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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fruit fly trap update

During a recent explosion of fruit flies in our house, and having heard about the use of apple cider vinegar as an easy lure for fruit flies, I decided to conduct an experiment (because I'm such a science nerd and I love figuring out the best way to do things!):

I made 5 traps, using the method outlined in my previous blog post about fruit flies.

These traps consisted of:

       Trap #1 - My "control" trap, using fruit & yeast (which I've used for years)
       Trap #2 - Apple cider vinegar & yeast
       Trap #3 - Apple cider vinegar only
       Trap #4 - Apples only
       Trap #5 - Apples, apple cider vinegar & yeast

After 24 hours, only one of the traps had any fruit flies in it at all, so I decided to give the experiment another day.

After 48 hours, still only one trap contained any fruit flies, which now numbered somewhere between 20 and 30 (they wouldn't stay still so that I could count them!)

I figured that the experiment could be stopped at that point, since there was a clear winner:  you probably guessed it, it was Trap #1 (my old standby), containing apples and yeast.  The other traps didn't even have one fruit fly in them, nothing, nada, nil.

So there you have it!  My original recipe still stands.

Happy trapping!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April, 2014

New chicks have hatched!

Since we have our own rooster (Saul Goodman, named for the Breaking Bad character), we're able to raise our own chicks.  We generally start chicks every year in order to maintain the productivity of our backyard flock and because, well, they're just plain cute.  

Saul Goodman
(Did you know that his name derives from the saying "It's all good, man"?)

The eggs incubate for 21 days at 99.5 degrees F.

First chick to hatch!
(The smiley face on the unhatched egg was written on there when we candled it & saw an embryo, so we knew it was viable.)

The first chick hatched at around 9 a.m., with the second one following about six hours later (around 3 p.m.)  By the time we were heading to bed that night, 4 more chicks had "pipped" (cracked an opening in the shell) and seemed to be gasping for breath through the tiny holes that they had made.

You're NOT supposed to "help" them hatch, but I started feeling badly for them, imagining that they were trying to break free of their shells but were unable to.

I peeled off a tiny piece of shell, and then saw blood.  I remembered reading something about "If you see blood, STOP!"  So, I did, and then Googled "chicks hatching."

I learned that the 21-day incubation is just a guideline; they can take anywhere from 21-25 days to hatch.  Thank goodness I read that; I left the eggs alone & went to sleep; by the next morning, all 4 of the remaining chicks had hatched!  (One egg was a dud - Don't count your chickens before they hatch...)

We ended up with 6 chicks!

They're already growing so fast that we'll be putting them outside tomorrow.

Stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

2014 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament at the Brooklyn Bridge Mariott

Had a wonderful time meeting and/or reconnecting with puzzle friends.  My dog was a big hit, as usual.  

Emmy, as we call her in public, was a pro at working the crowd, and totally shameless when it came to asking for a good belly rub.   

Here are some pix.  (Also, in case you haven't seen it yet, here's a 2-minute video about my dog:  My Assistance Dog

On the High Line w/my husband & son

Rex & his lovely wife

Karen from the Cape

Bob K, LMS, mac

With Howard B. (the 3rd-place winner), who is just a doll!

When I mentioned to someone at my table about Howard B. and how nice he was, that person said "That's really saying something in this crowd, because all the constructors are nice, so he must be REALLY nice."  And he is.

My dog with the beautiful ACME

Sporting her crossword bandanna!  

Will Shortz


Ade Koiki

The judging room

with BEQ (Puzzle 5's creator - though he's really not
mean at all in person....)

Marking puzzles is exhausting.....

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What happens to old chickens....

So, we had 3 old chickens, who had long-ago stopped producing eggs.  We kept them anyway, as part of the flock.

Things changed when I caught them eating eggs, though.  

Nothing goes to waste at my house:  the carcasses were put into the woods, and I set up an infrared, motion-activated camera to see who might stop by for a snack.

The bodies were there for about 5 days, and then during a snowstorm, the scavengers showed up:



Barred Owl

I love those cameras! (When they work, aren't out of batteries, and don't get blown around...) 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Westport Crossword Puzzle Tournament 

February 1, 2014

Wow, what a packed house for the Tournament!!!  If it gets any more popular, they're going to need a bigger venue.

Unfortunately, I only took pics at dinner, where we went to Bobby Q's Bodacious Barbecue Joint.  The food was excellent, as was the rustic atmosphere.  We had to wait a while for our table, but given how large our party was, that was to be expected.

As usual, my dog was a big hit and very well-behaved, as you can see. She slept through the entire dinner!

Had a really good time in the "Judging" room - hope to be back there next year.  Next stop, the ACPTs!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Cooper's Hawk in my garden

Either the birds didn't see the Cooper's Hawk quietly sitting there

 (highly unlikely), or it's just too cold out today (about 9 degrees F right now) to


See the titmouse casually eating right below the hawk?

The hawk later swooped down & caught a bird, but I couldn't see which one it got.

Here are some more pix from today:

 The birds are hungry!

Red-bellied woodpecker

Northern Cardinal male, with Dark-eyed Juncos

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fruit fly trap

Materials needed

Super-easy Fruit Fly Trap that really works!

You will need:

  1. a cone-type coffee filter
  2. a clear glass jar
  3. yeast
  4. beer or apple cider vinegar 
  5. a piece of fruit or peel
  6. a rubber band

Use a clear glass jar - a mason jar works well.  

(The importance of the clear glass is so that the flies try to escape out of the sides of the jar, instead of through the filter hole.)

Put in some fruit:  banana peel, piece of apple or banana, etc. Add a sprinkle of yeast, and a splash of apple cider vinegar or beer.

Insert a cone-type coffee filter into the neck of the jar, fold it over the rim & secure it with a rubber band.

Secure filter with a rubber band

Then, just poke a small hole in the bottom of the filter, and wait for your victims!

Poke a small hole in the filter bottom

The finished trap - already working, just minutes after being set up.

(Here's a tip:  When the jar is full of fruit flies, I put a lid on it & stick the whole thing in the freezer overnight; the next morning, you'll be able to thaw the jar out & dump out the contents.)