How to Make Plantain Leaf Herbal Soap

I’m not a soapmaker. Let’s just start with that. However, I love homemade soap, and I have some amazing friends who are awesome soapmakers.

Soap making is one of those lost skills that truly does take a few tries to learn and get right. Thankfully, it’s really not a hard or complicated process, it just looks a little scary when it comes to using certain ingredients.

Lye, specifically, scares the bejeezus out of me. However, when I got Jan Berry’s book, Simple & Natural Soapmaking, a brand new sense of confidence welled up within me. This book is absolutely incredible and takes all the “scary” out of it! It’s perfect for the beginner soap maker, and even the experienced one.

The photos alone are gorgeous to flip through, and Jan’s ease of instructions are so inviting to the homesteader.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes from her new book, which you can find here.

Plantain is a common leafy green weed found throughout the world that soothes, cools and moisturizes. This soap recipe features nourishing plantain infused olive oil, but for an extra dose of herbal goodness, you could also use cooled plantain tea in place of the water.
Before you make this recipe, you’ll first need to make plantain infused oil. To do so, fill a canning jar about half-way with dried plantain leaves. Pour olive oil over the dried herb until completely covered by several extra inches of oil. Cover with a lid and infuse for several weeks, then strain. For a quicker infusion, set the uncovered jar into a saucepan filled with a few inches of water. Heat the pan over very low heat for 2 to 3 hours. Cool and strain. Use in place of regular olive oil in soap recipes.

Plantain Leaf Herbal Soap

Makes 7 to 8 bars (2.5 lbs/1.13 kg)
Lye Solution
3.95 oz (112 g) Sodium Hydroxide (also called Lye or Caustic Soda)
8.75 oz (248 g) Distilled Water or Plantain Tea
1 tsp French Green Clay (optional, for pale green color)
Solid Oils
7.5 oz (213 g) Coconut Oil
4 oz (113 g) Mango or Shea Butter
Liquid Oils
13 oz (369 g) Plantain Infused Olive Oil
3.5 oz (99 g) Hemp or Avocado Oil
Extras
1.05 oz (30 g) lavender essential oil (optional, for scent)
Notes & Tips
If you don’t have mango or shea butter, try using cocoa or kokum butter, tallow or lard for a similar effect.
To further enhance the recipe, you could add 1 tbsp ground oats and/or 1.5 tsp honey (diluted with 1.5 tsp water) at trace.
All oils, butters, water and lye should be measured by weight. You need an accurate scale to make soap.
Step 1: Make the Lye Solution
Wearing protective gloves and eyewear, carefully stir the lye (sodium hydroxide) into the distilled water or plantain tea until dissolved. Stir in the French green clay, if using, for added color. Work in an area with good ventilation and be careful not to breathe in the fumes. Set the lye solution aside to cool for about 30 or 40 minutes or until the temperature drops to around 100 to 110°F (38 to 43°C).
Step 2: Prepare the Oils
Gently heat the coconut oil and mango or shea butter on low heat until melted. When the solid oils are melted, take the pan off the heat and pour in the liquid oils. This helps cool down the melted oils, while warming up the room temperature oils.
Step 3: Mixing
Pour the cooled lye solution into the warm oils. Using a combination of hand stirring and an immersion blender, stir the soap batter until it thickens and reaches trace. Trace is when the soap has thickened enough so when you drizzle a small amount of the batter across the surface, it will leave a fleeting, but visible imprint or “trace” before sinking back in.
Step 4: Add Essential Oils
If using, stir in the lavender essential oil.
Step 5: Pour in Mold
Pour the soap batter into a soap mold. Cover lightly with wax or freezer paper, then a towel or light blanket. Peek at the soap every so often; if it starts developing a crack, uncover and move to a cooler location.
Step 6: Cut & Cure
Keep the soap in the mold for 1 to 2 days, or until it’s easy to remove, then slice it into bars when it’s firm enough not to stick to your cutting tool. Cure on coated cooling racks or sheets of wax paper for about 4 weeks before using. The soap is safe to touch 48 hours after making it but it needs the extra time to allow the excess moisture to evaporate out.
You’re done!
Enjoy your soap!

What Happens When I Fail at Homesteading?

We’ve been on this homesteading journey for a few years now. And let me just say, I have failed more times than I can count. In fact, I’ve just stopped counting for the sake of my sanity. It’s moments like these when I tell myself that the good Lord forgets all of my failures, so I should too.
During my first few years here, I failed a lot. I failed at eating healthy (I still do). I failed at keeping chickens healthy. I failed at homemaking. I failed at being a good mom. And I massively failed at gardening. Thank goodness for grace.
What happens when people fail? What happens when I fail? It’s probably one of the major reasons why people don’t start living a healthier lifestyle or start their own farm journey. Failure…it’s a scary thing.

Read the Post

How to Make An Herbal Salve

Herbal salves use to intimidate the bejeezus out of me. But when I started making them, I wondered what on earth took me so long to take this next step into herbalism. Salves are extremely easy to make, and equally as beneficial to the homesteading herbalist’s medicine cabinet.
Let me show you just how easy it is….

We make herbal salves to heal irritated skin, soothe sore muscles, speed up the healing process of cuts and wounds, and we can even make salves to help with respiratory distress—like homemade vapo rub.
But today I’m going to give you one of my go to herbal salve recipes. You can adapt this recipe with whatever herbs you see fit. Find the recipe below, and watch the video too!
Use this salve on bumps and bruises, sore muscles, bug bites, and more!

Soothing Chamomile Salve

1 oz calendula infused oil

1 oz chamomile infused oil

1 oz arnica infused oil

.5 to 1 oz beeswax

Method:

  1. In a double boiler (a mason jar setting in a saucepan with water in it), combine all ingredients (in the jar) until completely melted.
  2. Quickly pour into tins and allow to cool completely.
  3. Cap tightly, label, and store for up to 1 year.

Watch the video here:

Buy Organic herbs here:

Bulk Herb Store
Mountain Rose Herbs

Products I use to make salves:

She Intimidates Me…

It was probably the fourth time in the last year that I’ve heard the phrase—by four different women. Man, what did I do to deserve this? Of course, we could laugh it off now, but as she told me how much I use to intimidate her, I’ll admit, I felt a bit of offense. Me? Intimidating?
 
There’s always that chance to ask her why. Why did she think I was so intimidating? Why did she feel she couldn’t approach me and stood back in a distance silently judging me? Now, she’s loving all of this girl right here but, not always.

You just seem like you have it all together. 
 
You’re so confident.
 
You know who you are in Christ, and that’s intimidating for a woman like me.
 
