I sometimes get wise and dig up my homemade birdseed suet cakes recipes that I use in the winter when i have time to do it. It's quite simple. Not as hard as the store-bought, but it doesn't affect things much. I put a cake in the bowls of 2 broken birdbaths on plant stands, and break it up into chunks, mixing regular seed in and over it. That's for birds who forage at ground level and don't eat at feeders. But all birds like eating from platforms. And hiding chunks in the seed mix makes it more foraging fun.
Makes about 14 cakes/or 18 scoops full. Make a nice batch for the freezer, or halve the recipe, if you wish
1 cup beef suet, unflavored vegetable shortening or
lard - I use the shortening. It's much cheaper and easier than buying
beef suet, or rendering meat fat and the birds gobble it up just as
quickly. My grocery doesn't sell suet, so i'd have to make my own. No
time for that.
4 cups uncooked oats
4 cups peanut butter (if not adding fruit and nuts, use chunky style peanut butter) - store-brand or from your dollar store makes this affordable.
4 cups beef broth
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup or more dried fruit and nuts, seeds,
raisins, cranberries - just about anything added to it will make a bird
Add some bacon grease if you have some laying around.
3 cups any type of wild bird seed, so use the least expensive.
Optional addition- Hot pepper flakes, or cayenne.
They love hot pepper, and squirrels do not.
In a large pot or stockpot, combine the shortening or lard, oatmeal, peanut butter, broth, stirring frequently.
Heat to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Simmer for 20-30 mins.or until mixture looks like thick oatmeal.
Stir in raisins, nuts, various seeds, berries - anything you wish as an extra addition
Remove from heat and stir in bird seed. Let sit until just cool enough to safely pour into whatever you're using as a mold or container..
Pour into molds or containers, and put in freezer, cooling until hardened. I like to save and use the small, square containers from microwave meals to make my own molds. I also use small square baking tins, tart size, to make them look pretty. The silicone baking molds are great for shaping cakes.
You can also freeze the mixture as a big brick or tube, and cut it after thawing it just enough to cut it into the shapes and size you need. Those hard black plastic trays that fresh meat comes in are really good for freezing large rectangular or square batches. You can certainly opt for putting the mixture in ziplock bags for the freezer. Another good mold would be ice cube trays to make smaller pieces to fit into smaller items you're using as feeders. Thaw slightly, and they can be popped into cylinder feeders easily and no messy hands.
Thaw cakes a bit before serving them to the birds. Leaving
it partially frozen makes it easier to cut or place into the feeders
without making a gooey mess of it. And birds don't mind.
After just a little thawing, I sometimes get fancy and use my ice cream scoop or my large meatballer to make round cakes to slide into cylindrical feeders
Another simple food to feed your birds was discovered on refrigerator cleanout day..... I love cornbread. If i bought or made a loaf, there's usually some going into the trash because i kept it too long. I seem to make the corn muffins easily disappear, but the loaves aren't always finished.
You can just let it sit out for a few hours to dry
it and crumble it, or repurpose it into a dessert for the birds.
If you don't normally have the dry, old cornbread
problem, the dollar stores usually have corn muffin mixes that are quite
inexpensive. Bake the prepared mix as instucted, in a loaf shape
or muffins, adding bacon grease, nuts, berries or seeds to the mixture
then, bake as usual. Fast, easy, inexpensive dessert for the birds.
The traditional Christmas garland with strung popcorn and any type of firm berries, dried or fresh orange and apple slices (they have a natural "hole" to weave wire through). and day-old bread/ firm but not crisp cookies that are going stale. Instead of using twine, which will fall apart in the weather, I use thin green floral or craft wire. It's handy for wrapping around and securing some pieces of the food that might start to wander. Be sure to wrap and secure the ends so that little birds don't get injured or tangled in the wire. I wind the wire widely, so that when the garland starts to get bare, little birds don't get caught in holes they can't think their ways out of.
Many types of wreath and floral arrangement wire forms can be fitted with food and wired inside or out, as well. If you don't have squirrels, rodents or bears around, secure the garlands around shrub or tree branches, or hang a few on a tall shepherd's hook to place in different places in your gardens. I used a vintage wire minnow basket one season, filled generously with the weekly toss-away stuff and hung from a branch.
I Use These feeders...
The squirrel baffle keeps the vermin away from the feeders. Attaches to the feeder poles, and sway when a squirrel lands on it or tries to climb to the feeder.. They have a non-stick coating, making them easy to clean, but I also grease my baffles and feeder poles for my amusement.
My favorite feeders are hopper style.They hold a lot of seed. I like to fill with at least 5-10 lbs. of seed. Perfect for when i don't want to trudge out in the winter, and handy for when i need to be away for a while.
Feeding The Bees in Your Garden
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