Building a Backyard Pond

I’m doing research now for a backyard pond.  Since it looks like we’ll be here for the summer, I thought it would be a nice project to work on and learn.

I’ve found lots of sites that have information, but two in particular have gone into my “favorite” Favorites folder:

Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary, has some really nice illustrations on building a wildlife pond (my goal) and great information. 

The second one I found today is Clearwater Landscapes.  There have been so many pages of interest to me here, the link goes to the main page.  There is also a forum and a Garden Journal with great pictures. 

Back to researching………

Container Gardening

We had this garden for the past few years, that we really didn’t start correctly.  First, we didn’t take the sod up, but instead tilled it.  Tilling is fine.  Works great, if you do it right.  We didn’t.  We tilled it once and hoped it would be good enough.  It wasn’t.  So the garden was a constant battle.

This year, I started to clean it up and realized just how much grass was growing under the layers of dead flower and weed stalks… way too much. 

We mowed it down and I’ve tossed my hands up for this year.  Instead, I’m going to get a few container pots going and just grow a few specific things.  Tomatoes sound yummy to start.

Came across backyard granger today.  He shows some of his containers.  What a great, and economic idea.  5 Gallon Containers.  My idea was close, and equally economic.  I am going to use a rubbermaid container (economic because I already have a couple sitting around, empty and begging use).

I wonder if either of these container ideas would work for a composter.

Off the Market – no longer selling our house

At least, not right now.  There are a few factors that came into play.

First and foremost, Judy Davis really dropped the ball for us.  Bob and I both thought we’d found a creative person to really help sell our house.  We provided the potential, and hours and hours of “fixing up”, since our home desperately needed it, great location-location-location, cute house, large lot, etc. 

I’ve decided to edit my original post, because our issues with Judy could have been an isolated incident (except, imo, the typos are indicative of her work, regardless).  In the end, we are happy to be out of our contract with Judy Davis and will, in the future, be sure to interview any person we “hire” to represent us or do work for us.

And really, we are prepared to wait a bit anyway to put it back on the market – Bob is hoping to hear some news from Honda in June about a new plant rumored to open (in London, Ohio), and hoping to get hired on permanent… so no rush now for us. 

Anyway, I am more relieved than I can express, to be done with Judy Davis Homes. 

Toad Abode and Bath

Here’s one of my toad houses.  We have lots of toads around the yard, I hope to encourage one to make it’s home here.
toad abode

The rock path, pictured around the adobe above, leads behind a butterfly blush around to a little toad bath, or toad “pond”.  One of my bird bath water drippers drips right to this pond.  The “pond” btw, is only a small flower pot dish with some rocks in and around it.
toad bath or toad pond

It’s very close to our deck, which provides lots of coverage for toads.  And my easy, water dripper, drips right into this mini pond.  See pictures and directions for my bird bath water dripper – water feature.

Bird Bath Water Dripper – water feature for the birds

I wanted to add a water feature to our bird bath, specifically a mister, something the birds would enjoy playing in. Unfortunately, I’m not in the market to spend much money. My solution was a very easy, budget-friendly bird bath water dripper made out of a milk carton.

Items needed:
– milk carton
– shepherds hook or tree branch, something very sturdy which is able to hold about 8 pounds
– pin (I used a thumbtack)

Fill the milk carton with water and hang from hook.  At the lowest point in the bottom, use the thumbtack or pin to prick a very tiny hole to allow water to drip.  Start with a really tiny hole – if you need more flow, push the pin back in and make it a tiny bit bigger.f

Here is the first one I did.  The screw on cap is still on this one.
bird bath water dripper

Here, I cut the top off. First, it didn’t seem to have any significant affect on the rate of the water flow. Second, this allows for easier water filling – and catching a little rain.
bird bath water dripper - no cap

I have two of these set up, one over our bird bath, one over a toad bath near the toad abode (toad house).

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

Attracting Hummingbirds and other Birds

Some Favorite Hummingbird Photos

No need to buy the powdered Hummingbird Nectar mix from the store for this rewarding hobby. Instead, make your with this simple hummingbird nectar recipe. You only need water and white sugar – super simple and easy to make.

Use the following proportion:
1 part regular white sugar to 4 parts water.
Example: 1 cup sugar, 4 cups water

1. Boil the water. Debatable*
2. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
3. Let cool.
4. Refrigerate in a designated hummingbird feeder pitcher.

That’s it. Nothing more:
There is no need to add anything extra to the mixture, i.e. coloring – that means NO Red Food Coloring,  No Honey, etc. These things are NOT necessary andcould be harmful. Honey will quickly ferment becoming poisonous to the birds.

