Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bottlefeeding our Goat Kids

Don't you just love spring?  This year our life has been overflowing with babies.  We got baby goats, our closest friends just had their 2nd baby and this past Saturday we added 4 ducklings to the mix.  Not to mention that our now-well Silkie went broody and is sitting on 8 eggs, none of them her own!  My kids are in HEAVEN!  You'd be hard pressed to find 4 kids who love babies as much as mine do.  Of course, they come by it honest.  I do have 4 babies of my own after all and would have more if I could. 

On the subject of babies, it can be a little scary when you first start out.  There's so many things you can do WRONG!  Yet, most of us seem to get our kids through babyhood without too many bumps and bruises.  The same is true with animal babies.  It can be even more scary because your dealing with an entirely different species and don't always know what's normal and what's not.  Thankfully, just as with humans babies, it seems to get easier after the first one.  Case in point, our first experience with baby goats was a blast and traumatic at the same time.  We ended up losing one, without knowing the cause.  It was heartbreaking and made us just want to throw in the towel and give up.  There were 2 other babies that needed us to keep going though and look at us now!  With our latest baby, things have been smooth sailing.  We know what signs might mean problems, we're aware of how and when certain issues may pop up and we are vigilant about making sure they get things to keep them healthy.  (We also make a call to our ever so patient friend & goat-mentor every now and then at which time she reminds us to relax and enjoy them and quit worrying unless there is really a reason to worry!)

So what are we doing differently this time?  For starters, no animal formula!  I never fed my kids formula and I really don't like the ingredients in animal formula.  (Animal fat preserved with BHA & BHT...huh?!?)  That's what the first 2 were on and it just seemed like one issue after another.  So this time, our baby stayed on goat's milk (his mama's) from a bottle for the first couple weeks then we started transitioning him over to cow's milk.  The transitioning is VERY important. Take it very slowly, at least a couple days on each new mixture.  Start out at 1/4 new with 3/4 original, then 1/2 and 1/2 (I stay here for a week) and 3/4 new to 1/4 original.  Now what's missing from pasteurized cow's milk that was in his mama's milk?  A whole lot but what I deemed the important things that I could do something about, I've added.  First of all, raw milk contains enzymes that have been killed in store milk so I add in 1/3 of a capsule of digestive enzymes.  2nd, mama's milk contains antibodies to help fight off illness.  I can't do anything about that, but I can help strengthen their little immune systems.  Each baby gets 7 drop of immune tincture in each bottle.  And lastly, I add in probiotics to keep their little digestive systems functioning properly.  Starting at 3 weeks, I began adding in a parasite tincture to help control those issues.  The one I use contains wormwood so I will only use it for a couple weeks.  My human kids get both of these tinctures as well along with probiotics and vitamin D.  So far so good.  We'll keep plugging along and doing our best to keep everyone alive and well.  Every life is a gift and deserves the best care we can give them!

The girls holding 2 brand new babies from Jeremiah Farms.
Check out the recipe for the immune tincture taken from Herbs for Health and Healing by Kathi Keville on the "My Recipes" page.  The digestive enzymes I'm using are "Advanced Enzyme System" by Rainbow Light and the parasite tincture is "Fresh Green Black Walnut Wormwood Complex" by Now Foods.  I buy mine from Iherb.com.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Clipping the Chicken's Wings

Well, I finally did it today.  We have talked about doing it for 2 years.  I have spoken each time of my previous experience clipping my Cockatiel's wings as a teenager, piece of cake,  and yet we never did it.  Tuesday, after the whole cleaning out the coop fiasco on Monday, I only got 6 eggs.  This was mostly because several of the chickens got out of the yard, due to the fact that I had the gate open going back and forth with compost, and I'm not sure where those eggs could be.  However, all of our original chickens (there's only 4 left out of 6) jump on the fence and leave the yard every day and I have had enough of it!

