6 Secrets To Keeping Chickens Healthy During Winter

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6 Secrets To Keeping Chickens Healthy During Winter

Image source: Pixabay.com

Winter is a scary time for new chicken owners. We want our flock to be warm, healthy and happy — which can be challenging with freezing temperatures and snow coating the ground.

Fortunately, once you figure it out, raising chickens in the winter isn’t that hard. Most chickens are hardy and able to handle the cool temperatures. Here are some crucial tips that will make the winter experience better for you and the flock.

1. Don’t add a heater; add insulation

If you are considering a heater for your chicken coop, I caution you to back away. My husband is a firefighter and has responded to dozens of chicken coop fires over the years. It is not safe. All of the bedding is begging to start a fire.

Chickens don’ t need a heater. They huddle together for warmth. Insulation is a better choice, but you need to add that when you build your chicken coop. You also don’t want to seal off the coop entirely. Ventilation will prevent moisture from building up. All of the droppings and no ventilation will lead to ammonia in your coop, and that is a recipe for sickness.

There is a huge difference between ventilation and drafts. You don’t want drafts. Ventilation areas should be above where the chickens roost, ensuring they don’t get cold. Typically, it is the space between the roof and walls, covered with hardware cloth. You don’t want a predator entering!

2. Add entertainment

Winter can be boring for humans and chickens. They need something to do with their time as they hang out in the coop more often. A popular option is hanging a head of cabbage as a play toy. They will peck at the cabbage dangling from the ceiling.

You can even provide a dust bathing area. Put a tub of sand or wood ash mixed with food grade diatomaceous earth. Some people just put it on the ground in the coop and let them scratch it up. Either way, chickens love to bathe and dust themselves! Plus, it helps keep lice and mites away.

3. Provide covered outdoor space

Many chickens prefer not to step in snow. I found that out when only two of my chickens would dare venture outside after a snowstorm. Giving them a covered space outside allows them to venture out, whether they are fans of snow or not.

The solution can be as easy as adding a tarp over part of the run. They just need an area without snow, unless you want to go shovel. But, no one likes to shovel, so just save yourself a backache and create a makeshift roof.

Another solution is to scatter hay and straw on the ground outside to cover the snow. When the temperatures start to increase around the low 30s, chickens may venture out even without snow protection. Under those temperatures, it is hard to convince them.

4. Coat their combs and wattles

Unfortunately, I had no idea that breeds with large combs and wattles are more prone to frostbite. One of our roosters years ago, Sven, loved to stand outside, even in the negative temperatures. I noticed black tips on his comb, and the tips eventually fell off.

Chickens can get frostbite just as easily as we do. To protect their combs and wattles, gently smear some petroleum jelly on them each day when you go to check their food and water. Don’t worry; if your chickens get frostbite as mine did, it typically just affects their appearance.

5. Give appropriate roost space

You might have to adjust your coop design if you find that you don’t have enough roosting space for each chicken. Chickens fluff their feathers and roost together at night. It keeps them warm and snug. Warmer air rises, keeping them comfortable.

Venture outside once all the chickens are roosting to see if everyone has a spot. If someone is on the ground, you need to add more space. That poor chicken on the ground is going to be cold and more vulnerable.

6. Give them greens

In the summer, chickens have access to delicious and healthy greens, especially if they can free range. Winter limits those choices. It is hard for them to forage and find anything substantial. Try to make an effort to give them safe kitchen scraps as often as possible.

Another choice is to learn how to grow fodder yourself inside. Fodder is an excellent supplement for your chickens in the winter months. It will boost the quality of your eggs, as well.

If you live in an area that receives extremely low temperatures regularly, you will want to make sure that you pick cold-hardy chickens. Some breeds handle lower temperatures better. However, with these tips, you can guarantee all of your chickens will be healthy and happy come spring time.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

6 Secrets To Keeping Chickens Healthy During Winter

6 Secrets To Keeping Chickens Healthy During Winter

Image source: Pixabay.com

Winter is a scary time for new chicken owners. We want our flock to be warm, healthy and happy — which can be challenging with freezing temperatures and snow coating the ground.

Fortunately, once you figure it out, raising chickens in the winter isn’t that hard. Most chickens are hardy and able to handle the cool temperatures. Here are some crucial tips that will make the winter experience better for you and the flock.

1. Don’t add a heater; add insulation

If you are considering a heater for your chicken coop, I caution you to back away. My husband is a firefighter and has responded to dozens of chicken coop fires over the years. It is not safe. All of the bedding is begging to start a fire.

Chickens don’ t need a heater. They huddle together for warmth. Insulation is a better choice, but you need to add that when you build your chicken coop. You also don’t want to seal off the coop entirely. Ventilation will prevent moisture from building up. All of the droppings and no ventilation will lead to ammonia in your coop, and that is a recipe for sickness.

There is a huge difference between ventilation and drafts. You don’t want drafts. Ventilation areas should be above where the chickens roost, ensuring they don’t get cold. Typically, it is the space between the roof and walls, covered with hardware cloth. You don’t want a predator entering!

2. Add entertainment

Winter can be boring for humans and chickens. They need something to do with their time as they hang out in the coop more often. A popular option is hanging a head of cabbage as a play toy. They will peck at the cabbage dangling from the ceiling.

You can even provide a dust bathing area. Put a tub of sand or wood ash mixed with food grade diatomaceous earth. Some people just put it on the ground in the coop and let them scratch it up. Either way, chickens love to bathe and dust themselves! Plus, it helps keep lice and mites away.

3. Provide covered outdoor space

Many chickens prefer not to step in snow. I found that out when only two of my chickens would dare venture outside after a snowstorm. Giving them a covered space outside allows them to venture out, whether they are fans of snow or not.

The solution can be as easy as adding a tarp over part of the run. They just need an area without snow, unless you want to go shovel. But, no one likes to shovel, so just save yourself a backache and create a makeshift roof.

Another solution is to scatter hay and straw on the ground outside to cover the snow. When the temperatures start to increase around the low 30s, chickens may venture out even without snow protection. Under those temperatures, it is hard to convince them.

4. Coat their combs and wattles

Unfortunately, I had no idea that breeds with large combs and wattles are more prone to frostbite. One of our roosters years ago, Sven, loved to stand outside, even in the negative temperatures. I noticed black tips on his comb, and the tips eventually fell off.

Chickens can get frostbite just as easily as we do. To protect their combs and wattles, gently smear some petroleum jelly on them each day when you go to check their food and water. Don’t worry; if your chickens get frostbite as mine did, it typically just affects their appearance.

5. Give appropriate roost space

You might have to adjust your coop design if you find that you don’t have enough roosting space for each chicken. Chickens fluff their feathers and roost together at night. It keeps them warm and snug. Warmer air rises, keeping them comfortable.

Venture outside once all the chickens are roosting to see if everyone has a spot. If someone is on the ground, you need to add more space. That poor chicken on the ground is going to be cold and more vulnerable.

6. Give them greens

In the summer, chickens have access to delicious and healthy greens, especially if they can free range. Winter limits those choices. It is hard for them to forage and find anything substantial. Try to make an effort to give them safe kitchen scraps as often as possible.

Another choice is to learn how to grow fodder yourself inside. Fodder is an excellent supplement for your chickens in the winter months. It will boost the quality of your eggs, as well.

If you live in an area that receives extremely low temperatures regularly, you will want to make sure that you pick cold-hardy chickens. Some breeds handle lower temperatures better. However, with these tips, you can guarantee all of your chickens will be healthy and happy come spring time.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

5 Kitchen Cures For A Painful Sore Throat

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5 Kitchen Cures For A Painful Sore Throat

Flu season is upon us, and a sore throat is one of the most common symptoms you might experience. A sore throat can be painful — and contribute to your misery during a sickness. Fortunately, there are dozens of kitchen remedies you can try to soothe your inflamed throat.

1. Honey

The first way to soothe your sore throat is to incorporate honey into your day. Honey is a traditional remedy for soothing throats. While all honeys are beneficial, manuka tends to be the most revered choice. Honey is antiviral and antibacterial, making it a great choice. Honey is also a wound healer. You can use it on wounds anywhere, which contributes to its effectiveness against sore throats.

You can use honey several ways. The first is just eating a tablespoon of honey, without anything else. The only deterrent here is the texture. You can mix honey with a delicious cup of herbal tea. Make sure you are taking honey frequently, ideally every hour.

Fast, All-Natural Pain Relief With No Nasty Side Effects!

Honey is a great choice for kids. Please always remember that honey is not safe for kids under the age of one year old. However, if your kids are old enough to consume honey, many parents believe it is just as effective as cough suppressants.

2. Salt Water

Gargling salt water can elevate some of the pain associated with a sore throat. While the taste might be unappealing, you can’t argue with evidence. Gargling salt water every hour will get rid of your sore throat in no time. Salt water also helps to kill bacteria in your throat and break down secretions.

To properly use this method, mix a half teaspoon of salt into a full glass of warm water. Gargle for as long as you want. Best of all, chances are you already have salt in your kitchen cupboard, so you don’t need to run out for special ingredients.

3. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile is known for its calming and soothing effects. Aside from aiding sleeping problems, chamomile can also soothe your sore throat. Chamomile contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and astringent properties, making it a great choice.

To use chamomile to soothe your pain, there are a few methods. First, you can try inhaling chamomile steam. Many people create a tent with a towel over a pot of hot water. You can add some drops of chamomile essential oil or dried herbs.

Another choice that tends to be the most popular is drinking chamomile tea. You can purchase pre-made chamomile tea bags in the store or make your own at home with homegrown herbs. Best of all, it will also help to boost your immune system to fight off whatever is causing the sore throat.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Chances are you think that there is no way you will drink ACV. It seems so uncomfortable. However, ACV is known for its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that make it an ideal choice to fight your sore throat. Also, the higher content of acid will help to break down the mucus leading to a sore throat and stop any bacteria from spreading.

Don’t worry; you don’t need to drink a glass of plain ACV. Instead, try diluting one to two tablespoons in a cup of water. Then, gargle it. Also, you can sip on warm water, ACV and honey. Together, they will pack a punch. Do this at least once an hour.

5. Garlic

No, you don’t need to eat a plain clove of garlic. Garlic has amazing antibacterial properties that will fight off infections. For example, it is one of the best treatments for a yeast infection.

So, to use garlic to soothe your sore throat, try taking a garlic supplement throughout the day. It is a good idea to include a garlic supplement all the time to reduce the risk of catching a virus. Add some garlic to your lunch and dinner today.

Your grandmother might have mentioned sucking on a clove of garlic to soothe your throat. Yes, this can be an effective treatment. However, make sure you brush your teeth very well afterward if you want to be close to your loved ones and friends.

What is your favorite method for soothing an irritated throat? Let us know in the section below:

9 Vital Items You Better Stockpile For A Blizzard

9 Vital Items You Better Stockpile For A Blizzard

Image source: Pixabay.com

Winter is arriving for most of the United States, which means it is time to consider what you need to do to prepare. The last thing you want to do is wait to hear the forecast that a huge blizzard is headed your way. Everyone else will be hitting the stores, wiping shelves clean. Knowing the things to stockpile for a blizzard now will save you a lot of stress later.

9 Things to Stockpile for a Blizzard

1. Water

The first thing that you should stockpile for any emergency scenario is water. The general rule you must remember is one gallon per person per day. So, if you have four people in your house, you want to be prepared to stay home for at least a week. That would equal 28 gallons of water. (And more if you consider cooking, bathing and toiletry.) Don’t forget to include a gallon for each pet!

2. Food

During a blizzard, you have no idea if you will have electricity. Obviously, the ideal situation is that you have power, but if not, you should have non-perishable food on hand. Remember a manual can opener! So many people forget those until it is too late. Here are some good choices for food:

  • Granola bars
  • Protein bars and powder
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal packets
  • Jars of applesauce
  • Cans of soup
  • Canned beans
  • Salmon or tuna packets
  • Sugar
  • Instant coffee and tea
  • Crackers
  • Peanut butter (and jelly)
  • Powdered milk
  • Pasta and sauce

3. Way to cook food

So, you have this great stockpile of food, but you don’t have a gas-powered stove. That means you have to figure out how you will cook the food without electricity. A camping stove or grill are good choices. Both allow you to use them during other situations, so they’re worth your money.

Make Sure Your Electronics ALWAYS Have Power … With The New Pocket Power X!

Remember to stockpile the fuel for the cooking method, either canister of propane or charcoal (with a lighter).

4. A form of heat

Snow means cold, and cold means heat is important. In the best blizzard situation, your power remains on, and your house stays warm. Too bad best-case scenarios don’t always work out. Heat is essential, and there are other options to consider.

First, remember to keep your house warm by blocking off unnecessary parts of the house. You can all sleep in one room and block off vents to other portions of the house. For those with a wood stove, all you need is a stockpile of dry firewood.

The other choice is a portable propane heater. You always should be careful and keep a carbon monoxide detector before turning them off. However, propane heaters are typically highly rated.

5. Necessary baby items

You only have to worry about this if you have a young child at home. Babies need constant tending, blizzard or not! A baby must be kept warm, so keep extra blankets and clothes for the child. Diapers, wipes, and ointment will keep your baby clean and happy. If you use formula, keep a few extra cans on hand for emergencies.

6. First-aid kit

In every situation, you want a first-aid kit. It never fails that when you assume you won’t need it, you do. If you don’t feel comfortable creating a kit, most stores sell ready-made first-aid kits. Stock up on some useful items such as:

  • Necessary, daily medication
  • Bandages and gauze
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Painkillers
  • Cold medicine (for adults and children if you have little ones in house)
  • Allergy medication

7. Flashlights, batteries, candles

If the power goes out, flashlights will help you see at night. Make sure that you remember batteries! Those flashlights won’t do much good if you forget batteries.

Candles are another choice, but it is important to remember that candles come with a safety hazard. Many house fires start because of candles, so use extreme caution. Keep a working fire extinguisher on hand, as well. Never leave a candle unattended, especially with kids or cats in the home!

8. Blankets and warm clothes

Staying warm is a necessity. Blankets and warm clothing are a must! Sweatshirts, wool socks, mittens, hats, thick sweatpants and more can be stored for an emergency. Ideally, each person will have a few blankets stored.

9. Snow removal tools

With all of that snow gathering in front of your home, you need tools to remove them. You will need to dig out eventually. Shovels are a good, cheap item to have on hand. Rock salt can help melt the ice on your patio or sidewalk. A snow blower is also a fantastic investment that will save you time and energy. Remember heavy duty work gloves! Your hands will be frozen at the end of the job.

What do you stockpile for a blizzard? Let us know your favorite, must-have stockpile item!

9 Vital Items You Better Stockpile For A Blizzard

9 Vital Items You Better Stockpile For A Blizzard

Image source: Pixabay.com

Winter is arriving for most of the United States, which means it is time to consider what you need to do to prepare. The last thing you want to do is wait to hear the forecast that a huge blizzard is headed your way. Everyone else will be hitting the stores, wiping shelves clean. Knowing the things to stockpile for a blizzard now will save you a lot of stress later.

9 Things to Stockpile for a Blizzard

1. Water

The first thing that you should stockpile for any emergency scenario is water. The general rule you must remember is one gallon per person per day. So, if you have four people in your house, you want to be prepared to stay home for at least a week. That would equal 28 gallons of water. (And more if you consider cooking, bathing and toiletry.) Don’t forget to include a gallon for each pet!

2. Food

During a blizzard, you have no idea if you will have electricity. Obviously, the ideal situation is that you have power, but if not, you should have non-perishable food on hand. Remember a manual can opener! So many people forget those until it is too late. Here are some good choices for food:

  • Granola bars
  • Protein bars and powder
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal packets
  • Jars of applesauce
  • Cans of soup
  • Canned beans
  • Salmon or tuna packets
  • Sugar
  • Instant coffee and tea
  • Crackers
  • Peanut butter (and jelly)
  • Powdered milk
  • Pasta and sauce

3. Way to cook food

So, you have this great stockpile of food, but you don’t have a gas-powered stove. That means you have to figure out how you will cook the food without electricity. A camping stove or grill are good choices. Both allow you to use them during other situations, so they’re worth your money.

Make Sure Your Electronics ALWAYS Have Power … With The New Pocket Power X!

Remember to stockpile the fuel for the cooking method, either canister of propane or charcoal (with a lighter).

4. A form of heat

Snow means cold, and cold means heat is important. In the best blizzard situation, your power remains on, and your house stays warm. Too bad best-case scenarios don’t always work out. Heat is essential, and there are other options to consider.

First, remember to keep your house warm by blocking off unnecessary parts of the house. You can all sleep in one room and block off vents to other portions of the house. For those with a wood stove, all you need is a stockpile of dry firewood.

The other choice is a portable propane heater. You always should be careful and keep a carbon monoxide detector before turning them off. However, propane heaters are typically highly rated.

5. Necessary baby items

You only have to worry about this if you have a young child at home. Babies need constant tending, blizzard or not! A baby must be kept warm, so keep extra blankets and clothes for the child. Diapers, wipes, and ointment will keep your baby clean and happy. If you use formula, keep a few extra cans on hand for emergencies.

6. First-aid kit

In every situation, you want a first-aid kit. It never fails that when you assume you won’t need it, you do. If you don’t feel comfortable creating a kit, most stores sell ready-made first-aid kits. Stock up on some useful items such as:

  • Necessary, daily medication
  • Bandages and gauze
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Painkillers
  • Cold medicine (for adults and children if you have little ones in house)
  • Allergy medication

7. Flashlights, batteries, candles

If the power goes out, flashlights will help you see at night. Make sure that you remember batteries! Those flashlights won’t do much good if you forget batteries.

Candles are another choice, but it is important to remember that candles come with a safety hazard. Many house fires start because of candles, so use extreme caution. Keep a working fire extinguisher on hand, as well. Never leave a candle unattended, especially with kids or cats in the home!