I’ve heard it all. I get it often…
Confidence isn’t something that is easily understood. On one hand you’re a leader, someone people respect and look up to. Someone that people can count on. On the other hand, you’re judged…called obscene words that normally start with a giant “B”, and you’re inapproachable.
There’s a fine line between confidence, arrogance, and insecurity.
But, if we’re being honest, I don’t have it all together…at all.
If we’re being honest, this girl you think I am, she intimidates me too.
I’m messy.
I have 100 things that have to get done and I often find that I choose the things that bring me joy or feelings of accomplishments first.
I hate my body—my chin, my arms, my mom stomach, my jiggles everywhere.
I typed in “mom” stomach to make myself feel better, realizing that it’s just an excuse I use.
I’m insecure. I’m terrified people won’t like me when I meet them. First impressions are everything, right?
I care a little too much about what people think about me, and I’m one of the  biggest introverts that you’ll ever meet, and yet, I won’t seem much like one.
I can be mean, but I can be the kindest person you’ll ever meet.
I can be selfish, immature, and rude.
But I can be loving, a saving grace, and eloquent.
I can be bad ass but I’m scared to death.
And I miss the girl I use to be. But, that girl has come a long way in life. A long, long way.
PHOTO
A man once told me, when I was young and naive, that I wasn’t like “all the other girls”. That I was cool. That I was like “one of the guys”. I smirked because, back then, it seemed rare. But the reality is that I was exactly like every other girl.
I was imperfect.
There’s nothing quite like embracing imperfection.
There’s nothing quite like owning it.
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as knowing absolutely nothing about anything and yet determined to know anything about everything.
And this is her…this is me…
I’m confident because I’ve been less than confident.
I’m confident because I’ve been walked all over, taken advantage of, and whispered sweet nothings to with nothing but heartache in return.
I’m confident because I know what I want in life, who I want in life, and how I want life to be. Because I’ve had the rest…the other…the settled for.
I’m confident because not a single person in this world is going to be able to tell you all the things you need to hear that you are…not until you believe them yourself. 
I’m confident because I’m insecure. I’m shaking on the inside but I can’t dare let it show on the outside because, well, I know how that turns out…and it goes absolutely no where.
I’m confident…but I am exactly like every other woman out there….
I’m vulnerable, insecure, contagiously zealous, unknowingly jealous, comparative, and sassy.
But I am kind, I am quiet, and I am undoubtedly in love with the only Being in the entire universe who knows the depths of my heart, the good and the ugly, and what my confidence really is—Jesus.
If not for Him, and knowing my worth within His hands of warmth and love, I’d wear my insecurities on my sleeve, and my heart would certainly be one of stone.
This woman you think I am…she scares me. This is so true.
The woman I actually am…she wants to love you, laugh with you, be goofy with you.
She wants the fun and chaos, but she wants the depth of meaningful conversations.
She hates small talk and no, it doesn’t mean she knows more than you, it simply means she feels deeply, thinks widely, and her horizons are limitless.
This woman, she is confident. But never, ever, forget that she is exactly like you.
She’s just a woman trying to make it in a sea of people, with little hands that tug on her shirt, dirt under her fingernails, and the world, literally, at her fingertips.
She intimidates me…she intimidates you…and it’s only because we wish we were exactly like her…the thought of her.
The reality, however, is that we are exactly her…at exactly the right time…in exactly the right space. And the rest of the time, when we’re a mess of runny mascara, broken hearts, lost battles, and spilled sippy cup chaos…in the middle of imperfection? Well, that’s where my sweet Jesus takes the front seat, and whispers softly, “you are the daughter of a King…”
Embrace it, sweet girl. And next time, when you see her—that friend, that co-worker, that blogger—don’t judge her….smile at her. Because after the confidence, she’s a puddle of mush just waiting for the next saving grace to scoop her up and love her to pieces. She’s waiting for the reminder that she’s just like everyone else…she’s exactly like you…

Why I Don’t Use the Folk Method For Making Tinctures

Out of all the things I teach people when it comes to herbalism, this is the one thing that I teach the most. Some days I get a stank eye and get told I have no idea what I’m talking about. Other days, I see the light bulb come on, and it makes complete and total sense. And, honestly, why wouldn’t it?
What am I talking about?

Glad you asked.

Let’s rip the band-aid off, because there’s no other way.

I don’t use the folk method for making herbal tinctures. 

 
That’s right. Gasps everywhere. The holy grail and 90% of the internet tell us to make tinctures by using the folk method, but I simply don’t find it as reliable as the method that I use. And honestly, my family isn’t a guinea pig for me to guess how much, or how little, is needed in a tincture.
As I study to become a Master Herbalist, the courses I’ve chosen are scientific and evidence based learning structures. We go through real life clinical studies done by doctors that believe in herbalism, and even doctors that don’t. Even the great James Green himself admits that the folk method isn’t as reliable. And here’s why…

Let me first start by saying that using the folk method isn’t wrong. Yes, absolutely, it has its uses. It’s the most widely used method for a reason. But I fear that reason is simply because it’s the most commonly known from a “folk” standard. Its easy and referred to by herbalists that have grown into herbalism through wild crafted schools. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, sometimes we have to challenge what we’ve always done if we want to achieve greater results.
Because herblism isn’t monitored by any government entity, it means that just about anyone can become an herbalist. But I wanted more when I started this journey. I didn’t just want to hope something worked, I wanted to know it would work.
Enter side stage: science…
 
Yes, science. Sorry to burst your bubble. Believe it or not, if the Egyptians can create an entire materia medica journal (and more) in 1535 B.C. with detailed anatomy of the human body far advanced for their civilization, then we most certainly can take advantage of our God given brains that allow us to do research and expand our knowledge about the human body and botany from a scientific standpoint.
Right? Right…
When making a tincture with the folk method, you are often times instructed to fill a jar 1/4 of the way with your choice of herb, and then fill the jar the rest of the way up with your alcohol of choice (typically vodka), or glycerin. You leave a headspace, voila, you’re done. Your tincture will set for 4-6 weeks, shake it a couple times a day, leave it in a dark place (poor tincture)….you get it.
While these types of tinctures can be highly effective, and have been for centuries,  there’s no way to tell how much of the herb is actually being extracted.
You see, the issue is that dense herbs look like a lot less than herbs that aren’t as dense. Take the above photo, for instance. All of these herbs have been weighed out to 1 ounce, and yet, they all look like completely different measurements.

This is why I prefer the weight to volume ratio of making a tincture.

