Do kookaburra count as farm animals?

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It’s been seven months since we made the move down under. For the most part it’s been good. Actually, compared to the first move down here in 2010 it’s been FABULOUS. Interesting fact: it’s as if the Man and I have swapped personalities since last time. When we moved here in 2010 I was very sad and it took me about six months to settle in.  He, however, was super happy, and excelled at this work. This time around, I’ve settled in quite nicely but he struggles. But, I digress.

When you move from one continent to another, you expect that things will be challenging, that you will miss the familiar and your heart will ache for your family. What I didn’t expect was how much I miss the small hobby farm that was Baldwin Acres.

Here in Oz, we are awakened by a cacophony of bird noise. Can’t say it’s songs because there seems to be much anger in some of it. A family of kookaburra live in the big gum tree behind our house. They share this space with some Common Miners and some little birds that I can’t identify.  Every morning the kookaburra engage in seemingly heated exchange. Is someone stumbling in late? Did they run out of geckos for breakfast? Who knows. Maybe it is the language of love in kookaburraeeze, whatever the cause, it is very loud in the morning. And, annoying. On Baldwin Acres with a few roosters in residence, it was loud in the morning as well. But, a little calmer loudness. I miss that.

I didn’t think I would miss the animals so much. Not just the sound of the rooster, but the bleat of the sheep and the strange noise the goats made. I miss being greeted by everyone when it was feeding time. They were all ranging free so even when I was just out tooling around they were eager to see me. Nudging my leg, nibbling my shirt hem. smelling my boots. I miss the way our very large sow, Olive, would leaning against my shins until I scratched at her side until she flopped down and exposed her belly for more rubs. I miss Bob, our male goat, who followed the Man around the same way our boxer Remus did. I miss fresh eggs and waiting with broody hens for their charges to hatch.

I don’t miss the sometimes rough odor, or all the poop. There was a lot of poop. I am not sure why that took me aback because obviously every living thing does…but so.much.poop. was really unexpected. I don’t really miss trimming hooves or chasing curious wayward pigs back through the woods to the house. I don’t miss when the little chicks, or tiny piglets for whatever reasons, didn’t make it. But, I do miss them. All of them.

We go back and forth here about rescuing a dog or a cat. Which of course would be lovely, but seriously, they’re no pig or chicken. How could such a small farm make me so attached?

It’s not only the animals I miss, it’s the orchard with plums, pears, cherries and apples. The garden with lettuces, kale, tomatoes, squashes, onions, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas, carrots..all fresh and ready to be eaten right from the picking. I miss the feeling of accomplishment achieved when we were able to eat, can, butcher, gather, all the things our own hands produced. God richly blessed us.

So now, what to do? I have a small plot and a patio tower in which I am growing I pepper, basil, aloe, lettuces, tomatoes, herbs, not the same as the raised beds, but still getting my hands in the dirt and freshness in my belly is amazing.

We’re in the waiting phase right now. Waiting on God to show us where we go next. He has already set the path before us, but right now it’s difficult to see. As we wait on Him, and seek His will, we will enjoy the memories of what was,  relish the moments that are now and expectantly look forward what will be.

Daily visits from the kookaburra’s and patio produce, will keep Baldwin Acres busy until then.

 

 

 

 

Diatomaceous Earth – the wonder dirt – Part 2

This wonder dirt, is indeed – wonderful. I first wrote about it here So much POOP – DE – Part 1. I mentioned fleas in that article and now we address those nasty resourceful pests,  fleas.

Even though our county has suffered a problem with rogue insecticide resistant fleas, we had zero problem for about a year. Then we got some barn kittens. They came covered in the blood sucking critters.

Baby animals have somewhat vulnerable immune systems and cats in general have to be handled carefully because of the way their liver functions. Many of the natural remedies for flea control cannot be used on felines. We couldn’t (and wouldn’t) douse them with chemical laden powders, flea control agents, or powders, but we knew we had to get them clear of fleas because their tiny bodies could only handle so much blood loss.

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blood sucking flea

 

One of the go to things in natural flea control is the use of essential oils, but you have to be careful using this on cats because, again, their livers react differently to processing them and it can become a toxic situation.

We bathed the kittens up to their necks in warm sudsy Dawn dishwater. This moved the fleas to the top of the cats heads, where they were picked off with either the flea comb or our fingers. Then the kittens were thoroughly rinsed and combed through again. We dipped the fleas clinging to the comb in a dish of Dawn soapy water.( Once removed from the host body, the fleas have to be drowned or they can jump onto something else). Then we got to cuddle the furry bodies as we towel dried wet fur.  This process had to be done a few times;  it’s amazing how many fleas their little bodies could host. And, of course, we had to keep on top of the hatching eggs, larva etc.

What does this have to do with the Wonder dirt? Good question! It wouldn’t be wise to plop sparklingly clean kitties back into flea infested places, so while they were being bathed, their bedding and living space was also treated with first a hot wash and dry in the machines and then a sprinkling of FOOD GRADE DIATOMACIOUS EARTH (DE).  Again, this process was repeated each time they had a flea bath.

We had a few flea free weeks, when one of the kittens unexpectedly died. We immediately got two kitties to fill his spot, and they too, came with fleas. So repeat, rinse, repeat. Finally all the felines were flea free. Or so we thought.

I took the oldest kitten to get neutered and discovered he had fleas! To be honest,  I hadn’t kept up with the DE treatments in the cats living space. It wasn’t a bad infestation, but it was fleas. Then we found some on our dog. And, sure enough, the other kitties had them too.

Now this might sound like an unsuccessful attempt at natural flea control, because we started out with fleas and now, we still have them. However, being vigilant in keeping up with the DE dustings is crucial and I had let it lack. But in keeping up with it and treating the animals again, has now, made us flea free.

DE can also be used as a powder on your pets/livestock. You must be careful when dusting it, it makes a very fine powder and if you have asthma, or your animals have respiratory issues, it’s a good idea to pour the dirt in your hands and then rub it on the animal instead of shaking it around like a salt shaker. Also, companies sell dusters that control the powder dispersion. When we dust the chicken coop with it, we remove the chickens first, spread the DE, put some in their food, and let it all settle before letting them back in. We dust the livestock at their neck (keeping it our of eyes and ears) along the spine and under the tail when we trim their hooves. We give a spoonful in our dog and cat food at least once a week. So far, so good.

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Food Grade DE.

Baldwin Acres is like a winter flowing stream. We’re always learning, trying new things, failing at things but moving along. Every now and again things get clogged and we have to step back and evaluate. We are determined to keep things natural, non-GMO and organic, including pest control. This includes but not limited to using DE and essential oils.

I always go back to the fact that God created everything and provides for us to manage our lives. DE is a natural ‘dirt’ of microscopic ground up seashells whose sharp shells cut the pests  exoskeleton. Besides among other things,  being  used for killing fleas, worms, and poop control, DE is also used in grain storage as it controls pests and absorbs moisture, keeping the grain free from mildew. Damp barns could benefit from  spreading DE on stored alfalfa, hay, etc. to potentially control any mold/mildew growth.

In researching DE I’ve learned that humans use it for hair and scalp problems, acne, mouth sores, parasite control and bowel troubles. Just remember, it is all natural but you must make sure you are using FOOD GRADE DE.

Do you use DE for something I’ve not mentioned? Let me know! If you’ve read this far you’re interested…..

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Mouser, Maggie and Mic. Three content flea free ‘barn’ cats.