Thursday, April 23, 2009
(Usual disclaimer: I'm not suggesting you stop taking your prescription medicines or stop seeing your GP or specialist. Herbs are not a substitute for prescriptions in serious health issues. However, before you grab the antibiotics or analgesics do your research.)
You can take back your control by making your own herbal medicines. First take some basic books out of your local library or get them through interlibrary loan:
Some that I use are:
"The complete illustrated Holistic Herbal" by David Hoffman
"The complete family guide to Natural Home Remedies" Edited by Karen Sullivan
"The complete Herbal Handbook for farm and Stable" by Juliette de Bairacli Levy
These books will describe the herbs, and have good colour pictures to allow you to correctly identify the herbs -- very important -- don't harvest any wild herbs without making a very definite identification. These books also give directions for time of harvest and preparation of herb for medicinal use.
Some herbal preparations are more effective than chemical medicine.
Some herbs that should be in every homesteaders herbal medicine cabinet:
Fresh garlic in clove form -- garlic reduces blood pressure, is antitumour, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial -- it should be eaten fresh for full affect. Expels worms and repels flies and mosquitos by making the host unhospitable to parasites.
If you are growing your own garlic, store it at room temperature in a garlic braid and it will last a year -- if you break it off from the braid it will last about 3 months.
St. John's Wort -- flowers are picked when just open and soaked in vodka or vinegar for 1 week. Vodka will turn deep red. To use take 1 tsp. of tincture in a 1/4 cup H2O. Used daily for mild to moderate depression, pain reliever, sleep aid. Effective for nerve pain or pain caused by bone breaks. Nervine. A massage oil can be made by soaking the flowers in olive oil, instead of vodka.
Yarrow -- dried flowers and leaves can be used as tea. Yarrow is a tonic and immune enhancer and is useful for colds or the flu. Stimulant without caffeine.
Willow bark -- can be used as a pain reliever and anti inflammatory. Make a tea from the bark. Make a basket from the striped stalks.
Balm of Gilead -- cotton wood buds steeped in olive oil. Strongly scented analgesic for muscle or arthritic pain. Healing of wounds. Works well on deep bone pain.
Oregano -- antiviral, antibacterial herb. Use generously in cooking or use oil of oregano as a supplement, to be taken at the first sign of a cold.
Lavendar -- antiviral, anti inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, make a tea from dried flower buds or use the essential oil.
Tea Tree Oil -- use the essential oil -- antiviral, anti inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial -- we used this straight on wounds to prevent infection, and on mouth absesses. Effective for mastitis when rubbed on the udder -- penetrates through the skin surface to the mammary tissue.
Peppermint -- use the dried leaves as a tea -- antispasmodic, aids digestion, antibacterial, antifungal, aids the removal of gas, stimulates without caffeine.
Activated Charcoal -- use for fast antidote to poisoning or for bloat in ruminant animals. Dose with charcoal mixed in water and force feed -- being careful not to get it in the lungs.
This list is only a few of the standard herbs that we use at Joybilee Farm -- for our animals and for ourselves.
More coming next time.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The llamas liked their pedicure and hair cut so much they blew Connie llama kisses when it was over.
Mocha had her first halter training session on Friday and walked with her halter over the creek and back to the corral. On her second session on Saturday morning she had it all figured out and didn't pull away at all. Llamas are so smart!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
They are cheap surfacants and foaming agents that are added to products that we expect to foam, such as hand soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and dish detergents. They break down grease and oils while they denature protein. In concentrations as low as .5% about 1/60th of the concentration of most shampoos and hand soaps, irritation and denaturing of protein can occur.
Possible detrimental health effects include:
- Skin and Eye irritant
- Hormone Imbalance due to synthetic estrogens that form from use of SLS and SLES.
- Eye irritations and eye deformities in Children from skin contact with SLS and SLES
- Protein denaturing -- we use it in DNA extractions in the lab because it breaks the cell structure of proteins.
- Potential to cause cancer due to dioxin formation and its ability to break down proteins.
