Dandelions: the most overlooked common plant

I can still remember the taste of those yellow flowers on my finger tips. As a child, I would pick tons and tons of them. Lay in the grass on a hot day, making wishes as I blew the older ones away. Oh to be a kid again! We were so care free and our body’s were rarely sore.. maybe it’s because of all those dandelions we rolled in.

BUT Dandelions are weeds! Right?

No way! However not everyone agrees. Maybe they just don’t know all the health benefits?

If you don’t know the health benefits of dandelions then you are missing out! Check out this list of benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Great source of vitamin A & vitamin K
  • Excellent for healing skin (including acne)
  • Rich in iron and protein
  • Diuretic
  • Dandelion Salve – great for dry skin & achy muscles

Take a look at my video on how I made Dandelion Salve. The full recipe is included under the video!

Recipe for Dandelion Salve:

Yield: 4, 4oz containers
Tools needed:
2 pint jars
Mesh strainer
Measuring cup
4 , 4 oz jars
Crock pot
Ingredients
16 oz infused oil (coconut, avacado.. your choice)
2 oz coconut oil
2-3 oz beeswax (more will make salve harder)
Optional: 15-25 drops essential oils, therapeutic grade only
Directions:
Pick 4 cups worth of dandelions. ONLY pick untreated flowers, do not use flowers that are near properties that spray chemicals! The wind can carry those chemicals into your yard!!

Dry them on a paper towel for a couple days.
Next infuse in oil for 1 month.
To infuse the flowers: choose your oil (coconut works great) and pour flowers into jar. Leave about 2 inches of head space. Top off with oil being sure to cover all of them. Leave alone for a month. You can also quick process oil infusion in a crock pot of water on low for 8 hours.
With a mesh strainer or cheesecloth strain oil into a new clean jar.
Add beeswax and coconut oil. Depending on how much beeswax you use, it’ll be soft or hard. I like to use close to 3oz.
Allow to melt using low heat. A crock pot works nicely for this. Be sure to give it a stir or two. Turn heat off. After an hour add in chosen essential oils when oil has cooled down (but not set up).
At this point pour into your smaller containers and allow to cool for the rest of the day before attempting to use.
The salve should be a nice creamy yellow when it’s all set up.
This will stay good for up to a year. For best results use within the first 6 months.

Homemade Blackberry Icing

With spring here, our organic blackberry bushes are finally back in bloom. Soon enough we’ll have buckets full of blackberries and not enough recipes to use them all! My favorite way to use my organic berries is in desserts. Blackberries make the perfect garnish on top of a cake. You can even use them to color your favorite icing recipe. Here’s my recipe how I achieved a sweet lavender color for this delicious icing:

Blackberry Icing

1/2 cup fresh (not frozen) blackberries
8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

First puree blackberries then take contents through a mesh strainer with a bowl underneath to catch your puree. This will separate the seeds – which there are tons so do not skip this step πŸ˜€. Set the seedless puree to the side.

Caution: blackberries will stain everything! Try keeping an old towel on hand to wipe up any mishaps quickly!

Next mix your icing together. I use a KitchenAid mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until it’s smooth. Then add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat again but on low speed for approximately 15 seconds. At this point you’ll need the blackberry puree. Add the entire bowl or little by little to achieve your desired color! Then switch to high speed and beat for an additional 2 minutes.

Use your favorite piping bags and tip to ice your cake. Garnish with blackberries if you like, and enjoy!

Nettie’s Berry-biotic Treats

Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Let’s take a look at a healthy summertime treat for your pets! Check out my latest video for how to make these treats:

I’ve pieced together a very simple yet extremely healthy treat for your pets (or even for you)! With only 4 ingredients, it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser for picky dogs as well as dogs with food sensitivities! The 4 ingredients I’ve chosen are raw goat’s milk, greek yogurt, Super Snouts Urinary Berry, and organic blueberries from my garden.

Did you know?Β 

Raw goat’s milk is a great source of probiotics! It’s also much easier to digest in comparison to cow’s milk because the fat globules are smaller. Goat’s milk is perfect for adding nutritious hydration to your pet’s meals as well as curing most upset G.I issues .