This isn’t something new. Making tinctures using the weight to volume method has always been quite common, but for some reason, not as quick to rise to fame and glory. This is most likely because many wild foragers had to make their tinctures in the field using fresh herbs. We don’t do that much anymore either, because it’s best to use dried or wilted herbs (less water extraction).
Using a weight to volume ratio allows me to know what, exactly, is in this tincture, and the exact amount that I should be giving to my family and friends when it comes to medicinal compounds that have been extracted.
Often times, we make herbal remedies and become discouraged because they simply don’t work. Could it be that it’s actually us that is the issue?
When we choose not to measure out our herbs and liquids, we will consistently get a different extraction each time. Not only that, but we can severely overdose, or under dose, with the folk method as well—causing bad reactions, or no reaction at all.
So, how do we make a tincture using the weight to volume method? Very easily…
A typical tincture of dried herbs is used with a 1:5 or (up to) 1:10 ratio (herb:liquid) and 80-100 proof vodka, or glycerin.
A tincture using fresh herbs is used with a 1:2 or up to 1:5 ratio and 100 proof vodka. This is because fresh herbs will release more moisture, causing a risk of your tincture to go rancid. The higher proof vodka and a smaller ratio will even out your moisture that is released.

Tincture measurement examples:

1 ounce of dried herb to 5 ounces of liquid (1:5).
3 ounces of dried herb to 15 ounces of liquid (because 3×5 [1:5] is 15 — therefore 1:5 = 3:15)
3 ounces of fresh herb to 6 ounces of liquid (because 3×2 [1:2] is 6 — 1:2 = 3:6)
Once you have made your tincture mixture, cap it tightly, place it in a cool dark place (without much temperature fluctuation) for 4-6 weeks, shaking a couple of times each day. When your tincture is ready, strain the herbs out, bottle the remaining liquid into a brown glass eyedropper bottle, and store it in your medicine cabinet (dark place) or refrigerator for 18-24 months or more. If kept in your fridge, it can last much longer. It all depends on the environment around you. Some tinctures can last 5+ years.
Because we know the exact ratio of herb that was extracted, we can now confidently dose our loved ones, knowing that more likely than not, our creation will work. The only thing you have to worry about now is upping the dosage if you need to combat an issue more aggressively, rather than making an entirely new tincture because it simply wasn’t strong enough to begin with.
Herbal medicine really is so much fun to learn about. I encourage you to seek out all kinds of information while doing so. And don’t be afraid to look past the folk norm in order to seek out a better one.
We were blessed with knowledge so that we could exceed what we’ve known in the past. Some people use that for bad big-pharma creations, while others use it to further explore the lost art of herbalism and how nature and botany collide with the human body to make beautiful things.
In everything, we must remember that in the end, herbalism isn’t God. But we sure can strive to do things in the most efficient ways with one of the most amazing tools that He’s given us—herbs.

Spicy Eggs, Bacon and Kale

Our chickens lay consistently throughout the Spring and Summer. I am so happy to have those glorious dark yellow/orange yolks back in our lives again each and every Spring. I’ll admit, I’m a pretty simple soul when it comes to eggs. Give me a little seasoning and hot sauce and I’m good to go.
But sometimes I’ll get a little more down in the nitty gritty and throw together some actual recipes. One of my personal favorites is spicy eggs, bacon, and kale.
This recipe is all over the internet, but it’s something that has been in my life for years. No recipe is really required, it’s all by taste!

SPICY EGGS, BACON AND KALE

6 slices of thick cut bacon, roughly chopped (we use homegrown! No nitrates added)

1 small sweet onion, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 bunches kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped

1 ½ cup chicken stock

4 farm fresh eggs (aka, chicken butt nuggets)

2 tsp. black pepper

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Fry bacon pieces in a large skillet (cast iron preferred) until crispy. Remove from skillet, leaving drippings.
  2. Cook onions and garlic in bacon grease until opaque. Add additional oil if necessary.
  3. Add bunches of kale, half at a time as space in skillet allows.
  4. Add chicken stock and let simmer until kale is soft; about 5 minutes.
  5. Create four small wells in the kale and crack one egg into each well.
  6. Season entire mixture with black pepper, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice.
  7. Cover pan and allow eggs to cook until desired doneness. Turn off heat immediately, sprinkle on bacon, and serve.
And that, my friends, is how you have an incredible breakfast.

This recipe and article originally appeared in a 2016 issue of The Piedmont Virginian Magazine, written by Amy Fewell.

Weekly Devotion | Words & Passions

We are quick to use our words when we are annoyed, disappointed, and angered. We also use our words worse when we’ve lost our passion or lack goals. In today’s devotional, we’re going to talk about all of that! From homemaking, work, and friendships…finding your passion in Christ is the best answer!

Watch today’s devotional …

Don’t Leave Your Family Behind…

I love gardening. I love my chickens and the warm egg in my pocket on a crisp fall day. I love picking tomatoes off of a dew dripping vine. I love the process of adding new and exciting animals to our homestead, hopefully soon to include a dairy cow. All in good time. We’ll see.

My brain goes 100 mph each and every day.

I love this life. But you know what I love more?

my family…

I am absolutely in love with my family.

I am absolutely nothing without them. I couldn’t do this without them and their support. I would literally have no real reason to want to be here without them. Homestead in one hand, family in the other….I’d choose family every single time.

I love the little boy giggles in the morning, when he crawls into my bed with just his cute little boy underwear on because, well, I just can’t keep clothes on him most days. That white skin, though. It sure is bright first thing in the morning.

I love the touch of my husband, when he wraps his arms around me and kisses my shoulder while I’m washing dishes. I love how boyishly playful he can still be when he expresses his love to this woman that he married over a decade ago. I love how hard working he is, how dedicated he is, how strong he is.

But there are days when I become distracted. This or that needs to be done, or my life revolves around a farm animal or project, writing a book, researching until my heart is content. And, my family goes to the wayside.

And it’s then that I remind myself of these words…don’t leave your family behind for homesteading.

 

You have 18 summers with your children. Only 18 summers. In my case, I only have 10 more left. Just 10 more summers left. My heart aches.

There’s no telling how long your spouse will be around. You may only have 3 more years, or maybe it’s 30. But who can tell? Though, I pray mine lives for at least 60 more years.

Take the vacation…

Take a weekend and camp at the river…

Take a day trip and enjoy quality time with your family…

There will always be animals to feed, milk, and care for.  There will always be a garden that needs weeding and vegetables that need canning, bread that needs baking and a house that needs cleaning. But there will not always be a family that needs tending to.

In the homesteading world, you make connections with people locally, even family, that can tend to your farm while you’re away. People who would gladly barter for the milk they milk, the eggs they collect, and the vegetables they pick while you’re way. The farm will be fine, if you can let go of the reins a bit. It will all be ok.

And if you can’t financially make it happen, then the amount of quality time you spend with your family is equally as important, even if it’s right in your own home. Play the game. Tell the jokes. Roast the marshmallows.

As homesteaders, we believe in a better quality of life. We believe in living a natural lifestyle. That doesn’t mean we believe in leaving our family behind while we go and live it.

Love your babies. Love your husband. Make them feel special. Because you have a limited amount of time with your family. Make the pancakes your kids want in the morning. Stretch your time a bit and play that card game they’ve been begging you to play. Instead of rushing out to do chores, sit a little longer with your husband who’s just come in from a long day of work. And when he says, “let’s get away”, smile and say, without hesitation “ok”.