Avoiding SLS containing products can help promote better health for you and your family. But its in everything including toothpaste, shampoo, handsoap, dish washing detergent, laundry detergent, car wash soap. What can I use instead?
Today I'll tell you how to make your own
SLS free and SLES free laundry soap.
Using the ends of natural soap bars or full bars of natural soap (not detergent bars) Place 4 to 6 cup of grated soap into a sauce pan. Add twice the water quantity to the quantity of soap. (ie. for 4 cups of soap add 8 cups of water) Cook over medium heat stirring until soap is dissolved.
Allow to cool. Soap will be of gel consistency. If it dries out add more water and allow to sit overnight.
This is a concentrated cleaner. To use add 1/4 cup to hot water in your washing machine.
Add 1/4 cup washing soda or 1/4 cup borax. Dissolve washing soda and borax completely before adding your clothes.
Wash clothes in warm or hot water and rinse in cold water for effective cleaning power. If you have very hard water add both borax and washing soda to each load.
I've used this formula for 27 years to wash my clothes and have never had problems with soap scum even in hard water.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Yesterday, our neighbor's toddler granddaughter visited Joybilee Farm. She fed the bottle lambs and then came into the rabbit barn to help me feed Finna's triplet boys. Now that's a handfull, those boys.
Finna is a pure bred, registered Saanan with copious amounts of milk. This is her first kids in 3 years, since she's been milking through the winters. Her teats are handfuls and she fills the bucket with a gallon of milk at each milking. But her teats are too big for her little guys to feed on, so we have to milk her into a baby bottle and feed each of the triplets with a bottle. To feed directly from Mom these babies will have to open their mouths very wide which they don't seem to want to do.
We have two coloured angora doelings that are on the bottle, too. One was abandoned by her mom -- a black doeling -- Christian Noire-- and the other one isn't getting enough milk from her mom -- Cocoa Channel is the chocolate doe.
You might think its a lot of work to bottle feed so many babies. Well it is, but there are rewards, too. These bottle babies come running when you call. They respond with lots of love and can't wait for you to come to the pasture.
When visitors come, these babies will be the first at the fence to greet them.
Spring is finally close. The first crocuses appeared yesterday -- two little orange ones and I can finally see a bit of bare ground in the pasture.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
We are too busy with babies to take pictures.
Kiwi spent some time with the flock yesterday for the first time since the day after his birth. His mother came right to him and Baa'd for him to follow her. I was amazed that she still wanted him. But she doens't have enough milk to be his sole source of nutrition, so he will remain a bottle baby, but no longer an orphan.
Auzzie, Kiwi's twin brother is also being supplemented with goat's milk, since Mom is short of milk for her two boys.
One of our doelings is also supplementing herself. She's been sneaking under ewes to steal sheep milk!
This is an interesting life at Joybilee Farm.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Friday, April 03, 2009
The Doukhobors had a spinning and fiber arts tradition, but they didn’t keep sheep in B.C. They instead traveled East by train, to the Doukhobor settlements in Saskatchewan and helped them shear their sheep and then brought home part of the clip to be processed at the settlements here. The Doukhobors were vegetarian and although they kept milk cows, they never kept sheep – possibly because of the large predators here – bear, wolf, lynx, cougar and coyote.
The Courthouse museum in Grand Forks has a wonderful display of quality Doukhobor textiles and tools on display right now – organized with the help of the Boundary Spinner and Weaver Guild and Joybilee Farm. “The Thread of our Heritage” show has been extended and will now be on display throughout the summer. So if you are interested in the history of fiber arts in Western Canada be sure and take in the show. Admission is by donation.
Yesterday we had 4 groups of elementary school children through the show. We made felted bracelets with them. They each wove a strip of fabric with a peace wish into our peace banner. They visited with “Kiwi” our new born lamb – the 2009 Joybilee Farm ambassador. They viewed the Doukhobor exhibit, too, and learned some of the history of the area.
