Goats, rabbits, chickens (pages)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Don't Leave Home Without It...

What in the world of owies would I ever do without lavender? So many many times in my life lavender has come to my and my loved ones rescue: burns, cuts, bites, bruises and did I say burns? Yes, it merits mentioning more than once. I have NEVER had anything--home remedy or OTC--help with burns like lavender essential oil does. Last week I was burning the trash and failed to see a plastic bag burning with invisible flames. I reached into the trash burner to touch a match to some paper and the melted plastic dripped on my hand. On the medical community's pain scale of 1 to 10, two of my fingers registered a 10. I pulled the small bottle of lavender that I almost always carry out of my pocket and applied several drops. It took a minute or two for the pain to subside and when it returned, I just applied more lavender. The applications were about 20-30 minutes apart for a couple of hours, then 2-3 hours apart for the rest of the day. Blisters formed but there was no pain. It's been a week and I'm still using the lavender a couple times a day. Lavender's analgesic, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties make it a great little first aid product.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Energy Drinks...Really?

I’ve long been interested in energy drinks. Blood sugar disorders run rampant in my family so over the years I perfected protein drinks and smoothies. They are filled with high nutrition, high energy and are representative of true fitness and health. The “power”, “sports”, “fitness” or “energy” drinks are only extensions of my original concept. I question the real power or energy one gets from them. The Red Bulls and blue Gator Aides are Trojan horses filled with questionable additives and faux-nutrition. I groan inwardly to think of how many folks guzzle them down without a thought to their health. And, don’t even get me started on letting children and teens drink them.
The newest claim to fame is a near-beer from Germany, Alkoholfrei. Erdinger, the brewmeisters of Alkoholfrei, are hoping it will succeed with Americans where other alcohol-free beers have failed. Like its predecessors, it is not totally without alcohol having a less than 5% content which compromises distribution to minors in some states in the US. In Germany, Erdinger dispenses their near-beer at sporting events and hand out free cups at finish lines. Although I would never promote it as a sports drink, it does contain real energy-producing B vitamins and carbs, potassium and sodium. And, it’s a natural golden color with a sudsy appeal.
We are a sleep deprived nation, so naturally we depend on external stimulants to get us through the day. If you are in this category take time to reevaluate your schedule and your diet. And, check out my smoothie basics matrix for drinks on my website: www.rcvfarm.com (follow the Chef Gary links)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wild Times

We have had an enormous amount of fun with our new automatic-secret-spy-on-nature camera. We've captured the elusive farmwife retrieving things from the closet, the mysterious monster-sized mild-mannered black-as-the-pit-of-an-inkwell cat who lives with us but is rarely seen and finally some wild life. Seeing animals in their natural habitat--just what do they DO while I'm sleeping--was the mission of the cam. Gary, being the electronic-gadget-cyber person that he is, got the camera ready for action and we brainstormed over where to install it. If the first location was to be believed, we had no wildlife. So, we moved it a ways up our mountain. Walaa! Squirrels, raccoons and 'possums! Pretty tame stuff by most folks standards, but I'm excited. The first images showed them just walking by on their way to important animal stuff. Then we scattered a handful of corn...ahhh,who can resist? So here's the proof--we are not alone. The first one is 11 seconds of Rocky the Racoon going about his business. The second is a fat red squirrel determined to solve the riddle of the camera noise in 17 seconds; I think the last frame of his posterior tells us his opinion of having his picture taken.

Friday, February 18, 2011

They're c o m i n g...

Complete with brilliant sunny faces, flying down and nourishing greens..DANDELIONS! With only patches of snowy reminders that winter's still here, dandelions are waking up. I see proof of life with tiny saw-toothed lion-shoots peeking above ground level. I'll be digging some today to feed Cassie, my dog, my cats and Jack and Mable, my chickens. At record breaking temps yesterday, can spring be far?
PS This image is from two summers ago lest you think Rocky Creek is already "producing"! For a birdseye dandelion tutorial check out blog entry 3/3/09.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chicken Feed- Pass the Beans

I'm simmering a pot of beans on the stove. They smell good, but they're not for me. They're for Jack and Mable. Here at the farm we subscribe to the natural food method of feeding our animals. That simply means I do not leave it to Purina, Pedigree or any other pet food corporate conglomerate to decide what makes my animals healthy. Take a look at the stats...there are more ailments and disease affecting our pets than ever before. Then take a minute to research how pet food is made; it will literally turn your stomach. I decided years ago not to leave my health in the hands of someone else; to take responsibility for my own nutritional needs. After all, what the government says is safe today will be recalled next week. I'm an intelligent person; I can figure out what I need to do to stay healthy.

When we moved to Rocky Creek, I decided to do the same for our animals. Back to the beans. As with everything else, nutritional needs of chickens vary depending on which author you are reading, so I take in all the info, and like I do with my diet, I decide what my chickens need.

I give then a regular diet of corn, laying mash, mixed grains, oyster shell, herbs (of course), seaweed, table scraps and BEANS. (I'll go into the whys and wherefores of each of those on another day.) The beans give them a midweek protein boost. The beans I'm cooking today are navy beens with a protein content of 24.5%. I like my Mables to have around 17-18% protein and Jack around 20%. I'll put the cooled beans in a pan and let them have at it. Soy beans have a greater protein boost of around 27% but I have a love-hate relationship with soy so don't use it as often.

When feeding poultry beans YOU MUST COOK THEM. Beans contain trypsin which is very harmful to poultry when fed in a raw state. Cook about a cup of beans per dozen chickens for 15 minutes. They must reach a temperature of 180 degrees to take care of the trypsin. So, bring them to a boil and let them simmer away. Wala...a protein feast.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Now this is a snow I can relate to; one measured in feet not inches! That's the kind of snow I remember from my girlhood. We received two separate snowfalls here in the Valley each about 17-23 inches--depending on where I poked the yard-stick probe--with several small snowfalls of 1-3 inches. Then in addition we have the winter lasagna: snow layered with ice. February, the love month, has given us several days of 50-60 degree weather.

Although we still have plenty of snow, we also have a few grassy patches where the snow had been plowed thus allowing the sun to beam through with hot laser-like-snow-melting power. So, now we have wide avenues of ice-free-walking meandering purposefully throughout our farm. Mobile home to cottage. Mobile to barn. Cottage to barn. Mobile to mail box. We look like a veritable village. Cassie is appreciative of the pathways but still leaves them to do her business...such a thoughtful dog.

Jack and Mable (rooster and hens) LOVE the grassy walks. At last GREEN! Jack, the ever present provider, struts and calls his girls to first one spot of grass then another in a most delightful spectacle of male bravado. He completes his show by flying onto the highest gatepost and crowing with passionate satisfaction.

Chickens showing off their warm-weather antics have more than aesthetic appeal. Even though Mabels have never ceased egg production in spite of sub-zero temperatures and short dark days, the new green vegetation and the shinning sun will enhance the eggs with more nutrition. Mother Earth News did an interesting study about five years ago proving what my Grandma Lizzy always said: fresh air and sunshine for man or beast. Compared to the anemic grocery store eggs from caged hens, free-range chickens produced eggs with half the cholesterol, twice the vitamin E, 2 to 6 times the beta carotene (vitamin A)and 4 times the omega 3. Just crack open a Mabel-egg; it's so beautifully orange you'll think it's the sun shining in your bowl. Life is good.
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