The Silence of the Dandelions

Day two of the anti-dandelion counter-insurgency at the Cole household has ended with me sunburnt, exhausted, and with only half the yard done. I put down 12 bags of mulch and got the second herb planter done, hung some wind chimes, and mowed and de-dandelioned half the yard before the shoulder started to ache. I’ll finish the rest tomorrow. I’ve also decided that I need a compost heap.

Also, still no songbirds, but with me outside raising a stink, cackling while throwing dandelion carcasses all over the place, I can’t say I blame them. Some of you wanted to know what kind of feed I picked up, and i looked at the bag and it was Kaytee Ultimate Songbird. Having run a blog for a decade, I am fully aware that this is when you all are supposed to leave 100 comments about why my choice in birdseed sucks/is bad for birds/hazardous to other animals/bad for the environment/all of the above.

I’ll be back in approximately 1/2 bottle of wine to fight back.






95 replies
  1. 1
    johio says:

    I didn’t read comments on earlier thread, so I’m not sure if anyone said this before, but if you want to attract birds so Tunch will have cattv, then you need a bird bath. A nice big one. On hot days, there will be a line for the tub. Endless entertainment for Tunch.

  2. 2
    YellowJournalism says:

    Be good to your shoulder. Take breaks often when you’re doing that! And get some better sunscreen.

    Not sure about your area, but do you have hummingbirds? I’ve always loved hummingbird feeders, and those little fellas always seem so brave. Nothing really bugs them, so I assume they’re used to being stared at by humans and their furry little friends.

  3. 3
    jeffreyw says:

    Keep up the good fight! What kinda wine? Or is that poachin on Tim’s remit.

  4. 4
    DonkeyKong says:

    “We use Wagner. It scares the shit out of the dandelions. My boys love it!”

  5. 5
    gwangung says:

    Da-yum. I’m impressed.

  6. 6
    HumboldtBlue says:

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure that brand of birdseed is really nothing more than gravel stolen from ancient streams that are home to the souls of our ancestors who passed before us. Also, it’ll kill the birds that eat it and then kill the other animals that eat the dead birds and pretty soon, Jon, you’ve destroyed West Virginia.

    If ya need some help with that shoulder you can borrow my bong, just bought a fat ounce of some sticky Emerald Triangle bud that’ll give you a contact high just by smelling it.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    Violet says:

    It cracks me up that your neatness habit extends to your lawn. No neat lawn has dandelions. Not allowed! Heh.

    How big is your lawn. Must be a fair size if you’re only half done now. That’s hard work.

    I have no idea about your birdseed. My bird feeders seemed to attract mostly sparrows. And it was fun watching the squirrels try to get the seeds.

  9. 9
    Mark S. says:

    You know who else used Kaytee Ultimate Songbird . . .

  10. 10
    Mike Kay says:

    wind chimes are great detection devices. They’re like claymores.

  11. 11
    cleek says:

    no dandelions in my lawn.

    pre-emergent weed killer is all ya need. you need to put it down before they start growing, though.

  12. 12
    Toast says:

    Weird. Shouldn’t take more than a day for birds to find a new feeder.

  13. 13
    SIA says:

    I’m getting a lot of enjoyment from experiencing Cole’s authoritarian nesting regime in his new home.

    /sad loser

  14. 14
    Toast says:

    People who obsess about their lawns crack my shit up. Dandelions, violets, whatever-the-hell that stuff we have is that I can’t identify… Who gives a shit? I’m going to pick and choose what lives and dies? Really? Who died and made me God? The Toast Lawn is a no-kill zone.

  15. 15
    tim says:

    alcoholism is sad.

  16. 16
    srv says:

    @johio: Perhaps someone should have a bird watching package at amazon. Bird feeder, bath/webcam, tunchcam…

  17. 17
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    It looks to me like your choice of birdseed is an excellent one.

    But with all those goodies, it will attract raccoons and bears.

  18. 18
    Tata says:

    Do this little exercise: weigh all your compostable kitchen scraps for a week, multiply by 52 and realize what you are not needlessly contributing to landfill. After that, having a compost pile gives you a different feeling, a funny feeling. You know: fresh air, Times Square and a pitchfork?

