Sunday, June 28, 2015

Using Goats in Ottawa County Parks to Eliminate Invasive Species

This is a neat post about goats.  I could use one in my yard -- we have garlic mustard to pull.
A recent post in the Holland Sentinel praises goats for helping with invasive plants.  Per the article, "Using goats to eat invasive plants reduces the need for herbicide applications, is cost-effective, and allows access to locations where mowers or machinery can’t reach, parks officials say.

Goats munch on weeds during the county parks system's project to use the animals to control invasive plants.
Goats munch on weeds during the county parks system’project to use the animals to control invasive plants. The county plans to use the goats at three different properties this summer. Tribune File Photo
By Alex Doty - Grand Haven Tribune 
 Don’t be surprised if you see a goat chowing down on weeds the next time you visit an Ottawa County park. “We were very pleased — it was very effective,” Ottawa County Natural Resources Management Supervisor Melanie Manion said of last year’s project. “They did a great job during the first year, and the growth that came back is less than anticipated.”
Using goats to eat invasive plants reduces the need for herbicide applications, is cost-effective, and allows access to locations where mowers or machinery can’t reach, parks officials say.
“Anytime you can manage invasive species without using herbicides … is a real positive,” County Parks Director John Scholtz said.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Cold Frame or Cat Sauna?

Some day I'd like to have a small cold frame. 
What it is:  
Living in cold west Michigan, zones 5 and 6, means our growing season is very short. A cold frame would help extend the season by a few weeks in the spring and the same toward the fall. My mom always had one for as long as I can remember. In fact, now she has two. Basically its a box made of wood, glass or plastic

Bring Your Dog to Work Day

So apparently it's Bring Your Dog to Work Day.  Maybe next year I can bring my dog to work (don't think that will go over well, but then again, most of the people in my department have dogs).
For those lucky enough to do it, here's some of the CUTEST pics in the world!

It's no secret I love dogs!  They are so happy and loyal.  Always there with a tail wagging.
Here's the pics:  What's your favorite?
original post from: 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday snapshots - moth identification

Took the dog out for his morning walk and spotted this moth.  Love the iridescent blue with contrasting orange.  Fancy --

a picture of the caterpillar is here:

(ya gotta love the name of this website - ick!)

Pepper says Hi!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Bluebirds are back - how to deter sparrows

Our bluebirds are back.  We have two bluebird houses in our yard.  The problem is we also have some very territorial house sparrows which will chase the bluebirds out, toss out the eggs and have been known to kill bluebirds nesting.
Well it might look like a mess, but let me describe the "junk" hanging over our bluebird house.
The streamers are sparrow spookers.  The idea for the sparrow spookers came from the website:  I highly recommend this website if you are looking for information on bluebirds or want to attract them to your yard. (homepage here:  The site includes detailed information, plans and photos on how to deter predators.

We have a pair of bluebirds that have had a brood of babies 2 years ago.  Two weeks ago they started nesting in one of the bird houses.  
A male sparrow wasn't nesting in that birdhouse, but decided it was his box after the bluebirds had starting building their nest.
Sparrows have been known to kill adults, to kill baby bluebirds, and to take the eggs out of the nest. Sparrows are very territorial once they have bonded with a bird box.
But, there are things you can do to try and get sparrows to stay away from a bluebird box.
A "sparrow spooker" is one way.  Basically, you need material brushing the top of the bluebird box.  The best material to use is iridescent ribbon.  I found a kids balloon and cut it into strips.  It is important that the ribbons be iridescent, or metallic if iridescent is not available.  Tin foil has been known to work per the website.

