Country Do It Yourself

Using Raw Honey.....

There is more to raw honey than just a good taste. It contains 27 minerals, 22 amino acids and 5,000 live enzymes that will keep you healthy. Honey is antibacterial and a boost to the immune system. What makes raw honey so good? It's simple ... it's pure, unheated and unprocessed so you get all of its vitamins and you can rid yourself of sugar.

 

One easy way to use raw honey instead of sugar is to make infusion concoctions. Below are some of the best of the best.... easy and fast ! All infusions start with one cup of honey and 1 Tbsp of whatever you want to use in your concoction. 

 

Cloves for glazing ham. Pour over, add pineapple slices and bake.

 

Mint for lemonade and tea. Just add ice.

 

Garlic for baking chicken. Lemon slices can be added on top and bake. 

 

Cinnamon for baked goods.... biscuits, toast, pancakes and more.  

 

Lemon peel for baking or barbequing pork chops just spread it on.

 

Vanilla for adding to a glass of warm milk as a sleep aid.  

 

Apple pie spice for baking apples. Core out the center and put a spoonful in.

 

Ginger for cereal, baked goods and glazing baked carrots. Add in the last 30 minutes.

 

Orange peel for hot or cold tea. Just add to taste.

 

Jalapeno for marinades and steamed vegetables.

 

Pumpkin Pie Spice for topping pancakes. 

 

Give one or two a try or better yet think up some new ones and let us know so we can add it to our list !

 

 

 

Helping the Birds of Winter

As Winter begins to set in its time to start finding ways to help the birds that have lived in your back yard all Summer and are not heading South to wait for Spring. Gone are the berries and seed plants - some now covered in ice or snow.

 

Putting out bird houses and roosting boxes will help to keep them warm. Straw left from Fall decorating is often picked up by birds and used in trees to make roosting spaces to keep warm. Often you will see birds carrying leaves to hollows in trees to make a warm bed for the Winter night.

 

Simple things can help birds fatten up during the day that will help them during the cold night. Keep seed feeders filled not to the top, but 2/3 full so that they can be refilled every day or so. This way feeders always have fresh loose seeds and will not freeze up. Birds go through a lot of seeds and a lot fall out. Pat down any snow below your feeder so ground feeding birds will eat the fallen seeds. 

 

There are things from your kitchen that can be used to help your birds. Old pie tins with holes in them make perfect platform feeders for birds that are ground feeders like Cardinal, Juncos and Doves. I have nailed two to my deck rail and filled both at times with sunflowers seeds and bits of fruit. Bread crumbs and bread used to wipe out a skillet after frying bacon works well in those pans, too. The fat is good for birds and is much like suit which is made from rendered beef fat with, seed, dried fruit and grain added. 

 

Water in Winter is important for birds. But, keeping water for your birds is tricky. In no time it turns to ice unless you purchase a water heater. Ome most often used for a bird bath. Last year I purchased two very large dog water bowls. The type used for a big dog and made of a soft plastic. I fill one and when it turned to ice I turn it over and fill the second one. The ice slides out of the first one and I'm ready to go. I do my water changing in the morning when the birds are around and active.

 

Bird watching is the second favourite hobby in the world - only second to gardening. So put your feeders, houses and pie pans near a window. Grab a cup of tea and a chair and watch the birds of Winter. 

Bring Bluebirds to your yard

Ever since Judy Garland sang 'Over the Rainbow' Bluebirds have been a part of our lives. Just think about having one on your shoulder. This sweet bird is a back yard favourite all across America. There are three type: The Eastern Bluebird, the Western Bluebird and the Mountian Bluebird.

 

From Florida, all the way up the East coast and West to the Rockies, Eastern Bluebirds are found year round.  They are the state bird of New York and Missouri. Bring them to your backyard and adding more is easy with a little help.

 

In the Spring put out a Bluebird house. These houses are sold just about everywhere. Find then is stores, online and from local craftsmen who make and sell them at craft shows. They are of a certain style and will be sold as a Bluebird house. It is important to put these houses out in March because Eastern Bue Birds start to nest for their first brood that month. Bluebirds will usually have 2 broods a year. Their young will stay around and often help with the second brood adding more Bluebirds to your yard.  

 

Durning the Spring and Summer Bluebird will eat insects, spider, worms, berries, lizards, tree frogs and fruit. Water is important as Bluebirds love to have a drink and take baths. Add a bird bath to your yard or a shallow dishpan filled with water and placed in a warm sunny spot. 

  

In the Winter some Eastern Bluebirds will head South if the temperature stays below 1 degree and there are no wild berries to eat. Putting out a platform feeder or pie pan nailed to your deck rail to use as a feeder will help the Bluebird make it through Winter. Fill feeders with mealworms (found wherever bird seed is sold), peanut hearts, fruit and suet.

 

During the Winter months, Bluebirds will keep warm by using roosting boxes, birdhouses and in holes in trees made by Woodpeckers. If Winter is not too cold Bluebirds will use nesting boxes to keep warm. It is important to clean out birdhouses, roosting boxes and nesting boxes by early October. Keeping the Bluebird warm during the Winter and providing food will keep them in your yard for years to come. And, maybe, one Summer day a Bluebird will light on your shoulder! 

