How to increase your bird population.

When we moved into our home, in late January 2013, there were not a lot of birds to be seen around the place. Since then things have changed dramatically. We now have a thriving population of many different species of wild birds. In part this can be put down to us putting nesting-boxes up, creating two wildlife friendly ponds and growing thousands of flowers and vegetables in a place that up until then was just a field of creeping buttercups. But the biggest contributing factor must be providing food for the birds. We have planted a lot of shrubs and trees with berries, like the native Hawthorn, Rowan, Holly and Elder along with Teasels, Fennel and Sunflowers. We leave the berries and seed-heads in place all winter and they are proving very popular with the birds.

We also wanted the enjoyment of seeing the birds close up so we created some birdtables close to the kitchen window. All that was needed was two old round cheese-boards, some chopsticks and a couple of cheap old cymbals from a drum kit. We tried without the roofs for a while and just stuck the cheese-boards to the top of the branches, but we have some very hungry jackdaws about that came and hacked the food to pieces very quickly so something had to be done. The cymbal roofs also keep the rain away, something that is quite important in the West of Ireland.

Bird table in snow.

Because buying fat and suet balls can be expensive, we wanted to come up with an alternative. Now we make our own economical round feeding blocks that fits nicely on the feeding tables, and last a very long time. If you would like to give them a go all you need is some cheap baking or pastry fat from the supermarket or some lard from your butcher’s shop. Melt it in a saucepan and as soon as it is liquid, remove from the heat and mix in some seeds for wild birds, (we like to buy a big bag as it is cheaper), some oats, breadcrumbs, left over porridge or rice or any other suitable ingredients. We made to much cranberry sauce for Christmas, and our birds were happy to feast on some slightly pink blocks for weeks… Once you have a fairly solid mix, pour it into some old plastic plant pots, lined with plastic bags so the mixture does not escape through the holes. Press down slightly, we like to stand the pots inside each other, and the bottom of one pot flattens the mixture underneath it. Let set for a few hours or overnight, pop on your table and enjoy watching your feathered friends. We have two hanging peanut-feeders as well and most birds like alternating between the feeders and the table.

Great tit looking for a meal.

It might take a while before your population picks up, but be patient and you will be greatly rewarded. It has sometime been suggested that you should not feed your birds all year around, but more recent studies have shown that if you continue to feed your bird, not just in the Winter, they have bigger broods and more chicks survive. It is lovely to look at all the different birds and they will be your organic pest control, eating a lot of unwanted creatures before they get a chance to eat your vegetables.

Mosaic for free.

summer 2014 046We have always been in awe of beautiful mosaic and when we bought our home in the autumn of 2012, we were thinking about how we could afford to incorporate them into our living spaces. We needed to renovate both the kitchen and bathroom, as well as tile several floors. At first we asked friends if they had any leftover tiles and we were lucky to get a lot of tiles that way. We then went to a few tile outlets and shops in our area and bought a few especially beautiful ones and tiles on sale. All of these shops were happy for us to take a look in their skips and that is when the real adventure began. We could not believe how many tiles are being thrown out. We found the lovely sheet mosaic shown in the center of the picture. It is lovingly handmade from  natural stone, and had been chucked out because one corner had a few stones missing. We also found all the surrounding tiles in a skip. In this way we have been able to make a floor for our kitchen, several walls in our bathroom, (a project in the making) and a tiled fireplace and splash-backs for the kitchen. The next big project is a 40 square meter floor for our new extension, entirely made from salvaged tiles.

We can highly recommend a visit to a tile skip in your area. Bring along some heavy duty gloves, ask politely for permission and be careful of all the razor sharp edges, but above all have fun and dream about what you can create with your beautiful finds. You will be doing the earth a big favour in the process.

Hello world and welcome to the greener dream!

We are a family of six, realising our dream to live a greener, happier and healthier life in Ireland. This blog will be about our garden, house and all the ways we apply our creativity to our everyday lives. At the moment we are building an extension to our little cottage. It is mainly made from recycled and natural materials like old tyres, glass jars and bottles, soil, straw-bales etc. We hope you will follow our journey here…