And we did…we went right down to that river right behind our house. And we loved being a family…

Don’t leave your family behind for homesteading. Because your family needs you more than anything else in the world. You, mama. Just you.

The Announcement You’ve Been Waiting For

When I was in high school I had multiple research papers and book reports that were due. They were normally the most in depth and horrid thing for a teenager, but I absolutely loved them. Back then, you wrote your book report with a pencil and paper. You’d erase your mistakes by hand, bringing your pencil up to your chin, wondering how to replace that sentence with a better one full of imagery. Or, maybe that was just me. Maybe I was the only teenager who did that.
None-the-less, I remember handing in a book report one day, and shortly after I’d handed it in, it had already been scored. I went to a small Christian school in high school—only about 30 kids in total. So when someone got called up to the front, you’d hear just about everything that teacher had to say.
It was one of the very last book reports I’d ever do in high school, and I really wanted it to be done well.
As I walked up to the front to collect my graded paper, she peered over her glasses and quietly said, “Amy, you have a gift for writing, you’re going to be an author one day.”
She smiled.
I had a blank stare.
She had a way of building us kids up. The head of all teachers, the woman who would let you know you were out of line in a heartbeat, but who was gentle enough to cheer you on in love and grace.
At first I believed every word that flowed from her lips, but soon doubt crept in and the instant gratification high was gone.
Her words have stayed with me ever since…and that brings me to that big announcement you’ve all been waiting for…

This week, I signed my very first book contract with a real publisher.
A publisher who is well known in the world of outdoor living and homesteading books. A publisher that I connected with instantly. A publisher that my best friend, when hearing me talk about them, said, “I don’t know, Amy, something about this just feels right.”
It helps to have friends who are logical enough to tell you when something is just a bad deal or a good deal, but who are absolutely there to pray for you and with you, and who heed the Holy Spirit…that still small voice inside.
I can’t tell you, in detail, what the book is about just yet. That will come in the next month or so when we release the cover and begin pre-sale and marketing. But I can absolutely tell you that it’s about homesteading, real life modern homesteading, and herbs. You know how much I love my herbs. This is the book I wish I could’ve read when I first started my journey.
It is so much more than just homesteading and herbs…
But, that’s all I can tell you for now!
More than anything, however, I want to tell you how this came about. Because honestly, it happened so quickly that if I would’ve blinked, I would have missed it all.
If you’ve been following my journey for any amount of time, you know that back at the beginning of the year I was offered a book deal for this book. Actually, I had pitched a generational family cookbook, but no one was interested in that. Failure number one.
A publisher asked me if I had another book rolling around inside, and so I sent the beginning stages of this book. They immediately approved it and made an offer. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t connecting with them. Even though friends of mine had published through them successfully, I just didn’t feel like it was a good deal for me. Not to sound snobbish, but, I knew there was more out there. I knew I brought value to the table through my experience of more than a decade in the media industry, and through Homesteaders of America, and so, I declined the deal.
Yep, you read that right, I declined it. I said I’m sorry and I walked away from it.
The things people said to me were just, well, most of them weren’t nice or said with good intention.
I had people ask why I thought so highly of myself not to take the deal. I had others tell me I’d never get a better deal being a first time author with no experience. That no experience thing always got me. I’ve been writing, professionally, not just a blog, for years.
I had others mock me, call me a liar (they didn’t think the offer was actually made), and more.
This happens online. Honestly, you must have some type of thick enough skin to not let it get to you, but be gentle enough to love people right where they are.
To  be honest, after that experience of the first deal going wrong, I had talked myself out of that book. I didn’t think it was right for me because I didn’t get what I was expecting from that experience. Also, I was simply just too busy to worry with it.
I ended up connecting with an agency for Christian living publications and began working on a book proposal about homemaking. But still, the herb book was in the back of my mind. As I would cut my herbs to feed to the chickens, or roast potatoes with fresh herbs from the garden this Spring, still, the book was there.
So imagine my surprise when I opened my email at the beginning of June (that’s how recent this all went down!), and noticed an email from two different publishers—the publisher that I chose, and Storey Publishing. That’s right, you read that right, Storey Publishing. But you also read it right that I did not choose Storey Publishing.
I still wonder if I’m crazy for that. I still wonder if I should’ve thought about it more, but sometimes you just can’t over think it. You have to go with where you feel the Lord leading you. And He was leading me to someone else…the second publisher…and here’s why…
I was holding onto the truth that there was more out there for me, someone I could connect with. I had made a decision not to go with the first publisher that came my way. And don’t you know, I got a better deal…and I connected with this publisher on so many levels.
Because I waited patiently, I got exactly what I wanted, what I knew I was worth.
I didn’t even know these two new publishers were interested in my book. I had sent them the proposal quite a long time ago, and now suddenly, here they were, ready to pitch it and make offers. And I was over here like, uhhh.
Just as quickly as I received the emails, I received an offer from the publisher that I signed on with. We spoke by phone. We connected. We laughed. And when I asked her what set them apart from other publishers, she answered…We like to tell stories. We like to educate people on a personal level, from real life experiences, not just a long research paper. We want someone to feel something when they read our books.
 
Bam. Sold. Just like that. That’s what I had been waiting for. Story tellers…Depth…Feeling…
Everything in between was blurry, but I know that it’s a good move. And I’m excited beyond belief. But also, I’m about to become a hermit. And I tell you that so that you know I haven’t disappeared, I’m simply consumed until September!
Ya’ll, I have so many words to write before my manuscript is turned in by SEPTEMBER! That’s right, I only have about 8 weeks to create an entire handbook—words and photographs. But I believe I’m up for the challenge. And I know you’ll enjoy it so much, and the pretty photos too!
The book will be launching in Spring 2018, just in time for gardening season! So make sure you keep checking back to see when pre-sales are up. If you aren’t already subscribed to my e-newsletter, that’s a fabulous way to get reminders about what’s happening over here.
Thank you for following my journey. Thank you for cheering me on as I go. Thank you for your love and inspiration.
Thank you…
I’m still working on my Christian living book proposals! Don’t worry. Maybe we’ll tackle that next year 😉
But for now, I write!

He Justifies Us

When we walk through struggles like divorce, loss of friendships, financial distress, death of a loved one, and more, we are often quick to ask “why me” or “why is this happening?” We are quick to justify ourselves, telling others how good we are, how things like these shouldn’t happen. But what does scripture say about it all? Today, we’ll talk about it and discover exactly what God may be showing us in the midst of our struggles.