A few weeks ago, I got online and read and read and read which is what I do when presented with anything new or different.  I studied the diagrams, read up on how to handle an emergency should one occur, sharpened the scissors and then didn't clip any wings.  Today, I got the scissors and just went to it.  I didn't even review the diagrams as I had planned to do because I knew if I did, no chicken's wings were getting clipped today.  BTW, there are many wing-clipping web pages but I found the one at Backyard Chicken to be most helpful.  (www.backyardchickens.com/LC-wingclipping.html)  I had read somewhere to aim for clipping off the top 2/3 and to use the smaller feathers on top the flight feathers as a guide.  So this is what I did.  I only clipped the fence-jumpers.  Our chickens are handled pretty regularly so even though they don't like it, they are pretty easy to catch and don't seem stressed when we are holding them.  We don't have to hold them upside down first, or anything like that, to calm them down.  They let us just pull the wing out, snip, snip and off they went.  You wouldn't think 1/2 inch would make any difference in their ability to fly but 2 of the chickens immediately hopped right up on top the fence.  I clipped off another 1/2 inch, closer to the top feathers, and that did the trick.  No more chickens jumping on the fence!  So for all my procrastinating (I'm REALLY good at THAT!),  it wasn't bad at all.  It took maybe 5 minutes to do 4 chickens and now my chickens will be safe and I won't be out any eggs!

Rooster Junior, one of the fence-jumpers, but not anymore!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Castor Oil For Insect Bites & Stings

Well, I guess I will finish this Castor Oil series and put it to bed, for now.  So far, we've done Castor oil for injuries, bruises or blood pooling and now insect bites.  When my son was about a year old, he got into some ants and before I knew it, his little hand looked like one of those surgical gloves that people blow up.  I rushed him to the ER (pre-natural medicine days!) and they pumped him full of Benadryl.  However, as the swelling would subside, a large area (the size of 4 quarters, sometimes more) would turn black, I guess the damaged tissue was dying off.  A few years later, after the discovery of that awesome book I mentioned in Part 1, I took three of her treatments for insect bites and combined them.  I had already been using lavender essential oil on bug bites but it did not prevent the tissue from dying.  While on vacation one year, my son got several bites on his foot.  The book recommends Castor oil, lavender and aloe, among other things, for bites.  I mixed and applied these 3 and within minutes the swelling was already going down.  Later that day, you could hardly tell where he had been bitten!  For 6 years we had watched every ant bite swell, turn black and take weeks to heal, causing much pain and irritation.  With the Castor oil/lavender/aloe we were business as usual in one day.  It was wonderful!  Now my son is no longer paranoid about getting bit by ants, though he still obviously tries to avoid them.  At least he has a quick fix should he get bitten.  Also of note is that it works even if you do not catch it immediately.  He has been bitten at times when we didn't have the needed items available or he wasn't at home, but as soon as he was able to apply it (within a day) it would begin healing and he has never again experienced the black, dying tissue.

There is no formal recipe for this.  I usually just mix it in my hand and rub it on.  If I had to give measurements I would say I use about a teaspoon of aloe gel (you could also use juice), 5 drops of lavender and 1/2 tsp of Castor oil.  Aloe is anti-inflammatory, lavender is calming, therefore quieting inflamed skin and Castor oil speeds up lymphatic flow and disperses toxins, per the book Gentle Healing for Baby and Child by Andrea Candee.  This works!  Do not hesitate to try it.  You can get all of these ingredients at Iherb.com but I actually purchase my essential oils in bulk from NewDirectionsAromatics.com.  I'm sure you can also get them at a health foods store but you will pay twice as much or more.

As promised, here is my special blend that I am never without.  I have a bottle in my purse, a bottle upstairs, a bottle downstairs and a bottle in my car.  I also hand out bottles to friends and family whenever possible and have received nothing but praise and thanks.  So here goes...I take a 2 oz bottle of Castor oil or fill a 2 oz bottle with Castor oil, add 10 drops of lavender, 10 drops of tea tree, and 5 drops of chamomile.  This will help with anything... rashes, bruises, cuts, bites, etc.  I've had friends who had wounds that just would not heal, put this on it and within a couple days the wound was healed.  I've used it on hurt chicken feet, dog bites on my cats, tick bites on my dogs and goats, goose eggs on my kids' heads and so on and so forth.  So there you go.  If you do not have any Castor oil in your house, get some!  Throw some lavender and tea tree essential oils in while your it at.  You won't be sorry!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cleaning the Coop

