Winter is not my favorite season.

Except for Christmas, winter is not my favorite season. I think we must be on day 427 in a row of rain and gray skies. The back pasture has flooded at least twice. The pig sty looks like,well, a pig sty.  The damp coolness plays and pokes at my joints and muscles, and my hair is in constant need of a hat. Winter and I do not get along.

When you don’t get along with something you can either live in misery and complain about the situation, which admittedly I do from time to time, or you can look for the good. the old making lemonade out of lemons idea.

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Snow on Baldwin Acres

This winter scene is pretty. Snow makes the scenery a little more beautiful. This is our raised garden and small orchard area. This doesn’t fit into my winter blah scenario because it is lovely, lasts only a while, and allows a little respite in activity.

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This is a close up one of the garlic beds. The white stuff is not snow. They are ice spikes. We had so many days of freezing cold and rain, that these ice spikes adorned all our vegetation.

DSC_0009Here is a picture that sort of shows the mess I’m referring to in the back pastures. The tractors have stopped work for a while, because the ground is boggy. The area is spotted with puddles and little streams of water. To the left of the barn is the pig sty, in the barn is our supply of alfalfa and our livestock nursery. Currently Pork is housed in there, waiting to give birth to little piglets. To the right of the barn is the feeding area. There’s a tub for grain and an alfalfa feeder on the wall. We recently spread a ton of rocks in this area because the continual traffic of the  livestock (Jacob sheep and kinder/Nubian goats)  really has churned up the mud. A person (me) could (has) get stuck in that muck.

When it rains, if you’re not out in it, not mucking out poop, or tending to animals, but maybe just observing the landscape, it can take your breath away. Or at least let you appreciate God’s creation.

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These beautiful water fowl (ducks) take advantage of the winter pond. This area completely dries up in the spring and summer. But, it’s a nice treat to see wild birds taking a little rest here.

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Baldwin Acres

And, finally, I will appreciate the wet, mucky, season because without it there would be no spring. There would be no dormant time for the earth to recover, and the seeds to die, so when the spring sun warms the soil and dries the seasonal puddles and streams, we can grow healthy non- pesticide laden food and new livestock will be born. There is great contentment in the weariness at the end of a long homestead labored day.

The Bible attests to the need for seasons. Seasons not just for our homestead schedules, but also for our lives. Ecclesiastes 3:

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.(The Message)

I’m trying my best to live in each season. Because in the season is where we find life, purpose and hope.

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.

So much POOP. What about Fleas? Diatomaceous earth. Part One.

I started this blog post writing about all the poop on the homestead and how we manage it. But I was life busy long enough to now be able to address another issue that’s come up- fleas. The good news is I have two natural options to help with both. (Introducing fleas into the mix has left me in a quandary. Should I address both issues together or separately? I think to keep my own mind clear  and not confuse you, I will break it down to two posts. Poop first. Fleas second.)

Poop is disgusting. No one wants to mess with poop. But poop can be a great indicator of our and our animals health. So checking poop is a necessary part of animal husbandry. Ick. Initially I was going to post photos of the poop we daily encounter. But, the stark reality of poop pictures might prove to be too much for sensitive types. I’ve been scolded for posting photo’s of what some consider gruesome subjects : like Lance’s finger when he sliced the tip off, and Lance’s finger when he shot a nail into the end, and my nose when I broke it, and my nose after surgery to set it,  so I get that not everyone thinks the raw things of life are interesting. So no glossies of poop. But, if there were photos, they would include: pig poop, goat poop, sheep poop, turkey poop, chicken poop, dog and cat poop.

There’s a book called, “Everybody Poops”.  This book is not a work of fiction.

Poop is a problem because it’s the carrier of things that do not belong inside our bodies. And, sometimes parasites and worms will invade to live in the warmth and ick that is poop.

