Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm Happy Tummy Treats

Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm Happy Tummy Treats

Taking time with your hens is the highlight of anyone’s day, and treats make it all the more special.

 

My hens come running when they see I have goodies (and sometimes jump ON me), and it’s definitely adorable watching how excited they get.

 

Suet cakes (treats made with a fat to bind the ingredients together) are definitely a favorite around here, and they’re a great treat to make sure your hens are getting enough fat in their diet as well as make sure they gobble down their herbs.

 

This week’s treat for hens is a brand new recipe that includes our old favorites, sunflower seeds and oregano, with an extra twist: lemon balm and wheat berries.

 

Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm backyard chicken Treats

 

Why these ingredients?

I made these suet cakes using coconut oil because of its health benefits for you AND your chickens.

 

If you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute tallow (rendered beef fat) or lard (rendered pork fat). You can also use leftover bacon grease (which chickens LOVE).

 

Coconut oil itself is great to help your chickens maintain their weight (has lots of healthy fats) AND it’s known for its antibacterial properties. So if you’re worried about your chickens as they free range and wander around in the dirt, the coconut oil is a great basis for any treats.

 

Oregano is also known for its antibacterial properties (it’s become the darling of the chicken industry because of it), and contributes to overall health for your flock.

 

Lemon balm (aka Melissa) is well known as a natural antibacterial and has anti-inflammatory properties – great for helping your chickens’ tummies.

 

It also has a bright, citrus scent, which will leave you feeling happy as you shred it for your chickens (if you have any left over, make it into a tea for yourself, which you can drink while spending time with your fluffy butts.)

 

So why wheat berries? Well, they’re pretty inexpensive, and chicken love them. Non-GMO and organic wheat berries are a favorite of my chickens, and I know it’ll be for yours as well.

 

Also, the great thing about wheat is you can either use it straight out of the bag in these treats OR you can sprout them for 2 or 3 days into fodder.

 

The act of sprouting makes the wheat berries more nutritious and hens LOVE them, and the sprouts are a great boredom buster.

 

If you’re not sure how to sprout wheat into fodder for chickens, it’s easy.

 

Sunflower seeds, if shelled, aren’t worth trying to sprout, but chickens love them, and they’re full of healthy fats that are great for your hens. I’ve yet to meet a chicken who DOESN’T go crazy for sunflower seeds!

 

In this recipe, I used shelled sunflower seeds, but if you prefer to leave the shells on, that’s fine as well. Be sure to use black oil sunflower seeds.

 

I like to use a mini-cupcake pan for suet cakes because it makes great single-sized servings and they’re not so huge your chickens take a few bites then ignore the rest.

 

The pans are also a great way to make sure each hen gets a treat. If you have a large flock or a bossy alpha hen, some of those down further on the totem pole might not get a chance at the larger treats.

 

Ready to make your hens some healthy treats?

 

Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm Happy Tummy Treats

Ingredients per chicken

¼ cup melted coconut oil

¼ tsp dried lemon balm

⅛ tsp dried oregano

2 tablespoons wheat berries

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

Mini-cupcake pan

 

(If using a regular-sized cupcake pan, double or triple ingredients, and know that each treat is enough for 2 or 3 chickens. You can always cut them down to individual portions.)

 

Directions

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Melt the coconut oil so it’s completely liquid.

 

As the coconut oil is melting, fill each cup in the cupcake tin with the dry ingredients. You want each tin to be nearly full.

 

When the coconut oil is completely melted, pour over the dry ingredients until the coconut oil reaches the top. Refrigerate until solid.

 

To remove, turn the pan upside down and knock on the bottom a few times until the treats are loosened. Serve to your chickens immediately.

 

Make yourself a cup of tea with any remaining lemon balm and drink while you enjoy watching your chickens gobble up their goodies!

How To Infuse Oil With Herbs For Traditional Home Remedies

How To Infuse Oil With Herbs For Traditional Home Remedies

Wondering how to infuse oil with herbs? It’s really simple – and incredibly useful.

 

For millennia, humans have used herbs for all kinds of things – health, cooking, for religious purposes, keeping livestock healthy, and more. So, it’s nothing new to infuse oil with herbs for your own purposes.

 

And there’s a reason for our species dependency on our plant friends – herbs have natural properties in their essential oils that are useful for seasoning dinner and medicinal uses, such as calming an upset stomach.

 

When it comes to herbs, there’s various ways to use them such as eating or drinking them or applying topically – on yourself or your animals, including your backyard chickens.