  19. 19
    John Cole says:

    @Toast: I don’t go after violets.

  20. 20
    ErinSiobhan says:

    Awesome that you are halfway through the worst of it. Once it’s in shape, it gets so much easier.

    We don’t do feeders because our cats go outdoors and are fairly lethal. Plus we have a bit of a bear problem and bears love bird feeders.

    We satisfy our bird watching cravings by trying to entice hummingbirds to the garden. We have a lot of bee balm and honeysuckle which they seem to like. It’s fun to watch the cats’ heads snap around when the hummingbirds speed past.

  21. 21
    Napoleon says:

    Great title to the thread.

    Now I am imaging you as the character in Silence of the Lambs played by that actor who played the captain on Monk.

  22. 22
    Maxwel says:

    Sunflower seed works for us.

  23. 23
    AhabTRuler says:

    They’re like claymores.

    Wind Chimes: U R DOIN’ IT RONG!

  24. 24
    Mike Kay says:

    @AhabTRuler: love the cats. especially the one where momo is wearing the catgressional medal of honor.

  25. 25
    chris says:

    @cleek: @cleek: Indeed. For the organically inclined, google “corn gluten meal”. Cheap, works and is harmless.

  26. 26
    merrinc says:

    @Toast:

    I used to feel like this. Still don’t use herbicides on weeds but the place we’re out now used to have English Ivy (she said optimistically after three days of hand pulling). Pondering now how to deal with bindweed, which has sprung from the depths of hell and is spreading over the yard like the red weed from War of the Worlds. Creeping, crawling weeds which attach themselves to everything are just well, creepy. I’m thinking of spraying the demon bindweed with white vinegar and then staking black landscaping fabric all over it for awhile. Can’t hurt.

    And, yes I do have a comment on the choice of our host’s birdseed: if you’re going to buy birdseed at a Wal-Mart or Target, forget Kaytee and buy a big bag of black oil sunflower instead. You’ll get more for your money and a large variety of birds will be happy to scarf it down. Kaytee is probably owned by a wingnut anyway.

  27. 27
    chris says:

    Sorry for the double-cleek.

  28. 28

    Choice of bird food is good. It will attract the ones you want to see. I still think you need to give it time though. Hell I have 17 feeders (from seed and suet) and if I hang a new one (which I did just recently) the birds completely ignore it and concentrate on the older ones, it was only until the older ones were out of seed did they go to the new one. I would give it time. They will figure it out eventutally.

    Also you have to understand that right now they are busy nest building, and pairing up for mating, that is their most important task right now. Sure they need to eat, but they are a bit busy to be checking out new stuff.

  29. 29
    Violet says:

    @John Cole:

    I don’t go after violets.

    I don’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed.

  30. 30
    abo gato says:

    I’m with Toast, our yard, especially the “way back” is all natural. We just let it go crazy. The dogs like it, the cat likes it, plenty of wildlife back there.

    For bird seed, I get this huge bag of stuff at Costco….the birds love it and the deer do too. I’ll dump a scoop of it in the front for the deer.

    For pre-emergent, use corn gluten meal. Organic, nothing bad in there for you or your dogs (or kids) and it will keep seeds from sprouting, plus it gives a small amount of fertilizer to the grass.

  31. 31
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Napoleon:

    I just made that connection while watching a re-run the other day. It’s still just too weird to imagine Capt Stottlemeyer saying “It rubs the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again!”

  32. 32
    rknight44 says:

    The feather-butts will eat most anything as long as it doesn’t have milo or wheat. They love nuts also, too (not wingnuts, though). Find a good spot to hang a suet box and a tube finch feeder so when my greedy swine horde of goldfinches leave in a few weeks, they can go to W Va. and eat 40 lbs. of your thystle.

  33. 33
    Tbone says:

    Just keep in mind it’ll probably take a few seasons to fully get rid of the dandelions. At least, that’s how it worked at my place.

