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Bacon Bits

March 3, 2013

Bits and pieces

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.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

hog oilerAt 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.


Corner pocket

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

38 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2013 9:11 am

    that last picture is absolutely gorgeous !!!!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 3, 2013 4:24 pm

      Thanks! Needless to say it was fun putting this display together …

  2. March 3, 2013 2:57 pm

    You have inspired me today my friend. xo

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 3, 2013 4:25 pm

      Awesome! Send pics … Hello to Danny

      • March 4, 2013 4:06 am

        Our garden seems to be going through some sort of transformation…..too soon to tell what might be happening out there….Danny cut the bamboo off at about 10′ I wanted just the black sticks but D left some leaves near the top…lots more light, a lot less mess….not sure about the statement it’s making……beading has comsumed me…I’m feeling the garden drawing me back…..hoping your able to get around better in yours….xo Hi Paul

      • reubix1 permalink*
        March 4, 2013 4:31 am

        Aw, thanks for the update, Guida … I’m really intrigued to know that one of my fave gardens ever is going through a transformation! Thanks for the good wishes — I still need ’em, sadly!

      • March 4, 2013 2:39 pm

        Just to clarify…a transformation in my garden is somewhat different than such in yours….mine would hardly be noticable to most, you would of course be the one to catch them… We are going north for a few days. San Luis Obispo area…..any tips??

      • reubix1 permalink*
        March 4, 2013 2:51 pm

        Good point, re: transformation … I wish I had some tips to offer but don’t; instead I’ll wish you both a great trip!

      • March 4, 2013 2:55 pm

        Thanks, perhaps I’ll have some for you when we return..xo

      • reubix1 permalink*
        March 4, 2013 3:14 pm

        Here’s hoping! Thanks, Guida 😉

  3. Carol Booth permalink
    March 3, 2013 3:14 pm

    Just Fabulous. I have an old iron Hibachi & a Japanese Teapot planted with succulents. Love rusty containers. Your point of view is so inspirational! Thanks for what you do.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 3, 2013 4:26 pm

      Thanks, Carol … there’s just something about the earthiness of rust and the coolness of succulents that marries so well together!

  4. Jeanmarie permalink
    March 3, 2013 4:50 pm

    You inspire….what great planters. Jeanmarie

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 3, 2013 4:53 pm

      Thanks, Jeanmarie … we’re going to try the flea this month. Interested?

      • Jeanmarie permalink
        March 3, 2013 11:14 pm

        Yes, Yes……

      • reubix1 permalink*
        March 4, 2013 12:52 am

        Coolness, I’ll be in touch before the third Sunday …

  5. March 3, 2013 5:02 pm

    This is one of the reasons why I love you, you do stuff like this! You’re amazing and so are your designs. If I saw this in a store, I would want to own it… just saying!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 3, 2013 5:04 pm

      Thanks, WF! Maybe it’s time to revisit that store idea? 😉

      • March 4, 2013 12:45 am

        You know how I feel about that 🙂

      • reubix1 permalink*
        March 4, 2013 12:53 am

        I do, now if only I could get my act together!

  6. March 6, 2013 9:59 pm


  7. Reggie permalink
    March 9, 2013 5:51 pm

    You are such an artist. Wowsa. I just love the arrangement. I especially like that face planter. Well done.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 9, 2013 5:57 pm

      Thanksamillion, my little hibachi face and I appreciate the compliment!

      • March 9, 2013 6:15 pm

        Wondering about drainage in those planters. The hibachi face guy probably does but what about the others?

      • reubix1 permalink*
        March 10, 2013 1:11 am

        Actually, they each have drainage holes except for the hog oiler bottom piece, the one with the frilly echeverias in it. The key is not to overwater ANY of them …

  8. March 11, 2013 8:12 pm

    I love inanimate things with faces. Creepy and cute. I’d love to see that planting set-up with the R A W letters you have on the wall above them. Very cool arrangement, though. Yay rust!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 11, 2013 8:20 pm

      Hmmmmm, I like that idea of the letters. Although I’ve given the ‘A’ away, I’ve still got the ‘R’ and the ‘W’ … or as I like to think of it, the ‘M’ … I’m going to try try that, just as soon as I have someone saw off the long screws behind the letters, so that they’ll sit flush on the wall. Thanks for the awesome idea!

      • March 11, 2013 8:33 pm

        Ha, you’re very welcome. Thanks for sharing your awesome stuff with us!

      • reubix1 permalink*
        March 11, 2013 8:39 pm

        Yer welcome … new post later today; I think you’ll like!

  9. March 18, 2013 2:02 am

    Most creative, as always, Reuben. I can just imagine how much you tickle YOURSELF with these creations.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 18, 2013 2:18 am

      You’re right, J.A., if the project doesn’t tickle me it’s not working! Thanks for noticing …

  10. March 20, 2013 2:42 am

    Your ideas are so fun and engaging. I love your direction.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 20, 2013 3:03 am

      High praise, Charlie, thanks again!

  11. April 1, 2013 3:04 pm

    The hog oiler looks like a metal armadillo.Love the way you come up with so many great ideas. BTW Ruben, ( not to sound stupid) but what is a hog oiler?

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 1, 2013 3:10 pm

      Well, Val, a hog oiler’s a lo-tech device that a hog farmer would fill with a medicated oil. The ball-shaped element holds the oil, and rolls inside the reservoir … Hogs sidle up to it, rub their itchy hides against it and they get relief. I love your armadillo comparison!

  12. joyce johnson permalink
    April 19, 2013 4:58 pm

    I have long been a fan of yours. I have tried saving quirky stuff, only to toss it because I am not very creative. Here is a picture of barrel “rings” I found on our side yard. What could be done with them, other than giving them to you?? — jj


    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 19, 2013 5:12 pm

      Hi, Joyce … Thanks for your message! Sadly, your picture never came over. Please try sending it to my personal email account at … I’ll see what I can come up with.

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