So much for the golden haze of summer. It’s been below freezing here for almost a week. That’s not a complaint, because we’re cozy inside, but I feel badly for the creatures living outdoors.
A couple of winters ago C & I started hanging a suet log. The birds love it!
They also clean it out fairly quickly – – which means one of us must refill it. We’re pretty good at that, but not perfect. 😦
This autumn I decided to make a change in garden maintenance that would help out the birds just a little more. I chose to NOT cut back some of the perennials when their bloom finished. I reckon the seed heads might come in handy when the suet log is empty.
Goldenrod has really funky looking seed heads. This perennial is native to North America, so I figure the birds have learned to make use of it over the centuries just as the First Peoples did.
And if the birds don’t eat these seeds, perhaps they’ll use the fluff to insulate their nests?
Lychnis is another with great summer blooms & and an abundance of winter seed. This patch along the fenceline is left standing in hopes it’ll be useful for the birds too.
Happily I’m not worried about those seed heads foretelling a full future for weeding. We mulch the garden beds quite heavily, which (aside from keeping roots warm) has the added benefit of slowing down scattered seeds turning into unwanted plants.
But hopefully the seeds will all be eaten before my pruning hand become so itchy that I just HAVE TO cut the plants back for tidiness sake. (I have good intentions, but I also know my nature.)
Even as we speak the crocosmia & the hardy fuchsia are dying back & will soon be luring me outside to tidy up.
Each December, the urge to CREATE sweeps into our home. C looks forward to taking a few days off before Christmas to play in Santa’s Workshop.
This year the project idea came from a store-bought gift we’d given C’s mum this summer. It was a bird feeder – a Suet Log to be more specific. It’s just like a tree branch with holes drilled & filled with a suet mixture. The birds, especially the woodpeckers, flocked to her 3rd-floor deck. They LOVED it
The fellow at the store said many birds find their food inside the bark of trees, so these feeders attracted more birds than those looking for seeds. Customers had reported over 110 different varieties of birds using this feeder.
C had to make some himself. His Santa’s Workshop project plan was in place early.
All summer & fall, we put commercial ‘bark butter’ into Mum’s feeder each time we were at her apartment. After a while, the cost added up, so I figured it was time to try making the birdfeed from scratch, too.
A year or so ago Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary gave me instructions for pine cone bird feeders. They were stuffing homemade bird suet into open pine cones. The idea intrigued me. I figured the fat should work just as well inside the drilled holes of C’s logs as it would inside the pine cones. Although I came across those instructions this summer & put them ‘somewhere safe,’ do you think I could find them now?
Procuring most of the ingredients was straight forward. Peanut butter, dried fruit & breadcrumbs were already in the kitchen. I washed eggshells & stored them frozen until needed. The sunflower seed & millet was sourced in the bulk section at Buckerfields, a local feed store.
The rendered fat (suet) was a little tougher. I looked around for plain suet blocks that could be melted down & converted into this pliable recipe for the logs. Even on sale, these wouldn’t be cost-effective.
It turns out, suet is available from the butcher. I went to a butcher that specializes in British fare. The British use suet in spotted dick – a steamed pudding. Who knew?
Once I’d collected all of the ingredients for our bird suet, it didn’t take long to put it all together.
For packaging, it was important to me not to be wasteful. So I decided on canning jars. I had lots of them, & they can be reused or recycled.
We’re pretty happy with the finished product. Now we’re waiting to see what kind of bird will be the first to find the new feeder in our garden.