How To Keep A Chicken Coop Warm In Winter

How To Keep A Chicken Coop Warm In Winter

Not sure how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Then pull up a chair, because we got quite a few (battle-tested) ideas for you today.

 

(Want to know how to keep your flock’s water from freezing? Get my genius hacks here).

 

herbs for backyard chickens

 

While the winters never get too brutal here in Missouri, we still do get our share of freezing temps (usually in January and February) thanks to the polar vortexes from our Canadian friends up North.

 

And trying to keep a chicken coop warm in winter is never fun. In fact, it’s usually a battle of ingenuity, and we’re kept on our toes trying to find new ways to keep the flock toasty and cozy when it’s gotten so cold we don’t even have a prayer of getting the hose getting unfrozen.

 

Now before we begin, just remember: For the most part, your chickens will be fine during the winter.

 

Every year, I get a few people who ask whether their hens will freeze in temperatures below 40 degrees, and the answer is no. Your chickens will likely be fine no matter what.

 

Only once temperatures dip below zero and into the VERY below zero temperatures (negative 30 degrees, for example) do you really need to be concerned about keeping them warm.

herbs for backyard chickens

 

In temperatures above zero, your chickens will fluff their feathers to stay warm and all the walking around and foraging will help keep their blood circulating and their body temperature up.

 

At night, they’ll bundle together on a roost and keep their little legs warm by sitting on them.

 

But you still are probably wondering how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter, so here’s some ideas we’ve used on our farm to get you started!

 

  1. Shut the door midday and let the sun warm your coop up

 

We’ve had a lot of luck with the various coops on our property by using solar energy to keep the coops heated.

 

Our coops have windows, so for the first part of the day, we can open the coop doors and let the hens forage.

 

About mid-day, you can close the doors and allow the heat to get trapped inside the coop, keeping it warmer than it would be otherwise.

 

Now, don’t ask me how many degrees this will raise the temperature – that’s going to depend on a wide variety of factors.

 

And this won’t work 100% of the time. But it might be the difference between 22 degrees and 32 degrees in the coop – and that’s a heck of a difference.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

2. Use lots of straw & clean out every week

 

Straw is an amazing insulator – that’s why you see those straw houses becoming so popular.

 

Putting about a foot deep of straw in your coop will do wonders keeping the cold air out and the warm air generated by your flock’s body heat in.

 

As a bonus, your flock won’t have to stand on a cold floor.

 

Now, you might hear that straw is not good to use as bedding – to each his own. Some people have decided that straw harbors mites, and the answer is if you don’t clean your coop, pretty much anything will harbor mites.

 

Clean the straw out of your coop weekly, and you’ll be good to go.

 

Wondering how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Keep your backyard chickens toasty warm with these 6 genius hacks!

3. Deep litter method

 

If you don’t know what the deep litter method is, or if you’ve heard of it but aren’t sure what it entails, then you can learn everything you want to know right here.

 

Now for full disclosure, I don’t use the deep litter method. But people who DO use it claim it can raise the coop temperature by about 10 degrees – pretty significant when your talking about daily highs in the teens.

 

The reason it generates so much heat is because the manure dropped by the chickens composts, and the breaking-down process causes heat.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

4. Radiant space heater

 

Like the deep litter method, this one isn’t going to be for everyone. If you’re not sure what a radiant heater is, you can see an example here (you can also buy one here).

 

Now note, I didn’t say heat lamp – that’s a definite no-no because they get way too hot. Every winter, there’s a slew of posts on Facebook about people who used a heat lamp and their coop went up in flames.

 

Just say no to heat lamps.

 

Radiant heaters are a different thing – they don’t get so hot and have some safety features. They can raise the temperatures in your coop a few degrees, and that can make all the difference.

 

Just note, you will need an electrical source to use a radiant space heater.

 

Now, would I personally use one of these in my coop? Probably not. I’m WAY to paranoid about fires and our winters are not that cold – it’s the odd day that things get below zero.

 

That being said, you might want to use one – and if you do, the more power to you.