    Also, it’s pretty easy to make your own compost bin – I got a plastic 20 gallon trash can, and drilled a bunch of 1″ holes in it. It’s a bit small for our house of two – it’s just about full with about 3 months before it’s ready, but it works. It’s amazing how we keep throwing stuff in there, but it never gets overfilled. Plus, it does a great job keeping the critters from eating your black gold.

  34. 34

    @merrinc:

    Black landscape fabric won’t work, if you want to completely eradicate weeds from an area that you can live without for a while put down sheets of black plastic, let it cook all summer. It will basically fry the earth beneath it, killing all the living weeds as well as all the seeds in the ground.

    OR you could do a lasagne raised bed. Get yourself some sort of edging (any type will do so long as it will retain soil, etc.,) Set out the bed you want. Place at least four layers of newspaper on the ground and soak it with a hose. Lay down a layer of compost on top of that, then lay down a layer of topsoil. Let it cook. It should be ready for planting in a couple of months. The ink in the newspaper will kill the weeds (or grass if you are doing this on a lawn) and will break down and feed the soil. If you are impatient like me you can actually plant directly into the lasagne, you just have to make sure you mulch thoroughly so no weeds can come up through the newspaper.

    I put a round flower bed smack bang in the middle of the lawn several years ago (when I bought a bunch of plants and had nowhere to put them), I created the lasagne thingy and planted the plants immediately. It is at least 5 years later and other than the centipede grass occasionally sliding under the edging I have never seen grass in there.

  35. 35

    @rknight44:

    Where are you? My goldies stuff their faces at my feeders all winter and just as they are turning into their beautiful breeding plumage they bugger off to the Western part of the State (NC) to breed. Ingrates that they are.

  36. 36
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Mike Kay: Well, the cats appreciate it…

  37. 37
    Anne Laurie says:

    @johio:

    if you want to attract birds so Tunch will have cattv, then you need a bird bath. A nice big one. On hot days, there will be a line for the tub.

    This is true. In the summer, birds didn’t always hit our feeder, but the bird baths are always a major draw. And our bird baths are cheapo plastic 14-inch “pot saucers” I put on the ground to keep the chipmunks from taking a bite out of every single ripe tomato in my planters. I still intend to get more-esthetically-attractive-to-human models one of these days, but the birds seem just as happy with the saucers, which I don’t forget to fill since they’re right next to the tomatoes. And the chipmunks (or squirrels, voles, rabbits, possums, foxes — amazing the wildlife that can survive between the storage facility next door & the gun club land across the street) may pilfer the occasional tomato but at least I’m not infuriated when I come out and find a dozen ripe tomatoes, each sporting one neat little bitemark, lined up beneath the planters!

  38. 38

    What kind of sofa and truck do you keep out in the front yard? Is the truck up to code if you set it up on new cinder blocks or do you have to use the ones from your stereo shelving unit?

    BTW the title of this thread is awesome. It does look familiar, though.

  39. 39
    John Cole says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum: That is where I stole it!

  40. 40
    Anne Laurie says:

    John, around here the big sacks of black oil bird seed are cheaper at the big-box pet supply stores (Petco) than at the local groceries. You may want to check that out next time you’re stocking up for Tunch & Lily.

  41. 41
    John O says:

    LOL. For the record I don’t give a shit what kind of lawn care you choose.

    But I’m sure it sucks.

  42. 42
    JGabriel says:

    I am fully aware that this is when you all are supposed to leave 100 comments about why my choice in birdseed sucks …

    Oh, okay, fine. Your birdseed isn’t elite enough.

    Happy?

    .

  43. 43
    rknight44 says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: North Atlanta, Alpharetta. Same, same for me. The little shits gorge and go. Wasn’t kidding about 40 lbs. either. They’ve done that since between turkee and ho-ho ’til now.

  44. 44
    Jules says:

    @Toast:

    Hell, if we did not have a live and let live motto for the weeds we would have no actual lawn at all.

    The birds around here are pigs and eat any old WalMart bird seed we put out…though the Cardinals seem to like the sunflowers the most. I do make an effort to keep the hummingbirds happy, it is fun to watch them attack each other and watch the cats fail at hummingbird death.

