I ran this post last spring - and it is timely for this spring, as I just made a new batch of suet cakes - or as Ben calls them - Bird Toast.
Our favorite farm/feed store closed about a month ago and we've not found one we liked as well as that one - and haven't been able to find the suet blocks for our birds (and the squirrels).
Amy - over at Twelve Acres - has given me some helpful hints about keeping the deer out of the bird seed - and while talking about that and doing some research, I came across a recipe for making homemade suet blocks.
I've gotten helpful suggestions from several of you - and appreciate all of them. What I've finally decided on was to use crushed red pepper flakes in the bird seed. After some research I've found that birds can tolerate the heat of the flakes without really even feeling it - so it doesn't keep them away - but the deer will notice the heat and not come back to the seeds. We'll see how that works - so far no deer have been up near the feeders since I put in the pepper flakes - so haven't been able to test it out. They usually come around at night - so if the seeds are still there tomorrow I'll figure (and hope) that it worked.
So - back to making homemade suet blocks. The recipe came from Calloway Gardens - remember the gardens from Victory Garden?
•Melt 1 cup shortening (or lard) in a saucepan on very low heat.
•Add 1 cup peanut butter and stir until melted. (I used chunky peanut butter so they would have some nuts in there too)
Boy does this smell BAD - but keep on - it gets better. . .gag. . . cough . . . choke . . .
•To this add 1 cup plain flour and 3 cups plain cornmeal. Mix thoroughly.
•Add whole rolled oats, seeds, raisins or bread crumbs if you have any. The final consistency will be putty-like.
I also added some sunflower seeds . . .
•Pour into an old 8 inch by 8 inch pan and allow to cool.
I used an old pan - but lined it with plastic wrap too - though I don't see how this could stick to anything . . .
•Slice into quarters; each one should fit nicely into a suet cage, available at most garden centers.
•Store remaining squares in the refrigerator.
In less than an hour the suet mixture was firm and ready to cut into blocks . . . no no - those are NOT chocolate chip cookie bars . . .
And the suet cages are filled - the blocks could be a little flatter and a little wider - but this will do for now. Don has hung them up - let's wait here for the birds to come and feast . . .
Now to see how the birdies like this mixture. You can add berries too - to attract a bigger variety of birds. This was fun!!!! (after the initial shock of the peanut butter and lard melting together - ughhhh!!)
My newest batch has raisins, dried cranberries and a package of minemeat - this should keep the birds happy.