Easy Herb Gelatin Treats for Chickens (or humans, I guess!)

With the heat on the rise I have been looking for ways to help keep my small flock cool.

Fresh Eggs Daily had a great post on Beating the Heat. This is my favorite chicken site. Tons of information. The post gave me an idea. I could make Homemade Healthy Gummie Snacks for my chickens! They were such a hit with the kids, the chickens were bound to love them!

I found out that not only could chickens eat gelatin, but gelatin is actually good for them. Just like in humans, gelatin helps support health hair, skin and nails. It is also aids digestion and soothes the digestive tract. Sounds like a winning combo for chickens. And to clarify, gelatin is made form the bones and hooves of bovine. It is not made from chicken products. No cannibalism here.

You can make these treats from the herb of your choice. Or you could not use herbs at all. Maybe just use fruit. Or a fruit herb combo. How ever you make them this is a healthy treat that can help your chicken keep its cool.

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Ingredients:

2 cups herbal infusion (How to make a Water Infusion)

1 cup cold water, fruit juice, or fruit puree (I used strawberries and blackberries (this is a great opportunity to use up that frost bitten fruit you have in the freezer ;))).

4 packs  unflavored 1/4 oz gelatin (you buy it here or any grocery store in the Jello section)

First thing you need to do is make an herbal infusion. Since I want to cool my chickens I decided to go with mint. It has natural cooling properties. Since mint is a strong herb, I only filled my infusion jar 1/4 of the way.

Bring your finished infusion to a boil in a 2 quart pot.

Remove from heat.

Slowly add gelatin while mixing.

Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, just blend it by hand with a wisk or fork. I love my immersion blender and I highly recommend one. You can buy the one I have here or at walmart.

Add cold water juice (or fruit juice or puree).

Blend until smooth.

Pour liquid into a greased, 3 qt 9×13 casserole dish.

Place casserole dish in fridge.

Allow to sit for 1-4 hours (or until firm).

Cut into squares the size of your choice. I like 1/2″ squares.

Serve to chickens.

Watch the chickens steal them from each other and chase each other for the last bit! They LOVE THEM! I tried them as well. I don’t prefer mint jello but I can tell you for sure it has that great cooling effect!

If you made  your own flavor and the chickens didn’t like it, you can put the cubes back into the pot and reheat them until liquid. Try adding something you know they love, like strawberries or bananas. Then re-pour, refrigerate and serve again. Have fun! Try new flavors and let me know which one your chickens like best!

Here is my flock enjoying their gelatin treat! Ravenous!

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Look how sad my little Mango is. The girls stole all the treats! 😦

 

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How to Make a Water Infusion

Infusions are a away to make the qualities of an organic item infusion into water. You can make infusions out of pretty much any fruit,vegetable, flower, herb, leaf or bark, etc. Just please make sure what you are infusing is not toxic or poisonous. Do research on the item and get confirmation from an experienced individual before you make your infusion.

What you need

1 quart size glass jar with lid

2 cups of boiling water

item to be infused (usually 2 cups. NOTE:Some Herbs, like mint, Have a very strong flavor , you may want to use less of the herb. You can use as much or as little as you’d like). Make sure the item has not been sprayed/treated with pesticide/herbicide

My Method:

I fill the jar with the item to be infused (say white clover because I love White Clover Jelly). I stuff that jar with just the flower, removing as much greens from the flower as possible.

Most people will rinse the flowers to get any little bugs that may be hiding in the flowers. I just kinda shake them off before I stuff them in the jar. I don’t like the idea of washing away any of the pollen or nectar that are in the flower. BUT if you don’t like the idea of ant infused water, go ahead and give the flowers a quick rinse and put them back in the jar.

Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the flowers in the jar.

Put the lid on the jar.

Leave the jar to sit for 4-24 hours.

In a fine strainer, muslin cloth or cheese cloth, strain the water from the flowers into a bowl. Squeeze the liquid from the flowers, through the strainer, to be sure you get all the goodness. (Side note, you can feed the left over flowers to your chickens)

You now have a fusion. TA-DA!

This fusion good for about 24 hours when kept in the fridge. The older a fusion is the less of the qualities of the item infused will remain. Basically, use it or lose it. If you can’t use it right away, freeze it! You can leave it in your glass jar (with room for expansion) or make ice cubes. The qualities will be less, but it is better than wasting.

I am not a professional. I am not a doctor. I am not telling you to do this.

 

 

Make Your Own Citrus Coop Cleaner

Ingredients:

The peel of 2 oranges, or 3 lemons, or 4 limes, or maybe 1 grapefruit? I don’t eat grapefruit so you guess on that one.

White vinegar

1 quart mason jar or bigger. Use what you have, just try to use glass or food grade plastic. You could even use the vinegar bottle.