Today was one of those days.  I set out to accomplish 2 things and that's about all I got done.  The Missions: Catch up on schoolwork and thoroughly clean the chicken coop.  We had a couple flu bugs go through the house for about a month and got a little behind on school and with all the coryza issues, I wanted to get everything in the coop cleaned out and disinfected .  We started with school in the morning, doing our Bible study first (as usual) so that we don't run out of time for the most important things and then catching up on Math, Grammar, Spelling, Science and History.  It was 11:30am by the time I made it outside.  I went to work on the coop but two ornery little kids (goat) decided that they just HAD to be in there with me, though the second I walked out they couldn't care less!  I finally got side one of the coop shoveled out, hosed down with GSE  (you know how I love that stuff) and fresh straw laid and went to work on the 2nd half but of course, someone was in there laying.  So I started shoveling and by the time I was ready to start hosing down, the first chicken was out but another had come in and she lays right out in the open.  Now I was on "egg delay".  Long story short, I finally got done but it was after 5:30pm!  The kids were outside with me most of the afternoon, thanks entirely to my new rule, "If Mom's outside, everyone is outside."  That rule has been a big help with keeping the house fairly straight while I'm doing outside chores.  It also helps keep my kids outdoors instead of wasting time in front of a TV or computer screen.  I'm convinced this is going to save me money on eye glasses!  While I'm on the subject of rules, my other new rule is "If you can do it yourself, don't ask Mom to do it."  I'm lovin' this rule!  So, it's the end of the day, the new baby is spending his first night out in the goat house and I'm just a little nervous.  Big Brother Nat has been a bit of a bully but Po has been a bit protective, even stepping in between Nat and Simon at one time when Nat was head butting him in the side.  Po rubs heads with baby ever so gently while Nat goes at him full force.  I'm sure he'll be fine but it's always hard letting the babies grow up.  Anyways, as far as today goes, even if I got nothing else done, at least it was "Missions Accomplished"!
Simon says, "Ma, where were you?"
The Boys on the Porch

"Try this Po.  It's so much softer than your head!"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Castor Oil For Hematomas

A few years ago, I awoke one Saturday morning and went to go let our Lab, Koda, outside.  We have a laundry room off of our garage and he gets to sleep in there.  He was shaking his head constantly and upon examination, one of his ears was about 1/2 thick or more and squooshy.  We immediately called the vet, not sure what was going on.  They informed us that, without a doubt, he had an aural hematoma or ear hematoma.  Possibly from shaking his head around (he's constantly jumping in the pond and then shaking off), he had hit something and injured his ear, causing it to fill up with blood.  We were ready to throw him in the truck and do whatever to get him fixed up.  Unfortunately, they also informed us that they did not have an anesthesiologist in on Saturdays and that the surgery to fix this required the dog be put under.  They place a drain in the ear to drain the blood and then it later has to be removed.  According to them, if this is not done, it may heal on its own but the dog's ear will be extremely disfigured, like someone ran a thread through it and then pulled the thread tight.  We were supposed to wait until Monday and bring him in, or I guess we could have also opted for the ER vet.  Well, I had my Castor oil with a little lavender oil mixed in, remembered it was good for bruises because it dispersed the blood, so we gave that a try.  3 times a day, my husband rubbed his ear with it, rubbing and massaging.  We noticed improvement right away but by the third day, his ear looked completely normal and he was acting completely normal.  I later took him in for his annual visit and the vet could not believe it.  She said he must not have had a hematoma because there is no way his ear looked like that without having been drained.  (She also told me straight up that she does not believe in natural medicine because she only believes in things for which she's seen proof.  Yet she saw proof and denied it.)  As you can imagine, I was thrilled that once again, natural medicine had done something to shock and amaze a practitioner of modern medicine.  This had happened to me before with my son, but that's another story.  Next I'll tell you about castor oil vs. the ant bite, and I'm not talking about your average ant bite either.

Koda with 2 perfectly normal and beautiful ears!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Coryza Update

Just wanted to post a picture of my latest patient, our Silky, Aretha.  In the picture to the left, she is not doing so well.  She had stopped eating but was always very alert (my other chicken, Nancy Sinatra, was completely out of it, never even opening her eyes).  As soon as she would not accept food, we began with the almond milk/drench mixture.  I have not been staying on top of her treatment so she has taken a little longer to get better, but today she was out in the yard, freaking out because her man, Franklin, was on the other side of the fence and she couldn't get to him.