There are good worms. Helpful worms. In the spring I added Red Wigglers to my raised garden beds to help irrigate and nourish my soil. Night crawlers  lure fish onto hooks so we can eat them. But mostly there are are gross worms.  These are the, ‘why did you create these things, God?’, parasites that live in the guts of living beings. There are heartworm, pole worms, tapeworms, whipworms, and pinworms to name a few, When the animals poop worm pieces or the whole worm, will be in the feces. Then they are on the soil. When the animals graze that area, they ingest more parasites/worms.

Parasites are not the only problem with poop. Poop attracts flies which then breed. This gives us creepy maggots and then more flies. Flies are nothing more than poop transporters. They alight on poop and then alight on garbage and then alight on poop and then alight on your wall, at which time you smack it and splat all the fly’s souvenirs.

Let’s just say it: poop is nasty. Although, if we didn’t poop, well that would be much nastier.

When we developed our homestead or hobby farm plan, we knew right off we would engage in natural and organic practices. One of the reasons we raise chickens is to have eggs that have not been pushed through a hormone antibiotic laden hen. We use no pesticides on our vegetables or fruit trees. So, using chemicals to kill ground pests, no matter how foul they are, would be counter to what we believe. This is where Diatomaceous Earth or DE comes in super handy.

Diatomaceous earth,  is a brand new product to us. DE is a finely ground exoskeleton of a fossil sea creature which when ground up leaves  microscopic jagged pieces. We are too big to be harmed by this, but the little parasites don’t handle it well. They crawl over it and cut their bodies causing them to leak and dry out. To help control parasites and worms, we spread DE

Use caution when  using DE. Use only FOOD grade DE and NOT POOL grade.  DE is similar in consistency to a dusting powder. DE can irritate eyes, noses and lungs. We make sure the animals are not around when we spread it, because any wind or breeze can easily carry it to them. we don’t want to subject them to any discomfort if possible. Chickens have fragile respiratory systems, so if you choose to use it in their coop as I do because it helps keep lice, flea, mosquito fly and mite populations down, use it after you’ve cleaned out the coop, and spread new bedding. Do not use it when the chickens are IN the coop.

DE is also useful for parasites and pests on livestock. When we trim hooves, we liberally apply DE to the sheep and goats hides. Behind the ears, around the rear, and down the backs. It helps get rid of  what might be there, and repel intruders.

We like to use the DE product from Red earth. http://www.redlakeearth.com/red-lake-diatomaceous-earth-us.html  We mix our own feed and use DE as a top dressing for natural deworming. Some folks also leave it as a free choice for their animals. I did read where a woman lost her chickens after spreading DE in their coop, but she spread it when they were in there, and she didn’t indicate whether it was FOOD grade or POOL grade. So be careful when you use it.

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Red Earth DE

DE can also be used for flea control. We brought three flea infested barn kittens home. Kittens are so delicate and small you can’t really use any typical chemical laden flea control products on them. Initially we bathed them in Dawn dish soap and used flea combs. We spread DE in their litter box, and their bedding and around the pool house where their food and beds are. We add DE to our cats food, too. This site has dosage recommendations and more information about worming our domestic pets with DE.

https://www.vetinfo.com/using-diatomaceous-earth-to-worm-pets.html

I’ve always believed that God put on earth everything we need to live and be healthy. I don’t understand some of the things he created, like fleas and muzzles and flies, but He knows what’s He’s doing. I started researching natural remedies back in the 80s We’ve planted herbs that we can use for cooking, but also we put fresh cut and dried herbs in the coop, where they turkeys are and in the livestock area. This includes mint, thyme, sage, peppermint, and lavender. Smells good and helps repel pests. If you can do a natural God given remedy, why not??

Using this life viewpoint, I’ve extensively researched the use of natural remedies, herbs, essential oils etch,  and the news is good and fascinating. I didn’t mean for this post to turn into a huge endorsement for DE, but it did. The second part will address the use of Essential Oils at Baldwin Acres.

Thanks for reading. Have a beautiful day.