Growing Living Making The Half-Acre Habitat

In progress

I hate to share in-progress pictures. Partly that’s because many of my projects are done in budget-sized increments, and how do I decide when I’m really “done”? But I also recognize that sharing progress pictures makes things seem more doable. And I tend to think most things are doable. Or at least, more things than most people think are.

So here is what’s been occupying my time after work for the last few weeks. It’s a picture of the back of our house, as seen from the new birdfeeder I installed in the backyard (more about that in a sec). The deck I built in 2020 with The Boy, but the stairs by the chimney and the short walkway I just added last week.

The reason for adding them was that below the chimney, I am putting in a water feature – a shallow pond (from 4-16 inches deep) for the wildlife and birds, with a small bubble fountain in it to make the birds happy. There are wetland plants that will go there as well, and to the right of the chimney, out of the shot, will be a small sitting area, where the red chairs that are currently on the deck will go, so I can sit in the shade of the afternoon and watch the fountain.

Ok, so that’s out of the way – let’s see what is blooming this week:

I love common yarrow. It’s evergreen (here, anyway – your mileage may vary), the pollinators love it, and the ferny texture fills in well. Every garden I have will have some yarrow in it.

And coneflowers! A native (well, this yellow variety is a nativar – don’t @ me, people), also beloved by pollinators, and nearly bulletproof. I just loved the juxtaposition of the yellow with the purple verbena – also a native plant, also bulletproof and beloved by pollinators.

The magnolia is still blooming, proof that God loves me and wants me to be happy.

This is the native “species” purple coneflower – lovely as can be. Surprisingly hard to find in nurseries, as people live the colored nativars. But I like this one best.

This is elderberry. Also native, it’s an aggressive bush here. I understand people pay for elderberry plants, but there’s no need. If you cut a branch off around the size of a pencil and then stick it in the ground, it will root. It fills in quickly and spreads, so it’s ideal in a place where you need quick screening. But the birds love the cover AND the berries, and the butterflies love the flowers. A great wildlife plant.

I wanted a bird feeder out in the yard, away from the house. The feeder by the house – really just a saucer on the deck rail – you can see it on the far left of the deck in the back of the house picture – is really only drawing Cardinals and Thrashers. I figured a feeder further from the house might draw more.

And it’s working – here are some Chickadees and a Tufted Titmouse that came to visit.

So Thursday evening I builta quick and dirty platform feeder: It’s just a 10-foot piece of ¾ inch EMT conduit driven in the ground as a post, then I drilled a 15/16 hole in a 2×2 for the crosspiece. It’s held in place by a 10d nail that goes through both the crosspiece and the 2×2, so it makes it easy to remove if needed. The platform feeder itself is just some 1×2 from which I made an overlapping double frame that sandwiches a piece of 2×4 fencing for support and a piece of window screen for drainage. On the right, you see the Blink camera. I hung the hanging feeder under it to balance out the weight, else it tends to lean a bit. Were I to do this over, I would use a piece of 1-inch EMT instead of the 3/4.

The squirrel baffle is just a piece of 4-inch PVC that is 2 feet long. I put the top of it six feet off the ground, and then drilled a hole through both it and the EMT and ran a piece of coathanger wire through it to hold it in place. Thus far, no squirrels have attempted it. We will see how it works.

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