The cold temps are here and keeping the animals warm and the water in liquid state is top priority. Here are 3 simple ingredients that can be added to your water tanks to help keep them warm in icy Winter weather.
It was by acident that I discovered this little gem to help keep the water in liquid, or at least slushie, form. While nursing a sick pig and trying to get him to drink more water while providing him with a bit of iron at the same time, I put a decent amount of molasses in his water bucket. The next morning, which was the first freeze for the season, the main water tank for the goats had an inch thick sheet of ice on top, but the pig water was still perfectly drinkable, and only a little slushie. Ding, ding, ding! This became the first and most important ingredient in what evolved into the Keep Them Warm forumla.
The next time I was mixing my molasses mixture, I caught myself thinking about different things I could add that would be beneficial to the animals in the cold weather and I automatically thought of Cayenne. People had mentioned giving Cayenne to their chickens in winter to keep them warm and help keep egg production up, so I thought it made sense to add it here. Cayenne also has the benefits of being a vermifuge against intestinal parasites, a tonic herb that boosts the immune system, and a catalyst herb that boosts the efficacy of other herbs and supplements. This one is a definite winner!
Apple Cider Vinegar
To round out the formula, I naturally turned to apple cider vinegar (ACV), as it is not only known for being a great probiotic, but it has many more benefits as well. It provides energy for working dogs while repelling fleas and ticks and conditioning their coats. ACV may also improve digestion, provide relief from arthritis and inflammation, help adapt to colder temperatures, and help prevent urinary tract infections and urinary calculi. It also disrupts the development of bacterial and viral infections. Every animal can benefit from these attributes!
Order ingredients by clicking on each individual ingredient below (aff. links):
1/2 to 1 cup Molasses
1 tsp Cayenne
2 TBS Raw, Unfiltered ACV
Very warm water (not hot or you risk destroying the live part of the ACV)
Add first 3 ingredients to a quart-size Mason jar. Top with very warm water and secure the lid. Shake until the molasses is completely mixed. Pour this mixture into a 2.5 gallon chicken waterer and top with water as usual, or adjust quantity of ingredients and add to the size water tank of your choice. I give this formula to all my animals - chickens, guineas, goats, pigs, dogs, and cats.
Keep them warm! :)
Move over Scentsy! These all natural wax melts have ingredients I'm proud to share. More importantly, they lack ingredients that make people sick, harm the environment, and endanger animals. Actually, they're so simple and work so well that it really makes me wonder why in the world people would make these things with all the junk they like to put in them. It makes NO SENSE!
So, here it is - a short blog post for a really easy wax melt that's also pretty awesome.
Recipe (Yields about 1 ice cube tray with 1/2oz wells):
5oz coconut oil
3oz beeswax (those little pellets melt faster and are easier to weigh out)
A glug, drip, shake, or tap of the essential oils of your choice (really, just put what you want to put, it's not rocket science)
Tiny crockpot (I use this one - affiliate link)
Glass measuring cup (Like this one - affiliate link)
Something to stir with - butter knife or spreader works well
Silicon candy mold or ice cube tray (mine holds approximately 1/2oz in each well)
I start by putting about half an inch or so of water in my tiny little crockpot (below) and turn it on. I use a glass measuring cup to hold my ingredients, but I don't use the measuring cup for measuring in this recipe, so don't worry with that. I use my kitchen scale and weigh my ingredients. Now, weigh out your coconut oil and beeswax into the measuring cup and place the measuring cup into the crockpot. Cover everything with a towel and let it heat up. When the beeswax is completely liquid, give it a good stir, unplug the crockpot, then add the essential oils. Finally, pour the mixture into your ice cube tray/candy mold and let harden. You may want to speed the process in the freezer. They pop out very easily after a stint in the freezer. Store in an air tight container. I use small plastic bags.
These wax melts have a higher beeswax content than many other recipes I found online because I wanted them to melt nicely, but I didn't want them to melt when I didn't want them to melt. They're firm, but melt nicely and quickly enough. You can also use them for solid perfume or lip balm, so get creative with your essential oils. You could also infuse the coconut oil with herbs before starting this recipe for a custom wax melt with added benefits.
A lot to celebrate
This year was a very special year, as we had a lot to celebrate. Mr. Higher Ground was turning 40, the kids were turning 6 and 3, the ages where so many new adventures begin, and we had been here on the farm for 8 months. It wasn't just a birthday party, by any means. We wanted to share what we'd been working toward for the past 8 months with our family and some of our new friends.