Watch it here

Quick and Easy Prepper Backpack and Tools

We aren’t doom and gloom people. Let’s just start with that.
However, we are smart and educated, and we know that at any time a natural disaster, government fall out, civil war, or nuclear warfare could happen. That’s just something that’s possible anywhere in the world. Therefore, we choose to be prepared to a certain extent, without being fearful.
You won’t find rooms full of 5 gallon food storage buckets in our home, but you will find two backpacks and an in home prepper kit that sit in an easily accessible location. Because the reality is, whether you have to pick up and go, or you are trapped in your home until help comes or water resides, being prepared is just plain smart.
There are some things in life that are just easier to have other people do for you. A prepper bag is great, but it can be extremely expensive to put together a prepper backpack. Not to mention, time consuming. And, where do you even begin?
In today’s busy world, I wanted to take care of this portion of life for my family, but I didn’t even know where to begin. So I reached out to our friends at Preparewise Products, and they helped me out tremendously.
Even more than that, however, I was able to purchase a product that I needed, but I was also able to add my own products into the kits. We’ll go over that after we walk through the kits we received.

The Bug Out Bag

The first kit we received was the Premium 2-Person Survival Off Grid Bug Out Bag. What a lifesaver, and a money saver. There were things in this bag that I didn’t have to buy or pay shipping on for multiple things. It can take a lot of time to prepare a bug-out bag, and a whole lot of money. You can save hundreds of dollars by ordering (free shipping!) this pre-made bug-out kit.
Many of the products within the kit are good, quality products. The tool kits alone would cost you a fortune. There are over 30 different products in this kit, including food and water rations for two people.

Here’s what it includes

  • 1 – Tactical Backpack with built-in Water Pouch
  • 1 – CREE Tactical Flashlight
  • 1 – 174 Pc First Aid Kit
  • 2 – Food Bars – 3600 Calories
  • 12 – Water Pouches
  • 3 – AAA Batteries
  • 1 – Work Gloves
  • 1 – Fire Bracelet
  • 1 – Credit Card Knife
  • 2 – ThermaSave Sleeping Bag
  • 2 – HeatStore Blanket
  • 2 – Hand Warmer
  • 2 – Vinyl Poncho
  • 1 – 2 Person Dome Tent
  • 2 – Light Stick
  • 1 – 5 in 1 Survival Whistle
  • 1 – 5mm x 50′ Rope, Olive Green
  • 1 – Duct Tape
  • 1 – Work Gloves
  • 1 – Multitool Knife
  • 1 – Playing Cards
  • 1 – GI Can Opener
  • 1 – Emergency Preparedness Guide
  • 1 – Pencil
  • 1 – Weatherproof Zip Bag
  • 1 – Candles-6 Pack
  • 1 – Waterproof Matches
  • 1 – GI Can Opener
  • 1 – Mountain Meal Mess Kit
  • 2 – ThermaFuel
  • 1 – Bobcat Stove
  • 2 – Spork
  • 1 – Folding Saw
  • 1 – Folding Shovel
It was an incredible relief off of my shoulders to be able to order one of these (it’s a 2 person kit!) for us, and still have room to add a few more things if necessary. Which of course, I did. We have 2 backpacks that we keep, because we also have our child. But this backpack is superior in all ways. It is durable, efficient, and let’s face it—we saved hundreds not only in product, but in time and shipping as well. I wouldn’t have even thought of half of these things for a bug-out bag.

So what did I add to the bag? Glad you asked…

  • Essential Oils Kit
    While a first aid kit is fine and dandy, what about the hard reality that there could be zero medical care within a 20 mile walking radius? What then? With the Family Essentials Kit, there are my top 10 go-to EOs included in the kit—Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Melaleuca, Oregano, Frankincense, and blends like Deep Blue, Breathe, DigestZen, and On Guard. These oils have different things that they help with, obviously, but overall it supports the immune system, inflammation, anti-septic, respiratory, natural purifier, natural antibiotic. I also add two other very important EOs to this kit that I have to buy separately—Helichrysum (stops bleeding) and Thyme (infections/bacteria). This is a great package to just purchase, drop into your bag, and leave it alone. EOs can last up to 15 years or more, what a beneficial thing to have in a bug out bag! If you’re serious about prepping, you can learn more about these oils HERE and get discounted pricing through me.
  • Medications & Vitamins — Remembering to take your meds and vitamins with you is essential. Thankfully, we aren’t on any medications. But we do take vitamins, and when in a crisis situation, you want vitamins when there’s no telling when you’ll be eating next.
  • Lifestraw Mini-Filtration System — Because clean water is serious business.
  • Personal things that help us feel comfortable, like little candies, extra clothing, soap bar, brush, feel good items we can bring with us that are small.
  • Homemade Bug Spray — I use the THIS repellent blend and apply directly to the skin. It’s a lifesaver, my friends, and all  natural, too.
  • Personal and Feminine Hygiene — Toothbrush, mouthwash, feminine hygiene products like the Diva Cup, etc.
  • Probiotics — Preparewise has a sister company called Silver Fern Brand, and we were able to get some of the most amazing Probiotics I’ve ever tried. We use these probiotics often, and in fact, they saved us from one of the nastiest stomach bugs we’ve ever had not that long ago.
  • An Extra Back Pack — We love the backpack that the kit came with, but we do keep an extra one just in case we need to split the backpack up. While the backpack is durable, it’s heavy with all of the product in it for two people. We bought military grade backpacks for this reason. This was a personal preference on back back brand and product, but these military grade ones that we bought are over $35 each. We bought 2 of them. They are more durable that the backpack that came with the kit, but the kit backpack is still fabulous.
We could add other things to this list, but ultimately, now that the necessities are taken care of, you’ll really need to adjust the bags to your own family. The most important things are already in the bag, now, you just tailor it to your personal needs.

The Bug In Kit

While the bug out bag is amazing, and we could use it for a bug-in situation, I really wanted to find a good bug-in kit as well. What if we have to bug in and THEN bug out. Yikes, I don’t want to use my bug out kit up before I even have to bug out!
In this case, the Disaster Sanitation Survival Bug In Kit  really helped me out a lot. Not only that, but it’s a great product to have in a disaster relief situation. This product is great for people who live in city dwellings (we don’t) and locations that are often scorn by natural disasters.