  45. 45
    LuciaMia says:

    Ooh, you’ve really got it in for the Taraxacum. Keep in mind tho, as we all start to age and ease into our gradual decline, dandelions have definite herbal benefits.
    Both dandelion leaf and root have been used for centuries to treat liver, gall bladder, and kidney ailments, weak digestion, and the rheumatiz!

  46. 46
    Keith G says:

    In Houston, I use a mix of song bird food, extra sunflower seeds and peanuts. The peanuts were an attempt to appease the squirrels who were munching down on the sunflower seeds.

    Cardinals are my fav. A bright red male comes in clears out the place so his clay-red mate can feed.

    The blue jays are the boys in the hood. A clamoring ruckus and lingering mess signify their visits. They toss all the seeds they don’t like out of the feeder and will swallow peanuts whole….shell and all.

    After the jays go, squirrels and sparrows move in to sweep the ground putting them just feet from the sliding screen door where two interested kittehs dream of getting outside just one time.

  47. 47
    kuvasz says:

    dude, dandelions are good for your health.

    http://www.allnatural.net/herb.....lion.shtml

  48. 48
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    I put a round flower bed smack bang in the middle of the lawn several years ago (when I bought a bunch of plants and had nowhere to put them), I created the lasagne thingy and planted the plants immediately. It is at least 5 years later and other than the centipede grass occasionally sliding under the edging I have never seen grass in there.

    I have done a version of this with most of our front yardage, but we get a metric shite-ton of “volunteers” in the good soil on top of the newspaper. The most recent bed was actually 50% “professional” weedblock fabric (left over from one of the Spousal Unit’s projects) and 50% newspaper, and the end results were indistinguishable. Our weeds are not your untested Southern suburban varieties — our house is one of a handful grandfathered into a “light industrial” zone in a New England city that’s been a hazardous-waste dump for over 350 years (going back to the days of hog butchering & tanneries) — these burducks, bunchgrass, oxalis & dandelionoid survivors are not to be discouraged by puny humans. On the positive side, the offenders are much easier to hand-yank out of the new improved beds than from the baked-concrete construction fill this place was situated on, so it’s been worth my stoop labor… mostly.

  49. 49
    gbear says:

    I used to work at a place called The Wild Bird Store, so I can’t help but throw out a bunch of chirping points:

    The Kaytee mix looks like a good mix but I always wonder if those chain store brands haven’t been sitting in a warehouse for months and months. I second @merrinc’s: recommendation of straight sunflower. Once your birds show up, you’ll find that if you use a mix, they’ll throw everything on the ground until they find their absolute favorite seeds. I;’ve got seven feeders in my yard and each of them is a different food. No mixes. Less mess.

    A warning about black oil sunflower hulls, they have an oil inside the shell that kills plants. Either clean up the shells often, or don’t put the feeder over any plants that you value.

    The birds might be slow coming to your feeder because there isn’t any cover nearby. Birds get nervous if they’re too exposed. Hopefully there is a shrub or tree close by.

    As others have said, adding a birdbath will bring them in a LOT faster.

    If you like the antics of Blue Jays, put out a tray of peanuts in the shell and watch as they measure each one for weight until they find the heaviest peanut.

  50. 50
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    I was just browsing through the latest issue of The Atlantic, and noticed Marc Ambiner’s aricle on obesity. I have to say he looks pretty cute and good looking in the photo of him post-weight loss.

    Maybe not Mrs. Marc Ambiner material, but he looked pretty cute.

  51. 51
    Yukoner says:

    Wow, it seems like a number of people have bear issues/problems. We don’t feed the birds anymore as part of the ongoing effort to make our place less attractive to bears. No outside compost (large plastic totes in the garage with large resident red wiggler populations). Garbage gets taken away every couple of days in bear season. BBQ gets scrubbed to within an inch of its life. I will borrow the neighbour’s brush mower again this year to keep the soapberry (or bear berry) bushes down to a minimum. And still they come.