I don't know if you can tell in the picture above, but her face is still swollen.  However, she is not gurgling anymore and she is acting completely normal (she attacked the dog and 2 goats).  We will still bring her in and keep her in her tub at night for a few more days and keep her separated from the rest of the flock until she is symptom free for a couple days.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Castor Oil For Injuries

I first learned about the wonderful (and non-yucky) uses for castor oil through a book that has become a cherished companion to me for going on 10 years now.  It's called Gentle Healing for Baby and Child by Andrea Candee.   This book sits patiently on my shelf, waiting for the next time I lovingly pull it down, cradle it in my hands and seek it's assistance for the current emergency.  Okay, maybe that's a little over dramatic.  Just suffice it to say, I LOVE this book!  Anyways, during an emergency some years ago, I opened it and discovered by new best friend, castor oil.  I have used it for just about anything you can imagine and plan to tell you about every one, okay, maybe 3, but that is why this is part 1.  Too much to put in one post.  Today is my first example.  One of my goat kids was running around, being a kid and acting crazy, I was watching from the window, when all of a sudden, he went to jump off the top of the picnic table and his foot (hoof?) got caught in between the slats and he jumped but his leg did not follow.  I threw my sandwich down on the counter and ran out the door, mentally imagining how I was going to nurse this goat with a broken leg.  Fortunately my son was nearby and already had him on the ground by the time I got out the door.  He stood up but wasn't putting any pressure on the leg.  My son felt around but Nat didn't act like anything really hurt, he just wouldn't put the leg down.  Here comes today's star, castor oil.  I mixed up a little with some lavender essential oil, and some St. John's wort tincture.  According to my book, you are supposed to use St. John's oil, but I didn't have any so tried the tincture.  I went out, rubbed and rubbed and rubbed some more on his leg, all the way up on the inside.  Within, an hour, he was back to normal, putting pressure on the leg and running around.  He may have done that anyway, but part 2 and 3 will prove without a doubt that castor oil works!

How could someone so innocent looking cause so much trouble?!?

I get mine at Iherb.com (use code CAN094 for $5 off your first order).  I use the Home Health Brand.  The 32 oz bottle is the best deal and then you can just make smaller size bottles of it mixed with your favorite oil blends.  I'll tell you my special recipe in part 3 of the castor oil posts.  You can also get some food grade castor oil at Walmart if you are in a pinch and need it now.

Coming soon...Castor Oil vs. the Aural Hematoma (huh?  I didn't know what it was either. I'll explain.)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Natural Treatment of Infectious Coryza

Our Brahma, Nancy Sinatra, the one who started it all!
I've had a lot of interest in exactly how I treat my chickens naturally for Coryza so I thought I would spell it out a little more specifically, though with me nothing is exact or the same from day to day. But this is what seems to be working today.

When I first notice the chicken is feeling ill (she stays on the roost after everyone else is off or kind of just stands around the chicken yard) I immediately get her and put her in a large tub lined with hay. If you have multiple chickens sick, you would need to isolate them in another coop or pen of some sort. I provide her with fresh water (I use distilled and put 5 drops of GSE in it, which is grapefruit seed extract if you didn't happen to read my previous post) and food (our food consists of laying crumble, scratch, sunflower seeds, wild bird food, diatomateous earth, kelp and green tea powder). At this point, they may or may not still be eating and drinking. I then begin dosing them with 3 droppers full of colloidal silver (I buy Silver Boost from Iherb, more about that at the end of the post) in the morning and evening. I also give them water with a couple drops of GSE a couple times a day (mid morning and late afternoon). If the chicken is no longer eating, it is absolutely essential to get something down her. I use almond milk or store brand ensure and add 1/2 t of my homemade drench. This is made from 2oz of hemp oil, 2 oz of molasses, 1 oz of corn syrup, 1/2 T of kelp and 1/2 T bee pollen which I smash with a mortar and pestle. I give about 2 T of this milk mixture twice a day. When you are administering this much this many times a day, it can get a bit time consuming so I would often skip the GSE in water and just add a few drops to the milk mixture. Obviously the more vigilant you are, the quicker your chicken will get better, but sometimes life happens and we just have to do the best we can.

I will also admit that during all this, I have thought, more than once, that it would be so much easier to just humanely end the chickens life and not have to deal with this anymore but unfortunately, I am not at a point where I can do that. All my chickens have names and distinct personalities. In the future, I do not plan to name chickens but this was our first go around and they are as much pets at this point as egg providers.

For the colloidal silver, I purchase mine from Iherb.com (use code CAN094 to save $5 off your first order). The Morningstar Minerals Silver Boost is a concentrated formula that you dilute yourself so you actually get several bottles from 1 bottle. They suggest you dilute down to 5ppm. I dilute down to a little more than 10ppm. I use an 8oz bottle (my old silver bottle), put in 1/2oz of Silver Boost and fill the rest with distilled water. I give my kids 1 teaspoon a day (usually) or when we are being exposed to people who are sick (best on an empty stomach) and it really helps keep everyone well. Also, on the subject of silver, I would advise against making your own as the only reports of anyone turning gray from its use came from people who made their own and took massive doses.