8. Blankets and warm clothes

Staying warm is a necessity. Blankets and warm clothing are a must! Sweatshirts, wool socks, mittens, hats, thick sweatpants and more can be stored for an emergency. Ideally, each person will have a few blankets stored.

9. Snow removal tools

With all of that snow gathering in front of your home, you need tools to remove them. You will need to dig out eventually. Shovels are a good, cheap item to have on hand. Rock salt can help melt the ice on your patio or sidewalk. A snow blower is also a fantastic investment that will save you time and energy. Remember heavy duty work gloves! Your hands will be frozen at the end of the job.

What do you stockpile for a blizzard? Let us know your favorite, must-have stockpile item!

9 Vital Items You Better Stockpile For A Blizzard

Click here to view the original post.
9 Vital Items You Better Stockpile For A Blizzard

Image source: Pixabay.com

Winter is arriving for most of the United States, which means it is time to consider what you need to do to prepare. The last thing you want to do is wait to hear the forecast that a huge blizzard is headed your way. Everyone else will be hitting the stores, wiping shelves clean. Knowing the things to stockpile for a blizzard now will save you a lot of stress later.

9 Things to Stockpile for a Blizzard

1. Water

The first thing that you should stockpile for any emergency scenario is water. The general rule you must remember is one gallon per person per day. So, if you have four people in your house, you want to be prepared to stay home for at least a week. That would equal 28 gallons of water. (And more if you consider cooking, bathing and toiletry.) Don’t forget to include a gallon for each pet!

2. Food

During a blizzard, you have no idea if you will have electricity. Obviously, the ideal situation is that you have power, but if not, you should have non-perishable food on hand. Remember a manual can opener! So many people forget those until it is too late. Here are some good choices for food:

  • Granola bars
  • Protein bars and powder
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal packets
  • Jars of applesauce
  • Cans of soup
  • Canned beans
  • Salmon or tuna packets
  • Sugar
  • Instant coffee and tea
  • Crackers
  • Peanut butter (and jelly)
  • Powdered milk
  • Pasta and sauce

3. Way to cook food

So, you have this great stockpile of food, but you don’t have a gas-powered stove. That means you have to figure out how you will cook the food without electricity. A camping stove or grill are good choices. Both allow you to use them during other situations, so they’re worth your money.

Make Sure Your Electronics ALWAYS Have Power … With The New Pocket Power X!

Remember to stockpile the fuel for the cooking method, either canister of propane or charcoal (with a lighter).

4. A form of heat

Snow means cold, and cold means heat is important. In the best blizzard situation, your power remains on, and your house stays warm. Too bad best-case scenarios don’t always work out. Heat is essential, and there are other options to consider.

First, remember to keep your house warm by blocking off unnecessary parts of the house. You can all sleep in one room and block off vents to other portions of the house. For those with a wood stove, all you need is a stockpile of dry firewood.

The other choice is a portable propane heater. You always should be careful and keep a carbon monoxide detector before turning them off. However, propane heaters are typically highly rated.

5. Necessary baby items

You only have to worry about this if you have a young child at home. Babies need constant tending, blizzard or not! A baby must be kept warm, so keep extra blankets and clothes for the child. Diapers, wipes, and ointment will keep your baby clean and happy. If you use formula, keep a few extra cans on hand for emergencies.

6. First-aid kit

In every situation, you want a first-aid kit. It never fails that when you assume you won’t need it, you do. If you don’t feel comfortable creating a kit, most stores sell ready-made first-aid kits. Stock up on some useful items such as:

  • Necessary, daily medication
  • Bandages and gauze
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Painkillers
  • Cold medicine (for adults and children if you have little ones in house)
  • Allergy medication

7. Flashlights, batteries, candles

If the power goes out, flashlights will help you see at night. Make sure that you remember batteries! Those flashlights won’t do much good if you forget batteries.

Candles are another choice, but it is important to remember that candles come with a safety hazard. Many house fires start because of candles, so use extreme caution. Keep a working fire extinguisher on hand, as well. Never leave a candle unattended, especially with kids or cats in the home!

8. Blankets and warm clothes

Staying warm is a necessity. Blankets and warm clothing are a must! Sweatshirts, wool socks, mittens, hats, thick sweatpants and more can be stored for an emergency. Ideally, each person will have a few blankets stored.

9. Snow removal tools

With all of that snow gathering in front of your home, you need tools to remove them. You will need to dig out eventually. Shovels are a good, cheap item to have on hand. Rock salt can help melt the ice on your patio or sidewalk. A snow blower is also a fantastic investment that will save you time and energy. Remember heavy duty work gloves! Your hands will be frozen at the end of the job.

What do you stockpile for a blizzard? Let us know your favorite, must-have stockpile item!

Child-Safe Kitchen Remedies For The Cold And Flu

Click here to view the original post.

Child-Safe Kitchen Remedies For The Cold And Flu

 

Cold and flu season is upon us, and children tend to catch every little sickness that comes their way. While conventional medicine has its place and time, parents can turn to home remedies for kids when their children are feeling under the weather. Please check with your doctor first about these home remedies.

Sore Throats

At times, a sore throat can indicate strep throat. Symptoms of strep include pain while chewing or swallowing and a fever above 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Contact your doctor if you child is showing these signs of strep. But if it’s just a sore throat try these:

  • Echinacea. This should be the first choice for parents. Give your child Echinacea as soon as a runny nose or scratchy throat begins. You can use Echinacea tea or a safe dose of liquid Echinacea. Adults can take it in a capsule form.
  • Honey and lemon. If your child is under one year old, honey is not safe due to botulism. But for kids in the safe-age range, honey is one of the best remedies for sore throats. Simply mix warm water, raw honey and lemon juice.

Fast, All-Natural Pain Relief With No Nasty Side Effects!

  • Peppermint. Kids over the age of six years old can have diluted peppermint essential oil applied to them. Another option safe for most ages is peppermint tea. It will soothe the throat, break up mucus and make your throat feel amazing.
  • Salt water gargling. A simple home remedy for sore throats is gargling salt water. Add a teaspoon or two of salt to a glass of warm water. Have your child gargle the salt water twice a day. It is one of the easiest and best-known remedies for a sore throat!

Flu

The flu can present itself with many symptoms. Rest and hydration top the list for cures!

  • Elderberry syrup. You can find elderberry syrup in the store or you make it yourself. It is best if you take it daily to prevent the flu. However, for those with the flu, take a dose 3 to 5 times per day. Fortunately, elderberry syrup tastes relatively good!
  • Activated charcoal. Keeping activated charcoal around your house is wise. Not only does it help with a stomach bug, but activated charcoal also works for food poisoning. Activated charcoal binds your digestive tract and helps the process. It is best taken as a capsule, but you can mix it in food. Speak to your doctor first!

Chest Colds and Coughs

  • Eucalyptus. Make sure that your child is within the safe-age range to use eucalyptus, typically six years old due to issues with respiration. However, you can safely add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to your bath water, along with Epsom salt, for children.
  • Steam. When your child has a chest cold and a cough, you can have your child hold his head over a bowl of hot water. Put a towel around his head. You want him to breathe in the steam for at least 10 minutes. Put a drop or two of eucalyptus oil in the water to add more benefits!
  • Bay leaves. You might use bay leaves in your soups, but it serves other purposes! Take three to four bay leaves, and add to water and boil. Then, remove the leaves and dip a cloth into the water. Wring it out and place it on your child’s chest, only if the heat is tolerable and won’t hurt your child!
  • Turmeric milk. If your child is at least one year old, you can try turmeric milk! Turmeric contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. It is a wonderful herb for chest congestion. Boil a cup of milk and add a pinch of turmeric. You also can add salt and sugar to help your child drink it.

This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or cure any particular health condition. Please consult your child’s doctor first.

What would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:

Can Herbs Boost Your Chickens’ Egg Production? Yes!

Can Herbs Boost Your Chickens’ Egg Production? Yes!

Image source: Pixabay.com

Herbs have a variety of health benefits for chickens — very similar to their effects on humans. If you are looking for holistic ways to care for your chicken flock, scattering herbs throughout the coop and nesting boxes is an effective method.

Herbs can be used as an insecticide, for rodent control, and as a stress reliever. You also can try feeding herbs fresh to your chickens. Another effective method is to add dried, ground herbs to their chicken feed. If you’re trying to boost egg production, try mint and parsley. (Read more below.)

Try these herbs with your chickens:

Lavender. Lavender is a favorite herb among humans and animals alike. If there is one herb you should use right now, it is lavender. One of my favorite ways to use lavender is to place some in each of the nesting boxes. Lavender releases an aromatic scent that helps to reduce stress, ideal for nesting boxes.

There are other reasons why you may want to use lavender for your chickens. Lavender helps to increase blood circulation, and it is a natural insecticide. While you might want to use lavender in nesting boxes, it is also safe to air dry and use dried in the coop.

Diatomaceous Earth: The Best De-Wormer For Your Livestock

The benefits of lavender don’t stop there. Lavender also is antibacterial, antifungal, helps to fight off staph infections, and improves your chickens’ digestion! It is an easy and pleasant herb to include frequently.