 

 

5. Use a treeline to break the wind

 

We have one horse pasture that I swear is 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the others. When the water is frozen solid in the other fields, it’s not even icy in this particular pasture.

 

And the reason is that there’s a lot of trees causing a ginormous windbreak. And it makes all the difference.

 

It’s pretty insane how much a treeline can keep a coop warm simply because it’s keeping the cold winds away from your flock.

 

If your chickens are in a tractor, or if you can somehow move them behind a treeline, you’ll be able to keep the coop from losing warmth.

 

If you can use something else to create a windbreak (moving the coop behind a structure so it’s protected), then that’ll work as well.

 

If you plan to use straw in your coop, you could even buy extra bales to create a “wall” to break the wind (don’t laugh – we’ve done it and it WORKS.)

herbs for backyard chickens

  1. Use insulation around doors and windows

This one will take a bit of planning on your part, but you can save a lot of heat by simply eliminating drafts. (After all, it IS those polar vortexes that contribute to the cold in the first place)

 

Making sure your coop doors and windows have proper insulation will go a long way.

 

Don’t use any of that spray foam however (my husband loves that stuff and it’s a nightmare to look at and clean up, and your chickens might decided to taste test it – never a good thing.)

 

If you’re trying to figure out how to heat a chicken coop in winter, then spend a little and get something like this that will do the job without taking the chance your flock will try to eat it.

herbs for backyard chickens

Want genius ideas to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Here's 6 genius hacks perfect for beginner backyard chicken mamas!

7 Controversial Canning Mistakes That Can Cost You Your Health

7 Controversial Canning Mistakes That Can Cost You Your Health

There’s common canning mistakes…and then there’s canning mistakes that can cost you your health.

Every year, I see the same articles floating around the internet and getting shared on Facebook. And I worry for the unsuspecting people who will follow this bad advice, and make all sorts of canning mistakes that might lead them to a hospital visit (and a big ol’ bill).

Canning vegetables should be a fun and easy process, and it is, when you follow established directions that are safe and have been studied.

In this article, we’ll debunk a lot of the canning myths I see floating around on the internet so you can feel confident canning your harvest.

Umm…actually….

One common response to debunked canning mistakes usually is something like “well, my grandmother did it and nobody died, so it must be okay.”

Yes, reported cases of poisonings from home canned goods are relatively rare. But that’s because a majority of people follow canning recipes outlined by research institutes such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

This center has studied many food preservation methods, which have helped to establish which home canning recipes and practices are safe – and which are just canning mistakes you want to avoid.

Here’s 7 canning mistakes you might see on Facebook. You should avoid these myths so you don’t get sick.

Mistake #1: Oven canning is safe

Oven canning, which involves placing filled jars in a hot oven then allowing the heat to seal the jars, is one common canning tip that’s totally a safety don’t.

The simple reason is the contents of your jars may not get hot enough to actually kill all the bacteria and mold spores in your food, which then have a likelihood of growing inside your jars.

While both water bath and pressure canning rely on water to conduct heat to kill bacteria, mold, etc. that might spoil food, the oven canning method involves only dry heat. Because dry heat does not raise temperatures as consistently as water, there’s no telling what the temperature inside the jar has reached.

Even if you leave your food in the oven for the same amount of time you would if you were water bath canning, the inside of your canning jar might not get as hot as it needs to be to properly kill all the bacteria crawling inside. It’s one of the most common mistakes we see!

Mistake #2: Flipping a hot jar upside down seals it well enough, and waterbath or pressure canning isn’t necessary.

A few articles on the internet offer the advice that that after filling a hot canning jar, it’s perfectly safe to flip it upside down to get the lid to seal. While your lid might seal, it’s potentially too weak to make a really sticky seal, and you might find in a few months that your jars are no longer sealed at all (and have a big green moldy mess).

Additionally, one of the most common mistakes with this method is that your food, which you just ladled into the jar, also probably didn’t reach a high enough temperature to kill off any nasties lurking around to spoil your food.