Anyways, I hope this helps anyone dealing with respiratory illnesses in chickens and if you have any questions, please feel free to post them!

As of June 2011, we have remained free of all illness. We are putting a dropperful of GSE in a gallon of water (total of 4 separate waterers) daily and everyone has remained well. We have had a couple of instances where someone sounded congested but they did not get sick and in both cases, by the next day, no longer sounded congested. Also, we have had chicks born from chickens who previously suffered from coryza and they have shown no signs of illness. I believe they are carriers and will never exhibit any signs of illness. I believe that the chickens we purchased from the farm are also carriers as they have never gotten sick and I believe that Nancy Sinatra was not born and raised on that farm. I think she came from somewhere else and when exposed to the carriers became ill. If you have chickens with this condition, it is imperative that you understand that you cannot bring in any new chickens and you cannot give chickens away to anyone who already has chickens. If you are going to keep them, you can only increase your flock by hatching out eggs from your infected chickens. 

Update:  As of January 2012, we are still free of illness.  We now have an automatic waterer and are not as vigilant as we used to be about making sure they get the GSE everyday but even through the cold, we have not had one chicken get sick.  We have also not had any of the chickens we hatched out show any signs of illness, however I am quite sure that they are carriers and will not get sick.  

****Also, please see my post on MMS.  Bathing in it is especially helpful when an animal (or human) is not taking anything by mouth.  I've bathed all my sick chickens in it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Earthmama...on kids and chickens

Well, here I am. I've been writing and rewriting this blog for several months now but finally, with a little push from my goat-mentor, Casey of Jeremiah Farm, (http://www.jeremiahfarm.com) I have decided to just do it. I couldn't decide if I wanted to talk about kids, homeschooling, natural medicine, organic foods or chickens so I'll just talk about it all and throw goats into the mix as well.

We are a family of 6, 2 adults and 4 kids.  We have 3 dogs, an 8yr old chocolate Lab, a 3yr old Pom Mix and a 13 yr old Yorkie.  We also have 2 cats, 14 chickens (3 of which are roosters!!!) and 3 goats.  The goats are a recent addition to our family as of late January.  Everything went fine for the first week or two and then we started having some problems with bloating.  One of the babies ended up dying but then things calmed down and the other 2 were doing well.  A few weeks later, they stopped taking their bottles again and this time it turned out to be parasites.  A 3-day course of dewormer and they were back on track. Things have slowed down and everyone seems to be doing pretty good. After a little browsing at the FiasCo Farm website (http://fiascofarm.com/) and several others, I decided to incorporate my experience (note experience, not expertise) with natural medicine into my goat care. The boys, Po and Nat,  have been on an immune tincture (find the recipe on the My Recipes page) that we make and use ourselves along with probiotics, and kelp. I started Simon, the new baby, on probiotics yesterday and hopefully this will help him to have a healthy and uneventful kidhood!

On another note, I am dealing with coryza in my chickens. Bought a new batch of chickens who were a couple months old (NEVER do this!!!), waited a couple weeks then introduced them in with my exisiting chickens (6 Rhode Island Reds and Black Stars) and sure enough, one of the new chickens began showing symptoms of an illness. I immediately separated her from the flock but it was too late. The most obvious symptom of coryza is the smell. Believe me, you never want to smell that smell. Anyways, long story short, I have lost one of my RI Red hens to it but have kept everyone else alive so far with the use of GSE (grapefruit seed extract) in their water and some additions to their diet (green tea, anyone?)  We just put 1 dropperful of GSE in their 1 gallon water container daily.  We have even used it to help prevent illness in us and it really seems to help.  For chickens with an active infection, I dosed them with colloidial silver in addition to the GSE.  For very sick chickens who were no longer eating, I forced down a few dropperfuls of store brand Ensure or almond milk along with my homemade nutri-drench (hemp oil, molasses, kelp and bee pollen) a few times a day.  By day 3,  my most recent sick chicken, Nancy Sinatra, was out and about and feeling much better.  I did not do this with Autumn, the RI Red, and she died on day 4. 

Simon, our newest baby

Well, that's probably enough for today.  Enjoy the pictures of our kids...aren't they just the cutest?