Oregano. Oregano is a strong herb. You might know that already if you’ve ever used oregano essential oil. Numerous studies conclude that oregano contains natural antibacterial properties. Within chickens, it helps fight against coccidiosis, salmonella, infectious bronchitis, avian flu and E. Coli.

Can Herbs Boost Your Chickens’ Egg Production? Yes!

Image source: Pixabay.com

Aside from the antibacterial properties, oregano also contains many nutritional benefits, and are high in vitamins E and K, along with calcium and necessary antioxidants. Allowing your chickens to consume oregano will boost their immune and respiratory systems. Herbs that benefit the respiratory system are useful for flock owners.

There are two ways you can add oregano to your chickens’ diet. First, you can simply allow the flock to snack on fresh cut leaves. Another easy choice is to add dried herbs to their feed.

Mint. The mint family is large, encompassing a huge variety of plants. You can use spearmint, orange mint, peppermint, chocolate mint, lemon balm, catnip and more! Mint is highly aromatic, making it a great choice for repelling rodents or insects in the chicken coop. Novice and expert gardeners can easily grow mint around the perimeter of your chicken coop! Doing so creates a natural mouse barrier, even though your chickens may like mice for snacks!

During summer months, try adding freshly crushed mint leaves to your chickens’ water. Mint has the natural ability to lower the body temperature in humans and animals.

Mint also can help to increase egg production. Adding any mint to your chickens’ feed might result in larger eggs with thicker eggshells. It also can increase overall egg production, so you might want to use it during a rainy period with less sun.

Sage. Sage is an easy herb to grow in your garden, and it’s an exceptional choice for your chickens’ health. I opt to add it to their feed as a dried herb, but you can always use clipped, fresh herbs. Why is sage a good choice? It contains many antioxidants and vitamins, which will help keep your flock healthy.

Some chicken owners believe sage helps to fight off salmonella and other diseases. Sage also helps to control parasites that may be attacking your flock.

Parsley. You might love parsley for your dinner dishes, but your chickens can benefit from its use, too. Chickens love parsley, and they can eat it fresh directly from the garden. You can grow it around your chicken coop, allowing them to graze on it through the fence of your run. Another choice is to pick fresh parsley from your garden and feed it throughout the month to your chickens.

Why would you want to use parsley? It contains vitamins such as A, B, C, E and K. These benefits help to encourage blood vessel development, which may help to stimulate egg laying.

Herbs are easy to grow and maintain yourself. If you have space, I would recommend growing a separate herb garden just for your chickens. If humans can benefit from the use of herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes, chickens can, too.

Have you used herbs to increase your flocks’ health? Let us know about your experience in the section below:

It Removes Splinters. It Heals Wounds. It Makes A Great Salad. And Chickens Like It, Too.

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It Removes Splinters. It Heals Wounds. It Makes A Great Salad. And Chickens Like It, Too.Chances are you have chickweed growing in your backyard. But did you know this herb has multiple medicinal purposes?

It grows between four and 12 inches long and produces small, yellow and green leaves. Small white flowers also develop on the plant.

One of the most common uses is on the skin. If you have a minor burn, you can help heal it with a chickweed salve. Chickweed also is a great addition to homemade lotions.

You even can use the juice from the plant to draw out splinters! If you spend any time working in the garden or around wood, you need chickweed.

Do You Want Fast, All-Natural Pain Relief With No Nasty Side Effects!

Those are just two of the medicinal properties of chickweed. Here are a few more:

  • It soothes itchy and sore skin conditions.
  • It acts as a diuretic for those who suffer from congestive heart failure or obesity.
  • It is used it some parts of Asia to help regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle.
  • It can be used to help increase a mother’s milk flow after birth.
  • It relieves constipation.
  • It is used in an infusion or herbal tea to soothe coughs and hoarseness.
  • It treats asthma and bronchitis.
  • It treats rheumatic pains and wounds.

Of course, Chickweed has non-medicinal uses, too. Believe it or not, chickweed during the Victorian era was once planted in gardens to add to salads and sandwiches. Chickweed is rich in Vitamin C and potassium, as well as Vitamin B complex, so feel free to add it to dishes!

If you are a poultry owner, chickweed is a favorite among birds. In the spring, it is a nutritious weed for poultry to eat, refreshing them after a long winter. It is one of the first plants that grow

How to Reap the Benefits of Chickweed

Most herbalists create tinctures from chickweed. It transfers its properties into vodka, brandy and other alcohol well. Another great choice is to make a heat-infused herbal oil. Doing so allows you to create salves, lotions and ointments featuring chickweed.

Chickweed is truly a versatile and beneficial herbal weed to harvest in your backyard. Don’t let it go to waste!

How do you use chickweed? Share your tips in the section below:  

8 Healing Uses For Mullein (The Native American ‘Survival Weed’)

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8 Healing Uses For Mullein (The Native American ‘Survival Weed’)

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It was native to Europe, northern Africa and Asia, and then was introduced to the Americas and Australia. You might know it by some of its other common names, such as feltwort, blanket leaf, candlewick and velvet dock.

It is Mullein, a common backyard weed the Native Americans used. And it has surprising medicinal properties.

Identifying Mullein

Mullein can grow, when left alone, up to seven feet tall, with large leaves covered in silver and felt-like hairs. Once blossomed, the flowers are yellow and take up half of the stem. The plant flowers from November to March. Most people consider it a nuisance, but there is so much more to the plant!

Medicinal Purposes of Mullein

For a plant that typically shows up in dry, barren places, mullein has impressive medicinal properties. You can use most of the plant, including the root. The leaves and flowers are the most common parts used. Infused oils, tinctures, capsules, lozenges, herbal teas and poultices are all common application methods for mullein.

Make Powerful Herbal Medicines, Right in Your Kitchen!

For centuries, people used mullein in herbal remedies, such as to soothe the respiratory tract. But it can do so much more.

1. Flu. Preliminary research shows that mullein has properties to fight flu-causing viruses. Of course, the flu can be dangerous, so seek medical help if you experience worsening symptoms.

8 Healing Uses For Mullein (The Native American ‘Survival Weed’)

Image source: Pixabay.com

2. Pain. Mullein has analgesic properties that have a numbing effect on your nerves. It is a great choice to stop transmitting pain to the brain. Toothaches and headaches can be relieved with mullein.

3. Inflammation. One of the main benefits of mullein is its anti-inflammatory properties. You can use it to treat nasal or respiratory tract inflammation, inflammation of the digestive system, and inflammation caused by fever or infection. If you experience a burn, try to apply mullein oil directly to the burn or inflamed skin.

4. Ear infections. Do you or your children experience chronic ear infections? Mullein oil can reduce ear pain significantly; make an infused oil, which taps into the antibacterial properties.

5. Coughs. If you have a cold or upper respiratory infection that causes excess secretions of phlegm, then mullein is an excellent expectorant. You can make lozenges that contain mullein or find them in your local health food store. Some Native American tribes believed mullein could cure chest diseases. For example, the Navajos would mix mullein with tobacco and smoke it to help with coughing spasms. I wouldn’t recommend that, but many people still use mullein in an herbal tea for coughing.

6. Relax/sleep aid. Mullein has a relaxing effort on your brain and other bodily systems. You can use it to treat muscle cramps, nervous disorders, stress, anxiety and more. Because of its relaxant properties, mullein also reduces blood pressure. Many people use mullein to help with chronic insomnia. If you need a good night’s rest, then try drinking a warm cup of mullein tea.

7. Hemorrhoids. No one likes hemorrhoids. A poultice created with mullein leaves can be applied to hemorrhoids to help stop the swelling and irritation.

8. Respiratory issues. In general, one of the most common applications of mullein is for respiratory issues. Asthma, bronchitis and allergies can be treated with mullein tea. It also is effective against sore throats, as well as the other listed issues such as coughing and spasms.

Have you ever used mullein for any herbal remedies? Let us know in the comments section below!

9 Surprising Uses For Backyard Lavender Plants (Got Bugs? Try No. 5)

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9 Surprising Uses For Backyard Lavender Plants (Got Bugs? Try No. 4)

Image source: Pixabay.com

Lavender is one of the most popular herbs in backyard gardens. Using lavender allows you to tap into its multiple medicinal properties.

Let’s take a look at my favorite ways to use it!

1. Lavender in jam recipes

Yes, you read that correctly! Despite the fact that lavender is a floral herb, it makes a fantastic accompaniment with fruit. Blueberry and blackberries are two great choices. Fresh lavender is the best for jam recipes because it has a more vibrant taste.

2. Lavender dryer bags

If you are like me, you prefer to avoid chemicals as much as possible. Still, nicely scented clothes are something I hate to give up. The answer? Make simple lavender dryer bags with muslin drawstring bags. All you need to do is pour dried lavender into the bag and tie it tightly! Each bag can be used multiple times.

3. Lavender infused oil

I massage it on my kids when they are ready for bed. It works great on bug bites or in one of my multiple salves and lotions I make each year. You can keep infused oil for at least nine months, giving you plenty of time to use it. There are several ways to make infused oils. It is a great medicinal item to have in your medicine cabinet!