 

To use herbs for things like cuts and scrapes, to promote healthy skin, as an anti-inflammatory, or more, you can apply the plants by themselves (there’s lot of traditional and historic records of humans using plants alone.)

 

OR you can infuse them in an oil, which makes the plants easier to spread over a large area and concentrates the natural chemical constituents of the plants.

 

How to infuse oil with herbs

 

You can also do other things with the infused oils, such as make lotions, salves, and more.

 

For your backyard chickens, using infused oils can be better than using the plants themselves. Chickens are less likely to pick at the oil and eat the plants, and it’s easier to keep oils on an animal that likes to run around and forage.

 

For complicated applications, such as open wounds, oil can make it easier to apply and “stick” the herbs, and get around folds of skin that might otherwise harbor bacteria.

 

Imagine trying to keep a bandage full of herbs on a hen! It CAN be done, but it’s just easier and better peace of mind with infused oils.

 

Infused oils also mean the essential oils of the plant – the part that helps the most – is more concentrated and bioavailable to your chickens.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you how to infuse oils with herbs…and we’ll use two GREAT medicinal herbs – comfrey (botanical name Symphytum uplandicum) and plantain (botanical name Plantago major).

 

Both have a long history of helping maintain healthy skin, regrow skin after injury, reduce pain from sprain, strains, and more.

 

Multiple studies have shown that comfrey aids in relieving pain from sprains and strains, and you can easily use oil infused with comfrey to make salves.

 

Now, there’s plantain the herb (botanical name Plantago major, also known as broadleaf plantain) and plantain the fruit (banana cultivars of the genus Musa) – they’re two different species of plants with nothing to do with each other. 

 

The plantain we’ll use in this recipe (Plantago major) is a traditional home remedy for insect bites and as an anti-inflammatory.

 

how to infuse oils with herbs

What oils should you use?

There’s lots of options here. The easiest oil to use is a high quality olive, although you can use sunflower, grapeseed (which has lots of antioxidants and vitamins), jojoba, coconut oil (fractionated or not) or any other oil you can imagine.

 

I would stay away from corn oil, which is likely to be impure and genetically modified, and anything with soy. I’m also not 100% sure how well peanut oil will work.

 

The key is to use a 100% pure, high-quality oil.

 

How to infuse oils with herbs

This is probably the simplest thing you’ll do all week. To get the benefits of the herbs in the oils, all you need to do is soak the herbs in your oil of choice.

 

I use mason jars to infuse oils with herbs because they’re easy to clean, keep on a shelf out of sunlight, and are readily available.

 

Place the herbs in the mason jar – for this recipe I used a 1:1 ratio of comfrey and plantain, about ½ a cup of each. For a pint mason jar, 1 cup of herbs total is what I use – that way, the oil soaks all the bits of plant and nothing molds or invites bacteria into the mixture.

 

As long as the herbs are covered in oil, they won’t mold, but if any air pockets remain, there’s the potential for them to rot.

 

Pour the oil over the herbs until the jar is full, then top with a mason jar lid.

 

Allow the mixture to infuse for up to 6 weeks. Realistically, you can do it for much longer than that, but you’ll want to use the mixture as fast as possible and in my experience, any longer than that has diminishing returns.

 

After 6 weeks, pour the mixture through a mesh strainer and into a clean mason jar to separate the oil from the herbs. Your infused oil is now ready for other recipes!

 

Depending on the herbs you’ve infused (calendula is one of my favorites!) you can also cook with this oil or use it as a salad dressing.

 

What herbs can you infuse oil with?

Pretty much any herb you want. A great alternative to plantain and comfrey are oregano and, as mentioned before, calendula and rose, which have great properties to promote healthy skin.

6 Genius Hacks To Preserve Fresh Herbs

6 Genius Hacks To Preserve Fresh Herbs

Got a ton of herbs growing in your garden? Then you’ll probably want to preserve them.

 

I’ve been harvesting 5 gallon buckets of herbs for the past couple months, and drying them just isn’t doing it for me anymore.

 

There’s only so many dry herbs one person needs!

 

Drying them is great – but it doesn’t always preserve the taste (and some dry herbs just don’t hold a candle to fresh herbs!)

 

Herbs also have more than just culinary use, and there’s MANY more ways you can preserve them than just hanging them upside down and wait for them to turn crispy and dry.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you 6 different ways you can preserve fresh herbs so they still taste fresh and so you can use them for more than just cooking.