    Our large, black dog of undetermined heritage earns his kibble by driving off bears every year. But he is getting old (10 this year) and I’m afraid that he will meet his end at the claws/jaws of a bear. He has gone nose-to-nose with at least 30 bears since we rescued him from the shelter 9+ years ago and his bear instincts are perfect. But I fear old age and a mother bear will be his undoing one of these years.

    Last summer we had two different sows with triplets come through. One had that year’s cubs (cute little fur balls) and one had a set of 2-year olds that she was going to kick out of the nest very soon. The latter was a stressful situation. Four bears (more or less full grown) at once was too much. Our three boys, aged 7, 5 and 3 were also out and about on the property. Thankfully all three cubs went up separate trees, and while dog and mother bear lunged at each other the three human cubs did as they are trained to do, WALK (not run) in a tight group well around all of the action and back to the house. (I happened to be in the garage and was loading the 30.06 as fast as I could). In the end nobody got hurt. Life in bear country.

  52. 52
    gbear says:

    John, when your shoulder is sore, you should take your dandelion puller and lean it against your neighbor’s door. I’m sure he’d appreciate the thought.

  53. 53
    icculus says:

    So did you use that weed-puller-thingy from a few posts ago? How’d it work? Bad back here and that.

  54. 54
    Steve from Bucks says:

    John:

    the go to site for all things bird is the Cornell School of Ornithology –

    http://www.allaboutbirds.org/N.....x?pid=1138

    And if you’re intersted in attracting hummingbirds, a garden of bee balm is the Amsterdam red light district of the two winged world. Butterflies love it as well.

  55. 55
    gbear says:

    @Keith G:

    The peanuts were an attempt to appease the squirrels

    Any attempt to appease squirrels just results in more squirrels. I’m glad they don’t like safflower or thistle.

  56. 56
    John Cole says:

    @icculus: It was genius. You target your kill, step on it, pull towards you, and it pulls the whole thing out.

    Buy one.

  57. 57
    John Cole says:

    @kuvasz: Fine. Come eat mine.

  58. 58
    Anne Laurie says:

    @gbear:

    A warning about black oil sunflower hulls, they have an oil inside the shell that kills plants. Either clean up the shells often, or don’t put the feeder over any plants that you value.

    Huh. And here I thought the bare patches under our feeders were the results of the chipmunks and voles “cleaning up” after the birds’ leftovers. Who says you can’t learn useful stuff off a political blog?

  59. 59
    Anne Laurie says:

    @John Cole: Since Amazon is out of stock, I’m going to look for one locally this weekend. The original Garden Weasel didn’t have the power to stand up to our rocky, clay New England soil (construction fill, to be honest) but I’ve always had good results with Fiskars tools. Will report back, if I manage to snag one, on its worth for those of us with bad backs & sedentary habits.

  60. 60

    I’ve always liked Dandelions. Their flowers are purdy yellow. You can kill them, but it only makes them stronger, and purdier. Suburbia however, is a feudal wasteland.

  61. 61
    Keith G says:

    @gbear:

    True.

    My block has enough squirrels to be entertaining. We also have a clowder of feral cats who look forward to the delights of season when young squirrels begin to explore their world.

  62. 62
    Kristine says:

    It rubs the Kaytee on its skin
    Or else it gets the Tool again.

    Oh well, back to work…

    ::I did like that title. Bravo TGP::

  63. 63
    John Cole says:

    So isn’t there some kind of food chipmunks and squirrels like more than birdseed? Can’t I just put that out? I mean, if I am going to feed the welfare queen songbirds, I’m down with feeding some quirrels and chipmunks, too. I put a think of cat food out every night for strays, too, and it is always gone. And there I’m probably feeding coons or something else.

  64. 64
    rknight44 says:

    @Anne Laurie: Not only is gbear dead-on, another little side benefit is the bird shite. If you have dogs, they love to “rummage” around the feeder areas and that is not a good thing. I love my birdies terribly, but they can cause issues. Be that is it may, I’m keeping my damn birds and wish I had more than the several dozens I have. I tell my man at the bird store I have more cardinals than the Vatican (can’t really use that little bon mot right now, though).

