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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Crossing the rainbow bridge

No homestead is complete without animals. Whether its goats or dogs, most homesteads have some type of animal living there.

On our homestead we currently have 4 humans, 3 dogs, 1 rabbit, and 5 chickens. We also have plans to have at least 1 bee hive and possibly a couple goats. And those are just our current aspirations.

Our oldest dog, Bonnie, was diagnosed with Lymphoma at the beginning of this year. I knew something was wrong when I found golf ball sized lumps on my girl’s throat.

I avoided taking her into the vet at first. I couldn’t bear the thought of hearing the words I knew I would hear. But of course I had to put my fur baby’s well-being before my own.

The vet took samples of the lumps and within a week I had a confirmation of Lymphoma. My heart was broken. When I received the news my daughters were in school so , thank goodness, they didn’t see me break down.

For a few weeks I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I couldn’t make the words come out of my mouth. I didn’t want to hear myself say them because then it would be real. I kept it a secret from my daughters. I hid in the bathroom and cried then blamed my puffy eyes on allergies. I didn’t tell my friends or family. In fact, some of them may just now be learning this news.

I still haven’t told my children (for those of you who know my girls please respect this decision and do not speak to them about it, thank you). I know that one day I will have to tell them, but what is the point of telling them now when Bonnie shows no signs of illness or discomfort? Why would I upset my, still young, daughters? I see no point in my daughters grieving until the time has come to grieve .

Part of life is death and that is very much a part of a homestead or farm. Yes, raising chicks into chickens is adorable and fun but it is also a huge responsibility. When you bring a living creature into your care, you have to put that animals well-being before your own.

I went into owning chickens knowing that one day I will cull them when they stop producing eggs or if I end up with an aggressive rooster. On most homesteads an animal has to produce more than it costs or it will not be a part of the homestead any longer. Thats just a fact, Jack. You don’t take chickens to the vet if they are ill or injured. You put their well-being and comfort first and either nurse them back to health or put them out of their misery. I don’t have experience raising other live stock, but I know that a cow or a goat or pig, etc. would, in most circumstances, be treated the same way.

A dog, in my opinion, is different. Most people have dogs as companions and they are part of the family. They live in your house. They greet you when you come home. They go for rides in the truck. They play with your kids and lick your toes. They lay with you when you are ill and set their heads in your lap when you are sad. Dogs are amazing creatures that I believe, without a doubt, have souls.

When a dog is ill you have to take it to the vet. Wether you can afford it or not.

When you find out your dog is terminally ill you have to decide if you are going to pay for treatment or keep her comfortable until its time to leave this world.

I chose not to treat Bonnie. Chemotherapy would be the best option, and I don’t want to put her through that. She is 9 and a half years old. Shes had a great life filled with lots of love and adventures. Most dogs with lymphoma only live a few months after their diagnosis. DOgs that do get treatment live, on average, for an additional 1 to 1 and a half years. But the norm is an additional 6 months.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, you will have to weigh the options for yourself.

We have our vet on call for when we feel SHE is ready to go. We’re lucky enough to have a vet that will make house calls when putting an animal to sleep. We know that when Bonnie stops interacting with us, has lethargy, stops eating or using the bathroom that we may need to call Dr.Panada.

For now, we have been giving her extra love, attention (and ice cream!!!) and enjoying the time we have with her.

Bonnie

Bonnie

*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. *