Here’s What It Includes

  • 1 – Extra Sturdy Toilet Box
  • 1 – Toilet Sanitation Pack
  • 1 – Folding Aluminum Bobcat Stove
  • 6 – ThermaFuel 4-Hour Burn Canisters
  • 1 – 1 L Tristan BPA Free Bottle
  • 1 – 15 Inch Pry Bar
  • 1 – 4 in 1 Emergency Tool
  • 1 – Dynamo Radio/Flashlight/Charger
  • 1 – 6-Pack Emergency Candles
  • 1 – Waterproof Match Set
  • 2 – GI Can Opener
  • 1 – 4 pack Spork Utensils
  • 1 – Folding 1 L Water Container
  • 5 – Water Purification Tablet w/instructions
  • 1 – 60 pc. Advanced First Aid Kit(15 bandages 3/8″x1.5″, 15 bandages .75″x3″, 2 Sterile Sponge Dressings 2″x2″, 6 Antiseptic Towelettes, 2 Butterfly Closures, 10 Cotton Tip Applicators, 3 Safety Pins), 2 Foldable N95 Masks, 1 Self Stick Bandage
  • 2 – Light Stick
  • 1 – 5 in 1 Survival Whistle
  • 1 – 50 Ft 5mm Survival Rope
  • 1 – Roll of Duct Tape
  • 1 – Pair of Utility Gloves
  • 1 – Multitool Knife
  • 1 – Deck of Playing Cards
  • 1 – Deluxe Hygiene Kit (2 toothbrushes, 1 toothpaste tube, 1 Comb, 1 Razor, 1 bar of soap, 1 shampoo, 1 shaving cream, 2 feminine pads, 1 washcloth, 1 Small Sewing Kit, 1 hand sanitizer, 1 Toilet Paper Roll)
  • 1 – Emgcy. Prep. Guide in Waterproof Zip Bag with pencil
This kit is a really fabulous kit for people who live in apartments or in town. Out here in the country, we already know how to deal with bug-in situations. We experience them often during harsh weather. But if you’re in the city or an apartment high rise, I cannot stress this kit to you enough. It’s really a fabulous option to have, and the comfort it will give you is priceless.
Even with living in the country, it’s nice to have a kit like this all ready to go in one box so that you aren’t trying to find everything you need around the house.
While bug-in kits are great, there are other things that are equally as important to bugging in—such as having a stocked pantry, plenty or bottled water, and things that you can purchase monthly at your grocery store. This kit gives you necessities, but it can’t give you a stocked pantry and medical cabinet. Those things are completely up to you and are equally as important.
Preparewise has several products and kits you can choose from. Some are more pricey than others, but what it boils down to is having something that’s quick and easy to purchase, stick in a closet, and then take out when you’re ready. You’re able to save money on products and shipping, and the peace of mind that it brings to you is irreplaceable. Not to mention, you aren’t spending weeks and months putting something together that you could need tomorrow.
Many people are just now starting to see the importance of these types of kits, and with the urgency they feel, they simply never put a kit together because it becomes too overwhelming. Preparewise took all of that stress and overwhelming feeling away for me and placed in my hands two amazing kits that I could further personalize now that the necessities are taken care of.
I encourage you to consider adding these products to your list of things to purchase, or at least try and put one together yourself.
Overall, we’ve been extremely pleased with these two kits and I cannot recommend them enough! The entire process was seemingly flawless, and we had our kits in just a few days!
To learn more, visit the Preparewise and Silver Fern Brand websites.
To learn more about a holistic approach with Essential Oils, please reach out to me!
I’d love to help you.

Homesteading; It Takes a Village

The new “self”-sufficiency movement has taken over the country and the world. From state to state, continent to continent, the word “self-sufficiency” and “homesteader” are now common terms that most people have heard at some point or another. The question, however, is often asked — What is a Homesteader? or What is the definition of self-sufficient?
 
When in reality, I think the question should really be, What’s the Process of Becoming These Things?
 
In fact, looking back through history, you might be surprised to realize that “self”sufficiency wasn’t really even popular unless you were mountain folk. And even then, it still didn’t mean what you think it did. Quite often, it wasn’t “self” at all. Homesteading?…..it took a village. It took a community. Or at least a few families.
You can open any history book and learn about living off the land. In fact, the term “self-sufficiency” is a more modern term that people use. Often times, people think it means completely relying on yourself for all of your needs, but when we think about it, how contradictory is that to history? If you’re a Christian, it’s absolutely contradictory to the Bible. I think we simply keep shooting ourselves in the foot when we understand self-sufficiency to mean that we’d never have to depend on someone else for our needs. Preposterous!

Throughout history, villages, towns, tribes, and families depended on one another to make it through life. Just take a look at our ancestors from the Great Depression. The ones who survived? They made it through because it literally took a village.

While their lives weren’t necessarily at the mercy of another person’s grip (that’s a fabulous visual of self-sufficiency), they did have to barter, trade, and work with one another in order to share harvests and to have certain things that they needed or couldn’t grow on their own land.

Just as society is now, they all had different gifts and talents to offer, different things that grew better on their land, while also having some knowledge of the same skill sets that they were born with (knowing how to wild forage, for example). Some people had more land than others, therefore growing more to sell and trade with their community. While others were dealt cards in life that left them in difficult situations, causing them to have to live within the community or city completely—working for their living, with little space to garden or raise animals.

Locals gather on the porch of the post office in the small town of Nethers in Madison County, VA 1935. || Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress LC-DIG-fsa-8b26683

Life isn’t much different now.

I could live on 10 acres of land, but I may not have the time to grow enough wheat for my family each year. The beauty of that is that I can go to the store to buy wheat, or, I can depend on a fellow homesteader or farmer who does have the time and space to grow enough wheat, and then some. Or, maybe my neighbor grows a garden and wild forages, she preserves her food and she’s good for the winter. But maybe she doesn’t have the ability to harvest meat or eggs from her homestead. Well then, come right on over, I’ve got you covered! We can barter with eggs and meat for sacks of flour or wheat.

It doesn’t mean I’m mooching off of someone or being lazy—it means that I’m leaning on my community, and guess what, my community leans on me too. That’s the beauty of it all.

The Dodson family at home in the small community of Old Rag in Page County VA before they were relocated, 1935 || Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress LC-USF34-T01-000541

Homesteading and self-sufficiency were never terms that were used to isolate. If you isolate yourself completely, you may not survive. You may survive for an amount of time, but what about when you get sick or need a doctor? Or at least someone that can help you recuperate. What happens when a drought hits and you can’t grow anything? What happens when you’re in the dead of winter and you run out of lard or butter? What happens when your milk cow or goat dries up and your baby is crying and you need that milk? I highly doubt most people would throw their hands up and say, “well, I’ll just deal with it.” No, indeed. They would lean on their fellow man for help, as long as they aren’t too prideful.

You could rely on a food stashed pantry or the likes thereof, but even then, you still need something from someone, even if it’s just community. And eventually, that pantry runs dry.

Certainly, there are exceptions. There are those people who go missing and live in the wild for decades on their own. There are mountain men who you never see. But is that really realistic for millions of people who want to start homesteading? Probably not.

Young farm boys cradling wheat on a farm near Sperryville in Rappahannock County, VA 1936. || Dorothea Lange / Library of Congress LC-USF34-009368

The moral of the story is, homesteading does, indeed, take a village. It takes hands that are willing to work, not just to survive on their own, but for others as well. Whether that looks like going to the store, patronizing your local farmer or homesteader, raising more than you need to help others, lending a helping hand during harvest, bartering for goods and services, or living in a community of like minded individuals.