  65. 65
    HRA says:

    Maybe the bird feeder is too close to the house and the reflection from your most certainly shiny windows is inhibiting the birds to come to the food. I know we have had better luck with moving the feeders away from the house and under the long line of trees in the backyard.
    Yes, the sunflower seeds were a big hit besides it’s a plus having sunflowers sprout up under the planters, trees and wherever the seed is carried without planting any.
    We have 3 bird baths. The latest one is also a solar fountain.

  66. 66
    rknight44 says:

    @John Cole: I have lots of chipmunks; they love sunflower and generally take spillage. They’re cute, not very greedy and I don’t mind a couple extra holes in the yard. Now I get flamed: I hate squirrels with the blinding intensity of ten thousand suns. They’ll eat everything there is. And, if the swine are parked on your feeders = no birds. I think I used to be a dog.

  67. 67

    @John Cole:

    And there I’m probably feeding coons or something else.

    Build an Ark, in case it rains.

  68. 68
    Kristine says:

    @rknight44:

    If you have dogs, they love to “rummage” around the feeder areas and that is not a good thing.

    Oh heavens, I thought my Gaby was the only dog that did this. I have taken to cordoning off the area under the feeder with garden fencing.

    Then she and King go and drink out of the birdbath instead.

  69. 69
    Kristine says:

    @rknight44: There are squirrel-proof feeders. I’ve had a lot of luck with this model. It’s slippery enough that the squirrels can’t get a grip, and the tension bar closes on the seed if they somehow manage to wrap themselves around the feeder.

    The bluejays are another story. I have the tension bar set on the touchiest setting–anything that lands on it that weighs more than a small songbird will cause the feeder to shut. The jays quickly learned to keepflappingtheirwingsrillyrillyhard to lighten their load on the bar while they shoveled seed out onto the ground with their beaks. Smartasses.

  70. 70
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    My dad, who was damned near a St Francis (but *only* regarding birds and wildlife!) used to nail squares of very coarse screening to tree trunks in his yard and slather peanut butter thickly all over it. Birds, squirrels and flying foxes all adored it. And the great thing was he bought the absolute grottiest institutional-size pb in the store, whatever was cheap, smooth or chunky didn’t matter. Hours of entertainment. (All of this, of course, was to supplement the birdseed. I am quite serious when I say that he frequently spent more on the birds during his weekly shopping excursions than he did on feeding himself.)

    I remember one Atlanta January when we had a vicious ice storm. We made sure to put out lots of seed and pb, and poured boiling water in the birdbath so the birds could drink. We sat inside and watched them, and in about half an hour we counted 36 different species. Jays, cardinals, grackles, juncos, titmice, chickadees, doves, thrashers, etc etc etc. I think I still have the list somewhere.

    I miss my dad, and I miss that bird-friendly environment.

    maudlin Siubhan +2

    ETA: Yay for Niger and thistle seed, also oiled sunflower seed.

  71. 71
    Keith G says:

    @Kristine: I swear some day the alpha beings running this world will be roaches, rats, and jays – cunning little survivors that they are.

  72. 72
    DaveInOz says:

    Get guinea pigs. They love dandelions!

  73. 73
    rknight44 says:

    @Kristine: You can only do so much. Perhaps elevate the bird bath? My horribly spoiled birds queue up for bath time and I would worry as their bath is near wood’s edge (I fret about ambushes; mean shrub, that). I think your pups should be fine as it seems airborne particles in dusty/dry conditions seem more harmful. Take salt: CDC’s HQ is here but I don’t work for them.

  74. 74
    rknight44 says:

    @Kristine: Well, there are certainly squirrel-resistant feeders. Most birders basements have several. Baffles work well if you pole-mount feeders. As for Jays…I like the damn things. Smart as shit. You can tell they’re related to Crows and Ravens. Shit, I’ve been in the Audubon Society too long. I’m starting to think bird

  75. 75
    snarkyspice says:

    @merrinc:

    Oh I am so with you. I have ivy, bindweed and wild blackberries. I’ve lived in this house for 10 years and every year, I fight the fight with a little less vigor than the last year. Now I’m just ready to sell and leave it to some other poor bastard to deal with.

