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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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Oh, we are all about…




The Basics Of Beekeeping (An Overview)

Today kicks off a brand new series on beekeeping, and you can think of this “quick start” guide as your overview to keeping bees, whether you have one or one hundred acres. If you’re looking for natural sweetener and beeswax, beekeeping is right for you. Keeping bees sounds intimidating, but it couldn’t be easier.

Education

We would never recommend beekeeping without doing your research first. Bees are rewarding, but you’ll need to do a lot of upfront information-gathering if you want to keep them happy and healthy.

Check out your local library or beekeeping organization for educational resources. Many beekeepers offer informational classes, but even a YouTube tutorial will take you far. Learn about bee anatomy, diseases, communication (yes, they communicate!), how honey and wax are made, and the bee life cycle.

This knowledge will take you far on your journey to keeping bees.

Materials

Once you’ve learned about bees, it’s time to get started! You’ll need a few startup materials.

Bees: We recommend finding bees locally. Connect with a local beekeeper, bee society, or even a bee removal company. Many people will happily relocate a mature hive to your property for free.
Hive: Your bees need a place to live. You can choose one of two types of hives: Langstroth or top-bar. Most beekeepers use the Langstroth hive, which is made of vertically stacked boxes. Top-bar hives, which are horizontal, are good in some situations, but most beekeepers swear by the Langstroth hive.
Proper clothing: Bees are infamous for their stingers. Protect yourself with a proper beekeeper suit. These are steep at a $150 price point, but that’s still cheaper than an ER bill!

Maintain the hive

Once your hive is set up, you’re ready to go. Check your hive daily to monitor its health. Make sure to act at the first sign of trouble; a sick hive is an unproductive hive. If you ever have questions about your bees, connect with a professional beekeeper to troubleshoot the problem.

As far as regular maintenance is concerned, you can harvest honey and beeswax in spring. Remember to prepare the hive for winter, as well!

Not for you?

If you want to reap the benefits of bees without the fuss, you can always connect with a local beekeeper. Many keepers will place their hives on your land to pollinate crops, and in exchange, you get free honey and higher crop yields. What’s not to love?


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