Cranberry and blueberries are super rich antioxidants! Antioxidants are very important to not only our health but also our pets! This is because they help prevent free radicals from damaging cells. So, what does that mean? It means these powerful berries help prevent cancer and many diseases.

So, if you have about 5 minutes and a silicone mold or ice tray, you’ve got to try these out! Here’s the recipe:

Nettie’s Berry-biotic Treats

Yield:
12-14 bite sized treats

Time:
2.5 hours (5 minutes or less to prepare)

Tools required:
1Β silicone mold, or an empty ice tray
1 mixing bowl
1 whisk to mix

Ingredients:
1 cup of raw goat’s milk
1 cup greek yogurt
1-2 scoops Super Snouts Urinary Berry (follow their guidelines)
1/4 – 1/2 cups blueberries

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, then pour into the mold. Freeze for approximately 2 hours, then serve.

Suggested feeding:
1 treat for pets up to 25 lbs
2 for dogs over 25 lbs daily

Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  These treats will stay good for up to 3 months in the freezer.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns feel free to ask!

Marans, Welsummer, and Easter Eggers OH MY!

Many people raise chickens for eggs and/or meat. We raise ours just for egg production. Even when they get old and stop laying eggs we keep them around and let them live a long happy life. We absolutely love being able to provide a safe large area or them to forage for bugs and worms. To do this can be quite the task when you live in a rural area. My husband installed an impressive fence that even curves underground to keep out digging predators. However, that 5 foot fence didn’t keep out whatever killed our entire flock last year. Some of those prized chickens were over 10 years old. Our Lavender Orpington whom I named Luke Bryan (because he was so pretty and could sing) was also killed on the same night. Whatever it was, it took on some the most hardy chickens I’ve ever known.

A Golf ball to keep snakes from eating eggs

We then bought 8 Ameraucana pullets from a local family in town. It turned out that three of them were roosters. If you’re not familiar with raising chickens… 3 roosters is too many for a small flock. Typically 1:7+ is the ratio you want for a breeding program. We’re not raising chickens to breed/sell, but sometimes it’s nice to hatch our own chicks instead of having to buy them. In all reality, we didn’t want more than 1 rooster regardless of the flock size. YET here we are.

I don’t have it in me to kill the extra roosters and nobody around here wants one. So, we decided to buy enough chicks to even the playing field a bit.

19 day old Welsummer and Easter Egger chicks that we bought from Cackle Hatchery.

We are the proud parents of 24 new tiny chicks. We now have 4 breeds of chickens. In this section I’m going to walk you through the breeds we have and why I chose them.

Welsummer
Egg color: medium brown with dark speckles
Egg production: 170+ per year
Size: Hens- 6lbs Roosters- 7 lb

These chickens originated in Welsum, Holland in the early 1900s. In 1991, they were finally added to the American Standard of Perfection. They are known to be dual purpose birds (meat+eggs) with beautiful golden to red brown feathers. These chickens are still considered a rare breed here in the USA but are picking up popularity. I chose these because of their docile personality and brown eggs!

French Black Marans
Egg color: dark chesnut brown
Egg production: 200+ per yr
Size: Hens- 6 lbs Roosters- 7.5 lbs

You can bet these chickens originated in the Marans of France! These lovely black feathered birds are excellent egg layers! Black Marans have feathers down their legs even! We certainly look forward to having tons dark brown eggs this fall! Here is a color chart for Marans eggs. According to the Marans Club in the UK, their eggs should be between a 4-7 consistently. Any eggs colored between a 1-3 isn’t acceptable and anything darker than a 7 is ok but not typical.. more of a rare occurrence. I decided to get a few of these to add some more variety in the color of eggs we have. I may get some Cooper Marans next year if these do well with our flock. Marans can be less than friendly so I didn’t want to disturb the peaceful vibe we have right now by adding too many at once.

photo credit: http://www.themaransclub.co.uk/eggs-and-egg-colour-chart/4541995077

4 few days old French Black Marans pullets

Ameraucana
Egg color: blue
Egg production: 180+ per year
Size: Hens-5.5 lbs Roosters- 6.5lbs