An interesting book about Doukhobor traditions in Canada is “Unlike the Lilies” by Dorothy Burnham. It is the story of Doukhobor spinning and weaving and is excellent. The author interviewed Doukhobors that grew up watching their mothers and grand mothers spin and weave. The interviews took place in the late 1960s and early 70s. By then the communal lifestyle had been disrupted by internal factions within the communities and government hostility. By the 1950s the communes were breaking up. And the prosperity among individual families made the need for handspun fabric obsolete.
The textiles on display in Grand Forks are on loan from the grand children and great grand children of the women who spun and created them. The grand children are in their ‘80s now and have only vague memories of seeing their grandmothers spinning. Some of them took up weaving as a hobby; very few of them still spin.
Something interesting about the textiles – the thread was spun worsted and very tightly and finely. The Doukhobor spinning wheel orifice is small making a fine yarn the only option. The wool garments are like armor and the wool is scratchy. The fabric was woven with wool warp and weft or flax warp and weft or hemp warp and weft. No Linsey-Woolsey like in Eastern Canada due to a lack of available wool. The Doukhobors also brought garments from Russia with them when they immigrated and many of these garments were repaired and worn for generations. Some of the Russian garments are made from commercial fabrics.
The garments were sewn with a treadle sewing machine – not by hand. And the handspun, handwoven fabric wore extremely well, so it was unnecessary to remake many garments each year for each person.
Also there is a misconception that the Doukhobors used natural dyes. By the time they immigrated to Canada chemical dyes were on the market and found to be cheaper and easier to use. Some indigo was used but it is unknown if this was synthetic or natural indigo. “Diamond” was the brand of dyes most commonly used. Because of this the colours of the Doukhobor textiles are bold and modern looking. There is noticeable fading where a textile was exposed to sunlight such as on a carpet by a window.
Did you know that angora fiber from the angora rabbit is 11 to 13 microns in diameter, alpaca is 20 to 70 microns, cashmere is 14 to 19 microns, linen is 12 to 16 microns, kid mohair is 23 microns, adult mohair up to 38 microns, silk is 10 to 13 microns -- on a par with angora, while wool is 16 to 40 microns -- 16 being the finest merino from specially fed and housed sheep. Average merino fiber diameter is 22 to 24 microns.
Why does it matter? Fiber diameter is directly related to softness and comfort next to the skin. The finer diameter the fiber the softer it is. Angora rabbit is the finest diameter fiber, with the exception of quiviut which weighs in at 10 microns and is plucked from the musk ox in the north.
But angora rabbits can be kept as pets and so their fiber is accessible to every fiberista, while the musk ox is exclusive to Alaska and the North of Canada.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
We did our usual once around the barn and pasture looking for impending births. This happens once an hour during the day in lambing season, plus a couple times each night. Lamby's mom had been checked and was found to have passed her placenta so all was well -- or we thought, until Sarah saw the one dried foot sticking out in the place where it should have been clean.
The Shepherd's wife was called on to perform emergency groping. Was the lamb dead? The single foot didn't respond when being squeezed. Reach in a hand to find the second foot and bring it forward. Pull the two feet gently. No head follows them. The head is turned back in the womb. Can't find the head.
Push the feet back in. Pull only one out to locate the shoulder. Feel up the leg as far as I can. No head. Yes, its a front leg. Push it back in. Pull out the other leg. Feel up that leg as far as possible. Still no head. Lamb must be dead.
Push everything back in. Make the ewe stand. Reach in as far as possible. No hurry if the lamb is dead. Have to get the lamb out to save the ewe's life. Be gentle. Don't want to injure the ewe or perforate the uterus. Reach in again. Pray for help to the Good Shepherd.
Reach in and repeat the above at least 3 more times, while squatting on the barn floor trying to keep my balance. The barn smells are strong. The air is damp. My body shakes from the effort and I have to stand up to stop the shaking, before squatting again to begin the groping once more.
Robin holds the ewe still, with his arms around her neck. She's over 200 lbs. All low to the ground. Sarah leans into the ewes side to keep her in position. We need her to keep standing. If she lies down, with my arm in her pelvis, it will break my arm. I talk to the ewe using gentle, soothing words and explain that I'm trying to help her get the lamb out. She calms down and relaxes her pushing, so that I can push the lamb back in. And begin the groping once again.