According to science, the biggest reason that water bath and pressure canning are safe is because they raise the internal temperature of the food to a high enough degree that a most of the bacteria and mold spores are killed.

If you rely on flipping the jar to create a seal, you’re making more than just a few mistakes by skipping an important step.

Mistake #3: Paraffin wax is an excellent sealer

Using paraffin to seal food is another common mistakes we see when it comes to canning. Using paraffin in canning to preserve food involves placing thin layers of wax over your jar until there’s about a half inch of wax that seals the opening.

Back in the day, canning with paraffin wax was considered safe, but the research shows that the bacteria and spores just aren’t sufficiently destroyed. There’s also no way to determine whether the jar is actually sealed well enough.  Stick with new mason jar tops!

Mistake #4: Inventing your own recipes is okay

While I’m always tempted to create my own salsa recipes, the truth is that inventing your own canning recipes isn’t a good idea, and so it’s 4th on our list of common canning mistakes. The canning recipes you see in the Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving and on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website have been rigorously tested for safety.

If you create your own canning recipe, the amount of acid needed to safely preserve food might be off (a pH of 4.6 or lower is advised), or the temperature might not get high enough to adequately destroy bacteria and mold spores present. If you want to make up your own canning recipes, you can always freeze it.

Mistake #5: If it’s canned at the store, then it’s ok to can it at home

This is one of the biggest common canning mistakes I see. Here’s why: Commercial manufacturers spend a lot of money researching canning and safe storage techniques. They also can heat their canning recipes to a higher temperature than we’re able to using our own equipment. While they have methods and data to safely preserve certain foods, we do not, and we can’t repeat these techniques at home.

Mistake #6 It’s not necessary to boil lids before canning

On the contrary, it’s very important to boil mason jar lids before using them to preserve fruits and veggies. While sometimes you’ll read that the lids will get sterilized during canning anyway, simmering the lids is meant to heat the rubbery part to ensure a proper seal. The last thing you want is to make mistakes that cause a poor or faulty seal to destroy all your hard work.

Mistake #7: Canning butter is safe

I frequently see recipes and articles that recommend preserving butter by pouring hot, melted butter into heated jars, then sealing the product by flipping it. In fact, it’s one of the most common mistakes I see shared on Facebook, and a hotly debated topic.

While it seems logical that dairy can be preserved in jars, at this time, there are no safe canning recipes to preserve butter out there. Butter is a low-acid product, meaning botulism spores have a better environment to grow.

Fats like butter can also protect bacteria from heat during canning, so for now, preserve your butter at home by freezing it. Kept at room temperature, your canned butter will quickly spoil.

Canning and preserving fruit & vegetables is safe....unless you make one of these common canning mistakes. Here's how to avoid them & stay healthy!

How A Tractor Can Be A Chicken Farmer’s Best Friend

How A Tractor Can Be A Chicken Farmer’s Best Friend

While we use tractors on our farm, we don’t use them that often.

But they’re great for lifting heavy items, moving manure, and so much more. So, I invited Julia of Hello Homestead to tell us all about how she uses hers!

How A Tractor Can Be A Chicken Farmer’s Best Friend

If I had to choose one thing I could not do without on my homestead it would be a farm tractor.

 

Sure, I realize there are homesteaders who lead quite happy and very productive back to the land lives without a tractor. I’m just very happy not to be one of them. Especially if you run a solo operation as I do, your tractor is an extra set of hands, extra muscle, a tool, a mode of transportation and a confidant.

 

That’s right, I’m not ashamed to say I talk to my tractor. And, depending on how it’s behaving, I also have been known to beg, cajole, threaten, and bargain with it.

 

My primary homesteading operation is a flock of egg-laying hens, each of whom I love dearly.

chicken farmer tractor

The author with a display tractor at a Museum in Iceland. Tractors are everywhere!

How I Use My Tractor

Think of a farm tractor as a mechanized farm hand.