Place citrus peels into the container of your choice. I had left over orange peels from my Homemade Healthy Fruit Gummies recipe.

Leave the vinegar mixture to rest for about a month. Shake it occasionally.

Filter the vinegar into a spray bottle.

Use the citrus vinegar spray to clean your kitchen or to clean your coop when you are giving it that occasional deep clean.

This stuff smells fantastic and has all of the wonderful benefits of white vinegar.

I got this recipe from my favorite chicken website Fresh Eggs Daily. She added cinnamon sticks and vanilla to the vinegar and oranges before allowing it to rest. I bet that smelled amazing! If you haven’t checked out her site, it is worth your time. She has tons of chicken recipes and raises her chickens naturally with herbs. Lots of great tips.

Try making your own scent of citrus cleaner. Just remember to use White vinegar, a citrus and nothing sticky. How about Lime/Mint or Lemon and cloves? What recipe will you use? Please let me know how it turned out!

Violet infusion ice cubes for sick dogs (or humans)

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My girl Bonnie has Lymphoma,  as I mentioned in the Rainbow Bridge post. I want to keep her as healthy and comfortable as I can while shes with us.
I give her 1 violet infusion icecube each day. She loves the way they taste. They taste like green beans to me.
Among other things, Violet is know for assisting the lymph system. It helps clear lymph nodes. What better way to care for my girl while shes living with lymphoma?
I read that, on average, dogs diagnosed with lymphoma usually live 2-4 months after diagnosis,  without treatment. It has been almost 5 months since Bonnie was diagnosed.

Heres how I make violet infusion.

Ingredients:
2 heaping cups of violet flowers (stems removed)
2 cups boiling water
1 quart sized mason jar with lid and band.

Fill the mason jar with the violet flowers.
Pour boiling water over the flowers.
Attach lid and band tightly.
Allow to rest on counter for a minimum of 4 hours, maximum of 24 hours. (It will spoil or lose its potency after 24 hours)
Filter the flowers from the infused water into a large bowl.
Place flowers into a towel or cheese cloth and squeeze the remaining liquid out of the flowers and into the bowl.

You now have infusion!
Pour the infusion into desired ice cube trays.  Store in freezer (did I really have to tell you that).

My Bonnie girl is about 40lbs. I only give her 1 cube a day. Violet can cause nausea and diarrhea in large quantities. I was giving her two a day and she seemed fine but then we had a day of throwing up, which may have been completely unrelated,  but nonetheless I reduced the amount cos I don’t want to go through that again.

If you don’t have the time to use the infusion immediately,  you can freeze it. Just thaw it when ready to make Easy Violet Jelly or additional icecubes.

 

*Update: After 8 months of fighting lymphoma, We had Bonnie euthanized. Her illness suddenly progressed quickly.
She was at home with her family when she passed. She is buried on our property. She took a huge part of our hearts with her.
You can read the story of her last days on earth, here. *

I am not a doctor. I am not a professional.  These are strictly my opinion. You don’t have to follow my opinion. Use at your own risk cos I didn’t tell you to do it. 🙂

Fermented Chicken Feed

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The women in my Ladies Homestead Gathering group introduced me to fermented chicken feed. Bascially it is feed that has been soaking in water for a few days.

Why the heck would you want to soak your chicken feed? For me, I was concerned about mice and saving money. How does fermented chicken feed keep mice away? Well, the chickens love fermented feed and eat every crumb of it, leaving nothing for the mice to eat. How does fermented feed save me money? As I said, THE CHICKENS LOVE FERMENTED FEED and eat EVERY crumb of it. They don’t scratch through it and only eat the bits they like, spilling the rest on the ground (FOR THE MICE TO EAT!)

For those two reasons alone I was willing to try fermenting my chicken’s feed. But knowing that my chickens also absorb more nutrients from the fermented feed is another fantastic benefit. Fermented feed is also said to help chickens recover from molting more quickly. There are so many more benefits from fermented feed. Here is a great article on Fermented Chicken Feed from Natural Chicken Keeping.

Most of the methods I have heard of use a two 5 gallon buckets, one with holes drilled in the bottom. Put the feed in the bucket with holes drilled in the bottom then place the bucket inside of bucket number 2 (without the holes). Pour water over the feed until covered. Let it sit for 3 days, keeping the feed covered with water. On day 3, lift the bucket containing the feed out of bucket 2 and allow the water to drain into bucket 2. Serve to chickens.  This is a simple method that works well for larger flocks.

I have 5 chickens. I don’t need that much feed. Heres my method. I found this method on OhLardy.com . It works great for me and I wanted to share it along with a few tips I learned along the way.

What you need:

3 jars with lids

chicken feed

water

 

Start small!20140507_081125

I made the mistake of making a large batch before I would know if my chickens would eat it or not. I’m new with chickens, and my chickens are babies. They are still trying new things and are not sure of everything I put in front of them. So I made 2 cups of fermented feed for 3 days and the chickens wouldn’t touch it. 6 cups of feed went to waste (I WAS PISSED).