These are one my favorite breeds of chicken. They are known to be super friendly docile chickens. Even the roosters we’ve had we’re all sweet. Many of them love to come sit on your lap for a visit. These chickens are also known to have muffs, beards, silver legs with white bottom, and a peacomb. What many people do not know is: they’re a product of selective breeding of the Araucana. Araucuanas originated in Chili and are an even more rare breed than Ameraucanas. This is because they possess a gene that can be lethal to the baby chick. That particular gene is what gives them their tufted ears. When you have a rooster + hen that both have the gene, then many times the chick dies inside shell. The one major difference between the two breeds is that Ameraucanas do not have tufted ears.

So what does all this have to do with Easter Eggers?

Easter Egger
Egg color: pink, light brown, green, or blue
Egg production: 180-200 per year
Size: Hens- 6 lbs Roosters- 7 lbs

This breed isn’t a true breed. They’re the mutt of a Ameraucana (or Araucana) and possess the blue egg genes. They don’t meet the breed standards of either completely and sometimes can have other breeds in them as well. They can have all the same traits of them or a few. Ours for example have silver legs, peacomb, muffs, but lay shades of green,blue and pink eggs. A true Ameraucana or Araucana would ONLY lay a blue egg. None the less, these beauties are still very friendly, and quickly becoming the most popular breed! I went ahead and got several of these chicks because they are super sweet, have colorful eggs, and saved a few bucks in comparison to the pure breed Ameraucana. After all, we’re not a breeding program! We’re in this simply for the colorful eggs and friendly fluffy chickens.

Eggs in every color, including a giant one
The adult flock of Ameraucanas and Easter Eggers in winter.. munching on broken egg shells and various fresh veggies.

Top Common Dangerous Ingredients in Pet Food

The pet food industry is riddled with false misleading advertising and terrible ingredients. It’s flat out confusing to the average consumer to distinguish between a good food and terrible food.

When you walk into a pet food store you see aisles filled with food. Many will feature beautiful artwork on them. Some have keywords like: healthy, all natural, prescription. It’s literally a jungle out there.

I’m encouraging you to flip over your pets food package and read the ingredient panel. If you come across any of these ingredients, return the food to the retailer.

1) Corn , wheat, soy: These are the most common dangerous ingredients I see in big box stores, discount shops, and AT THE VET. Yes, veterinary clinics are selling the crap out of foods that are supposedly prescription quality yet they feature tons of corn, wheat , and/or soy. Studies have PROVEN these are common allergens and pets absolutely do not need these much less digest them properly. Cats also are obligate carnivores are have zero business eating corn nor wheat. Feral cats eat rodents! We all know this, it’s not news! So why are food companies pushing corn and wheat into these foods, more importantly why are we still keeping them in business?

2) Carrageenan: Its used as thickening agent typically. What many people do not realize is this red seaweed is also lurking in many plant based milks and other human foods as well. This additive has zero nutritional benefits! Studies have shown carrageenan to cause gastric distress for pets and even lead to cancer. What does this mean? Major inflammation in the intestines, which will lead to leaky gut. Having a leaky gut is nothing to play around with! We do not want toxic waste leaking into our pets blood stream!

3) Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum: These are just as dangerous as carrageenan! Both are common in canned food as well. They are thickening and stabilizing agents. Both are also known to cause gastric distress and inflammation. Many companies are still using these; they claim it’s difficult to find better additive. However, companies such as KOHA and Nature’s Logic have been doing it all along. Good job guys!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1242073/

3) Coloring aka Red #40, Yellow#5 ,Yellow #6: When you see a color # listed as an ingredient, just put it back down. These toxic additives are for the human eyes only. Pets do not care what color the food is. This is simply a marketing tool to catch YOUR attention. More importantly, these colors are ILLEGAL across the world in foods. Why? Because they cause cancer.

Made “with” chicken. Did you know that to put “made with chicken” on this label it is only required to have 3% chicken total in the can?
This one hits the jackpot for by products, carrageenan, guar gum, xanthan gum, and food coloring!

