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.

Diatomaceous-Earth

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.

Fall at Baldwin Acres (and what we’ve learned)

Anyone who follows this blog might think from the title that I meant I physically fell again…but nope…talking about the season this time!

Didn’t the end of summer came too quickly? While I was able to put up a few pints of tomato sauce (which look like tomato soup, but taste like tomato sauce) I didn’t get half of the canning done that I did last year. Most of the pear and plum harvests went to just eating and then to live stock. As did most of the apples. I did manage to bake a couple pastries and cookies but no jam, or apple pie fillings or pear slices like last year.

Harvest pasteries

Harvest pastries

One of the biggest stories of our summer was the return of Pork 1 (now named Ollie) who had gone missing the day after we got her. Her story is elsewhere on this blog, but suffice to say, she’s back and happy with her siblings.

the swine of Baldwin Acres

the swine of Baldwin Acres

the majority of our raised beds are  harvested. The fall garden is sparse. We were able to gather enough Scotch Bonnet, Habanera, and Jalapeño peppers to take to two local fire departments for their kitchens. We used our spaghetti squash on a family getaway, and we have a few big pumpkins and small squash  for October. The volunteer tomatillos came back but I’ve yet to figure out what to do with them. This year we’re also trying our hand at saving seeds. Did you know that you cannot save just any seeds? Well, you can, but unless they are open pollinating and non-hybrid seeds they won’t grow. (Lesson learned!)

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Lessons…. we are continually learning something…animal husbandry, pasture management, and growing our own grains are just some of them. If we are not learning something, then we’re planning. For example, the garden has done much better this year so next year we will expand it. I’d like to utilize better the fruits from the orchard and the eggs from the chickens. It’s good that we didn’t waste any but I still would like to have some in the pantry.

Lance was able to get another tractor at an auction. This one has a back hoe and a shovel. It will be great help and alleviate some of the physical work he tackles on his own. I do help, but honestly, I’m not much help. He fenced our property, built the barn, and the livestock shelters pretty much on his own. Not to mention the gorgeous gazebo over the hot tub. (Life on the homestead is good).

Our venture with turkey’s showed us to do better research. We initially wanted an heirloom breed like we’ve done with our Kune-Kune/AGH pigs, our Jacob sheep and our goats. But, the local store had only BBW’s (Broad Breasted Whites). So we bought them. BBW’s have been so overly genetically mutated for their breast meat they cannot naturally breed. (In more ways than one we have managed to ruin God’s once perfect creatures). They are beautiful, but because they will suffer when their hearts rupture or their lungs collapse, their life span is short.

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The first photo shows the Breasted white turkeys. The second shows the heirloom breed Royal Palms, drinking from the livestock water. All the animals seem to think the other animals have better water. Maybe they have fizzy water, or an energy shot? The livestock constantly tried to get in the turkey pen to drink their water, and when the turkeys come down to the lower pasture, they drink heavily from the livestock tank. None of them can get into the pig pen but when we fill the pool or their water dish, there is a gathering at the pig fence. You can almost see the drool.

We have tasted one turkey. Turns out turkeys aren’t very smart. We had just loaded a ton of hay up in the barn and I was driving the truck through the pastures while Lance walked ahead and opened and closed gates and kept animals where they belonged. When I momentarily parked, one of the turkeys sat under the trailer and when I pulled forward, I ran over her.

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We had read that when you eat homegrown anything, it will taste like a foreign food, but our turkey tasted like turkey. Maybe if we had a regular antibiotic hormone riddled turkey right by our homegrown girl we would taste the difference, but she tasted like turkey.

On the list for fall farm chores: trimming livestock hooves, vaccinating the barn cats, deworming livestock, and filling in the pasture that gets flooded in the winter. I will plant garlic and oats for our winter crops and start planning for spring.

I like the seasonal changes in the homestead. Each one has both a beginning and an end, life and death. I am so happy the Lord set us up here. Life is challenging, but always good

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