Suet Success…Or How I learned to be Happy in Nature

by brookefiore

Today I wanted to share a little story with you. This is the story of a young dietitian who is learning to find happiness in her life without drastically altering her life. In case you haven’t figured it out this is a story about me.

For years I was defined by my identity as an over-achieving student. Upon graduation I quickly ditched that identity and traded it in for dietetic intern. My obsessive compulsive tendencies and type A personality were apparent from the start of the internship. But now, intern graduation has come and gone and I am learning who I am without the studying and the homework. I was searching for gold stars and tests marked with an A+ but like I said, those days were over. I was going to have to find other ways to be satisfied and happy.


I opened my window. Literally and figuratively. We live on a salt marsh where there is always an abundance of birds and bugs, oyster farming, and deer. With my newly acquired bird feeder we now had a variety of chickadees, nut hatches, and cardinals outside our door. I learned how to be happy in nature. How to embrace these feathered friends. How to appreciate the way the sun came through the tree branches in the afternoon and how still the cove got before the front came through. All of these observations and more are nothing new, but for me, they are a new source of happiness and signify my attempt to more present in the moment and appreciate those fleeting moments that exist only for those who take the time to notice them.

Which brings me to my latest project. Home made suet bird feeders. I was inspired by this article which was forwarded to me by my father. I knew that the days of seventy degree weather were most likely gone and that it was safe to hang some suet to help the birds who would be sticking it out for the frost and the snow of a New England winter. I did not however, anticipate the stench of rendering beef suet, or the mess it would make, or the time that would be involved. That being said, I am satisfied with the final product which was a success with the nut hatches within the first five minutes.

Unfortunately, the pound of suet I purchased only yielded enough rendered product to fill one side of the feeder. I caved and purchased a pre-made cake because I wasn’t ready to face the smell of melting beef fat again. The whole process was kind of gross and I am doing you a favor by only sharing pictures of the finished product.

When the feeder needs filling I plan on purchasing rendered suet to melt and add in my own treats like berries, oats and shelled seeds so I feel like I had some part in the creation without the painstaking filtering through a coffee filter and the tedious, smelly melt and re-melt phases. I used this website for my mix-in ingredient ideas.

Why would I even bother in the first place you might ask. Why didn’t I just purchase the suet cakes from the store from the beginning? Because this was a project and it was fun and I felt like I contributed to the bird’s well-being. Sometimes the things that bring you happiness don’t always make you happy at the time. Thank you to Gretchen Rubin for that life lesson on happiness.