 

Thanks to the front-end loader — a bucket attachment at the end of two hydraulic “arms” extending from the front of the tractor — I can move loads of fresh straw, piles of dirty straw cleaned out from the coop or large containers of water. All of which would be too heavy for me to tote by hand.

 

Sure, it’s work that could be accomplished with a shovel and sweat, but with the tractor, it’s a job that takes minutes versus hours, leaving me more time to play with my chickens.

 

Likewise, my farm tractor comes in handy when every so often it’s necessary to move the coop to a new location. That usually happens when the chickens have completely denuded their fenced-in yard of all vegetation.

 

With my tractor, it’s a matter of wrapping a sturdy chain around the structure, hooking the other end of that chain to the back of my tractor and carefully dragging it to a new location with greener pastures.

 

The chickens find this entire operation both alarming and fascinating, by the way.

 

Another way I can give the chickens fresh grass is to custom cut some for them.

 

In the spring of the year I will attach the “brush hog” — a giant lawn mower pulled by the tractor — and leave it on most of the summer.

 

Then every couple of weeks I can go out and mow a swath of pasture grass to create a path of tasty green shoots and cut clover the chickens love.

 

In fact, they love it so much they have been known to follow me as I mow in a sort of tractor-chicken parade.

 

The bucket is also super handy in the fall for getting chickens ready for winter by hauling in a month’s worth of wood chips, feed and straw to keep them fed and cozy. In the winter I use it to dig out snow from around the coop and in the spring to dig trenches to direct the melting water from all the snow away from the coop and chicken yard.

tractor with wood splitter


During firewood season, a tractor can haul wood and a hydraulic woodsplitter can mount to the rear.

Practice Safety on Tractors

As much fun as my tractor is to drive — and I’ve been known to take it for leisurely joy rides down my dirt road from time to time — I can never forget it’s a machine capable of as much destruction as it is productive work.

 

When operating it, I can never, ever get distracted.

 

Once, while using that bucket to dig a trench I got to day dreaming and ended up lowering it so much that it hit the ground and then forced the tractor’s front wheels up and off the ground. I panicked and hit the lever to raise the bucket — thereby lowering the front wheels — and ended up forcing the front wheels even higher, almost upending the entire tractor.

 

Safety and tractors have to go hand in hand.

 

This is a machine with a myriad of moving parts — any of which can catch an errant piece of clothing or even human hand in seconds.

 

If not covered with the appropriate safety shields, fast moving parts like the Power Take Off — or PTO, the spinning cylinder that uses a series of gears and cogs to transfer power from the tractor’s running engine to an attached implement — can harm or even kill the most experienced operator.

 

Because of their high centers of gravity, tractors can tip over more easily than cars or trucks and should always be outfitted with roll-over protection systems — bars that extend up and over the driver to prevent serious injury from being crushed should the tractor overturn.

 

But I am happy to report that, thanks to my healthy respect for the tractor, other than a couple of scares and some bashed knuckles from tightening bolts, my tractor has never been the cause of serious injury.

chicken farmer tractor with adult and child

It’s never too soon to learn the safe operation of a farm tractor.

How to Care for a Tractor

In return for all the help it provides, I keep my tractor in a warm shop during the winter which makes it very, very happy and — more importantly – super easy to start on even the coldest of a northern Maine morning.

 

Tractors like mine run on diesel fuel, a liquid that is not cold-tolerant.

 

At 32-degrees Fahrenheit diesel will start to get cloudy and thicken up — something we in the tractor world call “gelling.”

 

Once it gets down to around 15-degrees, it gets so thick it won’t flow to the engine and your tractor is dead on it’s wheels.

 

Trust me, you never want to be out in a frigid snowstorm at midnight covering your tractor with electric blankets, down sleeping bags and aiming a kerosine-powered heater at it all in an attempt to thaw out the fuel.

 

This is also where the begging and pleading came in.

 

Instead, make sure to always purchase “winter grade” diesel when the thermometer drops int ehf all and use an additive that further prevents gelling.

 

Also make sure you keep an extra fuel filter on hand because once the fuel inside a filter gels, you need to switch out to a new filter.

