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If I have a choice between using something natural or some chemically laden commercial product, I’m always going to go for the natural one, even if it means that I have to make it myself! To me, natural products are more enjoyable to use. They usually smell better, taste better, and just plain work better!

So, we try to keep everything as natural as possible here on our homestead, and that includes the livestock. Over the years, I have tried more recipes than I can count. Some of them have been amazing, but just as many of them are total flops. These are some of my all-time favorite, tried and true recipes that I come back to time and time again.

Pill Pockets for Goats

Have you ever had to give a pill to a goat? I have and let me tell you it’s not easy! Before I came up with this recipe for pill pockets for the goats (it would work for cows and horses, too!) I used to use a pill gun. The goats learned pretty darn quick what that pill gun was for and just catching them to give them the pill was a challenge, much less getting it down their throat

These pill pockets couldn’t be easier to make. All you need are 3 ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

All natural, creamy peanut butter
Blackstrap molasses
Cornmeal (Any whole grain flour that you have on hand will work.)

To make the pill pockets, simply combine equal parts of all three ingredients in a bowl and mix it with your hands until a soft dough forms. Take about a tablespoon of dough from the bowl and roll it between your palms to form a ball. Now, just stick the pill inside and close the dough over it. Easy peasy!

You can store any extra dough in the refrigerator for a few days, but let it warm up on the counter before you make the balls, otherwise it might be too stiff to get the pill in there.

Homemade Fly Spray

I hate seeing the goats go crazy from all the flies in the summer time, but I hate commercial fly sprays. This homemade fly spray smells so good, it works great, and it keeps gnats away, too.

1 cup Light Olive Oil
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon Citronella Essential Oil
1 teaspoon Eucalyptus Essential Oil
1 teaspoon Lemongrass Essential Oil

Combine all the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake it up. You can safely use this spray directly on your animals and you can spray it around their housing, too. Just make sure you shake it up good each time because the ingredients will separate.

Homemade Teat Dip/Spray for Goats and Cows

I use teat dip on my girls after every milking to help prevent mastitis. I keep my milking area as clean as possible and I wash udders carefully before milking. I also use this in a spray bottle to disinfect my own hands before I start milking. In the 20 plus years I’ve been milking, I’ve only had one case of mastitis.

½ cup Water
½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
15 drops Tea Tree Oil
15 drops Lavender Oil

You can double this recipe if you have a lot of girls to milk, but this amount is good for about a week with my two girls. I spray it on from a spray bottle, but you could put it in a little cup and dip the teats into it instead. I try to give it enough time to dry before I let the girls lay down to make sure it has time to work.

Homemade Bag Balm

If you make this balm, you will probably find yourself using it for your own hands, skin irritations on you and the animals, and on udders after milking. It’s just that good! I use it on my girls all winter long to keep their udders from getting chapped due to the cold. You should give the teat dip time to dry before you apply this if you’re using them both.

½ cup Coconut Oil
¼ cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Beeswax
1 cup Shea Butter
½ teaspoon Vitamin E Oil
10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
5 drops Tee Tree Essential Oil

Melt the coconut oil, olive oil, beeswax, and shea butter in the top of a double boiler over medium heat. Add in the vitamin E oil and the essential oil after everything else is melted, mix thoroughly, and remove from the heat.
Pour the mixture into ½ pint canning jars that have been heated in boiling water to prevent them from breaking. It will take about 2-3 hours at room temperature for the oils to solidify into a balm.

Homemade Goat Treats

Do you have a goat that’s stubborn about getting onto the milk stand? I would be willing to bet she will run you over trying to get to the milk stand for one of these treats!

2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
2 ½ Cups Old Fashioned Oatmeal
1 cup Molasses
1 large Carrot, grated
1 large Apple, grated

Combine everything in a big bowl and mix it well. Press the mixture into a greased baking pan and bake at 400 ° until they start to get crispy. It usually takes about 35 minutes in my oven. Allow the treats to cool and then break or cut up into bite sized pieces.

Homemade Treat Block for Chickens

I make these for my chickens in the winter time to help keep them entertained. I make them in the small, disposable foil loaf pans. If you put a hole through them with a bamboo skewer before you bake them, you can hang them up in the coop with a piece of floral wire.

