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Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
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McCannon
Dec 13, 2017 7:53 PM CST
We supply our birds with homemade suet cakes. We used to purchase them but were never sure of the quality of the contents, so decided to produce our own. We buy suet from one of the local butcher shops and create a mix including the suet, peanut butter, mixed birdseed, and honey. Some time ago I built a mold that allows us to make up to 32 cakes at a time, in a size that fits the usual store bought suet cages. We usually mold them up in the garage but due to the cold weather brought our production indoors. Here's a couple pics showing the mold empty and after filling with the mix:


Thumb of 2017-12-14/McCannon/e2de8a Thumb of 2017-12-14/McCannon/1e09f0

The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Greenhouse Sempervivums Bromeliad
Adeniums Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tropicals Xeriscape Garden Art Plumerias
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plantmanager
Dec 13, 2017 8:28 PM CST
Wow, Mac, you mean business! I'm sure yours are better for the birds than the purchased ones.

My husband is thinking of going into production of pellets for the pellet stove. Apparently you can buy a molding device for the pellets. We have plenty of dead wood, and a chipper. After it's chipped it'll go into water and binder and get molded into pellets. It all sounds like a heck of a job for a guy who is almost 80!
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Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
Image
McCannon
Dec 13, 2017 9:06 PM CST
Karen, the advantage foe us is that we can make a lot at once, then freeze them and later thaw and dole them out as necessary. We have quite a few birds that over-winter so the cakes give them an energy boost. The squirrels like them too.

Tell your husband he's never too old to experiment. Thumbs up
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Texas (Zone 8a)
Passionate about Native Plants
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GrammaChar
Dec 14, 2017 2:33 AM CST
What a great idea! No doubt your yard is very popular with the neighborhood birds. I make suet too, but am unable to mass-produce on your level. Years ago my husband drilled 1 inch holes in cedar logs about 14" long, added little perches and a hanger. When stuffed with suet, the birds love them and they look very natural. I believe the birds like the homemade recipe better than the stuff from the store.
GrammaChar
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
Image
McCannon
Dec 14, 2017 6:10 AM CST
@GrammaChar I built several suet plug feeders a few years ago, some with perches and some with slotted "tail boards" for the woodpeckers. The birds loved them but the squirrels shredded them trying to remove the suet. So I switched to the metal cages but wasn't satisfied with the quality or price of the store bought cakes. We just mass produce them for convenience. 10 lbs of suet and the stuff we add makes us around 24 cakes in one operation.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Texas (Zone 8a)
Passionate about Native Plants
Region: Texas Butterflies Salvias Garden Photography Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover
Birds Hummingbirder Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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GrammaChar
Dec 14, 2017 9:42 AM CST
What are "tail boards"??? I have several woodpeckers; would like to accommodate them so they don't look so awkward while eating.
My son-in-law is coming for a visit tomorrow. I'm going to show him your suet mold with the hopes that he can build one for me. Thanks for the inspiration!
GrammaChar
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
Image
McCannon
Dec 14, 2017 10:25 AM CST
If you watch a woodpecker feeding, they're always clinging to a tree with their tail braced against the trunk. A suet feeder with an extension below the food, "tail board", allows them to feed in their normal upright position: http://wildbirdsunlimited.type...

The dividers on my mold are finger-jointed. The lower set is screwed to the base and the upper ones just interlock to them for easy removal. That makes it real easy to remove the cakes after they harden. You can make the overall size whatever you want, depending on how many cakes you want to make. If your SIL needs any information just let me know and I'll furnish more detail.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
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sallyg
Dec 20, 2017 4:54 PM CST
pretty awesome, Mack
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Deer Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
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Bonehead
Dec 20, 2017 5:38 PM CST
Impressive, Mac. I used to make suet cakes, but my local grocery store went from selling suet very inexpensively to now charging so much it is no longer cost effective. I just checked the ingredients of a commercial suet cake (usually about $1/cake or less): suet, corn, milo, wheat, millet, peanut parts, sunflower seeds. Nothing suspicious in that for me. Made in Oregon. I think the package is recyclable (I treat it as such). I get chickadees, woodpeckers, flickers, jays, and various small brown/gray birds on a regular basis.

I also provide chicken scratch (a blend of cracked corn and oats) in a open feeder and the least expensive mixed seed in a tube feeder. Some birds are more picky than others, but what they kick out the ground birds eat.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
Image
McCannon
Dec 21, 2017 9:32 AM CST
Thank you Sally. Smiling

Deb, I'm not so concerned about what they put in the suet cakes as I about "country of origin" and any possible chemical treatment of the ingredients. Made in Oregon is a good sign. We broadcast the mixed seed that goes into the suet cakes on the ground also and usually have a large flock of birds every day, along with the squirrels.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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sallyg
Dec 21, 2017 8:44 PM CST
have you tried making pure suet blocks? I can buy those sometimes. I think they last a lot longer, while getting daily visits from woodpeckers. They run about $3 each? not cheap. I think mine came from Illinois, guessing it's a by product of the big meat processors?

(Seeds and suet together, or separately, probably half dozen of one and six of the other.. unless pure suet lasts longer because the squirrels aren't bothering with it.)
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
Image
McCannon
Dec 21, 2017 9:04 PM CST
We made a batch once, and left out the oatmeal. The melted suet ran between the cracks in the mold before it thickened and was a mess to clean up. Pure suet would no doubt keep the squirrels away. But putting the mixed cakes in the wire cages keep them from devouring it rapidly. I think we paid $0.55/lb for suet this year vs. $0.39 last year. 10 lbs will make around 24 cakes with the mixed seed and other amendments. We get a variety of birds eating the cakes including jays, cardinals, sparrows, and of course woodpeckers.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Deer Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
Spiders! Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Fruit Growers Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Bonehead
Dec 22, 2017 8:47 AM CST
I've never thought of going directly to a meat packer for fat. We do have one in our community and know the owners, so that may well be a good resource. I did enjoy making my own, and I often hang one for my chickens.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
Image
McCannon
Dec 22, 2017 10:45 AM CST
Locally, our butcher shops use suet to add some fat to venison sausage. They also butcher cattle for people buying halves and quarters and always have plenty on hand.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: UrbanWild
Kentucky (Zone 6b)
Kentucky - borderline of 6a & 6b
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Native Plants and Wildflowers Miniature Gardening Organic Gardener Frogs and Toads Dog Lover
Birds Vegetable Grower Spiders! Hummingbirder Butterflies Critters Allowed
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UrbanWild
Dec 27, 2017 11:55 PM CST
Many moons ago I noticed fat scraps had become more expensive. Then I found a local butcher (now out of business) who would give me bone saw scraps. The "sawdust" is a mix of meat, bone and fat and quickly renders so you can separate fat from the solids. If you slowly cook long enough, you also end up with cracklins which are also greedily accepted by a number of birds.
Always looking for interesting plants for pollinators and food! Bonus points for highly, and pleasantly scented plants.

"Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit." [“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”] -- Marcus Tullius Cicero in Ad Familiares IX, 4, to Varro. 46 BCE

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