The cold and frost came upon us hard and fast this year. After the relentless rains we had all summer, I felt lucky that the clouds lifted for long enough to get the fall yard chores wrapped up before Mother Nature pulled out her next bag of tricks! I am as prepared for the snow as I’m going to be, although with last years record breaking accumulation, I am a bit nervous for what this year will bring. I suppose that I would rather have lots of snow insulating the ground than little snow with lots of ice and cold, however, so I am NOT complaining!
We have a Lynx that has decided to make itself comfortable on our property. I’m not sure if he is visiting or if he decided to stay for the winter, but either way it is very cool to see him. He’s been eating the wild rabbits and squirrels, and seems quite contented to hang around, even close to the house! I always feel extremely blessed when one of our more elusive forest neighbors decide to show themselves. Nature is amazing, and it is humbling that such a fantastic creature is likely sleeping (or creeping) outside my bedroom window on any given night!
This time of year, I am careful to keep my bird identification book handy, because sometimes an unusual bird will make a stop at the feeder while passing through, even if it doesn’t live nearby. The familiar winter birds have made it back now, with the exception of the Pine Grosbeaks (which usually don’t show up until later in the season.) These birds are the only wild critters that I feed intentionally, and I am very careful to ration that food because the more you put out, the more birds will show up, and it can become a never ending (and expensive!) battle. The squirrels always help themselves, but there isn’t really anything I can do to prevent it, so I let them.
I put out some more homemade bird suet a few weeks ago, and the woodpeckers showed up again within an hour! Woodpeckers are fun to watch, and I love that I can always see them coming from far away because of their distinctive flight pattern (flap flap flap, glide), which makes me smile. Here’s my recipe for the homemade suet cakes that bring the woodpeckers from miles around and fit perfectly into any standard, store-bought suet cage:
Homemade Suet Cakes
1 pound of beef tallow or lard (preferably organic & pastured)
1 cup peanut butter 2 cups black oil sunflower seeds 1 cups organic whole grain flour 1 cup dried fruit (chopped)
Melt the tallow and peanut butter on medium heat in a large saucepan.
Add whole grain flour to the melted tallow mixture, whisking until well blended.
Add the seeds and chopped dried fruit, stirring until well coated.
Spread the mixture evenly into a large cake pan or baking dish, lined with wax paper.
Chill until solid, but not frozen.
Cut mixture into 6 squares, wrapping and freezing individually to store.