When you begin your journey into homesteading, or to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle, going into this realizing that it’s ok to buy goods from the farmer’s market or your local farmer is completely liberating. Knowing that you can’t grow everything on your homestead, unless you take up being a vegetarian and veganism, or you change your diet to consume things seasonally (which is possible), is liberating. Maybe you’ll have to buy flour, wheat, oil, medical supplies, paper products, rags, clothing, gasoline. It could be any number of things. Big or small. But at some point, you’re going to have to have to step off your property and barter or buy something from someone. Or maybe you’ll be the one offering help.

That’s why we were put here, after all. To help, to grow, to learn.

The number one reason people stop homesteading is because they’ve been given a false reality that they have to do it all. But in a westernized culture, getting back to our roots overnight isn’t a possible task. It takes years, decades, centuries. We’ve lost entire generations that knew how to do this, and yet they still took the time to dress up and go into town to chew the fat with their neighbors and towns people on the front porch of an Old Country Store, or to buy a sack of wheat. Boys who’d run through fields without shoes on, yes, without shoes on—they are rare to find now days. We’ve lost children who are respectful and who know the meaning of hard work before they are 5. We’ve lost men who want to work hard, get their hands dirty, and provide for their families. They’ve forgotten how to hunt and fish. And we’ve lost women who know that being in the kitchen and the garden or field isn’t oppressive, but necessary, and rewarding, and full of satisfaction.

In order to get back to our roots, we’re all learning together. We’re learning from each other, from our ancestors, from history books—and we all bring something to the table in talent, skill, and growth.

Don’t lose out on that. Don’t isolate yourself because that’s what you think you’re “supposed” to do. Because I assure you, you’ll miss out on so much goodness and education from your community. And one day,  you just may have to call on them when you’re in need.

More than anything, however, is that we’re leaving behind a legacy for future generations. Let’s not teach them that they have to isolate themselves in order to do it the “right” way.

 

For more Great Depression photos and stories from my area of Virginia, click here

 

8 Common Chicken Illnesses & How to Treat Them

 

It happens to everyone at some point or another. You go and start your flock with a few chickens—everything in life is happy and grand. And then one day, you walk outside to a dead bird, a sick bird, or a “what the heck is wrong with it” bird. That’s when the death emotion sinks in and you think you’re a failure at chicken keeping.

The reality is that sick or hurt chickens can happen to just about anyone. Of course, there are certainly things you can do to prevent illness and mishaps. Today we’ll talk about some of the common chicken illnesses and hurts, and also, how to treat them effectively.

 

First thing’s first—you need to understand that chickens are prey animals. Meaning, they can be sick and hurt long before ever showing symptoms of being so. This is why monthly (and even weekly) animal checks are important. Look over each and every chicken as often as possible for you on your homestead. For us, at one point, we had a lot of chickens. It wasn’t possible to check them all over in one week. So we did monthly checks.
Next, you’ll need to figure out how you want to treat animals on your homestead—chemically or holistically? Or both, when it comes right down to it.
We are not strictly “holistic” here. If holistic methods don’t work, I certainly go for the chemical method, or cull. However, all of the methods in today’s blog are about holistic treatment. I always try hard to use my herbs and essential oils first.
We are a working homestead. Therefore, sometimes it’s better to cut our losses than throw $50+ into a $10-$25 chicken. It just doesn’t add up for us to do that. We certainly keep things on hand if something goes wrong, but for a single incident? Absolutely not. Culling is our choice when all else fails within reason.
Prevention Is Key

If you take nothing else away from this blog, please take away this. Prevention on your homestead is essential. The bulk of things that go wrong with your chickens could have been prevented or at least counteracted.

So, how do you prevent illnesses in your chickens?
 
 
Give Them A Healthy Diet
Make sure they have all the nutrients they need. Skip the GMO feed if you can. Organic is certainly best, but not possible for some incomes.
Add Supplements to Their Feed
This is a really ideal way to help prevent disease and illness in your flock. I highly suggest adding things such as dried/powdered garlic, Diatomaceous Earth (DE), Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS), Oregano, and Turmeric into their feed and diet as much as possible. Oregano is a natural antibiotic. Garlic aids in immune health and is antibacterial. DE is a natural wormer. BOSS adds extra protein to your chickens diet, and also aids in digestion. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and also aids in aches and pains, purifies blood, aids respiratory health, and strengthens the immune system. I would say out of everything, garlic, turmeric, and oregano are my top picks to put into their feed on a regular basis.
Add Apple Cider Vinegar to their Water
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) helps alkalize the body in any living being. It’s also great for gut and crop health in chickens because it’s filled with wonderful probiotics and has anti-fungal properties. I do not suggest adding ACV to water during the hot months, as it can actually cause them to over heat more in the summer time.
Fresh Herbs and Snacks

Growing your own chicken garden isn’t always the easiest, but when you can set aside time to dry herbs (or order them online), and add it into their feed, you’ll see your chickens health improve dramatically. Herbs and snacks such as garlic, oregano, thyme, marigolds, dandelions, violets, chickweed, red raspberry leaf, elderberry (dried), and autumn olive berry are great, wild grown options for your flock. Some of these things you can find right in your own backyard. Others you can forage for. And still, others, you can grow yourself or order large bags of online here.
Pumpkin seeds and DE in their feed are also great options, and help prevent worms in your chickens digestive tract.

Keep Essential Oils On Hand
Essential oils are a very quick alternative to harsh chemicals. We’ve healed many a chicken strictly with Oregano and Melaleuca! You can find out more about EOs HERE.

Make Sure Their Forage Area and Coop is Safe
Ultimately, some things happen because of unsafe living areas. Whether it’s a predator attack, or a hen getting her leg caught in some contraption—do a check on your barn, coop, and foraging areas often. Rid these areas of any potential safety hazards for your flock and yourself.
Illnesses and Treatment

Now that we have the prevention part of this equation down, lets get right down to the nitty gritty. You’re probably reading this blog because you need help right here and now. You now know how to help prevent illness, but that doesn’t help you right in this moment if your chicken is ill or in pain. Here are some common ailments and the the treatments for them.

Lice and Mites —

We had our first run in with lice about 6 months into our chicken journey when we bought lice infested chickens from someone we thought we knew well, but in fact, were stuck with sick chickens. I made the mistake of treating them chemically, and almost ended up in the hospital myself. After their first treatment, I learned of a much better way to continue treating them (as they need to be treated for an entire month).

Lice and mites transmit from other birds. However, if left long enough, can become an epidemic and kill your chickens by feeding on their blood supply. It takes awhile to get to that point, which is how we knew the chickens had lice before they arrived here (and none of my other flock had them, but had to be treated still). Should you find yourself with an anemic chicken, raw red meat in his/her diet is essential to get their iron levels back up.