  76. 76
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @HRA #65:

    your most certainly shiny window

    Wow! You must know John Cole *very* well!!

  77. 77
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Kristine #69:

    There are squirrel-proof feeders

    Uh-huh.

  78. 78
    Kristine says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: All I can say is that I have two of those feeders. Been using them for years, and the squirrels have not gotten into them. One is tree-mounted, and the other is pole-mounted. I have found gnaw marks and scratches around the hinges, and I have seen squirrels try to get into the things and slide off. The tension bar on the tree-mounted one has been bent. Maybe the squirrels around here are dumb, but if so that’s fine with me.

  79. 79
    Sibelius says:

    @Anne Laurie: Try to find this one, it’s what I use and love it. Weed Hound, get it at Home Depot. http://www.hound-dog.com

  80. 80
    HRA says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    LOL Not exactly – it’s what I have picked up by reading about all of his cleaning, scrubbing, etc. from those who have known him long and well. I am still wondering about the entire story of cleaning the bathroom.

    Re: what do squirres like to feed on besides bird seed – we bought squirrel feed (dried corn cobs) at Loews and of course, peanuts in shells will have them running all over the neighborhood to bury those they don’t eat right then and there. Now we are watching them dig up the peanuts they buried last year.

  81. 81
    LiberalTarian says:

    Here is an idea for composting pet poo.

    Or this one, which will work for your kitty poo too if you use corn-based cat litter.

  82. 82
    Kristine says:

    @LiberalTarian: I tried using the Doggie Dooley, but between the clay-y soil that stopped draining after a while and the additional clogging caused by the fact that my dogs ate so much grass, which did not break down in the tank…I’m surprised they call it a composter, though, because it’s set up like a mini-septic tank. You sink it into the ground, and add enzymes every so often to help chew things up. But you don’t remove the resulting sludge–it’s supposed to seep away.

    Damn, I think I’ve tried just about every pet gadget out there…

  83. 83
    LiberalTarian says:

    @Kristine:

    Ah, good to know. I like Clean Air Gardening as a vendor–they very up front said at the bottom that the dog poo composter won’t work in clay soils.

    I don’t really like the worm one, either. I have too many cats–the corn-based kitty litter smells funky after a couple days, even though it clumps. I’m thinking about getting that cat toilet called the Cat Genie. But, I’ve heard it you don’t plumb it right you can end up with a real mess.

    Sigh. Pets and poo. Good thing they are cute!

  84. 84
    frosty says:

    @LiberalTarian:
    Here’s the only good thing about German Shepherd poo. When it’s February and bloody cold out and she finally goes after looking around in the snow for 10 minutes until she gives up on finding any grass, well then youtake the plastic bag, put it over your hand, and pick up the steaming pile … it warms your hand up really nice.

  85. 85
    merrinc says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    Great advice; thanks! You’re right, black plastic. I don’t care about frying everything beneath because the side yard is a mess of bindweed, wild strawberries, and all sorts of other mess. I’d read about the newspaper idea and was thinking about trying it – will it work with a raised bed which has been taken over?

    BTW, I’m in western NC depending on your perspective. I’m in a feudal wasteland north of that city our capital hates. No shortage of goldfinches here. Right now I’m wondering what happened to the bluebirds. I had a male and three females at my feeders during the unseasonably snowy winter.

    merrinc+2

  86. 86
    David in NY says:

    My view is that Cole will get worn out before the dandelions do, but then, I don’t spend all my time trying to satisfy the appetites of blog readers, so maybe he’ll have more success than I do.

  87. 87
    bey says:

    I compromise. I have squirrel-proof feeders (the baffled kind and the feeding port-closing kind. But I also throw out corn underneath the front yard feeders for the squirrels.

    My goal is to become Snow White before I die. The chickadees don’t land on me quite yet, but they do hang on to the branch of the spruce tree about 2 feet from my car and tell me when their favorite feeder is empty.

  88. 88
    slag says:

    It feels wrong somehow that your dandelion posts are giving me a whole new perspective on Afghanistan. I have no idea if you ended up invading your neighbor’s yard, but I can see the rationale for doing so. Which is probably not a good thing.