4) By- product meal: This is the scrap feet, lungs, brains, feathers, and more. These are portions not suitable for human consumption much less animal. Also keep an eye out for unidentified “meat meal”. These can include diseased animals, road kill, and EUTHANIZED animals. Gross.

5 A) Sourcing: Where are the ingredients being sourced? China? Gross. USA? Great. New Zealand? Even better! Did you know the European Union actually enforces regulations instead of letting companies slide by when they violate the rules? With this is mind, be careful about choosing USA products. The pet food industry is very losely regulated. Many corporations source from China frequently to save a few bucks. As a consumer, take pride in buying from companies with enough integrity to source from reputable farmers that truly care about their livestock and/or crops.

http://truthaboutpetfood.com/very-different-us-pet-food-and-eu-pet-food/

5 B) The manufacturer: Do you know who’s making the food? Have you searched for recent recalls/ why the recall happened? When you flip over your bag of kibble or treats- even it’s grain free, “all natural”, no added flavors… This could still be lurking in the background. There *could be* all kinds of bad things in your batch of food. Check out the manufacturer. Many are known to literally duck tape the problems instead of fixing them. Many do even worse , yet are still producing pet food on a massive scale.

So now what?

Look for small batch, 3rd party tested, family owned companies (not giant corporations)! Check out your local independently owned natural pet food stores.

Some of my favorite pet food companies include: Ziwipeak, Honest Kitchen, Nature’s Logic, OC RAW, Steve’s Real Food, Zignature, Orijen/Acana, KOHA, Lotus, and K9 Naturals. All of them have quality ingredients backed by awesome manufacturers.

A small sampling of what’s in my pantry right now. The deep freeze holds all of my raw bones, goat’s milk, and a few brands of raw food.

Take a moment, if you haven’t already and watch on Netflix the documentary “Pet Fooled” directed by Kohl Harrington. This film highlights everything I just pointed out and even more! It’s definitely an eye opening film that ALL pet parents must watch.

I know this is alot to take in. Every small step you can take to better your pets health is an important step. We are all a part of this journey to learning more about pet nutrition. The goal is to keep moving in a positive direction.

Websites and further research sources I recommend:

http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com

http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com

http://www.planetpaws.ca

http://www.mercola.com

Gardening Season

My son Wyatt hanging out by the raised garden beds

My favorite time of year is finally here. I love these rainy days.. the temperature is perfect for a light jacket. Most of all- it’s time to get the garden going again.

It’s May and my asparagus has decided to finally pop back up. Better late than never I suppose? I was getting worried that this unpredictable Missouri weather had killed it for good. As per the usual- I’m taken by surprise.

So I’ve been pulling weeds here and there that I let over grow in my raised garden beds last fall. It’s been a work in progress for a couple weeks. Having 2 elementary age kids and an infant will make you lose track of time! Regretfully I didn’t utilize my garden to it’s full potential last season but I’m making up for it this year.

I’ve put about 40 lbs of compost in each box, turned the soil, and found some old garden tools hiding in the dead weeds. As my husband says ‘Shoulda put those in the shed where they belong so they won’t get rusted’. So, needless to say- I need new tools. I trimmed up the black berry bushes somewhat Sunday. Talk about getting out of control! I was pulling thorns out of my hair all day. It was not fun, but I definitely felt a sense of accomplishment when I was done.

Since then I have planted 2 full (new) boxes of strawberries, a few peppers, and tomatoes. My asparagus box is coming along nicely, as well as my goji berry, blue berries, blackberries, and herb box. I have so much mint that i just might have to open a mojito bar to use it all up.

I hope to plant even more beans, peas, cucumbers, and more fruit trees this year. So far I have about 100 green bean seeds planted. My dog Stormy ran me over when I was getting ready to dust around the box with Diatomaceous Earth so I called it quits.

I’m fortunate I didn’t break a bone! I bit the dust hard!

I just received a couple shipments from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I have a couple fig trees and blue berry bushes to plant as soon as this weather clears up a little. Today, I’m adventuring into the city to find a nursery with 2-3 year old apple trees so we can plant several of those this weekend. Fun times ahead!

What are you planning to plant this season? Anything new and exciting? I’m always looking for adventurous varieties to try out πŸ˜€

Springtime Fleas and Ticks!

