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Archive for the ‘Raising Animals’ Category

The following information is important for all pet owners to read, so i hope you will forgive this re-post from Pocket Pause.
Today’s post is a very important message to all the skin-parents out there. A friend of mine recently sent me an email warning me about using essential oils on Pocket. As i posted recently, i have blended an essential oil mixture to use on Pocket to prevent fleas, ticks and mosquitos without relying on those nasty chemical treatments. I’ve been using it with good success, as an occasional neck drip but mostly as a “rub it around on her belly and tail feathers” barrier when we go hiking. She’s had no problems, but i was also careful to dilute the essential oils i used with a lot of jojoba oil. It’s very important to remember that essential oils must ALWAYS be diluted before use, for humans and pets alike. There are a few exceptions that can be used undiluted on occasion, but as a general rule you should water down your essential oils in oil, vodka or witch hazel.
In my friend’s case, she was using a brand name treatment that is available in stores and across the internet. Please read her warning below and weigh your options carefully when choosing a flea treatment for your pet:
Be very, very careful when using essential oils on Pocket. I honestly wouldn’t recommended it at all.
I used Sentry brand “Natural Defense Flea & Tick” squeeze-on treatment, as well as the same name carpet powder. The ingredients are peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, lemon grass oil, clove oil and thyme oil.
Within one day of treating Tres, he was having severe difficulty breathing. I wondered if it was the flea treatment, but thought that it would be strange if any of those ingredients caused him harm, as I thought they were safe (which is why I used it, as opposed to a chemical treatment). Well, three vets and four days later, we finally found a vet who had seen this before and read studies on it and, yes, essential oils can be toxic to dogs and cats. Their bodies metabolize them differently than ours. Tres’ rapid breathing was caused by his body being so acidic that it was toxic from the oils. His body was trying to get lots of oxygen to help his liver and kidneys eliminate the toxins. It has been nine days and his breathing is still not quite normal. But it is better. He wouldn’t eat, he could barely walk and he sounded like he was hyperventilating. It was HORRIBLE. I would just lay in his kennel with him and sob. The vet said we are lucky that he is still alive.
The only thing we could do to treat him was wash him with dish washing detergent (4x) make sure he had plenty of clean water, high quality protein (he would barely eat though) and lots of rest. And 12 mg of Benadryl twice daily. We go to the vet next week to do blood work to see if there has been any permanent organ damage. We’re hoping and praying that there isn’t any.
I’ve called the company and they refuse to acknowledge that their product could have done this. I find that interesting, considering that I found 200 complaints about their products killing/harming dogs and cats at the Consumer Affairs website and there is a Facebook page of people with similar experiences who are gathering up in order to file a class action lawsuit against the company.
It is going to cost $400 to get our area rugs cleaned (I used the powder on them) and we’ve incurred a few hundred dollars in vet bills so far. Sentry says that they will do an investigation and “possibly” refund us for costs incurred.
PLEASE pass the word on to all of your friends and family with beloved cats and dogs. Products with essential oils are even more harmful to cats, as they clean themselves and ingest them. The best flea treatment to use is Frontline Plus.
Josh made up a new slogan for Sentry: “Works so well it kills your pet, too!” :(
Scary stuff! Please be careful when using any medication on yourself or your pets, natural or chemical. Also avoid clove oil like the plague: it is intensely volatile and dangerous even to humans if undiluted. Use it on your gums, carefully, but keep it away from the pups! Prevention is always the best policy: plant flea and mosquito preventing plants in your landscaping like pennyroyal and catmint, brush and pick over your pet often to see if fleas are even a problem and always be careful when using a new product on your pets as they may respond differently than you’d expect. I like to mix a carpet powder for home use that should be safe for everyone involved: a blend of 60% baking soda and 40% diatomaceous earth plus a few drops of essential oils for the scent. The b.s. freshens the house and the d.e. helps kill unwanted pests. I’ve also heard from a reader that you can shake salt all over your house and let it sit for a day before vacuuming…. that sounds a little messy but very safe.
Be careful out there, everybody! -Miranda & Pocket

