Friday, April 16, 2010

Make your own suet and feeder, and waste not!

Although we don't eat a lot of meat products that produce grease, we do occasionally. And what to do with all the fat and drippings? We used to save them in a can, with lid, in the refrigerator and then throw the can out once it got full. No longer!

We still save the fat, in the refrigerator because it's still an animal product and can get super gross and nasty if you leave it out, but now we reuse it for different household purposes. One of those uses is for the birds.
We get a ton of birds, pretty much year round, around here. Suet can be expensive to buy and it's wasteful given that you can reuse what you already have and lessen your impact on the land. First, you need to pull out that old grease and find a small tinfoil pan to use. Our neighbor made us some yummy rum cake this last Christmas in this tin pan and we decided to reuse it.

Melt the grease in the oven, I did this in the tin can we were saving it in. I then poured the fat into our little tin pan and then poured in the wild bird seed. We bought our wild bird seed from our favorite organic farm supply store, Naomi's. Though in the future I'd like to use extra seed that I have after harvest. After you've poured the seed in, you want it pretty full, pop it in the freezer overnight.
The next morning wake up all excited that you're going to be making a treat for the birds! Well, that's how I wake up, thrilled for the birds. Head outside to your potting bench or porch or backyard jungle and find some chicken wire or meshing or random piece of metal wiring that's somehow been blown into your yard, as I did. Oh yes, remember to bring your fresh suet! I had to cut my thick metal wiring with heavy duty metal clippers because it was real thick. I've done this before with regular old chicken wire and it works just fine. Double over the wiring and add a little extra, I like to make a perch for the birdies - with sharp wire bent under of course, and pop your suet out of it's frozen container. Place in the center and refold the meshing to enclose it. Oh yes, twine is useful as a hanger for the suet. In the past, we've used broken shoelaces and old hair ribbons, though we were plum out of extra string at the time of this project. Make sure to bend the wire in and under so that birds don't hurt themselves on any exposed, up facing sharpies. Voila! Go hang in a tree and watch the birds!

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