4. Simple lavender salve

Once you have your lavender infused oil, you will want to find ways to use it. Everyone needs to have a lavender salve. It is like a lavender ointment. Use it for massages, headaches, restless legs, tired muscles and on your small abrasions.

Learn How To Make Powerful Herbal Medicines, Right in Your Kitchen!

To make salves, you need access to beeswax or candelilla wax. You can purchase both online. Try adding a few drops of lavender essential oil. It helps to add more scent to the salve and it increases its medicinal value.

9 Surprising Uses For Backyard Lavender Plants (Got Bugs? Try No. 4)

Image source: Pixabay.com

5. Keep bugs away

Citronella is famed for keeping away bugs, but did you know bugs also hate the scent of lavender and mint? You can use fresh and dry lavender for this. To keep bugs away while you are outside, put a few branches on your fire pit. Another choice is to make a bundle of lavender and mint, burning them together. The scent deters bugs from entering the area.

6. Lavender mint chicken coop spray

Summer heat can cause chicken coops to smell. I always keep lavender in their nesting boxes, but a coop spray can help with the strange scent. All you need is fresh mint and fresh lavender leaves and flowers. Soak them in a mason jar with white vinegar or vodka. I prefer vodka because it helps develop the sweet scent. After you allow the herbs to soak for three weeks, spray your coop as often as you like.

7. Honey lavender soap

Honey does wonders for your skin, but lavender does, too. If you use a honey soap base and have lavender essential oil, you can make a simple batch of honey lavender soap. Use your lavender plant to add pieces of fresh herb to the soap before it fully dries. It will help to exfoliate your skin.

8. Lavender tea – hot and iced

One way to intake lavender is with delicious teas. While I prefer mine hot, you might like iced tea. I use green tea bags and mix them together in my homemade tea bags. Lavender tea is great for a drink before bed or to take away a frustrating headache. You can purchase your tea bags online!

9. Lavender honey hand scrub

Here is another way to use all of that lavender infused oil you made before. You might want to make another batch! Hand scrubs are great for gardeners. We spend so much time in the dirt and working with our hands. To make these types of scrubs, you need cane sugar, lavender infused oil, honey and lavender essential oil. Making it is a breeze. You just mix everything in a bowl until you find the consistency that you like. These make the perfect gift, as well!

Lavender is a versatile and beloved herb, useful in many situations. From baking recipes to sugar scrub, you can find a multitude of ways to use your lavender plant. Lavender should never go to waste!

What are your favorite ways to use lavender? Share your tips in the section below:

5 Outdoor Survival Skills Every Child Should Know

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5 Outdoor Survival Skills Every Child Should Know

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Knowing how to survive without basic amenities is a skill everyone – even children – should know.

Children are like sponges, and can quickly pick up things we want them to know (and don’t want to know!). Simply make it fun.

1. Foraging skills

There are thousands of native, edible plants. In a survival scenario, a child may not be able to hunt or fish, but he can learn to identify plants that are edible.

Teaching your child what NOT to eat is just as important. Of course, you can learn these things through books, but it is best if done by hand. Take them out in the woods and find edibles together. Add your finds to dishes and dinners throughout your daily life. Soon, it will become normal!

2. Creating shelter

Our hope is that our children will be with us during any dangerous scenarios. That isn’t always the case. It is important that we teach our children how to create a small shelter with the items they can find in nature.

The Life-Saving Water Filter That Purifies River Water!

Most kids would think building a shelter is a great game! Teach them that “roughing it” is enjoyable. Take your kids out in the dark to create a shelter or just to explore nature at night. It is a different world.

3. Making a fire

Warmth is essential for survival in the wild. It is also a great source of safety to protect predators from approaching a campground.

Teaching your child how to start and control a fire will take time. You can start by teaching him or her how to find kindling for bonfires, and then showing them how to structure a fire properly. There are plenty of ways to make this fun, especially if there are marshmallows at the end.

As your child gets older, you can move on to teaching them how to start a fire without matches. It is never too early to teach fire safety around a fire. Instilling a healthy fear and understanding of the dangers it can pose is important, especially if your child will be on his own with fire.

4. Water purification

In an ideal scenario, your child would have purification tablets or a purifying straw in a bug-out bag. Life doesn’t always work how we want it to work, though, and there may be a time when your kid needs to know a different method.

This skill is easy to make fun. It is like a real-life science experiment!

Use a two-liter bottle to create a small filtering system. Children can create their own and drink the water at the end of the process. It may seem like a small skill, but it can come in handy later.

Story continues below video

 

 

5. Gardening

Gardening is one of the most important skills you can teach your child. If your children can garden, they can survive anywhere.

Teach your children how to start plants from seeds. It takes practice and knowledge. After that, you can work on teaching proper upkeep and preservation techniques. Most kids love to garden. It is a great excuse for getting dirty!

As a family, we work toward teaching our children survival skills on a regular basis. From butchering deer with their father to starting vegetable plants with me, our kids learn skills immediately. To them, it is just a way of life. Our goal is to release them as adults with the skills to survive, no matter what comes their way.

Do you introduce survival skills to your kids? If so, let us know what you teach them in the section below:

5 Outdoor Survival Skills Every Child Should Know

5 Outdoor Survival Skills Every Child Should Know

Image source: Pixabay.com

Knowing how to survive without basic amenities is a skill everyone – even children – should know.

Children are like sponges, and can quickly pick up things we want them to know (and don’t want to know!). Simply make it fun.

1. Foraging skills

There are thousands of native, edible plants. In a survival scenario, a child may not be able to hunt or fish, but he can learn to identify plants that are edible.

Teaching your child what NOT to eat is just as important. Of course, you can learn these things through books, but it is best if done by hand. Take them out in the woods and find edibles together. Add your finds to dishes and dinners throughout your daily life. Soon, it will become normal!

2. Creating shelter

Our hope is that our children will be with us during any dangerous scenarios. That isn’t always the case. It is important that we teach our children how to create a small shelter with the items they can find in nature.

The Life-Saving Water Filter That Purifies River Water!

Most kids would think building a shelter is a great game! Teach them that “roughing it” is enjoyable. Take your kids out in the dark to create a shelter or just to explore nature at night. It is a different world.

3. Making a fire

Warmth is essential for survival in the wild. It is also a great source of safety to protect predators from approaching a campground.

Teaching your child how to start and control a fire will take time. You can start by teaching him or her how to find kindling for bonfires, and then showing them how to structure a fire properly. There are plenty of ways to make this fun, especially if there are marshmallows at the end.

As your child gets older, you can move on to teaching them how to start a fire without matches. It is never too early to teach fire safety around a fire. Instilling a healthy fear and understanding of the dangers it can pose is important, especially if your child will be on his own with fire.

4. Water purification

In an ideal scenario, your child would have purification tablets or a purifying straw in a bug-out bag. Life doesn’t always work how we want it to work, though, and there may be a time when your kid needs to know a different method.

This skill is easy to make fun. It is like a real-life science experiment!

Use a two-liter bottle to create a small filtering system. Children can create their own and drink the water at the end of the process. It may seem like a small skill, but it can come in handy later.

Story continues below video

 

 

5. Gardening

Gardening is one of the most important skills you can teach your child. If your children can garden, they can survive anywhere.

Teach your children how to start plants from seeds. It takes practice and knowledge. After that, you can work on teaching proper upkeep and preservation techniques. Most kids love to garden. It is a great excuse for getting dirty!

As a family, we work toward teaching our children survival skills on a regular basis. From butchering deer with their father to starting vegetable plants with me, our kids learn skills immediately. To them, it is just a way of life. Our goal is to release them as adults with the skills to survive, no matter what comes their way.

Do you introduce survival skills to your kids? If so, let us know what you teach them in the section below:

How To Turn Medicinal Weeds Into Infused Oils, Just Like Your Ancestors Did

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How To Turn Medicinal Weeds Into Infused Oils, Just Like Your Ancestors Did

Image source: Pixabay.com

Herbs, whether locally found or grown in the garden, carry medicinal and culinary purposes, allowing homesteaders to make teas, tinctures and infused oils from them. But herbs aren’t the only local source.

I enjoy using locally grown “wild” plants for infused oils. Many people brush over foraging, but there are some amazing plants that grow in the world around you. Unfortunately, plants like dandelions and plantains have lost their place in the world. Once you understand their unique properties, though, you’ll find that you can make infused oils from dozens of plants.

These wild plants or “weeds” were used for thousands of years for their properties. It is time to relearn that knowledge.

What Are Infused Oils?

As you might guess from the name, an infused oil has the essence of another element. In this case, we create infused oils by extracting the active compounds from the plant by steeping them in water, alcohol or oil.

How are Infused Oils Beneficial?

Culinary infused oils are great for cooking. If you infuse oil with basil, the flavor will be more obvious throughout the dish you are creating. In this article, we are aiming to create medicinal infused oils, and those serve different purposes.

Fast, All-Natural Pain Relief With No Nasty Side Effects!