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Since my husband and I decided we would switch our corgi, Pocket to a raw diet, we’ve done quite a bit of meat shopping. I’ve never been much of a meat eater, so the whole process is new to me, and much easier when i can find a local farmer who can give me advice and whom i can feel confident buying from. It’s especially nice when i get to see a flock of happy Boer goats watching me drive up the lane. We paid a visit to a local farm last week to pick up some meaty bones for Pocket, and some goat meat for us. Winn’s Livestock and Hatchery just north of Corvallis has affordable meat raised by a 4th generation farmer and his very friendly wife. April chatted back and forth with me via email to decide what was best for us to purchase, and we ended up with a freezer full of bones for Pock, a pound of ground goat meat for us plus a shoulder steak that i’ll cut up into stew meat in the next week or two.

goatsoup2

You can read more about my delicious ‘goat chilly’ at An Austin Homestead. You may be wondering about my choice of meat. Goat isn’t overly popular here in America. But guess what: it’s the most popular meat in the rest of the WORLD. There’s great reason for that: goats are small, able to graze on non-ideal pasture (read sticks and blackerberry brambles), have a relatively high dressing percentage to their body mass, and have some of the most nutritious meat of any livestock. This article has a lot to say about the boons of eating goat meat, as does this one. What you’ll find when studying about goat meat is that it has lower calories than beef (and even elk, venison and chicken!), less fat and cholesterol, and is guaranteed not to have any growth hormones added as the USDA has not approved their use. Goats are easier on the land than their big boned beefy counterparts, and can often thrive in areas that would otherwise require massive amounts of irrigation and pastureland to grow larger protein critters. Due to its leaner meat, goat DOES have to be cooked more slowly to avoid tough texture. Read more about the fat and calorie comparisons of goat meat to many other popular meats at www.elkusa.com.
raw

Another reason to raise goats: they’re really fun, personable and friendly. Along with my change, April came out with a 4 day old bottle baby Boer, and boy what a cutey she was! We plan on raising dairy and fiber goats, with an eye on edible breeds. Miniature Nubians have decent dressing rates, though Kinders are better. We’re only two people and a dog, so we’re less concerned with the larger amounts of meat from the bigger meat breeds. According to April some of her Boer goats can ready 300 pounds. That’s a lot of goat! Goats can be like family pets, and we can’t wait to have some around. We realize that butchering one of those cute little kids will be hard to do, but the nutritional benefits of eating homegrown and super lean meat far outweigh the sentimental drawbacks. For me at least (i’m still working on convincing the husband of that one.)

Goats!

So, with more iron, potassium and thiamine together with less sodium than other ‘traditional’ meats sold her in the USA, 50% less fat than beef, 45% less fat than lamb and 15% less fat than veal…. what reason do you have not to try goat meat for your next meal? None! Find a local farmer’s market or farm and get yourself some cabrito, chevre or goat meat. It does a body/planet good!
Read more about Miranda, Pocket and their adventures in goats and cooking at An Austin Homestead.

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Holy cow, sometimes having animals is a chore. Our dog Basil loves anything stinky. She takes delight in anything putrid, rotting, fermenting… it could be as simple as deer poo, or as exotic as rotting raccoon carcass. This morning alone she came up twice with cakes of goo all over her neck. My God. It’s disgusting. I guess to be more accurate, she enjoys things with strong smells. When the violets started blooming I found her rolling in the patch of fragrant purple flowers and as far as I could tell she was just enjoying the smell. Unfortunately, rolling in flowers is far more pleasant than what she is usually found rolling in.

This month I have taken it upon myself to try to keep our pets clean in a natural way. When the dogs get slimed, the apple cider vinegar comes out! The added bonus of ACV is that the residues it leaves on their hair keep pests away including mosquitos (who can transmit heart worm!) and even fleas! If the dogs are particularly stinky, I’ve started using baking soda paste just like I use in my own hair now.

In addition to the stinky dog issues, we live in an area with very resilient fleas. They laugh in the face of modern chemical flea medications, and they love our dogs. Cat fleas and common fleas. Gross.

Last summer we got into some serious trouble with fleas. They were everywhere! They had established themselves in our home, and you could see them on your socks as you walked through the room. *shudder* I had tried the topical remedies for the dogs, both conventional and all natural. I had tried spraying them with various concoctions, including apple cider vinegar. Nothing was working. I even resorted to buying an all natural carpet spray that, despite being all natural, had the potential to be very toxic and dangerous. Finally, I started researching flea bombs. Ick.

