I had started to worry that the birds had moved on and given up on our house. But never fear, the birds are here!

I read all the great advice and ideas from read­ers. I also vis­ited the Wild Bird Store in Wal­dorf where they had plenty of ideas about how to entice the birds back to the yard.


Based on all this great input, here were the steps I took:

- I moved the bird feed­ers out of the tree (where the squir­rels and rac­coons could get them and dam­age my tree any­way) and placed them on a free-standing pole with a squir­rel and rac­coon baf­fle.
– I added a new hop­per feeder and plat­form feeder on another 4 x 4 post.
– I invested in some high qual­ity bird seed mixes. Frankly, these new seed mixes smell so good I could prob­a­bly serve them at a party and no one would notice.
– I added a water wig­gler to one of my bird baths.
– I added a hang­ing water tough to the bird feeder station.

It has taken a few days, but I see that this week­end the birds have found the feast and are hap­pily telling their friends. So far, it’s mostly finches, tufted tit­mice and chick­adees. But I did spy a car­di­nal yes­ter­day out of the cor­ner of my eye. And I hear lots of avian activ­ity when the win­dows are open.

I still can’t take pho­tos of birds worth poop, so I fig­ure I need a bet­ter, long-range lens. It’s a shame to go to all the work of sneak­ing around the yard with a cam­era and tri­pod only to get ter­ri­ble tiny pho­tos of blurry birds.

I believe I’ll start keep­ing an offi­cial back­yard bird list. Per­haps that’ll moti­vate me to learn more about what birds I am see­ing. I am always astounded at the wide vari­ety of birds peo­ple can spot in their own yards. Surely I’m miss­ing many that I just haven’t identified.


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Nov 01

Fruit Fly Plague

I don’t gen­er­ally air my ver­min and pest con­trol prob­lems in pub­lic, but in this case, I will con­sider it a pub­lic service.

We have been besieged this fall by fruit flies. They are EVERYWHERE. They par­tic­u­larly come out in the evenings, for some reason.

When I was a kid in the South, we called them gnats. Now that I’m all sophis­ti­cated, I call them fruit flies just like all my sophis­ti­cated friends.

It’s not the first time this par­tic­u­lar plague has vis­ited. But some years just seem to be worse than oth­ers. I recall one year—before I fig­ured out all the ways to avoid and trap fruit flies—I resorted to sit­ting on the couch to read armed with the vac­uum cleaner, which I had to turn on from time to time to suck up the fruit flies that had con­gre­gated near me. It was really ridiculous.

Since then, I have tried water-starving my plants (which they do not like). I have also tried the paper cone trap, the wine trap, the potato in the plants trap and, as men­tioned, the high-tech vac­uum cleaner trap. If you are sim­i­larly besieged and favor home-grown solu­tions, here’s a handy roundup of gnat, errr, fruit fly traps you can make yourself:

Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Frankly, the best option I have found is not a home-grown trap at all. Although they are mar­gin­ally effec­tive, the BEST traps are from Gardener’s Sup­ply. They are nat­ural fruit fly traps. You can also buy these lovely, dec­o­ra­tor soap­stone trap hold­ers that I am sure you will want to keep on view year-round, even after fruit fly season.


Even as I write, I have a glass of wine at my desk. Also on my desk is one of these traps in a lovely soap­stone holder. Instead of going for my wine, they are flock­ing to the trap. Sweet!

So where have I been?

I have been absolutely immersed in home repairs. Now that I can take some time from work to look around the house, I see how much has been neglected. Wal­ter, my handy home repair guy has been here from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for two weeks straight fix­ing, paint­ing and spruc­ing things up. You would think I lived in a hovel of des­per­ate pro­por­tions with all he has had to do. And when I’m not spot­ting him on a high lad­der, answer­ing ques­tions, peer­ing at paint col­ors, fetch­ing sup­plies or doing my own home improve­ment projects, I have, in fact, been work­ing at my real job.

The guys are going for a col­lege visit to Harry’s alma mater, The Citadel, this week­end, so for me this week­end is gar­den cleanup time. I might finally get those bulbs in the ground too.


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