Maybe it's because as I get older, I start to appreciate the simpler things in life. Or maybe it's because I'm proud of having my own backyard, or because my husband is an avid outdoorsman. But over the last couple years, I've developed a fascination with bird-watching.
We have several towering pine trees in our backyard, planted by an elderly couple who lived in the home for 40 years before selling it to us. The family had a summer home in the Ozarks, and every year, the husband planted a pine tree that he brought back from Missouri in his Iowa backyard. The pine trees look a little odd in our neighborhood of decidious oaks and maples. But they attract all kinds of birds, including the cardinal that appears in my profile pick. He and a female cardinal return to our backyard every spring and attempt to nest in our trellis. They always get scared off, however, either by our comings-and-goings or by the squirrels.
So I was thrilled to see this week's Martha Mondays assignment, picked by Brette over at Martha and Me. It's a homemade bird feeder, made from suet (beef fat) and birdseeds, pressed into a mold of some sort.
When I told my husband I needed to find a local meat locker to buy the suet, he asked, "Can't you just use lard?" After a quick Google search, sure enough, we discovered that lard is a suitable replacement for the beef suet in birdseed mixes, although I think the birds may still prefer the suet.
This was probably the easiest Martha Mondays project yet. I just heated the lard up in the microwave for 20 seconds, then mixed in the wild birdseed, unsalted peanuts and dried cranberries. (It was almost like making granola!) I pressed the gloppy mix into plastic cups that have been hiding in the back of our cupboards since our wedding reception (six years ago!). Then, as instructed, I stuck twine into the center and put the molds in the freezer over night.
I had to cut the plastic cup to release the frozen birdseed "feeder" inside. The end product looks "semi-professional," I think.
Unfortunately, it only took a few minutes at room temperature for the seeds to start falling off the feeder. Then I gave the twine a little tug, and the feeder collasped into pieces. I'm thinking these feeders need to be outdoors in the frozen temperatures to work. I plan to keep them in the freezer until it dips back to Artic temps here in central Iowa, then place them out on my clothes lines to see if the birds take a nibble.
On a funny side note, my birdfeeder project inspired my husband to make his own "green" bird feeder. It's made from an old peanut jar and a peanut butter lid. He got the idea from a recent issue of Workshop magazine.
Thanks for another fun project. I'm sure the birds will appreciate it, too!