  

Want more Goldfinches around...

Want more Goldfinches in your yard? Make them a garden. The Goldfinch is one of the most popular birds, second only to Cardinals, in back yard gardens. The state bird of Iowa, Washington and New Jersey the Goldfinch is loved in all states.

 

Funny, acrobatic and beautiful are words used to describe this very friendly bird that will eat from your hand with a little bit of work.

 

Everyone knows the Goldfinch loves feeders filled with nyjer seeds, but they also love garden flowers that produce seeds and plants that produce material for their nest. 

So set aside some space in your yard to plant a special garden just for them. The Goldfinch will come and be very happy if you plant Blackeye Susans, Black Seed Sunflowers, purple Cornflowers, Asters,  yellow Zinnias or Blanket flowers and Sunflowers. Adding a bird bath will also make them happy.

 

The Goldfinch gets its beautiful colour from the seeds it eats and the plants listed above are just what they need. For nesting, the Goldfinch likes Thistle, Dandelion, Milkweed and Cattail. What they want is the down from these plants and if you can't grow these, like Cattails, you can find grapevine cotton balls in some bird stores. The vines are shaped into a ball filled with cotton. I make my own by saving pill bottle cotton and putting it in an empty suit feeder. And so far it works just fine.

 

Being late nesters, Goldfinch will start their first brood in late May or June and have their second brood as late as September. The nest are made of down or cotton held together with Spider silk woven to hold it together. Each nesting will produce 3 -7 light blue eggs. Thier young during their first Winter will be the colour of brown wood. So if you see a number of small brown birds around your seed feeder you will know their young are doing just fine.

 

In the Fall do not clean up your garden. Leave flower heads on the plants for the Goldfinch to eat. This is a fun time to watch them as they will use their feet to get every last seed -sometimes hanging upside down. As Winter comes the Goldfinch will change it's colour to a brown-olive colour and will stay around eating from a feeder, some Maple tree sap and tree buds.

 

Most likely it will take 2 or more years to get your garden going if you are starting from 0. Take your time adding 1 or 2 plants at a time until the garden is pleasing to you and the Goldfinch. Remember this beautiful bird will be around for a long time - they live for 3-6 years - and some have lived for 11 years plus you will have their young starting the cycle of life all over.

 

Tell me what you think about this Blog - using our FB page or e-mail me at yesteryear09@yahoo.com. Please note: some of the photos used have appeared on Penterest and from Yesteryear Country Store 'followers'. Many Thanks to all.

 

Growing a garden for Hummingbirds

Small as a thumb and weighing as little as a penny, the Hummingbird is one of the smallest species of birds. This most loved bird is often mistaken for a large insect. Short legged, the Hummingbird, shuffles along but is able to scratch its head without losing its balance. Beautiful, charming, delightful are just a few of the words used to describe the Hummingbird and just about everyone wants them in their yard.

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the ones you will most likely find in your yard.  As they travel up and down the Eastern Coast and West to the middle of the United States.  A flash of light like a jewel in sunlight will tell you they have arrived from their Winter homes in Mexico and Panama. 

 

Hummingbirds feed on the nectar of red or orange tubular flowers such as trumpet creeper, cardinal flower, honeysuckle, jewelweed, bee-balm, red buckeye and red morning glory, as well as, hummingbird feeders and sometimes, tree sap.  They also catch insects in midair and remove them from spider webs. Thier favourite insects include mosquitoes, gnats, flies, spiders and aphids. 

 

A while back I started a Hummingbird and Butterfly garden without a clue of knowing what I was doing. I read endless articles and still did not know what to plant for sure. I planted the above plants I listed and they did well but they were small and some did not make it through the first Winter. The next year I planted plants I knew would grow and are native to where I live. I spent one afternoon on the edge of a sinkhole gathering small elderberry bushes that grew beautifully in my backyard and was loved by Butterflies and Goldfinches, but no Hummingbirds.

 

The following year I became a little bit smarter and I planted perennials such as columbines, daylilies and lupines. Next came the biennial such as foxgloves and hollyhocks. I finished the garden off with many annuals including sunflowers, clones, impatiens, purple petunias and anything I liked.

 

To my surprise, the purple petunias really paid off. (See my August 26, 2016, Blog. Just click on August on the right to read). They grew beautifully and all birds and butterflies loved them. I planted the petunias in hanging baskets

 

My last plants (which should have been my first) were a butterfly, raspberry, and blackberry bushes and milkweed. All of these plants are good and important starters for any gardens if you want Hummingbirds, Butterflies, Goldfinches and other birds.

 

This year I am going to try growing a birdseed garden. I don't know if it will work, but it will be fun to try. And who knows in a couple of years I may be selling Yesteryear Bird Seed in our store!

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Tell me what you think of this Blog - use our FB page, add a comment to this page or e-mail me at yesteryear09@yahoo.com. Please note: some of the photos used have appeared on Pinterest and are from Yesteryear Country Store 'followers'. Many Thanks to all.

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