2 cups Scratch Grains or Cracked Corn
1 cup Oatmeal
½ cup Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
½ cup Dried Mealworms
½ cup Cornmeal
3 Eggs (I crush up the shells and include them in the mixture.)
½ cup Blackstrap Molasses
½ cup Liquified Coconut Oil
½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper (Cayenne is good for warming the body. You can leave it out if you make these in the summer.)

Preheat your oven to 325°. Combine and mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir until everything is mixed well. Pat the mixture into your loaf pans. I like to make the blocks about 2 or 3” thick. Bake them in the oven until they start to harden. For the size block I make, it takes about 30 minutes.

Making these recipes for your animals is fun and rewarding! Let us know if you give them a try!

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7 Tips to Keep Your Lips Kissable Through Winter

Winter may be the season of holidays and celebration, but the cold, windy weather makes life difficult for your lips. Fortunately, chapping and flaking needn’t be the inevitable results of the shorter, darker days, and these tips will help keep your lips soft and beautiful into spring and beyond.

Keep Hydrated

This is the single most important tip when it comes to keeping your lips in good shape. Cold and windy weather can be just as dehydrating as hot and dry, sometimes even more so, as you’re likely to drink less than when the temperature is soaring. Make sure to drink plenty of water to keep your liquid levels up, even if you’re not feeling particularly thirsty.

Cut Back on Caffeine

A shot of strong coffee might be just what you need to get going on a dark and gloomy morning, but unfortunately, caffeine is a powerful dehydrator. Consider switching to a fruit juice in the mornings, even for just a couple of days a week, or alternatively follow your caffeine hit with several glasses of water spread throughout the morning. Herbal teas make a warming alternative to coffee in cold weather, and they don’t contain the caffeine that can remove vital moisture from your body.

Go Easy on Alcohol

Alcohol is another cause of dehydration, and while a glass of wine in front of a roaring fire can be an indulgent luxury on a cold night, don’t forget to drink water before going to bed. This is particularly important if you prefer to sleep in a warm bedroom, where you can lose a lot of moisture overnight, especially through exposed skin such as your lips.

Go Heavy on Lip Balm

During winter, it’s important to wear lip balm as a habit, and not just when your lips are starting to become chapped. Going back and forth between the warmth of heated buildings and the cold wind outside can also be drying, so also use balm indoors. While it’s best to use a gentle lip balm that won’t cause irritation, it’s also a good idea to use one with a strong taste. If your lips feel dry, it’s easy to lick them without noticing it, which only makes matters worse because the saliva will dry in the winter winds, leading to chapping. A strong-tasting balm will help you notice this unconscious habit more easily.

Pay Attention to Exfoliation

Exfoliating your facial skin should be a regular part of your beauty routine, but your lips will benefit too. Gently removing the dead cells and impurities from your lips reduces chapping and flaking, and promotes circulation to keep your lips healthy and luscious. However, for your lips you’ll need to use something milder and less abrasive than your usual facial scrub. Try a sugar lip scrub you can find at the drugstore, or look for a DIY recipe and make your own.

Do You Need That Lipstick?

The daily routine of applying and removing lipstick can place the surface of your lips under tremendous strain. In the summer, using gentle hypo-allergenic cosmetics can be enough to avoid harm, but the harsh winter elements can inflame any tenderness in your lips. If you do wear lipstick, try and avoid matte formulations, which are especially drying. Also, use as mild a remover as you can, and always follow with a moisturizing lip balm.

Emergency Rescue

Unfortunately, even with your best efforts, you can still end up with painfully chapped lips if the weather is particularly inclement. If this happens, the worst thing you can do is to lick and nibble your lips, which will only increase the irritation. A good moisturizing lip balm can help. In severe cases, applying a small amount of a hydrocortisone cream twice a day can quickly bring the situation back under control, reducing inflammation and soothing the itching or pain. However, this shouldn’t be used by children under the age of 10, by women who are pregnant, or for longer than seven days without a doctor’s prescription.

Each season offers its own challenges for your complexion, but it’s the winter that’s hardest on your lips. Following these tips will help you greet spring with lips just as kissable as they were during the last balmy days of summer.

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