My arm is in up to the elbow and my fingers are feeling along the lamb's body while I talk out loud. Talking out loud helps me "see" inside the darkness of the womb. There's the leg. This is the top of the lamb. Oh, I feel an ear. Ear's too slippery to pull, to turn the head forward. Follow along the ear. There's an eye, the nose, the teeth. Ok, I've got the mouth. My thumb's in the mouth. Pull forward. Done. The head's where we want it. Did the lamb's mouth respond? Is it alive after all this time?
Now, pull the two feet out again. Is the head still there? Sarah, grab these two feet -- my hand is too slippery to grab. I'm shaking now, from squatting for over 45 minutes. I didn't notice before but now that we're close to being done I can barely stand. Pull down, Sarah, toward the ewe's feet -- not too quickly. Now stop, yes, the heads into position. Ok, pull it out. All the way.
Hold it upside down. Is it dead? Liquid pours out of its nose and mouth. Its limp and lifeless. No wiggle like a live lamb would do. Rub it vigorously.
It opened its mouth. Its alive.
Shift into emergency mode. Can it breath? Sarah is rubbing the lamb vigorously with a towel. Its not breathing but its heart is beating. Robin runs into the house to get e-sel for the lamb and penicillin for the ewe to prevent infection. E-sel is selenium and vitimin E -- we find that deficiencies in these cause muscle weakness which sometimes cause these types of births.
The ewe begins to help lick off the lamb. Sarah rubs vigorously. I cover the lamb's wet nose and mouth with my mouth and puff air, gently, into it lungs, squeezing the lungs gently to exhale, and puff in again. After three gentle puffs the lamb begins to breath. It is floppy. Can't lift its head. But its breathing.
Esel gives it an instant jolt of strength and it lifts its head. Sarah continues to rub it vigorously. Ian and Miranda drive up the driveway. A surprise visit from the coast. "We were shearing in Rock Creek today and wanted to surprise you. We have to leave at 6:30 (2 hours from now). We brought ice cream", Ian smiles. Miranda comes into the stall with the ewe to help. She and Sarah take over rubbing the lamb and milking some colostrum from a goat that just gave birth (easier than convincing the ewe to give us some of her milk) and they dribble the life saving colostrum into the lambs mouth.
I go into the house and add a few lamb chops to the evening's dinner preparations. Dinner is ready in half an hour.
The lamb has eaten and is under a heat lamp, with his brother. Both lambs are weaker than normal so lamb number 1 gets his esel shot too. The second lamb hasn't stood yet. Will it live?
We visit with our son, Ian and his lovely fiancee, Miranda, and send them on their way home to the coast, with provisions for the week -- fresh eggs, and meat. Its snowing. We try not to worry. Ian is used to driving in the snow. He gets home after midnight and emails that they are safe.
In the morning the lamb is weaker. His tongue is cold and he is hypothermic. He is placed in the kitchen in a box and warmed with a blow dryer. More colostrum is dribbled into his mouth. The thread holding him to life is fragile. He isn't standing and can barely hold up his head. He gets a second dose of e-sel. An emergency measure. We leave him on a heated flax bag, in a box and head out to church, expecting to find a dead lamb when we return.
The lamb receives colostrum dribbled into his mouth every 4 hours on Sunday. Monday morning the lamb can lift his head up. And stand for a few seconds if someone puts him on his feet. By Monday night the lamb can walk around the kitchen but still can't stand up by himself. He isn't sucking but lets the milk dribble down his throat.
He doesn't baa. He spends his time standing in the corner, always looking for dark corners to lean into. He responds to loud noises. He doesn't respond to visual clues and we aren't sure if he can see.
Tuesday -- today, I wake up and he hears me and stands up in his box in the kitchen. The first time he has stood up on his own. He responds to sounds and sees me and walks towards me. A tiny baa comes from his as I pick him up. He still isn't sucking but every day is progress.
Sarah loves to have a bottle lamb. And today Lamby gets his own name -- "Kiwi". He picked it himself.