Archive | May, 2012

Eggs to tadpoles to toads in less than 6 weeks

15 May

Most of the toad tadpoles that were laid April 4 are still tadpoles but a couple that are in a heated aquarium have completely changed (see, I avoided spelling metamorphisized or somethin like that) into tiny little toads.
I put them outside because there is no way I can provide live insects to such small creatures. I am sure their mortality rate is still very high but at least they have made it this far, so good luck little dudes!

Contest Number Four: This thing is a…….

15 May

I was out on a bike ride this evening through a nearby park and I saw something hanging in a tree.

What the heck is it?

A box kite that crashed and was left to hang?

A newfangled bat house?

A left-over movie prop from The Blair Witch Project?

Slowly I crept, step by step, inch by inch….

I have no clue, but I think it might have something to do with repelling bugs, or attracting bugs. Do I win?

A handy dandy bird feeder

15 May

Here’s how we fill the blue-topped bird feeder in our Locust tree:

About 20 inches above the blue-topped feeder is a pulley. This was my wife’s idea.

OK, here is my brilliant contribution to the project, an “S hook”.

Just unhook the “S hook” and the feeder drops down. A well-placed knot in the cord reaches the pulley and stops the feeder from going too far down.

My wife is always coming up with clever ideas like this. She doesn’t just say, “Hey I think if we put a pulley on the bird-feeder it would be easier to fill”, and then stare at me. No, she goes out and buys the supplies and installs it. Then, a few weeks later I notice and say, “Hey Hon, there’s a pulley on the bird feeder.” Then she rolls her eyes and says, “No kidding.”

Lucky me

15 May

About 3 weeks ago, when the Morel mushroom hunters were finding mushrooms and I was finding none, a friend gave me a nice container of them, all cleaned and ready to fry. The first meal I made I breaded them and fried them in butter. The second meal I decided to just use butter. They may not look as appetizing but it is interesting to try them in different ways. Thanks, KH, for the mushrooms!

A week later another friend brought me a piece of petrified wood. She knows I love interesting rocks, but especially fossils. It’s heavy, close to 10 pounds. In this photo the petrified wood is in the foreground and right behind it is real wood. They look almost identical. Thanks, DK, for the fossilized wood. Very cool!

Last week, a retired friend and his wife stopped by and dropped a huge flowering Water Hyacinth into my turtle pond. By the time we got outside to see it the turtles were nibbling away, making it bounce around like a fishing bobber. I grabbed it and dropped it into the little 30 gallon pond, and it will soon start dividing into many more Hyacinth plants. Yes, people in Florida, up here in Iowa we buy Water Hyacinth plants! Thanks, DB and LB, for bringing me the biggest Water Hyacinth I have ever seen!

You can see a few bite marks from the turtles. It wouldn’t have lasted another hour!

It’s easy to forget how generous and nice most people are, and I think that people who care for animals and plants are nicer and more generous than most. I don’t wanna get too mushy here, but I am a damn lucky guy.

Quilt Batting as filter material

7 May

If you use LOT of filter wool, either in indoor tanks or a pond, consider buying Quilt Batting. The regular batting is denser than Aquarium filter wool. The batting does not remove the finest algae particles but it collects more than the Aquarium wool.

I cleaned the pond filter a few days ago. Here is that process. It’s a cheap filter, supposed to work mechanically¬† (with filter wool ) but also biologically, with plants growing in the filter itself. Unfortunately, it is so brutally hot on the South side of my house that no plants have survived in to the Summer months. Plus, the turtles eat any aquatic vegetation in the pond, so this filter cannot keep up. Still, I would recommend something similar for a goldfish pond. (NOT a Koi pond, same problems as the turtles)

The empty filter. By the way, this is just the “filter box”. The pump is underwater in the pond and tubing runs into this box then overflows into a small stream.

2 bricks on the bottom. The water comes in through the white PVC tube at the back left. The bricks will support the rest of the filter material so the water can flow around underneath and percolate upwards.

The white grid is some of that “light diffuser”, plastic stuff that I use to breed egg-scattering fish.

Plus some Lava Rock.

Quilt Batting.

Another grid on top.

A strainer around the outflow.

Rocks to hold down the grid and the strainer.

And I still have green water.

It’s green, it’s clean, but the fish cannot be seen.

I realize that I failed to show you the real fun part, which is crawling and crouching while removing heavy, nasty, disgusting old filter material. Since I forgot to take photos of that please use your imagination.

Springtime planting

7 May

We had fun gardening this weekend. We worked like mad, planting and transplanting, weeding and trimming. We also bought some new plants.
Here are some of the results:

And here’s the Tip of the Day from all of us here at the Practical Gardening Blog:
I have a Golden Retriever. I brush her and put her hair around the base of plants. It keeps the bunnies away. Try it, it really works.

Turtles are taking over

7 May

WordPress bloggers know that we can see the “search terms” that people use to find our blogs. We can’t see their names or email addresses, unless they want us to, but I say this so I can show you the “search terms” that are used to find my FISHKEEPING blog.
Today is a typical example:

turtle 22
yellow glow tetra 3
leopard catfish for sale 2
painted red eared slider 2
colombian tetras 2
turtle pond 2
painted turtle tank 2
baby red ear slider turtles 1
green glo tetras 1

Turtles, turtles, turtles!
I want to make my readers happy. Here’s what’s going on in the backyard turtle pond:

The momma turtle, seen here…

…has laid more eggs. Rememnber she had laid 5 about 6 weeks ago and now has made another nest. She was out wandering around, off and on, for 3 days. Then she settled in and dug another nest. Here it is, it looks like a little mudhole about 5 inches in diameter. It helps to actually see the female digging so you can recognize that this is a turtle nest.

I am keeping the first batch in an indoor “incubator” but I am going to leave this second batch in the ground. I wonder how many are in there? I am guessing another 5 or so.
I cut some wire and placed it over the nest to keep out any predators.

The baby turtles would be able to walk right through this wire contraption, so I plan to make something different (using wire with narrower openings) or remove the eggs to a safe indoor location as it gets nearer their “due date”.