How to Make the Hummingbird Mixture:

Using a microwave works too. Put the water in a microwave safe container and heat to boiling point. Carefully remove and add sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. I fill my clean feeders and set them aside to cool and let the rest cool a bit before storing in the fridge.

Note: There is some debate on whether the water needs to be brought to a boil to make the nectar safe or not. In the past I have always heated my water to hot, but not boiling and mixed from that point. Anyway, one commenter below says it does not need to be boiled as it is the birds tongues which put bacteria into the water. However, another commenter says it does need to be boiled to get the chlorine out of the water and bacteria off the sugar.

My understanding is the water is boiled to make the sugar dissolve easier. It also slows down the fermenting process of the sugar water.. however, you should be changing your nectar solution every few days anyway so fermented nectar should not be an issue.

What I have been doing this year is using water I store in gallon jugs (I use for my plants and my fish – the water comes from the tap, but as it is sits for a couple days the chlorine is evaporated out. I use this to make my hummingbird nectar (and oriole and butterfly) without heating and definitely not to boiling. As a matter of fact, I got one of the butterfly pavilions – it says to make nectar using water and sugar… nothing about heating the water.

Wondering about the concerns of fermented nectar, check out Sheri’s post Vampire Hummingbird Expert & Myth Remix or read more information regarding the proper nectar recipe for hummingbird feeders.

Back to the Nectar Recipe and Directions:

Storing hummingbird nectar: I store all varieties of my wild bird (Orioles, Hummingbirds, Butterflies, etc) “juice” up to two weeks in the fridge, but generally need to make it more often than that.

Tip: I use a Rubbermaid container or a clean milk carton, clearly marked, to store my hummingbird juice in the refrigerator. Another idea I recently read is to freeze the extra. I may try this by putting it in a freezer bag and freezing flat. Once it is frozen, it would break up easily to place into the feeder.

August 2006 077

Discard: If the juice in the feeder(s) becomes cloudy, or mucky, empty, clean and refill.

Cleaning: Make sure bird feeders are cleaned every few days to a week to prevent any ickies. Cleaning with a solution of vinegar and hot water is good.

Location and Feeders: More than one feeder, placed strategically around the yard, will encourage more hummingbirds to visit at a time. They are territorial birds, so place feeders out of the line of sight of each other.
note: however, I have had more than one at a feeder at time with no ill-will directed towards each other. Experiment a bit.

Enjoy your visitors!

Want to attract Orioles? Here’s our Homemade Oriole Nectar Recipe – and a few other Oriole feeding ideas.

Photo Mosaic created by BigHugeLabs using photos from these flickr users: 1. Hummingbirds, 2. Ruby Throated Hummingbird, 3. Ruby Throated Hummingbird, 4. Hummingbirds

Homemade Vanilla Syrup

Here’s a simple recipe for Vanilla Syrup. Great to use in coffee drinks or add it to your milkshake.

2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan, bringing to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning.
3. Stir in vanilla extract.
4. Remove from heat and let cool.
5. Refrigerate in sealed container.

Sex Education

“You shouldn’t pluck an apple before it is ripe, or else it tastes bad.”
-Liu Dalin, a sexagenarian in China, speaking of sex at a too-young age.

Liu Dalin teaches sex education in universities in China.

In reading this article at ABC News, China slow to awake to need for sex education it sounds as if there is not adequate education (obvious by title). We have a book that I just love, “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health” by Robie H. Harris, Michael Emberley (note: a link to amazon, but not an affiliate link). Another book I bought for my girls “The Period Book: Everything You Don’t Want to Ask (But Need to Know)” by Karen Gravelle, Jennifer Gravelle, Debbie Palen (again, linked to amazon, but not an affiliate link).

Looking for an in-depth education class for you child or young adult? Consider O.W.L, Our Whole Lives (this is only one link I came across, but there are several sites with information). This beats the heck out of the “education” junior high students receive from schools.


I’ve been reading gardening blogs today.  I came across one that had a composter *I* could do. 

Kerry’s Garden has some nice photos throughout the blog.  But what sparked my curiousity the most was the post Compost Time.  This seems a perfect solution to my always wondering how I would make an effective compost pile that the bugs and dogs would stay out of.  I’m excited at the thought of finally having a good worm composter!

I’m anxious to give it a try, but may wait until we decide what we’re doing with out house. Which, btw, we are now off the market – can’t describe how glad I am.  We realy didn’t care for our realtor (INTERVIEW them prior to commiting!).  Thankfully, she did enough “wrong” that her company let us out of the contract, penalty-free.