 

Freeze in Oil

Preserving herbs in oil and then freezing them isn’t a new idea, but it works really, really well to preserve the taste.

 

In an ice tray, pour oil (usually olive oil, but you can also use coconut or avocado oil) into each compartment and then add chopped, fresh herbs.

 

Slip into your freezer and leave them there until needed for cooking.

 

Preserve in Oil

Did you know that you can preserve fresh herbs in oil and that it will be shelf-stable for much longer?

 

Humans have been using oil for centuries to preserve herbs, and the oil takes on the scent, taste, and medicinal properties of the herbs.

 

If you like the taste of basil on your pasta, but don’t really like pesto, add basil to olive oil (making sure to completely cover the herbs, otherwise they’ll mold). In a couple weeks, you’ll notice the oil start to smell like the herbs.

 

If you like making your own salves, lotions, and lip balms, and want to use herbs to make them even better, you can use herb-infused oils.

 

For example, if you want to use the skin-soothing properties of calendula or dandelion, soak the herbs in oil for 2-4 weeks. Then use the oil as you normally would in your favorite recipes.

 

Dry in Your Microwave

If you want to dry your herbs but don’t want to wait weeks (and possibly have dust collect on the plants or lose leaves if they fall off during the drying process), you can dry them in your microwave.

 

Place herbs in a single layer without their stems on a on a paper towel, and place on a microwave-safe plate. The paper towel will help absorb extra moisture.

 

Dry in 30 second intervals until completely dry. Store on your shelf in a mason jar and use as needed.

 

Dry herbs CAN be used to infuse oils as well.


If you don’t want to use a microwave, but don’t want to wait weeks, you can use a dehydrator like this one.

 

Preserve Fresh Herbs Longer in a Mason Jar

If you want to hold on to fresh herbs for cooking or medicinal use but don’t need to preserve them for long-term storage, try this trick.

 

Fill a mason jar halfway with water, and place your herbs, stem down, in the mason jar.

 

Cover with a plastic bag, and secure the bag to the mason jar with twine or a rubber band. (Don’t seal with the jar lid and ring – leave them off).

 

Store inside your fridge – the herbs will stay good for a couple weeks. This works because the herbs aren’t as exposed to air, and aren’t kept in an overly moist environment (like if you just kept them in a plastic bag and susceptible to condensation).

 

Make Herbed Salt

Another genius hack to preserve herbs is to preserve them in salt. Like oil, humans have been using salt for generations to preserve food.

 

Over time, the salt will take on the taste of the herbs.

 

What you’ll need:

 

  • Salt, such as kosher, sea, or other large-grain salt. (Not table salt)
  • A mason jar
  • ½ – 1 cup of fresh herbs, chopped

 

Place a layer of salt at the bottom of your mason jar. Then, layer a small amount of herbs. Alternate until the jar is full or you’re out of herbs.

 

Store on a shelf until needed, but use within 1 year.

 

Craft Herbal Vinegars

Finally, you can preserve your herbs in vinegar (apple, white, wine, etc). Pretty much the sky’s the limit.

 

Like oil and salt, humans have used vinegar for centuries to preserve food (and sometimes human bodies – yuck).

 

To make your own herbal vinegars, grab a mason jar and fill it with your favorite vinegar (white is mine – good for salad dressings).

 

You can add either whole or chopped herbs, but fresh herbs are best in order to impart as much flavor to the vinegar as possible.

 

Remove any wilted, yellow, or funky-looking herbs before preserving the rest.

 

You can use herbal vinegars in cooking or as a hair rinse (rosemary vinegar is great for your hair). Herbal vinegars also make a great gift.

Bugs Bugging Your Pets? Here’s 3 All Natural Essential Oils You Can Use To Keep Bugs At Bay!

Bugs Bugging Your Pets? Here’s 3 All Natural Essential Oils You Can Use To Keep Bugs At Bay!

Today, I’m going to show you how you can use essential oils to prevent and deter insects that can bother your pets.

 

With some notable exceptions (which we’ll talk about below), essential oils are safe to use on and around your pets when diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil (on large animals, I’ve been able to put them directly on depending on the situation.)

 

Naturally, when using oils, you want to remember safety first – when in doubt, dilute. Oils are powerful stuff!

 

In this article, we’re going to talk about keeping pet-annoying insects at bay, including:

 

  • Fleas
  • Mites
  • Ticks

 

We’ll cover using oils with dogs, chickens, and large animals.

