Back in old Ioway the deer would browse the corn fields and get nice and fat in the winter. At my mother-in-law’s she even had a conservation easement (or whatever it’s called) to let a certain number of acres stay in corn just to feed the deer. That was nice for the deer and nice for the hunters. You know how people love corn fattened beef, well, corn fattened deer is almost the same thing. Out here we don’t have corn. We have rice. It doesn’t “finish” the game in the same way but I’m not complaining.
The other thing that makes winter nice is winter bird watching. I could sit at my window for hours watching the birds that come to my feeders. I have a hummingbird feeder in the back yard and a regular feeder in the front. We get doves, jays, acorn woodpeckers, chipping sparrows and finches.
This winter I decided to make some suet bird feeders just for a little extra winter re-charge for my little friends. It’s easy to do and a good winter kitchen project for the young ones.
Make Your Own Suet Bird Feeder
1/2-1 cup rendered fat (beef is best but you can also use pig fat. I go to the local butcher and get a pound or half pound very reasonably. To render the fat chop it up small and put it in a crock pot on low if you are busy or high if you can pay attention. Let it melt and then skim off the “debris” which is bits of skin or meat. Strain it and you’re all set.)
1-2 cups bird seed (don’t waste the birds’ time with cheap seed. Tractor Supply or similar stores have a great inexpensive wild bird food that has a nice balance and variety. In the old days Gramma would crack corn and get some millet or sorghum from the fields. Then she’d add sunflower seed from the garden.)
Medium sized bowl
Cake pan or any other small shallow pan
Non-stick aluminum foil
Small welded wire to make cage holders
Render the fat. It doesn’t have to boil. As a matter of fact, don’t boil it. Here’s how the beef fat looks in my little crock pot before it melts. I cut it up into small chunks to make it melt faster. It will take a few hours to properly melt.
Add to the bird seed mix and mix evenly with a spoon.
Spread it in a pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil. One to two inches thick should do the job.
Pour the mixture into the pan and put it in the refrigerator or out on your winter porch until it’s nice and firm. It won’t take long.
While it’s solidifying make your cages. Cut your wire cage into 3-4-inch square shapes, miter the corners and with pliers bend it into a little cage.
Pop it out of the pan and break it into chunks that will fit in your cages. If you have too much, you can freeze it.
Nail the cage to a tree or something solid and insert your suet chucks.
Squirrels love this stuff, too. They might be the first ones to figure it out. Sit back and wait. Birds are masters at finding food so it won’t take too long.