 

I love tinkering on my tractor and have gotten fairly good at routine maintenance like changing the oil, adding hydraulic fluid, changing filters and switching out implements.

 

Due to necessity, I’ve also gotten good at replacing broken sheer pins.

 

Sheer pins are specially designed bolts that are made to break — or “sheer” — if too much pressure is placed on a more important component of an implement.

 

The best example is the commercial snowblower that attaches to the back of my tractor.

 

If it happens to suck up a rock that then jams the blower, the PTO is still providing maximum torque to power it, but the blower’s auger is no longer spinning.

 

Before it breaks, the sheer pin attached to the auger will snap, bringing the blower to a stop.

 

I always have a handful of sheer pins tucked away on the tractor.

 

By taking care of my tractor, it takes care of me and, by extension, my flock of hens.

 

tractor with a charger

Even the best tractor needs some TLC from time to time. A battery charger is a handy device to have on the homestead

 

Chickens love a clean home, so when it’s time to clean the coop, the tractor is perfect for dragging away — far away — all the winter straw raked out of the coop.

 

My chickens seem to appreciate the tractor, as well. I will never forget the day I came out to find an egg careful laid right on the seat of my tractor.

 

tractor with chickens

Nothing says “homestead” like chickens and a tractor.

 

That, my friends, is reason enough to have a tractor.

 

Julia Bayly is a staff writer for Hello Homestead. She lives in far northern Maine with a flock of very sincere egg-laying hens, two retired barn cats who decided to move into the house, one tiny dog and whatever woodland creatures happen to wander through at any given time.

How To Make Mittens Out Of An Old Sweater

How To Make Mittens Out Of An Old Sweater

When my husband shrank one of my cashmere sweaters, I decided to use an old sweater mitten pattern to breathe new life into an item of clothing I would otherwise have to discard.

 

During winters on our homestead, the winds can get pretty chilly, particularly from the North, and a good, sturdy set of mittens can mean the difference between a miserable time filling water buckets and being able to complete tasks without freezing fingers.

 

While gazing at this ruined sweater, I remembered an old sweater mitten pattern I had used in my childhood, and decided now was a good to put it to use.

 

Looking for a free sweater mittens pattern? Here's a free DIY sweater mittens pattern you can use to upcycle old sweaters!

 

The pale blue sweater itself was in good condition, there were no holes or stains, so it would have been a shame to just toss it.

 

Winter was settling in, and since I needed new gloves anyway (and you can’t get much warmer than cashmere!), I settled on making new mittens.

 

Since I love reusing items I might otherwise toss, I was happy to try making myself a new item of clothing. I’m always game for saving a bit of money, too!

 

Making yourself new gloves using this old-timey sweater mitten pattern is easy. As my husband puts it, you just “draw a turkey and sew it together.”

 

Here are more specific instructions to help you out!

 

Repurpose old sweaters into mittens with this pattern!

 

Trace Your Hands Using a Marker

To make life easy on myself, I chose to make mittens with the sweater, rather than gloves with individual fingers. Although I’m sure eventually I will tackle gloves with fingers, I needed mittens quickly since I had to fill water buckets in whipping 30-mile per hour winds!

 

Tracing the shape of my hands on the sweater was easy enough, and since the marker would be on the inside of the finished product, I didn’t worry too much about using a marker that would dissolve in the wash.

 

Repurpose old sweaters into mittens with this pattern!

 

When tracing my hand, I left about a ½-inch of extra space between my hand and the line drawn with the marker. This ensured that when I sewed the mittens, there would still be enough room for my hands, and the mittens wouldn’t be too tight.

 

This is particularly an issue for your thumb, since it will end in a tighter space than the rest of your hand. I suggest leaving a good ½-inch or ¾-inch space to give your thumb a comfortable amount of space.

 

Here’s a little pro tip:

 

For these gloves, I chose to make the opening of the glove commence at the manufacturer’s hem of the sweater. That way, I could prevent the mittens from unraveling. It just seemed easier.

