3 Tips You Gotta Know When Using Suet Plugs


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If you use suet plug bird feeders you know how incredibly messy they are to fill.

[A quick note to those who don't feed birds or use suet bird food - Suet food usually comes in either bricks or plugs. The binding agent for the bird seed is suet (animal fat or partially solidified grease.)]

I’ll say this, what suet cages lack in beauty they more than make up for in ease of use. Suet plug feeders, on the other hand, provide a certain almost rustic appeal, but, boy, oh boy. By the time you get all the feeder holes filled with suet plugs … Have you ever seen a 12-month old baby that’s been handed a HUGE slice of birthday cake – loaded with chocolate icing, of course! – and the birthday baby is encouraged to have at it?! Well, when you’re done filling suet plug feeders you end up looking a little like that. Granted, your face is clean, but your hands are unfit to touch ANYTHING.

The reason for this mess, aside from the fact that you’re dealing with “grease,” is because the plug holes are a bit snug, which requires pushing the suet plugs through the holes.

Recently, as I finished filling my suet plug feeder, I thought, “There’s GOT to be a better way to do this. The plugs are simply too soft and slimy, something that doesn’t happen with … frozen food.” :) Light bulb!

1. Freeze the Suet Plugs

Freezing them made a huge difference.

Freezing bird food suet plugs makes the job of filling the suet plug feeders a WHOLE lot easier for two reasons:

  1. Nearly everything, except water, contracts in its frozen state. This makes the plugs ever so slightly smaller; and
  2. Pushing the plugs through the plug holes doesn’t become a mushy mess when the plugs are hard.

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Sprouting Mung Beans {And a Gardening Coupon Code}


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If you’ve never sprouted beans you’re missing out on a lot of fun, yummies, and nutrition!

As gardeners, we don’t expect instant gratification. No, our gratification timetable falls somewhere between the time it takes to grow a Chia Pet to that of aging fine wine.

We wait months for the complete transformation of a tiny lettuce seed to a ready-to-eat stalk or head of lettuce. That’s pretty much the case for any vegetable. However, with sprouts, the seed-to-table time is accelerated exponentially. Of course, that’s only because we’re not waiting for the seed to become a mature plant producing its fruit. Instead, we help the seed START to grow, and then … toss it in our mouth. Pretty sneaky if you ask me. The little seed doesn’t see it comin’.

There are so many beans you can sprout and toss into dishes. Most often you hear of sprouts being used in salads or stir-fry dishes. I love salads loaded with goodies, and sprouts give my salads variety, extra crunch, additional nutrition, and a little whimsical presentation.

5 Reasons to Sprout Beans

  1. Sprouts Are Nutritious.*
  2. Sprouting Allows You to Eat the Beans NOW.
  3. Sprouting Aids in the Digestion of the Beans.
  4. Sprouting Provides Winter Cabin-Fever Reprieve.
  5. Sprouting is SO Much Fun!
  6. *You’ll need to do your own research on this. Some believe raw sprouts are a nutrient-dense food; others believe eating raw sprouts may be the cause of some illnesses and death outbreaks.

I’ll have to elaborate on these reasons in a future post. There is so much that can be said about sprouting beans; I just can’t easily fit it all into one post.

How to Sprout Mung Beans

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July’s JUMBO Giveaway!!!


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I’m trying to schedule a big giveaway once each calendar quarter (or thereabouts), so it’s time for our next one. :)

Today’s prize package consists of a plethora of various gardening, cooking, preserving, foraging, and homesteading items. Each item was carefully chosen for a well-rounded prize package at over $343 ARV!!!

Most of the items are provided by today’s host bloggers and sponsors from their online stores, books they wrote, and a DVD one of them created. The rest of us pooled our money together to purchase items from Amazon, local stores, and even more items from Pantry Paratus to bring you this FABULOUS prize package.

Nearly HALF (or more, depending on how you count them) of the items come from Pantry Paratus! Their online catalog consists of over 300 items: pressure canners; food dehydrators; kitchen tools and utensils; how-to resources on gardening, cooking, preserving, foraging, homesteading, etc.; and much more.

Amazing Graze General Store has all kinds of stuff for the kitchen and farm like grain mills, juicers, breadmakers, even chicken poop lip balm, and more. Peaceful Acres Farm store offers homemade aromatherapy items, organic herbal salves, wool products, and more. Timber Creek Farm’s Etsy store sells handspun wool. And Trayer Wilderness store is just the place to shop for your survival needs such as knives, multiflame tools, a squirrel roaster, candles, and more.

Most of the books in today’s giveaway were written by Amazing Graze Farm, Learning and Yearning, The Organic Kitchen, and Schneider Peeps also has a gardening book we gave away in a recent giveaway.

