so desired.

When hanging SuperGourds underneath a martin house, or along a line, use #10 or #12 gauge, plastic-coated, solid (singlestrand) copper wire. Do not use copper wire that has multiple internal strands — it is not strong enough. In extremely windy areas, the #10 gauge wire is the preferred choice because it is thicker and stronger than #12. You will need about 15 inches of wire per
gourd. Insert the wire through the hanging holes so an equal amount sticks out each side. Bend the wires 90-degrees upward, then wrap each end of the wire snugly around the line, eye hooks,
porch railings, or gourd rack arm you are attaching it to. When properly hung, the gourds should swing (not twist) in the wind and should not be capable of bumping each other or other objects
in a strong wind. The top of the gourd should be about 1” below fluffy wood shavings, or dried pine needles, in each gourd Should these gourds ever reach the end of their useful life span, they can be recycled in your community’s recycling program.

You can hang these gourd birdhouses as close as with 2 foot centers. You just don't want them to bounce against each other when the wind blows.

The Heath Purple Martin Gourds are made in two pieces. One piece is longer than the other: the hanger hole is in that piece. Each gourd is about 9 inches in diameter at its widest and about 12 inches high. There is a half-moon piece of plastic in the entrance hole to discourage starling nests. To clean these, you must take them down and take the two pieces apart. These are Made in USA/

Purple martins begin nesting in June. The manufacturers suggest putting up the gourds any time. This years baby birds will be looking for a nesting place for next year. You can hand these as low as 6 feet off the ground. Add nesting materials to encourage the birds to stay. Supply aids such as nest materials like dried white pine needles, dry twigs or straw neaby. Supply mud for nest building. Visit purplemartin.org for more information.

Purple Martins are sociable birds so hanging a minimum of 4 gourds is recommended. You can hang with cable or purchase a pole hanger that holds many gourds. Remember these are flying insect eaters except they don't eat mosquitoes. For that, we suggest a mosquito trap by Koolatron or Mosquito Magnet.

We also sell purple martin and other bird houses.

Thank you for your question. If you need more help, please contact us at Sales@SafeHomeProducts.com

Sincerely,

Barbara

 

Bird-X Electronic Balcony Gard Keeps Birds Off Balconies, Decks, Patios, Etc.

by Barbara 14. May 2012 09:39

Question about how to keep birds from perching and leaving bird droppings on my 5th floor balcony.

Q: "We live on the fifth floor of a condo high rise. We have a high protective railing but no screening above the railing. Birds try to build nests in our outdoor plants. Cleaning off the balcony furniture and the floor is a continuous issue due to bird droppings. How do we get rid of them? Thanks. Diana."

Answer: We suggest a combination of the Balcony Gard and other bird deterrents. If possible, install the Balcony Gard before the "bird season" in your area. Keeping birds away is easier than getting rid of them once they have built nests or begun to roost.

The Balcony Gard by Bird-X operates on 4 C batteries or on AC current. The strongest settings on ultrasonic would be the LO position, the lowest frequency. Rarely humans can hear this frequency. Having the unit run constantly works best. Otherwise the unit makes repellent sounds only if the bird (or animal, like squirrels) starts the unit by moving past the motion sensor. Coverage is up to 900 square feet in a generally oval pattern: the speaker projects sound on a horizontal plane in one direction. You can adjust the motion sensitivity and the frequency of sound generated.

More than one unit may be required. Getting rid of birds is more effective if you use the Balcony Gard plus other deterrents such as bird netting and a visual repeller like Bird-X Holographic Bird Tape or Tanglefoot Bird Repeller Ribbon,2 inch X 100 ft or bouncing ball repellers like the Terror Eyes Moving Eye Holographic Bird Repeller Ball.,

Point the Balcony Gard away from dogs or cats: outward is the best choice. The Balcony Gard operates at 15,000 to 25,000 vibrations per minute, Usual coverage is 50 feet forward and 30 feet wide at the higher frequency. At the lower frequency, this increases up to 80 feet forward by 50 feet wide.

You'll know it is operating when the red light is in during continuous AC use or when the red light comes on when something passes in front of the unit. The unit should make a chirping sound when turned on. Batteries last about a month on the MS or motion sensor mode.

  • Unit dimensions: 7” x 6” 4”
  • Weight: 3 lbs
  • Coverage: Up to 900 sq. ft. in a generally oval pattern
  • Frequency Range: 15–25 kHz (adjustable)
  • Sound Pressure: 90 db at 1 meter
  • Electricity Costs: Less than $0.25/month
  • Motion sensor range: 35’ x 70’
  • Working current: <200 mA
  • Power supply: 4 x 1.5v “C” batteries or included 120v AC adaptor. Other voltage adaptors should be purchased locally. Unit switches to battery power during a power failure (if batteries are in).
  • All versions of AC Power Cord are 30 ft
  • Compliance: UL and CE listed
  • EPA EST: 075310-OR-001

The warranty is 6 months from the ship date. Weatherproof – casing is designed to withstand outdoor use (rain cover included)

Thank you for your question.

Sincerely,

Barbara

Dr. Frog Croaks When House Plants Need Water or Use Drip Irrigation Plant Sitters

by Barbara 14. May 2012 07:40

Question about plant moisture sensors.

Q: "Do you sell any products that sense when a plant needs to be watered? I seem to either forget to water my African violets or over water them. Thanks. Sue"

Answer: Safe Home does sell an electronic moisture sensor for plants. This product is called Dr. Frog.Doctor Frog Water Alarm, Electronic Plant Moisture Meter uses twin metal probes that are attached to an electronic moisture sensor. Although water resistant, Dr Frog™ must be removed when you water your plant. Re-insert afterwards. Avoid immersing Doctor Frog™ in water even briefly. Battery life is up to 1 year with normal use. Of course, if you ignore Dr. Frog's alarm, the batteries ( two G10 batteries) will not last very long. There is a light sensor so Dr. Frog won't wake you up at night. Otherwise he will croak for 3 seconds every 10 seconds. 6 month limited manufacturer's warranty. As seen on HGTV's "I Want That."

Other options for keeping your plants adequately watered include:

  • Cobra Co Plant Sitter Water System, Indoor or Outdoor UseCeramic moisture sensor releases drip irrigation to your house plants or outdoor deck plants whether you are home or away. Just remember to refill the one quart tank of the CobraCo(R) Plant Sitter Water System once a week or every two weeks. The Plant Sitter automatically provides water and fertilizer to house or deck plants. The one quart tank and ceramic sensor fit almost any planter. For the average sized plant, the CobraCo Plant Sitter provides drip irrigation as needed to water plants for up to 3 weeks. Great for the elderly or invalids who can enjoy plants without the fuss of watering. No need for a house sitter for short vacations! For longer ones, your house sitter needs to refill only once per week or every second week.
  • CobraCo Plant Sitter Terra Cotta Replacement Ceramic Watering Sensors that work with any container of water.Drip irrigation for house plants. Plant sits up to 3 weeks. Fits almost any planter.Use year-round or for vacations. Great for house plant promotion.The CobraCo(R) Ceramic Watering Sensor provides automatic watering of house plants. The sensors come in a 3-pack and will work with any container of water. The drip time is approximately 6 to 10 hours per water sensor. Keep your plants at the proper moisture level with these ceramic water sensors.

Thank you for your question. These products should keep your thumb "green."

Sincerely,

Barbara