I had several nights of tears, trying to decide what to do. I’m so against setting anything off in the house that requires me to not only seal my cupboards but then re-wash every food-related item in the house despite it being in sealed cupboards. Yikes!

It was a small forum I found through a random Google search that led me to Borax. Apparently when you apply borax thickly to your flea infestation it causes them to become dehydrated. More importantly, it dehydrates their eggs as well, destroying the unborn fleas. When combined with salt, it works even better. The possible reactions to borax include GI upset and skin/eye/lung irritation but considering it wasn’t nearly as toxic as the flea bomb I decided to give it a try.

It worked! Now, I was pretty religious about this stuff for a while there and I think it was my diligent vacuuming that sealed the deal more than anything. I did five applications of the whole house – Borax EVERYWHERE – and the fleas were gone. We would occasionally see a dog scratching here or there, but I assume it was from bringing fleas in from outside or from friends’ houses.

Now I find that if I simply sprinkle a bit of borax about on the carpets while I vacuum, maybe once a month, it keeps the fleas down. Between borax (boric acid), vinegar (acetic acid) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) I feel like my pets are staying clean and far safer than when I was using the things I was before.

My big discovery about cleaning this month has been the use of vodka as an air freshener spray. Basically if you mix two cups of water with 1/2 – 1 tsp of vodka in a spray bottle you have yourself an unscented air freshener! It works very well in the general direction of the dog beds (or in our case we use it on the two carpet squares that our dogs lie on in the mud room that get wet-dog smelly). I haven’t gone as far as to add essential oils yet, but everything I’ve read suggests 20-30 drops of essential oils makes for a very nice level of scent. I can’t wait to get some lavender oil and try it out!

Do you use any natural methods to clean your pets or your pet related messes?

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Poultry has become a big part of our life here at Unearthing this Life. When Hubby was young and in the Future Farmers of America and 4-H, he raised a large number of chickens. He even went so far as to grow much of the food for the fifty-ish birds he had.

fluffy butts

Fast forward about twenty years, and we decided to raise chickens again at my prodding. Like many others, I’d gotten tired of the seeming deception of the marketing of eggs. I also wanted the waste for my gardens since our soil is so poor. Also, we have a tremendous tick problem and so I knew having birds would be a boon to many of our “issues”. Hubby was hesitant. His memories of poultry weren’t necessarily positive. He was a ::cough:: rebellious teenager, and being tied down to such a huge responsibility wasn’t what he wanted. The birds stank, they were loud and obnoxious, he had his own opinions of the way things should be done and his parents didn’t listen much. Overall, they were a chore.

Last year I talked him into letting me start with eight chicks. He thought I’d hate them; having to feed and water them multiple times a day, cleaning out pens and coops, the obligation to a bird. I believed it would be an excellent way for our daughter to learn about where food comes from. What neither of us would understand until just recently, is just how much I would fall in love with chickens. Yep. I adore them.

chicken coop

We allowed our girls to free-range around our yard. It’s nice having eight acres, even if half of it is wooded. Our tick issues cleared up quickly, but so did my mulch. My gardens were a mess as well as our porches. The chickens ate all of my potted herbs and then had the gall to take dirt baths in the remainder. Unfortunately that wooded area on the side of the yard was an excellent hiding spot for wild dogs, and our girls started disappearing by twos. By the beginning of March, all eight of our chickens had been killed – even after we’d started keeping them in what we thought was a safe environment.

What?

chickens and whey

I actually cried for my chickens.

Now that spring is here, we’re starting a new family of birds. This year we have eleven chicks, including Barred Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, “Araucanas” (Easter Eggers), Gold-Laced Wyandottes, and Buff Orpingtons. To keep the fluffy butts safe, we’ve hired, er, purchased some Guinea fowl as well. These loud ground birds startle easily and will help to warn the chickens of any oncoming danger. (Guinea fowl babies are called “keets”). Finally, I couldn’t resist a few broad breasted bronze turkey poults which we’ll harvest in 3 more months. We’re doing our best to stay as close to heritage breeds as possible. Any more poultry will come directly off the Slow Food USA, Ark of Taste list and be a heritage breed.

