Sunday, January 06, 2008

Whatcha Doin' Up There?

Snowy gray days, up in the tower, writing. I can see the birds and they can see me. For years, they've come to see me when I'm sitting up here. They know I'm the person who fills the feeders. The suet dough feeder, in particular.

Suet dough is expensive enough to make, in both cents and elbow grease, so that I don't put a whole lot out at one time. Should a flock of starlings happen through, I don't want half a batch to disappear down their greedy throats. So I put it out a couple of handfuls at a time throughout the day, especially when I see bluebirds. The bluebirds know this. We're in tune with each other.

The downy woodpeckers know it, too. They come and sit on the top of the chimney and stare at me until they get my attention.

Hello. It's Zick, right? Yes. It's me, Downy. We've met at the feeder. Well. Ahem. The suet dough is gone. That stuff you make for us. It's gone. I'm just sayin'.
Even little Snowflake, the leucistic junco, came up to check in with me. She's hooked on suet dough. We think this is her second year with us, but she's whiter than she was last year. See Bill of the Birds' nice pictures of her both this year and last year.
Of all the birds, the bluebirds are the most shameless beggars. They line up, all eight of them, on the gutters.They clean up the dough in the dish, and then they fly up to the high ridgepole where they close in to control me with their minds.Hello. We enjoy your hospitality, and the food you serve. Now bring more of it. Please.

The fame of your Suet Dough has spread far and wide in Bluebird Land. We have brought our best friends to your fine establishment today. Please do not disappoint them. Are you almost done with that sandhill crane chapter?

Mether. I do not like it when you leave our tower fort to go put out more suet dough. I think you pay entirely too much attention to those bluebirds. You need to at least finish a paragraph before you run down the stairs again. There is someone else here with needs, too. And it is me.In the interest of full disclosure, the photographer rolled Chet Baker's cutelip out before taking the picture. Folded ears were original equipment. Actually, I used to roll his cutelip out. Now what I have to do is tuck his dangling manly jowls in.

And, because some Janie-come-lately is gonna ask, sure as death and taxes:

Zick's Suet Dough

Melt 1 cup peanut butter
with 1 cup lard

(the microwave works great).
Wal-Mart sells lard in big green and white tubs, and yellow cornmeal in big 5 lb. bags, as well as cheap quick oats and flour. Mix dry ingredients separately:

2 cups yellow cornmeal
2 cups quick oats
1 cup flour.

Stir melted lard/peanut butter mixture into dry ingredients.

Allow to cool, and serve crumbled in an open dish. Store in jars at room temperature. Nice measuring tip: A 40 oz. jar of peanut butter holds five cups. Empty out a jar, then pack it with lard to measure five cups of that. Easier than measuring individual cups, the most onerous part of making it in bulk. Don't be tempted to guesstimate amounts, or you'll get a greasy mess.
I make this recipe, sextupled, using the biggest lobster pot I own, every couple of weeks. What I get in return is a never-ending guilt trip from eight bluebirds and sundry other zillions of birds. It's a problem that only compounds.

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