Storm enjoying her new bed… FLEA FREE 😍

In many parts of the USA Spring is in full bloom which means fleas and ticks are back! Or perhaps they never left your part of the world πŸ€ͺ yikes! Flea and tick control is very important. If your pets come inside with just one flea- you can bet there’s 10 more hopping around that you didn’t see. As for ticks, they carry many diseases and put humans and all pets at serious risk. Therefore, it’s important to keep those pesky fleas and ticks in check!

I personally do not use any flea / tick collars nor do I use the liquid tooicat deterrent. Many of these on the market today have many unsafe chemicals that can lead to major skin irratations and in worst cases illness or death. For the last 4 years I have lived in rural Missouri on acreage with a pond and tree line… I have yet to use these harmful products and have had great success. Pet parents who do not want to use chemicals on their pet’s to ward these critters off should have at minimum these 3 things on hand to prevent an infestation:

1) Food grade Diatomaceous Earth aka D.E
2) Nature’s Specialties Quick Relief Neem Shampoo
3) Cedarcide (or Wondercide)

Diatomaceous Earth

What is D.E? D.E is the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms. This creates a sharp dust. When pests come into contact with the dust it scratches their exoskeleton and agitates them which in turn let’s the D.E. get to work on killing them. D.E completely dehydrates them fast.

So how do I use D.E?

I treat our property (50-75 yard radius since I’m not doing the pasture) with D.E in early spring (before dandelions pop up!). To do this you’ll need a mask to cover your mouth and nose because D.E is hazardous to your lungs should you inhale it. I also recommend wearing long sleeves and gloves. I use a gallon jug filled with D.E and put a few holes in the cap. This allows a small amount to flow out as your shaking it low to the ground which will produce less dust in the air. A little goes a long way!

*Take note that Diatomaceous Earth will kill bees if you dust flowering plants they come into contact with them which is why we dust PRIOR to blooming. Also a light rain will wash away D.E and return it back to soil so don’t worry about it harming the ground!*

Another way you can use D.E if you don’t want to treat your yard, is to directly brush/fluff it through your pets hair. This is much more difficult to do and not produce dust in the air though. A flea bath is recommended instead.

Flea bath!

I love the Nature’s Specialties Quick Relief Neem Shampoo. You apply the shampoo onto DRY hair. Be sure to avoid your pets eyes and work it into the fur. Leave on 5-10 mintutes. It kills the fleas! You’ll know you’ve killed them because you’ll see a rust color “bleeding” off your pets fur when rinsing. Some people do 2 rounds of this before drying. This shampoo also works as a nice flea and tick deterrent for a couple days. It is also a great shampoo for itchy pets. I give flea baths 3 times between May- September just to be sure we didn’t pick anything up from friend’s houses or outings.

Cedarcide prevention!

After the bath (and the pet is totally dry), spray Cedarcide on their coat. I’ve heard many people say Wondercide also produced great results so you can use it instead of Cedarcide if you want. You can use this spray all over your house to deter fleas and ticks. It’s recommended to apply the spray to all of your pets bedding as well (after they’ve been washed and dried if they’re flea infested). This spray works for a few days so no need to apply it daily.

Keep in Mind

If your pet already has fleas or brings one in the house it’s VERY important to treat the entire house. One flea becomes 10 then 100 fleas so quickly! Table salt can be sprinkled on your carpet and wood floors then vacuumed up the following day. When fleas touch the salt it dehydrates them leading to death. You can also use D.E for this process However I find that it’s more difficult to vacuum up on carpet which is a concern for those with crawling babies.

If at all possible, keep your dog secluded to one room during the treatment time to help prevent a back to back infestation. Wash all bedding- act like you have a lice infestation… Because this works the same way! Throw stuffed animals in the dryer on high and vacuum every corner.

You Got This!

It seems intimidating but truthfully, it’s easier to prevent fleas and ticks rather than deal with treatment!

I know you all love your pets and want the best for them! Trust me- if I can do this, you can too! Don’t be discouraged if you spot a random flea or tick , it’s going to happen! Repeat the prevention cycle!

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