The most obvious ways to use infused oils are to create lotions, salves, insect repellants or as a bath oil. For example, calendula is used for sunburns, rashes, inflammation and wounds. You could make an infused oil out of comfrey, which is useful for burns and insect bites.

What Local Plants Can You Use?

How To Turn Medicinal Weeds Into Infused Oils, Just Like Your Ancestors Did

Image source: Pixabay.com

Surprisingly, your lawn might be a huge source of plants rich in medicinal properties. Let’s take a look at some plants to try.

  • Plantain: As you walk through your lawn, you might notice patches of plantain. Our family uses plantain infused oils to make anti-inch lotions and salves. Plantain-infused oil soothes the skin from an insect bite or poison ivy rashes. The oil quickens the healing process of minor cuts and bruises.
  • Violets: Perhaps your spring lawn looks like a field of purple at times. Violet leaf grows almost nationwide and serves many purposes, such as making a fantastic edible addition to your salads. Those little purple flowers can soothe skin, reduce inflammation and redness, cool irritated tissue, and serve as an antiseptic. Water infused with violets soothe a sore throat. Families with children can make a diaper rash cream with the infused oil.
  • Dandelion: It’s safe to assume that you have dandelions in your yard come spring. They dot every yard and hillside, attracting bees. Many people think they are just a useless weed, but they couldn’t be any more wrong! Aside from using dandelion leaves in salads, you can use dandelion flowers as a mild pain reliever, perfect for sore tissues. An infused oil helps with dry skin and reduces scars and inflammation.
  • Chickweed: Many people discount chickweed, but it has many benefits, especially for skin irritations. Inflammation, eczema, itching rashes, wounds and hemorrhoids benefit from chickweed-infused oils! Make a salve with the infused oil for your child with eczema; you’ll love the difference it makes!
  • Purple dead nettle: Are your unattended flower beds filling up with purple dead nettle? Despite being an invasive species, it contains anti-oxidants that help to detoxify our bodies. The flavonoids in purple dead nettle can reduce inflammation, improve immune function and lessen allergy symptoms. It contains pain-relieving properties that make it an ideal choice for muscle pain.

Two Ways to Make Infused Oils

1. Solar-infused oils: The first method is the old-fashioned way to make these oils. Fill your glass jar with dried herbs or plants. Then, completely cover them with oil – olive oil is popular for this — filling your jar up to the brim. Put the jar in a warm, sunny spot, steeping the herbs for two to four weeks. Some herbs and flowers, such as dandelions, have more moisture and require less time to reduce the chance of molding. After allowed to steep, strain the oil through a cheesecloth, keeping all the oil.

Learn How To Make Powerful Herbal Medicines, Right in Your Kitchen!

2. Double-boiler method: If you’re in a hurry, there is a way to make infused oils faster. Put the herbs and oil into a double boiler, allowing them to simmer for 30 to 60 minutes. You don’t want the oil to overheat. It is better to use a lower heat and allow the oil and herbs to simmer for longer. After simmering, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth, saving the oil.

Infused Oil Tips

  • Dried herbs reduce the risk of spoiling.
  • Try storing the oil in a colored glass jar, as it extends the shelf life.
  • Olive oil is a common choice because it resists rancidity.
  • You also can use coconut, grape seed, almond and apricot oils. There are dozens of oils available, but try to avoid canola and vegetable oil.

Take a look at your backyard and discover all the goodies available to you! You might be surprised at how many you can find at one time.

Do you make infused oils? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

Broody Hens: The Key To A Sustainable Flock

Broody Hens: The Key To A Sustainable Flock

Orpington. Image source: Pixabay.com

Chickens are an important commodity for a homesteader, especially if you factor in a survival scenario. They are a vital source of food for your family. They also provide you with an essential item for bartering and trading.

Unless you want to rely on stores and companies to purchase chicks, you have to find a way to create a sustainable flock. The key to a sustainable flock is a broody hen. Yes, you can use an incubator to hatch fertile eggs. While it is possible, I have found letting nature take its course is easier for everyone.

Selecting the Right Breed

Unfortunately, broodiness is considered an undesirable trait in chickens. Breeders work toward breeding chickens that rarely go broody, just as we save seeds from our most prolific plants each year. Homesteaders should and need to embrace a mother hen’s natural instinct to breed.

Diatomaceous Earth: The All-Natural Livestock De-Wormer!

Despite selective breeding, there are a few types of chickens that still embrace broodiness. There is no guarantee that your hen wants to hatch eggs, but raising a few of these ups your chances.

1. Silkies. Silkies are a petite, bantam breed that are fairly docile and friendly. If you want chickens that you can pet, then go with a Silkie. Their soft feathers remind me of fur, keeping all those eggs warm. Some consider Silkies the queens of broodiness. You may not want an ornamental bird, but it will serve an important purpose to the flock.

2. Orpington. If you want to raise dual-purpose breeds, Orpingtons should be at the top of your list. They are gentle birds that lay brown eggs. Many families select this breed for family flocks, and they do well with children around. Their gentle personality lends itself to going broody.

3. Brahma. One of my favorite chickens for broodiness is Brahmas. My sweet girls, Ophelia and Amelia, hatched many clutches of eggs. Brahmas have a sweet and gentle nature, perfect for a family chicken. If you live in a cold area, I recommend Brahmas. They have feathers on their legs, but you do need to keep the mud at bay to reduce the risk of frostbite.

Broody Hens: The Key To A Sustainable Flock

Image source: Wikipedia

4. Sussex: You can buy a Sussex in a variety of colors. Many farms are filled with Sussex chickens because they are reliable layers. My girls lay steady eggs year-round, including our cold winters, without any extra lights added to the hen house. These chickens tend to have more of a varying personality, but most are friendly to handle.

Watch for Signs of Broodiness

Some hens are reliable and want to hatch a clutch of eggs each year. There is no set time for broodiness. Your chicken might prefer early spring or wait until summer is closer. There are some breeds that will return to broodiness later in the season.

Your girls won’t make a nest for hatching eggs unless they are full free-range. If your hen disappears for 20 days or more, she may be hatching a clutch of eggs. Check the bushes! I have found quite a few. Once, I found a hen and her clutch of eggs in a discarded flower pot; that was a surprise!

The community nest used by all the ladies would be where your hen decides to sit on her eggs unless you separated her from the rest of the flock to breed. Once she starts to sit on the nest full-time, you can be sure that she is broody. They won’t leave the nest, even to roost at night. Even the most docile chicken will attack your hand if you attempt to move her while sitting on her eggs.

Moving to a Broody Box

I don’t suggest that you leave a broody hen with the rest of the flock. She can cause a backup at the nesting boxes. I once checked on my girls only to find a line of chickens waiting for the broody mom to move. Sorry ladies, she wasn’t going anywhere!

Prepare a separate box for her to use with the clutch of eggs. You will want to keep her in there once the chicks are hatched, as well. A corner or isolated area works; I try to keep it close to the rest of flock for visual contact. She needs to have space for a nest, food, water, and room to walk and poop.

Move her and the eggs at night. You are less likely to disturb her them. It is best to keep the clutch to 10 eggs at maximum. At first, she will get up and move throughout the day. As she nears the final days out of the average 20 needed, she will not move at all. It is best to keep the food and water bowl as close to her as possible, especially if it is hot outside.

Soon, little chirps will come from the box! Keep the chicks separate from the flock for a few weeks to avoid being harmed. There is no need to do anything. Your broody hen has it under control. She will keep the chicks warm, teach them how to eat and drink, and later she will show them how to forage. The cycle of life, when left alone, is a beautiful thing to witness.

Have you ever raised chicks? What advice would you add? Share your own tips and tricks in the section below:

Broody Hens: The Key To A Sustainable Flock

Click here to view the original post.
Broody Hens: The Key To A Sustainable Flock

Orpington. Image source: Pixabay.com

Chickens are an important commodity for a homesteader, especially if you factor in a survival scenario. They are a vital source of food for your family. They also provide you with an essential item for bartering and trading.

Unless you want to rely on stores and companies to purchase chicks, you have to find a way to create a sustainable flock. The key to a sustainable flock is a broody hen. Yes, you can use an incubator to hatch fertile eggs. While it is possible, I have found letting nature take its course is easier for everyone.

Selecting the Right Breed

Unfortunately, broodiness is considered an undesirable trait in chickens. Breeders work toward breeding chickens that rarely go broody, just as we save seeds from our most prolific plants each year. Homesteaders should and need to embrace a mother hen’s natural instinct to breed.

Diatomaceous Earth: The All-Natural Livestock De-Wormer!

Despite selective breeding, there are a few types of chickens that still embrace broodiness. There is no guarantee that your hen wants to hatch eggs, but raising a few of these ups your chances.

1. Silkies. Silkies are a petite, bantam breed that are fairly docile and friendly. If you want chickens that you can pet, then go with a Silkie. Their soft feathers remind me of fur, keeping all those eggs warm. Some consider Silkies the queens of broodiness. You may not want an ornamental bird, but it will serve an important purpose to the flock.

2. Orpington. If you want to raise dual-purpose breeds, Orpingtons should be at the top of your list. They are gentle birds that lay brown eggs. Many families select this breed for family flocks, and they do well with children around. Their gentle personality lends itself to going broody.