 

A word about cats: Certain oils, when used in large quantities, can harm our feline friends, so we won’t be including cats in our discussion today. Citrus oils, in particular, are known to cause problems with feline livers, preventing them from functioning correctly.

 

We’ve diffused citrus oils (bergamot, orange) around our two cats a couple times a week, and always give the kitties a chance to leave the room. Our cats have been fine, but I would hesitate to diffuse oils consistently in a closed room with our cats, and I would not personally use citrus oils directly on them either.

 

I recommend you speak to a knowledgeable vet before using any essential oils on your cats.

 

Now, on to the bugs we’ll eliminate today!

 

Get Rid Of Bugs That Bother Your Pets

 

When it comes to fighting bugs and getting rid of bug itchies, lavender essential oil is your best bet. It counters all the insects we’ll discuss, and it’s soothing enough to use. Lavender also promotes healthy skin, so you can use it topically on your pets (diluted with coconut oil).

 

To prevent insects like fleas in your home, you can diffuse lavender as well – and as a bonus, it’ll make your house smell nice (and help you destress….or help your kids stop climbing the walls).

 

Fleas

When someone asks me about preventing insects on their pets with oils, they’re usually thinking of fleas.

 

One summer, we had a TERRIBLE flea infestation in our home. I cannot say how it started….but it started.

 

Lavender was my go to – and after I constantly started diffusing it, lo and behold our infestation stopped. Immediately. What a relief!

 

Preventative Spray

If you want to an all-natural preventative spray you can use regularly on your pets (particularly dogs), then go grab your favorite spray bottle, and fill it with water.

 

Add 2-3 drops of your favorite lavender essential oil (keeping purity in mind  – DON’T buy these on Amazon. Go with an established brand so you know you’re putting only lavender oil on your pet).

 

Shake before using and carefully spray your pet. Avoid eyes, nose, and ears.

 

You can also use this spray on pet beds and blankets. Allow bedding to air dry so your pet doesn’t get the oils in their eyes or noses.

 

Homemade Flea Collar

Commercial flea collars are full of chemicals….so you might not be so crazy about using them on your pets. You CAN make your own all-natural flea collars with oils, though!

 

To make an all-natural flea collar, grab a clean bandana and add 5 drops of oil evenly spread throughout the cloth. Tie the bandana around your dog to prevent fleas. Re-apply the lavender oil every couple of days as needed.

 

Flea Dip

If things have gotten bad enough, you’ll probably want to give your pet a good old fashioned flea dip.  To make a homemade flea dip, you’ll need:

  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon castile soap
  • 2 drops lavender oil

 

Fill your tub with water (I go for “just barely warm” water so I don’t accidentally scald my pets). Add in 2 drops of oil, making sure to keep your pet’s face out of the water. If you don’t think this is possible, then leave the oil out, and use the all-natural preventative bandana after your pet is dry.

 

Rub in the castile soap, making sure to thoroughly coat your pet. Let sit for a couple minutes, if your pet will allow it. You will probably start to see fleas emerging. It’s a slightly-disgusting-but-satisfying feeling.

 

Hose off the castile soap/lavender water mixture. Dry your pet, and use the all-natural flea collar bandana above to prevent fleas from returning.

 

You can also use cedarwood essential oil in addition to or instead of lavender.

 

Mites

Mites are no good for any animal. We once were given a rabbit with such a bad mite infestation in his ears, he could not walk properly (the infection was giving him vertigo). Since then, I try to stay up-to-date on preventing mites. On our farm, we’ve used oils to prevent fleas on dogs, rabbits, and chickens.

 

Dogs

For dogs, lavender oil is a good option (see fleas above).

 

Backyard chickens

To prevent mites in your chicken coop, a peppermint oil coop spray is ideal. To make the peppermint oil coop spray, grab your favorite spray bottle and fill it with 8 oz WHITE vinegar.

 

Add 5-10 drops of peppermint essential oil, and spray liberally around the coop (making sure to get all nooks and crannies). Make sure your flock is out of the area (the oils are safe, but better safe than sorry). You can read more about using peppermint oil in your coop here.

 

For mites ON your chickens, diatomaceous earth is my go-to. You can read about it here. If you want to use oils instead of DE, 1 drop of peppermint diluted in 4 tablespoons coconut oil is my go-to to promote healthy skin. Apply to the area of concern 2-3 times a day, or as needed.