The theme of our birthday bash was, appropriately, "Down on the Farm," and was almost like a miniature Fall Festival. We rented a moon walk and slide and tried to incorporate a bit of the farm throughout the evening - from the food to the activities. We even had a feeding time for the goats, chickens and pigs where the children got to feed pumpkin "innards" to the animals. That seemed to really thrill everyone and made them feel a part of farm life, if just for a brief time. All in all, I think it was a really fun time for everyone and the children were all smiles.
Pulling off Paleo
When most people think of birthday parties, the first thing they think of is cake and ice cream, right? Well, we do things a bit differently around here, so there would be no brightly colored, sugary icing, and no store-bought ice cream with God knows what in it (beaver butt). Instead, we threw one heck of a Paleo friendly birthday bash, complete with layers of Butter-Rum-Pear and Vanilla cake, frosted with Maple Vanilla Cream Cheese frosting, and topped with butter toasted pecans. The ice cream? Goat Milk Maple & Banana with milk from our very own goat! The rest was simple - BURGERS! Nothing fancy here, just grass-fed hamburger meat from one of our new farmer friends with the option of lettuce wrapped or on a bun (*cringe*).
You may be wondering how our non-Paleo (and even non-remotely-healthy-eating) friends and family responded to our "different" menu. One of the kids actually said "I can't believe healthy food can taste so good." That was enough thanks for me! Mission accomplished!
Now everyone has gone home, the bouncy houses are returned, the tables are down, and the cake looks like an attempted murder. All must return to normal but it is a bit hard to believe everything is over. No more planning. No more stressing. Just the sweet memories made. I couldn't have pulled any of this off without the tremendous efforts put fourth by my dear husband, my mom, my aunt, and my in-laws. They really made this happen and made it all so special while I was a bundle of nerves. Thanks a million times over for your unwavering love, support, and help! Until next year...
Against the Grain
Before I begin to tell you about my first experience rendering lard, let me just say that, contrary to popular belief instigated by commercial farmers via the USDA, the medical & pharmaceutical industries, and mainstream media, lard is NOT an unhealthy food. Lard from foraging, humanely and organically raised pigs is rich in Omega 3's as opposed to the Omega 6's produced from your average corn, soy, and other GMO-crop-fed hog. So, enjoy! Food is fuel.
Choosing a Method
I surveyed all my farming friends to see which practices they preferred for rendering lard and came up with two factors that seemed to be the same among everyone - 1. cut the pork fat into really small pieces or grind it, preferably 2. render slow and low to avoid a "piggy" taste. So, with that in mind, I decided to chop my 10lbs of pork fat into about 1" cubes and throw it all in a roasting pan and render in the oven at 200 degrees.
The rendering process was supposed to be complete after an over-night stint in the oven at 200 degrees, according to everything I read and the friends I asked. However, I think either my chunks were too large or I put too much fat in at once. Next time I will definitely be grinding the pork fat! Lesson learned!
So, since I wasn't happy with how things looked after 12ish hours in the oven, I just decided to let it go longer. That helped! I didn't keep close tabs on the hours spent in the oven, but I'd say at least 18hrs. At that point, I decided I would pour off all the lard so far. I strained it in a metal strainer first and then poured through a reusable coffee filter as it was going into pint jars. I still thought those chunks had more to give, so I put them back in for another few hours. Yep, that helped more! I poured lard off again, and this time I gave the remaining chunks a good squishing and then put them back in again for what would be the third and last time. I didn't get much more out of them, but it made me happy to know I hadn't wasted anything.
After only God knows how many hours in the oven (more than 24hrs), I finally came out with about 10 pints of lard from the 10lbs of pork fat I started with. Not bad!
Now, some of you may be wondering if all that cooking time burned the lard or made it off tasting or more golden than the snowy white everyone looks for in good lard. Well, let's just say that the proof is in the pudding - errrrr...lard (see pic below). Yes, I'm fluffing my feathers and strutting like a rooster right now. :) Look for my follow-up post called CRACKLINS WITH GRANNY to see what I did with the left overs from rendering lard.
Just your average ex-medical scientist turned herb loving, natural living, homeschooling mom, wife, and homesteader who values common sense, real food, real people, primal instincts, and self-sufficiency.
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