poult

birds

Thanks to my… impulsiveness… we’re working on a new design to house all these birds. First off, turkeys really shouldn’t stay with chickens because they can get an illness called “blackhead”. It’s not pretty, but it can be cured. It’s best to avoid it by keeping them separate though, especially if you’re trying to stay organic. Secondly, because we have so many birds, the coop we built for our eight last year won’t hold them all. Thirdly, guineas and turkeys prefer to roost in trees. Chickens will roost in trees as well, but they are better of protected by a coop or fencing since their natural defenses are weak and they can only sprint for short distances.

spoiled birds

Finally, next year we intend to begin raising our own production birds for meat. Our hopes were for this year, but we had to put it off one more year until we could deal with housing first. The design Hubby’s come up with is great, and I can’t wait to see it in action. It will allow the birds to pasture without being completely free-range and in danger. We’re still in process of building and painting as they’re portable permanent structures. When they’re complete I’ll be sure to share some photos. Our hopes are that the Orpingtons will be broody Mums for the chicks or eggs we get next spring so that we humans will not be emotionally attached to any of the production birds. Only the egg layers will have any kind of relationship with us.

So what does the future hold for us here? Well, a lot of eggs, poultry poop, and very few slugs, ticks and mosquitos. Perhaps even a few ducks and definitely more turkey. Hubby’s even begun to adore the birds and has promised to help take better care of this batch and the Kid wants to be Mommy to be responsible for the Wyandottes this year. It’s funny. I always thought I was a “cat person”. I never imagined I’d be a “poultry person”.

You can find Jennifer at Unearthing this Life blarging about living a modern life in rural Tennessee. There she homeschools, raises birds, keeps bees, gardens, and somehow manages to stay sane.

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Nothing on this planet can grow, live, thrive, or flourish without real food. When we eat real, wholesome, healthy, and natural food, like chicken and vegetable stew, we support every single one of our biological systems at a deep, cellular level and bolster the body’s innate abilities to heal itself and resist disease and degeneration. This holds true for people, plants and animals.

Andi Brown – The Whole Pet Diet

***

Here at Chiot’s Run we’re going to be focusing on switching our pets to a 100% real food diet during the Real Food Challenge. I’ve been reading a few books about cooking for your pet, the one above being my favorite so far. I’ve been wanting to transition our pets to a Real Food diet, so I thought the challenge would be the perfect time to do it. Lucy already gets homemade food on occasion and she LOVES it. She gets all the venison from the previous year after hunting season fills the freezer with a fresh batch. All the deer offals make it into her bowl as well, she’s particularly fond of these, as are the cats. We also give her raw meaty bones sourced from local pastured beef farm. Lucy is also a big fan of homemade dried squash leather treats and bacon which I make for her.

Even though we feed our pets good quality pet food, it will be interesting to see how the pets do when eating Real Food. I’m sure they’ll be much healthier just like we are when we eat real food instead of processed. We’re also in the process of transitioning Lucy from a synthetic thyroid pill to an herbal one and she seems to be doing much better on it. I think the Real Food diet will really help her with this problem and help her age with fewer problems.

Have you ever made food for your pets?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Ethel Gloves and Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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January collage

So many of us are working our way toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. With that in mind we here at NDiN wanted to share some general guidelines of what to plan for on a monthly basis. Whether you’re a gardener, a beekeeper, a forager, or you keep animals, hopefully our monthly guides will help you plan ahead for the month. Depending on your exact climate you may find you need to adjust your schedule depending on your region.

Now that Winter is officially here most of us will be spending a lot more time indoors. For those in the more Southern regions, outdoor work is manageable on warmer days. It’s a good time to focus on the indoors, keeping warm, and getting a jump on this year’s activities.

Indoors:

  • Take down and store holiday ornaments and decorations.
  • Update your address book from holiday cards and gift envelopes if you’ve saved them.
  • Clean out your files in preparation for tax time. Rid yourself of out-of-date warranty cards (update if necessary) and manuals. Schedule service appointments for extended warranties.
  • Clean out dryer vents with a wire hanger and vacuum cleaner. Wash mesh filters with soap and a scrub brush to allow for better air flow.
  • When finding new homes for holiday gifts, clean out unused items and donate those in great shape to your favorite charity.
  • It’s also a great time to photograph your belongings, room by room, for insurance purposes.
  • Start planning your spring garden. Look at gardening catalogs, websites, and blogs (like us!) to get ideas for what to do this year and when. Purchase seeds by March to guarantee delivery and stock.
  • Research and prepare for any animal purchases for the year.
  • Keep a tray of water and spray bottle near indoor plants to adjust humidity levels, especially if you have central air. Running the heater can dry them out quickly and cover leaves with dust.