 

I repeated “drawing the turkey” four times, so I ended up with a front and back for each mitten. I’m right handed, so of course, the left pieces were more precise than the right, but this dilemma is easily resolved if you can get help with tracing your hands.

Sewing the Mittens

To stitch the mitten pieces together, I first mocked up a mitten by pinning two pieces together, making sure to line up the ends as closely as possible.

 

Pinning them together also made it easier to stitch later, and I made sure to line up the tops of the mittens, figuring if the opening of the gloves was uneven, then I could always just sew a hem.

 

When you’re mocking up your mittens, remember to keep the marker lines on the outside, so they will be hidden when you invert the gloves after sewing them.

 

I also made the gloves a little longer so they could cover more of my arm during the cold weather. This has kept drafts out of my sleeves during the windstorms that plague our farm during the winter.

 

To actually sew the mittens, I used a blanket stitch to ensure the mittens would stay intact as I worked around the farm.

 

Repurpose old sweaters into mittens with this pattern!

 

This type of stitch also allows the thread to expand without breaking, I’ve found, and the mittens don’t let in any cold air through the seams, so I know this type of stitch is doing its job.

 

Once the stitching is finished, just turn the gloves right side out, and they’re ready to wear!

 

I chose to hand sew the mittens because the project was fairly simple, but you can probably save a bit of time by using a sewing machine.

 

I kept the mittens the same pale blue color the original sweater was, but if I want to, in the future, I might dye them, especially since, thanks to the pale color, they’re starting to look a little dirty.

 

Goldenrod and onion skins are two natural dyes for wool I might consider testing out in the future.

 

Using this sweater mitten pattern, not only was I able to save some money and reuse a ruined sweater, but I was also able to provide myself with a new item of clothing to keep me warm!<!– Default Statcounter code for
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How To Make Mittens Out Of An Old Sweater


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Easy Pumpkin Spice Lip Balm Recipe You Can Make At Home!

Easy Pumpkin Spice Lip Balm Recipe You Can Make At Home!

Yes, it’s that time of year – pumpkin spice time.

 

You knew it was coming! Soon, everything will be coming up pumpkin spice, and you won’t be able to get away from it.

 

Pumpkin spice lip balm combines two of my favorite things – healthy, all natural lip balm made with beeswax and essential oils!

 

When making lip balm with essential oils, though, do me a favor – don’t buy oils off Amazon or oils that might have synthetic ingredients in it.

 

You’re putting this stuff on your lips and into your body, and you work hard to live a healthy life – don’t blow it on the easy stuff like essential oils.

 

I personally use Young Living essential oils – they’re high quality, pure, and smell great. I get the oils I need sent to my home every month – super convenient, and makes living a green, organic life super simple.

 

I love this lip balm because it contains a hint of fall while also keeping your lips moisturized (we all know how the chill air can be – it loves to dry our skin!)

 

You’ll love the scent also – it definitely will remind you and help you celebrate all the wonderful smells and freshness of fall!

 

Pumpkin Spice Lip Balm is easy to make & you'll love how it smells!

 

Making Pumpkin Spice Lip Balm

The oils you’ll need for your lip balm are:

  • 2 drops Clove
  • 4 drops Nutmeg
  • 2 drops Ginger

 

You can get these essential oils here: https://thefrugalchicken.com/YL

 

 

Other ingredients you’ll need:

2 tablespoons olive, avocado, or grapeseed oil (THIS is the oil I use)

1 teaspoon beeswax pastilles (I like this brand)

Lip balm tubes like these or lip balm pots like these

Funnel like this one to make filling the tubes or pots easier.

 

 

I use both pots & tubes when I make lip balm.  The pots are a bit easier to fill when the mixture is melted, but the tubes are easier for application. Both work well, so choose the best one for you.

 

Directions

In a mason jar, combine the oil and beeswax.

 

Make a double boiler by placing the mason jar in a pot of water. Heat until the beeswax is melted, stirring occasionally so the ingredients mix well.