 

Rabbits

For our rabbits that have mite infestations in their ears, we carefully clean the ears so they’re free of build up. We then follow up with 1 drop of lavender diluted in 4 tablespoons of coconut oil (melt the oil then add the drop of lavender).

 

Rub it on the flesh inside the ear, but only the upper portion – NOT inside the ear. Keep the ears clean regularly, and reapply the coconut/lavender oil.

 

Ticks

Once your pets have ticks, you just have to pull them out. To clean the wound, you can use 1 drop oregano oil mixed with 1 tablespoon coconut oil and apply after washing the wound well.

 

To make an all-natural repellent spray, mix 3 drops of lavender in 8 oz of water. Spray liberally before your pet goes outside, making sure to avoid the face, eyes, ears, and nose. You can also use cedarwood.

 

The CDC has even said that these oils are safe essential oils to repel certain insects, ticks included.

55+ July 4th (All-Natural & Organic) Red, White, & Blue Recipes

55+ July 4th (All-Natural & Organic) Red, White, & Blue Recipes

4th Of July is almost here…and you’re probably looking for all-natural, organic solutions to cookout staples!

 

It’s really easy to slip during this patriotic holiday, but this article will keep you on track. This is a collection of over 50 recipes for desserts, fruit salads, appetizers, and snacks that you can alter with all-natural, organic ingredients.

 

Particularly with the 4th of July, we want our food to be red, white, and blue….which means dying our food with potentially questionable dyes.

 

So, before we get started, here’s Where You Can Buy All Natural Vegetable-Based Red & Blue Food Dyes on Amazon.

 

If you order them now, they will be at your home before you get busy preparing food for a star-spangled cookout.

 

Where appropriate, I’ve also provided links where you can buy all-natural, organic, and non-GMO ingredients.

50+ Recipes For the 4th of July

Cheesecakes

Red White Blue Cheesecake Salad 

 

Red White Blue Cheesecake Salad 

 

Red White Blue Cheesecake Bites 

 

Red White Blue Cheesecake 

 

Cheesecake Topped Flag Cake

 

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

 

No Bake Red White Blue Cheesecake 

 

Red White Blue Cheesecake Strawberries 

 

 

Popsicles

Red White Blue Frozen Banana Pops 

 

Red White Blueberry Popsicles 

 

Paleo Firecracker Pops 

 

4th Of July Coconut Water Berry Pops 

Where To Buy Organic Coconut Water

All-Natural Organic July 4th Red, White, & Blue Patriotic Recipes

 

 

Desserts

Red white blue trifle

 

Red White Blue Angel Food

 

Red White Blue Cupcakes

 

Red White Blue Meringues 

 

Patriotic Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs

 

American Flag Marshmallow Pops

 

White Chocolate Strawberry Trifle

 

Red White Blue Bark

 

Red White Blue Cookie Dough Dip

 

Star Spangled Slab Pie

 

Red White Blue White Chocolate Covered Strawberries

 

Firecracker Cakes

 

Red White Blue Berry Pie Bars

 

Red White Blue No Churn Ice Cream


Cookies

Where To Buy Organic Flour

Red White Blue Pinwheel Icebox Cookies

 

Fireworks Red White Blue Cookies

 

Red White Blue Cookies

 

Star Spangled Cookies

 

Patriotic Cookie Cakes

 

July 4th Sprinkle Cookies

Where To Buy All Natural Sprinkles

Where to Buy Organic Cake Mix

 

Red White Blue Chocolate Cookies

 

Firework Pudding Cookies

 

Red White Blue Bars

 

 

Salads

Red White Blue Pasta Salad 

Where To Buy Organic Pasta

 

Red White Blue Deviled Eggs

 

Red White Blue Patriotic Salad

 

4th Of July Fruit Salad With Honey Lime Glaze

Where To Buy Organic Honey

 

Blueberry, Strawberry, & Jicama Salad

 

Watermelon Feta Blueberry Salad 

 

Appetizers

Patriotic Taco Dip

 

Watermelon Blueberry Fruit Sparklers

 

Red White Blue Potato Skewers

 

Red White Blue Spaghetti

 

Pizza

Red White Blue Fruit Pizza

 

4th Of July Berry Pizza

 

Red White Blue Bacon Pizza

 

Snacks

Where To Buy Non-GMO Gluten-Free Pretzels

 

Patriotic Pretzels

 

Patriotic Pretzel Rods

 

Red White Blue Pretzel Bites

 

Red White Blue Patriotic Popcorn

 

Red White Blue Patriotic Popcorn