As part of my drive to be more environmentally considerate, for several months I’ve been making my own fatballs for birds, rather than buy plastic-wrapped ready-made ones in their mini nylon string bags.
First of all I used cheap margarine as the binding agent for the wild bird seed. This didn’t work very well, but it made my chickens happy. The fatballs didn’t hold together at all well and quickly disintegrated once out of the recycled yogurt pots that I used as moulds.
At this stage the fatballs went into a recycled fatball bag which I would hang from a tree branch using old tile hooks. (When we got a chunk of our barn roof redone last year we were left with loads of these.) My chickens quickly cottoned onto the fact that stationing themselves beneath one of the crumbling fatballs meant that food would literally fall from the sky onto them. What a life! I’d also put an extra-large fatball into the plastic birdfeeder.
Manna from heaven!
The wild birds were getting some benefit from the fatballs but I suspected the chickens were getting the lion’s share of them, so I moved onto using pork fat as the binder. This works brilliantly and the fatballs hold together much better and much longer, but the fat takes ages to render down and, even with the extractor fan on and windows open, the smell gets everywhere and lingers for ages. Between melting the fat and running the fan for up to half an hour at a time, I think I’m contributing to rather than helping combat climate change.
A great tit enjoying one of my fatballs
So I’ve reluctantly decided to suspend operations on fatballs and revert to shop-bought ones. I shall channel my save the planet energies into other areas.