 

Once melted, remove from heat & add the essential oils. Stir a couple times to evenly distribute the oils.

 

 

Next, use a funnel to pour the mixture into tubes or other lip balm container. Allow to cool undisturbed. When cool, cap the containers & use as needed.

2 Ingredient All Natural Hand Wash For Chicken Mamas!

2 Ingredient All Natural Hand Wash For Chicken Mamas!

Nobody likes having dirty, smelly hands after being in your chicken coop, which is why I developed a simple 2 ingredient hand wash that smells good and leaves you extra sparkly.

 

Now this isn’t to say that chickens are dirty – they’re sweet, intelligent, lovable creatures.

 

But I wouldn’t be a good expert if I didn’t advise you to wash your hands – and the hands of your little ones – after touching your hens.

 

The truth is that people CAN pick up yuckies from their backyard chickens, and it’s better to know that and work around it, rather than find out the hard way (like I once did….with a diaper full of the STINKIEST green poop I’m ever likely to experience in this lifetime – lesson learned, people.)

 

2 ingredient hand wash for kids

 

How can you protect yourself?

According to the Center for Disease Control, the best way to protect yourself after handling your chickens is to wash your hands with soap and water for 30 seconds, making sure to scrub your hands.

 

Is it a cure-all? No, but it’s better than not doing it, and hand scrubbing is scientifically proven to reduce diseases.

 

You can buy soap (like my calendula hand soap here) or make your own (goat milk soap is a wonderful thing). Either way, you’re being a responsible owner by keeping yourself healthy.

 

Bacteria can really become a problem when your hens have a high “bad bacteria” load in their guts. A simple way to counteract this is to give them probiotics.

 

2 ingredient all natural hand wash

 

The idea is the probiotics help good bacteria proliferate, which crowds out the “bad bacteria” such as salmonella, campylobacter, and E. coli.

 

Giving your hens apple cider vinegar and fermented feed is a step in the right direction.

 

2 ingredient all-natural hand wash

After using soap and water, you can follow up with a second wash that includes aloe and essential oils.

 

Two of my favorite oils for this recipe are Young Living’s Thieves essential oil blend and Animal Scents Infect Away.

 

2 ingredient hand wash

 

I only use a few drops and the bottles last quite a while. You can use any essential oil brand you like, just be sure the company is reputable and the oils are 100% pure.

 

Really do your homework, because the oils you see at big stores say they’re 100% pure on the box, but there’s no guarantee the oils in there are properly distilled or even the oils they claim on the label.

 

Which essential oils do I use?

I like using Young Living’s Thieves oil blend, which includes Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary essential oils.

 

If you’re wondering about the name, it’s inspired by a story originating in the Middle Ages.

 

According to legend, thieves would use a combination that included of fresh spices, and the essential oils would keep them healthy as they pilfered the possessions of people who had died from the Black Plague.

 

The story goes that because of the combination, they didn’t get sick from the Yersinia pestis bacteria said to cause the disease that killed nearly 50% of Europe in the 1300s.

 

The other oil I like to use, Infect Away, is formulated specifically for animals (although it’s also great or people) and comes pre-diluted with a carrier oil.

 

You’ll also need aloe gel which will help soften and keep your skin healthy.

 

2 ingredient hand wash

 

Making 2 ingredient hand wash

To 6 ounces of aloe gel, you can add 30 drops of your oil of choice. I like using Thieves so I use 30 drops of Thieves oil.

 

Shake to combine, and leave on your shelf to use after you wash your hands. You don’t need to wash your hands after putting the aloe gel mixture on; doing so would reduce the effect of the gel.

 

If I’m in a rush, I’ll just use the 2 ingredient hand wash.

 

If your hands have chicken poop on them, then by all means, don’t skip the soap and water step, though! The last thing you want is bacteria or some other parasite in YOUR body. (Yes, parasites can happen too, especially with children who have weaker immune systems than adults. Ask me how I know.)

 

My favorite 2 ingredient hand wash is also great after you come in from gardening or playing with other pets! I hope you enjoy making it!