The lovely details above owe their existence to one thing: A cast iron hog oiler, watermelon shape. The hog oiler in question was purchased locally at Old Glory after I fell in love with its bulbous chunkiness … For a long time I was content to have it dress up our DG berm in the backyard but lately I’d been casting a side-eye its way, wondering if it couldn’t work a little harder, look a little better. Here’s how I took it apart and put it to new use in a small display area.
^ ^ ^ ^ ^
At the right is the hog oiler, both together (lower photo) and apart (top). Essentially a reservoir for holding a disease- or insect-repelling lubricant, the melon-shaped insert rolled on screws at both ends to distribute it onto the skin of needy hawgs as they rubbed up against it. I studied the piece to see if it could easily be dismantled but it was so dad-blamed heavy I couldn’t budge it to figure it out … I had to have my brother-in-law José look at it. It took elbow grease but he eventually was able to break it down to three pieces: the two halves of the roller and the basin-like reservoir base. That accomplished, I enlisted his help in moving my rebar and sheet steel bench into position … Looked great, its boomerang shape a nice counterpoint to the area’s curve. Last, I had him “plant” my rusted steel tree, with its lizard/snake topper … ¡Perfecto! He left and I noted that while the reservoir planter stood quite sturdily on its own, the dual roller halves did not … they would definitely need bases before planting. A quick trip to Stephen Penn‘s shop on Jurupa the next day solved the problem; I found secure bases in the form of an old cast iron bean pot and a rusted barbecue chimney starter, the latter adding much-needed height to its planter. On the way out I added a shapely welded-and-rusted steel piece with attractive blue-green bits (see top right details photo) to the haul. We brought it all home and thanks to Muscles (aka Paul), we got down to planting. Spectacular succulents from Mike Dignan at the Riverside farmer’s market in shades of cool blue-green, and some ruffly-edged pink specimens moved from pots elsewhere at the Rancho, made for brilliant, cool contrast against all the metallic rust tones, and they fit perfectly in their new homes. I added one final complementary planter in the from of my vintage hibachi-with-a-face, and the set was complete. Thinking the area’s DG floor seemed a little too flat, I added a sprinkling of polished stones in various sizes for surface interest. We added more color at the tree’s base with various rocks in shades of green. And to put the moon in the sky, we hung the welded decorative piece on the wall overhead. We can’t help but be pleased with our efforts: Each element in the tableau is unique, the plants are beyond beautiful and the colors play gorgeously off each other. And, after a life spent as a scratching post for moisture-starved porkers, I can only imagine the oiler’s loving its new gig to pieces! See below for sources.
OLD GLORY ANTIQUES: Click here for website.
STEPHEN PENN: J&T Military Surplus, 6009 Jurupa Ave., Riverside CA, 92504.
RIVERSIDE FARMER’S MARKET: Located on the Main Street, Riverside, between 5th & 6th, in the arts and culture district of downtown Riverside; Saturdays from 8am to 1pm. See Mike Dignan, succulent vendor