We even have a DVD in the mix. Yep. New Life on a Homestead is providing the winner with their At Home Canning for Beginners & Beyond.

Don’t forget the rest of us who don’t have stores or books because we’re pretty amazing, too. Seriously. Just ask us. ;)

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Attracting Bats to Bat Houses


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I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that probably most of you do not have a bat house. Maybe you’ve never even thought about getting a bat house. Bats might even seem a little creepy or of no personal benefit to you.

So let’s start out with a few intriguing bat facts.

Bats are Mammals and Pollinators

I remember seeing a show on Discovery, Animal Planet, National Geographic, or some nature channel about bats in the Sonoran Desert of northern Mexico. The videography was amazing in itself. In slow motion they showed a bat flying to a cactus to eat pollen. Big whoop, right? The WOW factor was that WHILE the mama bat was zooming from one cactus to the next getting her nibbles or slurps of pollen, her tiny pup was clinging to her AND, if I recall correctly, nursing!

Talk about a mama multi-tasking, not to mention the skill of that pup to hang on for dear life!

I just love watching stuff like that, but that part of the show was actually about the crucial role of bats in propagating the cardon cactus.

Because of the lesser longnosed bats (and other pollinators) the flowers are pollinated, the pollinated flowers produce fruit, the fruit provides nutritious food for the local people, and the fruit that falls to the ground becomes another cactus that feeds the bats that …

Bats are very important to the agave plant “… which relies solely on bats to pollinate its flowers and reproduce.”(5)

Click here to read more about how bats can benefit you and your family, your garden, and your back yard.

Some Bats Are Simply Adorable

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The One Thing I Feed My Compost Worms When I’m Out of Kitchen Scraps


Aside from the microbial-rich castings compost worms provide, one reason people choose compost worms as a source of their garden manure/fertilizer is because the worms cost almost nothing to “raise.”

A lot of the kitchen scraps people throw away (or toss into their compost pile) can be used to feed compost worms.

In the fall, I like to freeze pumpkin, including the rind, as a future food source for my compost worms. They LOVE pumpkin and pumpkin rind.

However, if I have no fresh scraps, rotting scraps I’ve set aside in the fridge, or leftovers stashed in the freezer, I’ve been known to break open a can of pumpkin puree. Yep. A perfectly good can of pumpkin puree will go to the worms. You do what you have to to keep your little gardening friends alive and well. :)

If you’d like to know more about compost worms, check out the Compost Worms 101 series.

Below are all the links to the Compost Worms 101 series:

14 Reasons to Have Compost Worms
DIY Compost Worm Bin
How to Acquire Compost Worms
Feeding Compost Worms (What, How, and When)
How to Take Care of Compost Worms
Cool Facts About Compost Worms
Giveaway: Compost Worms!!!
How to Harvest Worm Castings
How to Use Worm Castings

This was shared on the following blog hops and link-ups:
HomeAcre Hop
Homestead Barn Hop
Little House Friday
Simple Life Sunday Blog Hop
Simple Saturdays Blog Hop
Wednesday’s Prayer Girls & Link-Up Party

DIY Decorative Engraved Stepping Stones – Easy Peasy!


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I. Love. Rocks.

I don’t mean diamonds, although they’re pretty cool, too. I’m talkin’ about dirt rocks kind of rocks.

We have a 3,628 pound boulder that I had turned into a bubbling boulder. Need I say more?

Here are links to all the posts in the DIY bubbling boulder series:

  1. The Bubbling Boulder Unveiling
  2. Bubbling Boulder – The Price Tag
  3. 6 Tips When Shopping for a Bubbling Boulder
  4. Bubbling Boulder: Choosing the Location
  5. Bubbling Boulder – Digging the Pit
  6. Before-Bubbling-Boulder-Delivery Prep Work

To dress up the bubbling boulder area, I had a local mom and pop stone engraving company do a sandblast engraving on a separate stone that reads, “Holly’s Hollow” and a couple critters engraved onto the stone. (I think the words might have been engraved with something like a dremel or drill, but the critters were sandblasted.)

Then there’s all the river rock, the large feather rocks, the stepping stones from our driveway to our front porch, and a couple little rocks with critters (a frog and a lizard) sandblasted onto them.

AND, I recently came across a to-die-for stone outdoor living space and STONE SOFA!

Okay, I think I’ve made my point: I like rocks.

Liking rocks as I do, I thought it’d be a neat project to do some personal stone engraving. However, I don’t have a sandblaster, nor would I know how to use one, BUT I do have … a dremel. :) (Actually, it’s John’s dremel, but he shares. He’s nice like that.)

I wasn’t sure if a dremel would even work for this kind of thing, but it was worth a try.

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