  89. 89
    Kristine says:

    @LiberalTarian: Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I had a clay problem until I had sunk the thing and it stopped draining. So what did I do? I sank a second one. I dug a deeper, bigger hole–that’s what they advise, an extra foot or so of depth–but I think the grass my dogs ate just overwhelmed it.

  90. 90
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @John Cole:

    Well you inspired me to get mine out of the garage and get to work on my dandelions and weeds. Still works like a charm.

    Whoever said dandelion greens are good for you was right. They also make excellent green smoothies…half greens, half fruit.

  91. 91
    Anne Laurie says:

    @John Cole:

    I mean, if I am going to feed the welfare queen songbirds, I’m down with feeding some quirrels and chipmunks, too. I put a think of cat food out every night for strays, too, and it is always gone. And there I’m probably feeding coons or something else.

    Such as possums, or skunks. If it’s skunks, I look forward to the inevitable post on the day poor Lily startles the “woods kitty” hanging around her porch waiting for the next handout!

    For squirrels: The places that sell bulk birdseed, or your local agricultural-supplies store, also sell seed corn on cobs, and possibly some squirrel feeders like this thingie. My Dog Guru back in semi-rural Michigan has a four-armed ‘squirrel carousel’ that keeps both the hairy-tailed rats and her dogs engrossed for minutes on end — and they (mostly) leave the bird feeders alone. Whole peanuts in a box with a lid, like a little toybox, are also more desirable to squirrels than bird seed.

  92. 92
    fmbJo says:

    I strung the bird feeder between two trees and had more fun watching the squirrels tightrope walk than watching the birds. And we discovered the birds came after we got rid of the cat. So who do you love the most?

  93. 93
    mac says:

    Black Oil Sunflower Seeds and cover; shrubs and trees. Birds like to hide when Sharp Shinned Hawks are on the prowl.

  94. 94
    growingdaisies says:

    @John Cole:

    I found a combo approach works great for feeding squirrels and birds:

    First, I got these: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0007LQ3RQ

    They’re pricey, but they’ve become my only birdfeeder now because they work so well and are so much easier to clean than any of the others I’ve tried. If you want to use black oil sunflower, get one of these: the squirrels love the sunflower and will go after it no matter what else you put out. These are basically squirrel-proof.

    (Or you can just buy safflower seed — the squirrels don’t really like that and you can put it in the regular feeders. It attracts many of the same birds. They’ll eat it in the winter if they’re hungry, but they don’t really go for it much in the spring and summer.) Safflower seed will also drive off the grackles and starlings, which I found will completely take over a birdfeeder if they find it.

    Next, I got a big feeder tray and fill it routinely with peanuts for the jays and the squirrels. I keep it at the back of the yard, away from the other feeders. If you want to feed squirrels solely, buy one of those little box-shaped squirrel feeders — I have one of those that I use in the winter to supplement the platform feeder, when I want to make sure my local critters aren’t going hungry. I have no problem feeding the squirrels — I just like to see some birds, too.

    You can also use the squirrel mixes for the squirrel feeders, but the squirrels will always choose sunflower seed over corn kernels if they can get it. The squirrels in my neighborhood had no interest in the corn; they’d just eat the peanuts and sunflower out of the mix.

    So that’s it — safflower, or the squirrel-buster plus, and a peanut feeder some distance away. You’ll get to enjoy both the birds and the squirrels.

    I also like to put out a sock of thistle for the finches — love the goldfinches! — a hummingbird feeder, and a chunk of suet. If you do suet, look for the hot pepper kind — the squirrels won’t eat it, but the birds can’t taste it. I get some great woodpeckers that way.

  95. 95
    Carla says:

    Well, sounds like your choice in bird food is great! This is what I use and many of my co-workers also. If the food in your feeder has been sitting for a while dump it out as the rain and moisture will create a haven for bacteria and the birds will sense this. Also, don’t forget to clean your feeder with some soapy water to help keep out disease. PS. I work for Kaytee ; )

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