If you enjoy watching backyard birds foraging at a feeder or snacking on what they can find left in the autumn garden, consider crafting a special food source for them.

With the winter holidays around the corner, fall is an optimum time to clean out the cupboards of unused dried bread crumbs, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. It’s important to keep those feeders filled, not only to provide energy sources for migrating birds that must fly hundreds and even thousands of miles, but also to support backyard flocks. A nut-and-seed ball is a special treat for your backyard friends. It’s is an easy project with a short ingredient list, and you can make it in under an hour.

For best results use equal parts dry ingredients to fat.

Nuts (peanuts in the shell, cracked corn, and seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, Nyjer, and millet)

Fat (lard, suet, peanut butter, or a mixture of them; avoid bacon fat and turkey fat and anything salty),

Dried bread crumbs

Dried fruit (for example, apricots, dates, apple slices)

You’ll need about 18 inches of twine or string enough to thread through the ball, peanut shells, and dried fruit and also to hang the finished ball from a tree branch). A kabob skewer works well to poke holes in the ball, peanut shells, and dried fruit and to push the twine through the holes.

To make, simply combine the fat with the bread crumbs, nuts, and seeds (ratio of fat to dry ingredients is 1:1). Form into a ball. Pierce the ball, peanuts, apple slices, and dried fruit with the skewer. Thread everything onto the twine. If necessary, double knot the twine between items to hold them in place. Hang in the garden.

*If the fat in the ball becomes too warm to be workable, put it into the freezer for an hour.

* * *
Hang the finished nut-and-seed ball in the garden to attract the birds


The ingredients from clockwise to left to right are fat, peanuts, twine, apple slices, breadcrumbs, dried fruits and nuts.


A kabob skewer is a handy tool to create holes in apple slices, dried apricots, dates, and peanuts; the twine is then threaded through and tied off.

 

 

9781617739095From peacekeeper to beekeeper…

After an injury forced her to leave the police department, Abigail Mackenzie started a second career as a farmer. Raising chickens, harvesting honey from her bee colony, and growing heirloom vegetables on her farmette in the beautiful Bay Area town of Las Flores, Abby has embraced all the benefits of a peaceful life.

But when she attempts to deliver her trademark honey to local pastry chef Jean-Louis Bonheur and finds him dead in his shop, her old investigative instincts kick in. After the coroner rules the death a suicide, the chef’s handsome French-Canadian brother insists on hiring Abby to find out who really killed Jean-Louis.

With the patience of a farmer and the industriousness of a bee, Abby sorts through a swarm of suspects, including the chef’s landlord, his protégé, an eccentric homeless woman, loan sharks, and a brawny biker. But as she closes in on the truth, she’ll need more than her beekeeper suit to protect her from a killer’s sting…

Includes farming tips and delicious recipes!

Praise for A Beeline To Murder: A Henny Penny Farmette Mystery

“A mystery featuring a lady cop turned farmer who can’t help digging up clues? What fun!” —Joanne Fluke, New York Times bestselling author of the Hannah Swensen Mysteries

“Ex-cop Abby Mackenzie may have traded her badge for a garden hoe and a beekeeper’s hood, but danger and crime won’t leave her alone. Beekeeping and garden tips, yummy recipes, and a darling dog named Sugar give this honey of a debut a special flavor that will leave readers buzzing happily.” —Leslie Budewitz, Agatha Award-winning author of the Spice Shop Mysteries

“This fun cozy mystery brings a triple treat: a California wine country setting, a touch of romance with a handsome Frenchman, and country hints and recipes from the writer’s own farmette.” —Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of the Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness mysteries

A Beeline to Murder is a must-read for anyone who loves animals and enjoys a crime-fighting romp that blends rescue and romance, with an irresistible woman-plus-pooch sleuth duo leading the way.” —Katerina Lorenzatos Makris, author of the Island Secrets Mysteries and co-author of Your Adopted Dog

“Beekeeping, organic gardening, pastry baking—an engaging debut mystery.” —Library Journal

 

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