3. Brahma. One of my favorite chickens for broodiness is Brahmas. My sweet girls, Ophelia and Amelia, hatched many clutches of eggs. Brahmas have a sweet and gentle nature, perfect for a family chicken. If you live in a cold area, I recommend Brahmas. They have feathers on their legs, but you do need to keep the mud at bay to reduce the risk of frostbite.

Broody Hens: The Key To A Sustainable Flock

Image source: Wikipedia

4. Sussex: You can buy a Sussex in a variety of colors. Many farms are filled with Sussex chickens because they are reliable layers. My girls lay steady eggs year-round, including our cold winters, without any extra lights added to the hen house. These chickens tend to have more of a varying personality, but most are friendly to handle.

Watch for Signs of Broodiness

Some hens are reliable and want to hatch a clutch of eggs each year. There is no set time for broodiness. Your chicken might prefer early spring or wait until summer is closer. There are some breeds that will return to broodiness later in the season.

Your girls won’t make a nest for hatching eggs unless they are full free-range. If your hen disappears for 20 days or more, she may be hatching a clutch of eggs. Check the bushes! I have found quite a few. Once, I found a hen and her clutch of eggs in a discarded flower pot; that was a surprise!

The community nest used by all the ladies would be where your hen decides to sit on her eggs unless you separated her from the rest of the flock to breed. Once she starts to sit on the nest full-time, you can be sure that she is broody. They won’t leave the nest, even to roost at night. Even the most docile chicken will attack your hand if you attempt to move her while sitting on her eggs.

Moving to a Broody Box

I don’t suggest that you leave a broody hen with the rest of the flock. She can cause a backup at the nesting boxes. I once checked on my girls only to find a line of chickens waiting for the broody mom to move. Sorry ladies, she wasn’t going anywhere!

Prepare a separate box for her to use with the clutch of eggs. You will want to keep her in there once the chicks are hatched, as well. A corner or isolated area works; I try to keep it close to the rest of flock for visual contact. She needs to have space for a nest, food, water, and room to walk and poop.

Move her and the eggs at night. You are less likely to disturb her them. It is best to keep the clutch to 10 eggs at maximum. At first, she will get up and move throughout the day. As she nears the final days out of the average 20 needed, she will not move at all. It is best to keep the food and water bowl as close to her as possible, especially if it is hot outside.

Soon, little chirps will come from the box! Keep the chicks separate from the flock for a few weeks to avoid being harmed. There is no need to do anything. Your broody hen has it under control. She will keep the chicks warm, teach them how to eat and drink, and later she will show them how to forage. The cycle of life, when left alone, is a beautiful thing to witness.

Have you ever raised chicks? What advice would you add? Share your own tips and tricks in the section below:

4 Free Mulches That Can Revolutionize Your Garden

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4 Free Mulches That Can Revolutionize Your Garden

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Gardening season is well under way, which means it is time to think about mulching. Instead of running to your local lawn and garden store, though, consider organic mulch choices, which are readily available and provide more benefits than basic wood chips.

Benefits of Organic Mulch

You might be surprised at the multitude of choices gardeners have when it comes to mulching. Some people use newspaper, grass clippings, leaves and other options. While some people do spread landscape fabric around their plants to reduce weeds, organic mulch is a better choice.

  • It is inexpensive. Living a sustainable lifestyle requires a sort of craftiness and ingenuity. We have to rely on the items we have at our fingertips. Instead of purchasing bags of wood chips, organic mulch can be things readily available in your backyard. The only cost may be the labor and time it takes.
  • It prevents weeds. The obvious reason to use mulch is to prevent weeds. Mulch stops sunlight from reaching the weeds. If your primary goal is to reduce weeds, then two inches of mulch is the recommended amount.
  • It adds nutrients to soil. One of the best reasons to use organic mulch is because it adds nutrients back into your soil. Over time, the mulch will decompose, putting nutrients right back into the ground. Grass clippings, for example, decompose quickly and are a great source of nitrogen.
  • It retains moisture. It can be a daunting task to water your garden regularly. Mulch helps to retain the moisture already present in the ground.

Organic Mulch Choices

If you are interested in using organic mulch, there are several choices available to you. Let’s take a look at each one and the benefits.

1. Pine straw. This is a fantastic choice for suppressing weeds. Once wet, the straw tends to mat down, making it nearly impossible for weeds to break through. If you have pine trees on your property, the mulch will be totally free. You also should know that it does take a while for pine straw to decompose.

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Another downside to pine straw: It is a source of acid. Your soil will increase in acidity, which is OK for some plants. Gardeners must consider the plants they are growing and if those plants like acid. Veggies such as sweet potatoes, radishes and peppers are good candidates.

2. Grass clippings. We all love free, and grass clippings fall into that category. If you cut your grass, you have clippings. The abundance is a positive reason to use grass clippings. They also are a fantastic source of nitrogen. All plants need nitrogen to grow, but some plants, such as lettuce and spinach, benefit from extra sources.

There are two negatives to using grass clippings. They decompose quickly, so you will have to continue to add layers throughout the growing season. Also, some gardeners despise the smell of decomposing grass. You’ll notice it heavily after rain.

4 Free Mulches That Can Revolutionize Your Garden

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3. Shredded leaves. Fallen leaves contain minerals that the tree absorbed from the soil to aid its growth. As they decompose, leaves feed the earthworms, adding nutrients and microbes back into the soil. Gardens with sandy soil benefit from shredded leaves because they help to lighten the soil and retain moisture. Carbon, essential for balancing nitrogen, leeches into the soil as the leaves decompose.

The biggest negative is the look. Chances are you won’t win an award for the “Most Beautiful Garden of the Year.” It is worth the downside. Leaves must be shredded before used as mulch. Otherwise, water may not reach the soil. Also, never use leaves from walnut, eucalyptus or camphor laurel trees, as they have chemicals that stop plant growth.

4. Old hay. If you have access to old hay, your garden will thank you. While you could use fresh hay, the spoiled bales are cheaper and will add more nutrients to the soil. Over time, hay helps to act as a buffer and neutralize your soil. This could be a problem for some plants, but it is great for soil that is a bit too acidic.

The problem with using hay is that it is made from grass. It will have grass seeds that can cause weeds to grow in your garden. Since you probably want to avoid weeds, the best solution is to pile the old hay about a foot thick. At this depth, it is nearly impossible for weeds to grow through.  

What organic mulch would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Dandelion & Violet Jelly: It’s Delicious. Here’s The Recipe.

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Dandelion & Violet Jelly: It’s Delicious. Here’s The Recipe.

Image source: Pixabay.com

Jelly is a favorite food in our house. We eat it for breakfast, lunch and, yes, desserts. With three kids in the house, we could go through a lot of store-bought jellies. Instead, sourcing our front lawn for dandelions and violets give us a cheap jelly that I don’t mind giving away for gifts.

Dandelions and violets may not seem like the obvious choice for jelly, but as soon as you make them, you’ll love the beautiful colors. Dandelion jelly is a bright, golden yellow, and violet jelly is a bright, pink color. However, many people turn up their nose at the idea. Won’t it taste like you’re eating a mouthful of flowers?

Surprisingly, the answer is no, although there are floral hints to the jelly. After all, you are using flowers. Violet jelly does have a taste that will remind you of grape jelly, with hints of floral. Dandelion jelly, on the other hand, has a flavor that is similar to honey or chamomile. It’s like a delicious tea on top of your toast.

How to Make Violet Jelly

  • 3 cups of loosely packed violet blossoms.
  • Juice of large lemon.
  • 2 ½ cups of boiling water.
  • One package of pectin.
  • 3 ½ cups of sugar.
  • Jars, lids and rings.

1. The first step is to pick all of the violet blossoms. If you have kids, this activity will take them a long time and keep them occupied. Picking the flowers is the hardest part of making violet jelly, but if you have a nice day, it’s a great way to spend time outside.

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2. Next, make a violet infusion. Pour 2 ½ cups of boiling water over the top of your violets. You need to leave this alone and let it infuse. Soon, you will notice the water turning a deep blue, then into a deep purple, depending on the shades of the violets used.

3. After it is infused, strain out the violets, leaving you with the infused water. Add the juice of one lemon.

4. Now, it is time to make the jelly just like you would with anything else. The pectin typically has instructions included. Mix the pectin with the flower and lemon mixture. Then, stir on the stovetop until it reaches a heavy boil. Jelly needs to boil for one minute; then you add the sugar required based on the pectin you used. Keep stirring until it reaches a boil again for one minute. Remove from heat and place it into the prepared jars.

5. For violet jelly, you just need to water bath the jars for five minutes. Let the jars sit for 24 hours to cool and solidify before using!

How to Make Dandelion Jelly

Dandelion & Violet Jelly: It’s Delicious. Here’s The Recipe.

Image source: Pixabay.com

Yes, those yellow flowers dotting your yard are good for more than just honeybees! Dandelions aren’t a well-loved flower, but they make a lovely jelly for your breakfast toast. When you go pick the flowers, try to remove the stems as best as possible. Stems are bitter and will infuse an unpleasant taste.