Sparrow spooker. C.LaytonSparrow spooker drawing by Bet Zimmerman

Bluebirds are unique.  There was a steep population decline of Eastern Bluebirds.  There is a super long history at  A summary is as follows:
In the 1940s, Bluebirds nearly became extinct.  Climate issues, changes in habitat and the introduction of the house sparrow and starling have affected bluebird numbers.  House sparrows will go in and take the eggs or pierce them.  "Changes in the bluebird population over time have been associated with a variety of factors. Probably the most significant factors in population decline were introduction of the House Sparrow and EUST, pesticide use, and loss of habitat. Humans continue to develop open space, introduce non-native plants and animals (including cavity-nesting birds like Conures), and impact the climate."
The good news is that there have been numerous campaigns to save the bluebird, including installation of thousands of bluebird houses and bluebird trails.  Their numbers have recovered significantly!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Two Locations - Movies in the Park(s)

This sounds fun - movies in the park!  Summertime is so short in Grand Rapids, so if you have an opportunity to GET OUTSIDE, you should DO IT!  Grab the bug spray and head here:            Movies in the Park 2014
Here's the 411:
Join us for FREE family-friendly entertainment on the shores of Reed's Lake. Movies will be shown on an inflatable screen at dusk. Come early for the best seat and bring your lawn chair or

Friday, June 5, 2015

Scenes from a Friday morning

I woke up early, so had some extra time to shoot a few pics from this beautiful morning.
Hope you are having a good day too!

Good morning, Mr. Toad!

This is a white pansy that came up on its own.

Mickey Mouse cactus anyone?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

How to Get Free Donuts on Friday!

Friday, June 5, 2015 is National Donut Day!  Donuts are my favorite food.  I am a member of a donut club at work where 10 of us bring in a dozen donuts on alternating Fridays.  It's a morning I look forward to.
In celebrationplan your commute in advance for Friday, June 5. Both Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts will celebrate National Donut Day by giving each customer one free donut of any variety. At Dunkin’ Donuts, you’ll need to buy a drink to get the free donut. Both chains note the freebies are available at participating locations while supplies last. So, you may want to check first before driving over.

National Donut Day was originally established in 1938 by the Chicago Salvation Army to honor the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I.
More than 10 billion donuts are made each year in the U.S. alone, generating hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue.
Here are some other local doughnut shops that are doing something special on June 5:
  • Marge’s Doughnut Den | Wyoming, Mich.: One free cake doughnut per person and $4 for a dozen plain cake doughnuts

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Feeding Birds - Plants that Attract Birds - Growing Bird Seed

Feeding Birds | Plants that Attract Birds | Growing Bird Seed

Growing Bird Seed

Plants that allow you to harvest seeds attract more birds to your backyard.

Bluebird on liatris
Plants have a lot more to offer than just beautiful flowers. Why not get the most out of your garden by growing plants to feed birds? Here, you’ll find 8 great blooms that offer seeds for birds.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia, Zones 3 to 9)
This is a garden classic birds adore. The traditional black-eyed Susan has dark centers and bright-yellow flowers, but now there are even more varieties to choose from. Grow in full sun to light shade for blooms in summer through autumn.
Blazing star (Liatris species, Zones 3 to 9)
Many gardeners know this plant as gayfeather. Don’t be surprised when you see an American goldfinch gripping the purple spikes of this flower head. It grows up to 5 feet in full to partial sun and blooms in summer.
Coreopsis (Coreopsis, hardiness varies by variety)
It’s not hard to find an annual or perennial coreopsis (also called tickseed) that will flourish in your yard. Plant in full sun and resist the urge to overwater, as it’s a drought-tolerant superstar that blooms in late spring through late summer.

Things I like - Tree Change Dolls

I like Tree Change Dolls!  The artist takes a discarded doll, often a heavily made up Bratz doll, and changes it to match what women and more importantly, little girls, look like.

This video has gotten 14 million hits on youtube!  The artist has an etsy shop, however it is sold out most of

Monday, June 1, 2015

Binder Park Zoo Giveway... and of course, some humor; WZZM

I do like to laugh.  Who doesn't.  And I also like animals.
So when I saw a link to enter to win a Binder Park Zoo membership, I decided to enter.
Here's the story on WZZM's website.  :-)
Ok, what's wrong with this picture?  You can't help but smile.

Looks like the giveaway closed yesterday.  Hope I win!

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