To use the words of my 5 year old, these are “Yuck” so you’ll notice there aren’t any pictures included in this post. 🙂
February is the time to place new birdhouses so feathered friends will find them in time for spring and time for cleaning out old nests from existing boxes. It’s also the perfect time to start thinking about what we have that they could use to line their nests with. I know at our house, it’s not uncommon to find an old bird’s nest lined with everything from paper scraps meant to be compost to hair that’s been shed by our dog. We have a flat platform bird feeder to put old bread or other kitchen scraps in for the birds, so in the next month or so, we also start putting out “nest liner materials”. One of the things I learned from my mother and grandmother is the value that birds see in the hair from our hairbrushes. I’m not going to show you a picture of my nasty jar of hair that I save over the course of a year, but I can tell you that there’s no better, or quickly used, nest insulation than the little wads of hair that I put out for them. Separate it into small portions, like half the size of a ping-pong ball, and put some out every few days in the same location. I have about two and a half feet of hair, so I cut mine up so that it’s more easy for them to manage. Talk about making a deeper, more personal connection with nature… this is it.
2. Soap Scraps
We keep a jar in the bathroom specifically for those little pieces of soap that have reached the point of being too small to use. It doesn’t matter if they are all the same scent or brand, but when we get a jarful, we put them in the food processor to pulverize them and use the mixture to make a batch of laundry detergent. Again, I won’t show you a picture, but I definitely recommend keeping it in a closet or something so friends and extended family aren’t subjected to seeing this on the bathroom counter (sorry you guys!). The recipe we use calls for one bar of Ivory brand soap, which grates down to about 2 cups, so we just use that amount of the ground up soap scraps. The recipe is quite common on the internet, but here it is if you want it:
1 Bar of Soap, grated or ran through a food processor OR 2 Cups of grated scraps
1 Cup Washing Soda *what I use is Arm & Hammer and the only place we have it locally is Wal-Mart.
1 Cup Borax
Grate or grind the soap and transfer to a container. I use a half gallon Mason Jar. Add the borax and washing soda and mix well. Seal tightly. This will make about 40 portions using one heaping tablespoon of detergent for a regular size load of clothes.
3. Twist Ties
Go ahead and laugh but these things are great for EVERYTHING. Use them for securing vegetable sprouts to a trellis, twisting up a bundle of herbs to hang for drying or making a loop to hang garden tools with. You can also use them to link toy trains together when the couplings break, but that’s another story altogether…
There are endless things that we take for granted that can be valuable resources. I’ve touched on only a few, but with a little thought during everyday tasks, you can come up with many, many more. Please feel free to chime in with other ideas and uses and I’ll compile them in a new list, with credits, in the next few months!