Fall has definitely hit Wisconsin, and as we pull our mittens, hats, scarves and winter jackets out of storage, our animal friends are putting their winter coats on, too.
For them, that means eating. And eating. And eating.
Here are three fun projects you can do yourself or with children to help feed the animals, plus a bonus project to preserve a bit of fall's beauty.
Snack-O-Lantern: Don't throw out that jack-o-lantern! Fill it with Indian corn, seeds, fruit and/or nuts and leave it out for the squirrels. Ranger Rick magazine has easy-to-follow directions.
Pine cone bird feeder: We've done this several times, and it's messy, but LOTS of fun. You need twine or string, wax paper, a spoon or butter knife, pinecones, peanut butter and bird seed. Lay the wax paper out on your work surface, then spread peanut butter all over the pine cone. Roll it in the birdseed so the seeds stick to the peanut butter. Once it's done, take it outside and use the string to hang it from a branch. You can find detailed directions for this project and a way to make your own suet feeder at the DNR's Environmental Education for Kids site.
Popcorn and cranberry bird garland: This is another one we really enjoy. You need: Fresh cranberries, popped popcorn (no salt and no butter), a sewing needle and thread. If you're doing this with little ones, you can use a blunted tapestry needle and heavier string or yarn. Use the needle and thread to string the popcorn and cranberries into a garland. Hang outside for the birds and squirrels to enjoy. Instructables has great directions. Their directions include the option of using beads, which is not safe for garlands that will be hung outside.
And the bonus, from Destination Nature, with directions on how to preserve fall leaves with paraffin wax. I've never done this, but it looks like a fabulous way to get some extra life out of the colored leaves still on the sidewalk or falling off the trees.