The safest and best treatment: Dusting your chickens (very carefully) with wood ash and/or DE will rid them of any parasites that are currently on them. You’ll need to make sure you are dusting them right down to the skin, where these parasites live. You can add DE and wood ash to a special dust bathing area for the remainder of the month, so that they can dust themselves after the first initial  dusting. Or you can continue dusting them individually once a week. In fact, you should do this as a preventative at all times (the regular dust bath). Treating for one month ensures that you catch all of the eggs that have hatched since the first initial treatment. You’ll also need to clean out the entire coop and dust with DE.

Scaly Leg Mites —

Scaly leg mites are very similar in transmittal as lice and mites for chickens. However, I have read some pretty crazy “treatments” online for it. Someone even suggested you douse the legs in gasoline or kerosene. Please, do not do that.

The safest and best treatment: Soak your chickens legs in a warm water bath with dish liquid. Scrub their legs with a toothbrush to help loosen any dying scales. Dry and slather both legs and feet with a thick oil such as coconut oil, neem oil, or olive oil. This will help smoother the mites and allow for quicker growth of new scales. Add this oil to the legs of the chickens for at least 4 weeks, once or twice a week. Offering the same DE and wood ash dust bath to your chickens is also essential. You’ll also need to clean out the entire coop, dust with DE (without the chickens inside the coop) and make sure you’ve gotten all of the old bedding out. Don’t forget to dust the roosts as well!

Coccidiosis —

Cocci can be a vicious parasite in your flock’s digestive tract. While it mostly attacks younger digestive tracts, such as with chicks, it can also attack your adult flock as well, causing diarrhea, unusual feces, blood in feces, and even death if left long enough.

The safest and best treatment: Kocci free is a very effective treatment. We use many of the Vibactra plus products on our homestead. They are an incredible source for herbal remedies. In fact, you can use Kocci free as a preventative as well once a month. Simply add it to their water.


Respiratory Irritation —

Many new chicken owners freak out when they notice their chickens sneezing or wheezing. But it’s not always the “worst”. No, chickens do not get “colds”, however, their respiratory tracts are extremely sensitive. A little more dust than normal in the coop can cause sneezing and wheezing.

The safest and best treatment: Clean the coop out and lay down a less dusty bedding, especially in the summer months. We prefer cardboard bedding in the summer months. Make sure you air out your coop before putting in new bedding, and make sure your coop has good ventilation so that dust can escape easily. Many times, respiratory issues arise because of dust, too much ammonia in the coop, or pollen.

Mycoplasma Gallisepticum and Mycoplasma Synoviae Infection (MG/MS)  —

Mycoplasma is a completely different issue that we really need to talk about in the chicken world. We experienced what I believe was a case of MG here the very first month we started with chickens. The chicken, thank goodness, was on our property for less than 48 hours and was quarantined (and immediately culled), but it was scary, to say the least.

Number one — ALWAYS QUARANTINE NEW CHICKENS. We learned our lesson and are thankful we did.

MG and MS are respiratory bacteria that can seriously sicken and kill your entire flock. It is extremely contagious, and can even be spread by clothing and shoes. Many chicken experts will tell you that MG and MS are not curable, but I  have to respectfully disagree. If preventatives are used, and if caught in time at the first symptoms, I absolutely believe that MG and MS can be cured. It is, after all, simply a bacteria. 

Symptoms of MG/MS: Wheezing, gasping for air, puffy face and swollen eyes, sneezing, sinus drainage, swollen joints, lethargy.

The safest and best treatment: You’ll need to be aggressive with this one. Oregano (antibiotic) in their feed and water at all times during treatment until symptoms have completely passed for ALL chickens. Add turmeric (immune support and anti-inflammatory) and garlic (antibacterial) to their feed as well. Separate any infected birds as much as possible, but treat ALL birds the same. Chickens can have MG/MS and not show symptoms until stressed or weak, which is what happened to us when we brought in a new chicken. Within 24 hours, she was literally on her death bed when she was fine the day we bought her.

Your chickens will need to be treated until ALL symptoms are gone. You should also not visit other farms unless you plan to change your clothing when you get there. And do NOT sell chickens or hatching eggs from your property for at least 4 weeks after symptoms are gone.

Infectious Coryza —

I don’t have any experience with IC, but I’ve read enough, and experienced enough through others, to know that IC is extremely detrimental to any flock. Once contracted, it is extremely hard to get rid of. And can live in your soil for awhile. The fatality rate is extremely high and depressing even with treatment. I have no advice to offer you on IC except that you can treat the same way you would treat MG/MS, however, if it spreads to your entire flock viciously, you may very well consider culling and starting all over again after a 4 week waiting period.

Sour Crop —

Sour Crop is probably one of the most common issues on a homestead when it comes to chickens. At least, it seems to be. We’ve actually never had the issue here, but have had friends with sour crop. Sour crop happens when chickens ingest something that is too big for them to pass through the crop. It can also be fungal, as things can begin to ferment in the crop and cause more issues if not passed properly.

The safest and best treatment: Giving your chicken ACV and olive oil in the crop will help tremendously. ACV has anti-fungal properties, and therefore can help tone down that yeastiness in the crop. You can add oil to your chickens crop and massage her crop, holding her upside down, to help expel anything that may be lodged or compacted.

Bumble Foot —

Bumble foot is another very common issue on the homestead. This happens when your chicken has stepped on something, such as a thorn or has gotten a cut on their foot. The thorn or cut then becomes infected, causing a sore type lesion to pop up on the botton of their foot or in between toes. It can affect their walking, and if left long enough, the infection can spread to their entire body.

The safest and best treatment: You can pick the scab off of the bottom of the foot and expel any infection that way, and also release the core of the issue (if it’s something lodged inside the foot). Or you can wrap the foot with a bandage soaked in tea tree and oregano essential oils. This has proven to be extremely successful for us, as the tea tree oil is antiseptic, and the oregano oil is a natural fighter of infection. You’ll need to do this, daily (direct skin contact with a swab soak in the oil under the bandage) for at least a week or until symptoms begin to subside. This also allows your chicken to walk better with the bandage and extra padding so that it can heal quicker.

When all else fails, you may choose to take a chemical route. However, we have not had to do that in over two years with preventative methods and herbal treatments. Go with your gut, because most of the time it never steers you wrong. And remember that if you lose a chicken, you’re not a bad chicken keeper or homesteader. Sometimes, these things just happen and they are out of our control. But remember, prevention is key!

 

 

 

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*Disclaimer: While I am an herbalist, and herbalism is not regulated by the FDA, I am not a medical doctor. The recipes and tips on this website are geared towards those who want to live a more natural lifestyle.
Please use all herbal remedy recipes on this website only after doing thorough research in regard to your own health needs, and after seeking medical attention if necessary. 
*Affiliate links: I may receive a commission on some of the links on this website. It is of no additional cost to you.

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