Outdoors/Garden/Wildlife:

  • Keep fresh water available and free of ice for birds and wildlife.
  • If you’ve already begun to put out birdseed continue to do so. They’re now relying on you as a food source.
  • If you live in a climate with mild winters, this month may be a good time to dig new beds. You may also want to repair or build new composting bins to be prepared for this year’s cleanup.
  • Keep driveways and walks free of snow and ice. Have shovels, plows, and salt/brine accessible and stocked.

Animal Husbandry:

  • Early birthing will begin late next month for some of you. Make any preparations necessary to help mammas and babies along.
  • Keep barns and other animal shelters clean to help prevent illness and discourage wild critters from nesting. Change hay often, keep tools cleaned up, and be sure to keep water free of ice.
  • Put a light out for an extra two hours in the evening for your chickens. It will help keep their coop warm on colder evenings and promote more egg laying.

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november collage

So many of us are working our way toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. With that in mind we here at NDiN wanted to share some general guidelines of what to plan for on a monthly basis. Whether you’re a gardener, a beekeeper, a forager, or you keep animals, hopefully our monthly guides will help you plan ahead for the month. Depending on your exact climate you may find you need to adjust your schedule plus or minus two weeks or more.

  

Although many of the outdoor chores are completed for the year, it’s not time to slow down. Gardeners are beginning to dream up next year’s spring and summer crops and for most of us there’s always leaves to take care of. For some of us there’s even a bit of snow. As we get closer to the holiday season it’s easy to become consumed with gatherings and preparations, but it’s important to remember those seasonal aspects of every day life. Keeping ahead of the weather, taking care of outdoor animals, cooking with seasonal foods, and staying warm are key this month.

Indoors:

  • If you store foods like squash, potatoes, and carrots for winter use be sure that you rotate for freshness. Also be sure to occasionally check for any spoiling or critter damage.
  • If  you haven’t already done so, be sure to check the batteries in your fire detectors.
  • Check garage door for air leaks if  you have an insulated unit. Also check household windows for any drafts. Catching these now can save you lots of money over the winter.
  • If possible, set up a “craft/wrapping area” out of immediate view for holiday activities, possibly in a separate room. This should help keep clutter down in main areas of the house helping to keep it tidy and help reduce holiday stress.

 Outdoors:

  •  Trim any trees now that most of the energy has gone to the root systems of most plants. It’s also not too late to plant some trees so long as your ground is not frozen. Fruit canes can also be cut back depending on the variety.
  • When outdoor gardening chores finally slow down, clean, sharpen, oil, and put up all tools for the winter.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Make sure all hoses and water barrels have been drained and put up until spring.

 Garden:

  • Clean up rotting plant materials to help keep your gardens healthy. Decomposition is great, rotting is not.
  • Till chopped leaves directly into garden beds where they’ll stay warmer and decompose faster over the winter.
  • Garlic and other bulbs like tulips can still be planted in zones with milder winters.

 Animal Husbandry:

  • Keep barns and other animal shelters clean to help prevent illness and discourage wild critters from nesting. Change hay often, keep tools cleaned up, and be sure to keep water free of ice.
  • If you keep an area warm for animals occasionally check for fire hazards. Examine wiring on extension cords, heat lamps, and portable heaters. Keep bedding away from heat units and keep a fire extinguisher inside larger buildings.
  • It may not be too late to have sheep and goats mated in your area.
  • Cold weather days are best for slaughter and processing. Keep an eye on weather and plan accordingly.
  • Put a light out for an extra two hours in the evening for your chickens. It will help keep their coop warm on colder evenings and promote more egg laying.

 Wildlife:

  • Most animals are starting their winter cycles, including hibernation and building up of nests. You can assist your neighborhood critters with a few little tricks. Continue to feed birds; make your own suet cakes for freezing weather to help fuel up birds; offer some peanuts and corn to squirrels; leave a few piles of leaves or stones or a piece of corrugated metal for frogs and lizards to burrow in; set out water for all animals and keep it free of ice.

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