I have 5 Buff Orphington Chickens. They are about 10 weeks old. I have found that 1.5 cups of dry feed is right amount for them. You will have to adjust this for the size of your flock. And remember start small. Maybe try 1/2 a cup for the first 3 batches, then move up once you feel confident. We DON’T want to waste feed.

Also, if your chickens try it, look at you like your crazy then walk away (like mine did). Try adding dry feed on top of the fermented feed. Or maybe a few meal worms or other treat. My girls don’t like to try anything new but once I coax ONE of them into trying something the others will join in. My girls go crazy for the stuff now!

Use a larger jar!

If your new to fermenting anything, like me, you will quickly learn that fermented stuff bubbles and expands. Use a jar that is about twice the size of the amount of feed you’ll be using. If you don’t have big enough of a jar, you will have a stinky mess on your counter.

Use paper towels!20140512_071527 (1)

Even if you use a larger jar, sometimes the fermentation process can get a little wild and still manage to bubble over leaving a stinky mess on your counter. Make a little paper towel mat for under your jars. Better safe than sorry.

 

The Process:

Dump feed in jars.

Add water until all feed is wet and covered by about 1″. You may have to stick a knife in the feed and dig around to get water to the bottom feed.

Put lid tightly on jar.

Write the number “1, 2, or 3” on top of the lid depending on what day of the 3 day cycle you are on.

Set jar on paper towel mat on counter.

Repeat process every day for 3 days.

At the beginning of day 4, feed the contents of the day 1 jar to your chickens. Clean out the jar and begin the process again.

Thats it.

If its too wet when you serve it to your chickens, just add a little dry feed.

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A few ideas:

I have read about adding whey to the feed before you add water. I haven’t made Whey yet, but I will be trying that soon and I’ll let you know how that goes. I add garlic to the feed before I add water. You can also add vinegar if you like. I add vinegar to their water so I don’t want to over do it. I’m thinking you could add seeds and they will sprout, but I’m not sure about that. I don’t know if the fermentation process will stop the sprouting process. Like I said, I’m new to fermenting. But I’ll give it a try and let you know how that goes, or if you try it let me know how it goes for you!

Please let me know how your first time fermenting feed goes, or if you have any tips or tricks to share!

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Review. Zulka Morena Pure Cane Sugar

Zulka Morena Pure cane sugar has an outstanding flavor ALL BY ITS SELF! I caught myself dipping my finger into the bag more than I needed too!

Zulka Morena claims to be NON-GMO and unrefined. You are supposed to use it cup for cup in replace of white cane sugar, but I have found that it has so much more sweet flavor than plain white sugar, that you can actually use a little less with amazing results.

The bag says that it “tastes like biting into a fresh sugar cane.” They aren’t lying! It truly is delicious.

The ONLY thing I would bring up is that it does turn recipes slightly darker than white sugar does. Obviously if the sugar is darker then the product it is used in will be darker too. Seriously not an issue. And since it is unrefined there are a few darker bits of what I’m assuming is sugar cane. These darker bits look like debris when used in Jelly recipes. But honestly, I like the look. It looks like its home made rather than processed.

Over all, I will say that I will never use white sugar again. The price was only a few cents more per ounce than white sugar. It is totally worth it.

You can buy it here or at Wal-mart.

sugar

 

EASY Violet or Dandelion Jelly

Here is a simple recipe to make violet OR Dandelion jelly.

Makes 5 half pint jars.

IMG_20140323_182545 2 heaping cups of fresh flowers, rinsed.

2 cups of boiling water.

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 cups of sugar (I prefer Morena Pure Cane Sugar. It has an amazing flavor all its own and it is much better for you.)

1 package of liquid pectin (I prefer Liquid pectin. It does cost a bit more, but the consistency is always perfect! Totally worth it!)

5 half pint jars and lids sterilized.

 

Collect 2 heaping cups of flowers. Rinse gently.

Place the flowers in a large mason jar.

Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the flowers.

Place lid on jar loosely. Let sit for a minimum of 4 hours or over night.

Strain the water from the flowers. You can use a mesh filter or cheese cloth. The product is called an infusion. I strain the infused water directly into the 2 quart pot that I make my jellies in.

Bring the infusion to a boil.

Add 4 cups of sugar. Stir occasionally.

Add Lemon juice. (This will cause the color or violet infusion to change purple!)

Bring to a boil.

Add liquid Pectin. Stir frequently.

Bring to a rolling boil. Stir while boiling for 5 minutes scooping off any foam in the process.

Pour jelly into prepared jars. Attach lids and bands tightly.

Water bath can the jars for 10 minutes.

It takes about an hour for the jelly to set.