  • 1 quart of dandelion flowers.
  • 1 quart of water.
  • 1 box of pectin.
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  • 4 ½ cups of sugar.
  • Jars, lids and rings.

1. Fill up your quart jar with dandelion flowers, not stems. It is better to stay away from chemically sprayed flowers. When you get them inside, rinse off the flowers first.

2. In a pot, add the rinsed flowers with a quart of water. Allow them to boil for three minutes to infuse the water. Then, drain the flowers from the water. Cheesecloth or coffee filters work best.

3. Put the strained liquid into the pot again. On average, you want to have about 4 cups of infused water. Add the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into the mixture.

4. Read your pectin instructions. Add the pectin to the mixture and bring to a rolling boil. Make sure you keep stirring! Allow it to boil for one minute and then add in the sugar. Depending on the type of pectin used, you will add between 3 and 4 ½ cups of sugar. Stir this mixture well and allow to boil for one minute again, as you stir. Remove from heat.

5. Ladle the jelly into the jars. Process in a water bath canner for 5 minutes.

6. Jellies are a family favorite. From grape and blueberry to floral jellies, using what you have around you is the epitome of homesteading. In most areas of the country, violets and dandelions grow around you freely. The cost of these jars will be minimal, making them a lovely gift for Christmas, if you can keep some away from the kids!

Have you ever made violet or dandelion jelly? Share your tips in the section below:

3 Simple, Healing Salve Recipes Your Great-Grandparents Used

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3 Simple, Healing Salve Recipes Your Great-Grandparents Used

Using herbal remedies to heal your ailments is a crucial aspect of living a self-sufficient lifestyle. Instead of purchasing balms premade at the store, you can use items you grow or create on your homestead to heal your body. Salves can replace store-bought creams (such as Neosporin) in your medicine cabinet.

What is a Salve?

If you have used any form of ointments, you already have a general idea about salves. They are a homemade ointment or cream, created to protect and heal our bodies and skin. Salves were used for centuries by our ancestors, great-grandparents and grandparents for cuts, burns, blisters and many other ailments. They often were called “drawing salves,” intended to draw out infections, splinters and toxins from spider or snakebites.

The process used to create herbal salves hasn’t changed much in the last few centuries, even if we do have essential oils more readily available than ever before. Old salve recipes called for herbal-infused oils. It involves simmering herbs in any melted oil for a long period before straining out the herbs.

All salves also require an element that creates the creamy consistency needed so you can spread it over the ailment. Beeswax is the most common choice, a benefit for those who have beehives. Shea butter and honey are also used in recipes. The creation of an herbal salve is easy and typically only requires a few minutes of commitment!

Let’s examine three easy salves you can make at home.

1. The perfect all-purpose salve

Everyone needs to have an all-purpose salve available at all times. I make a large batch because, with three kids, we use a lot of it! You will use coconut oil, olive oil, and beeswax to create it, but you can use more coconut oil and beeswax if you have no olive oil. It is a great choice as a homemade diaper rash cream that is cloth diaper safe.

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup beeswax
  • 1/3 cup calendula flowers
  • 15 drops of melaleuca essential oil
  • 15 drops of lavender oil

If you have older children or are simply using this salve for yourself, you can increase a number of essential oil drops.

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Instructions:

  1. Use a double boiler to melt the coconut oil and olive oil together.
  2. Add in the calendula flowers to the melted oils and allow to simmer for a minimum of two hours. This infuses the oil with the healing properties of the flowers. Make sure to stir during this process.
  3. After simmering, strain through a filter.
  4. Put the infused oil back into a pan and melt the beeswax.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before adding in the drops of essential oils.
  6. Pour or ladle the salve into glass jars. Allow to cool and harden for 24 hours. This recipe makes one cup of salve, but it is easy to increase the recipe.

2. Burn salve

3 Simple, Healing Salve Recipes Your Great-Grandparents Used

Image source: Pixabay.com

Burns can happen to anyone, but if you live an off-the-grid lifestyle, you have a higher chance. It is always smart to keep a jar or two of burn salve nearby. I find that it is one of the most common salves I use, even if it’s only because I spilled morning coffee on my hand.

  • ½ cup raw honey
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup aloe Vera
  • 10 to 15 drops lavender essential oil

You also could add ingredients such as comfrey, which aids the healing process! This salve doesn’t require many steps. If your coconut oil is solid, melt it over a double boiler. Then, add in the raw honey and aloe Vera. Let the oils cool for 15 minutes before adding the essential oils.

3. Sore muscles salve

When you spend all day working hard, you can expect a few aches and pains. After a day of work, apply a layer of a sore muscle salve to help relax your body. I have tried some different salves, and this recipe is the most loved choice of all.

  • ½ cup arnica flowers
  • ½ cup comfrey leaf
  • ½ cup St. John’s Wort
  • 2 cups of coconut oil
  • 3 ounces of beeswax

Instructions:

  1. Put the oil into a double boiler and melt over medium to low heat.
  2. Once melted, add the herbs and allow to infuse for 12 hours. If you don’t want to keep adding water to the pot, you can use a slow cooker on low.
  3. After infusion, strain the oil through a cheesecloth or filter. You could repeat the process with new herbs for extra-strength salve.
  4. Put the infused oil into a pot with the beeswax and slowly melt over the heat. Once melted, pour into individual glass jars and allow them to harden.

What is your favorite salve? Share your health tips in the section below:

The 5 Best Medicinal Plants You Can Grow In Your Backyard

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The 5 Best Medicinal Plants You Can Grow In Your Backyard

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Self-reliance often means relying on old wisdom to address health problems. My family believes in the use of medicinal plants to cure ailments.

Our herb garden serves a greater purpose than increasing the flavors of our dinners. We use these plants to create medicinal teas, herbal baths and healing salves. Here are the top five medicinal plants to grow in your backyard, along with some simple ways to use them in your everyday life.

1. Feverfew

Once it blooms during spring, it continues to grow throughout the season. Feverfew has been used for centuries to — you guessed it — reduce fevers. It also has properties that help to reduce headaches and stomach illnesses.

Families can use feverfew in a variety of ways, but one of my favorite methods is as an herbal bath. That is a fantastic way to reduce fevers in small children. For centuries, people have chewed on the leaves or drank herbal teas to relieve headaches, as well as fevers. (Check with your doctor about its use among very young children.)

2. Echinacea

One of the most popular medicinal herbs is Echinacea, which produces a beautiful purple flower. Echinacea grows up to 36 inches tall and has a long growing season. You will notice an abundance of bees and butterflies attracted to your garden, as well, helping to pollinate.

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Echinacea can be used to boost the immune system if you have the flu or cold. Historically, people used it to fight infections, relieve pain, treat snake bites, reduce coughs and heal sore throats.

While you can use Echinacea in a multitude of ways, most people opt to make an infusion or decoction. You can steep the leaves and petals or the dried roots in boiling water, creating an herbal tea. To fight a cold, you could combine other herbs, such as feverfew or chamomile, for additional healing properties.

3. Lemon balm

Everyone needs at least one type of mint plant in their garden. Lemon balm happens to be one of my favorites! You can add it to teas to create a delicious tea, but it does more than that. Those suffering from insomnia, anxiety, an upset stomach, or a viral infection can find lemon balm useful. Our family uses it as a natural mosquito repellant and treatment for colicky infants.

There are so many great ways to use lemon balm! Make an herbal syrup to reduce anxiety at night with honey. Using fresh leaves, make a homemade tea bag for an upset stomach. Another great way to use lemon balm is to add it in homemade salves, helping to heal minor cuts.

4. Yarrow

The 5 Best Medicinal Plants You Can Grow In Your Backyard

Yarrow. Image source: Pixabay.com

Yarrow is a multi-purpose herb to grow, and is beneficial if you have kids in the house. It can reduce fevers, shorten flu and colds, help kids to relax and lessen cramps. You also can use yarrow topically to help with skin itching and rashes. Some people have success relieving allergy symptoms by drinking yarrow tea!

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There are a plethora of ways to use yarrow. Create herbal teas, combined with other herbs like lemon balm or chamomile. Tea also helps with a cold or congestion. A yarrow salve heals dry and itchy skin. Also, bathing in yarrow tea reduces fever. Native Americans used yarrow for centuries as an astringent by creating poultices.

5. Calendula

While I grow a variety of herbs and flowers, calendula is, by far, one of the most useful flowers. The beautiful, orange flowers pop in the summertime against the green grass. Calendula petals are edible; try adding them to your salads.

For centuries, people found ways to use calendula to disinfect minor wounds, treat infections, heal skin irritation and reduce pain. One of my favorite ways to use it is by creating a homemade diaper cream for rashes. Making a healing salve from calendula is simple and makes a fantastic addition to your first-aid kit. All you need to do is spread it over irritations and small cuts.

Healing with herbs does require a bit of knowledge, but it is worth it.

Get started by selecting a few of the best medicinal plants. Best of all, many of these choices have pretty blossoms that make them visually appealing options.

What is your favorite medicinal plant? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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