Sunday, February 1, 2015

Homestead Health

What a rough month January was!
   It began on New Year's Eve - my husband worked half a day and came home sick, sick, sick!  Shame on me, but I was so mad that he chose this time to catch something (as if he had a choice!)- when we had a full 5 days off in a row! I was anticipating how much we could get done around the farm working together for five days!  Well, it was a case of the flu that put him out of commission for almost the entire month!  He swears that we don't need biological weaponry - just a "sure 'nuff" case of the flu spread en mass throughout a country and any invading army could walk right in and take over.
Thankfully, he's better now.

In January we lost three goats: 2 full grown does, one of which was due to kid within weeks, and one beautiful bottle fed baby girl. It's a common thing with goats - typically there's no forewarning if they get sick and they can go down in just one day.  I should have trusted my gut with the baby.  We had noticed she was the slightest bit off, not eating greedily one morning, but by the next feeding she seemed fine so I just attributed it to the cold weather. Two mornings later she was down and that was it. 
We worm our herd twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, but now we'll start worming every 4 months beginning in January.

  Fortunately, I did notice my Percheron horse, Lucy, acting a bit odd one cold day this month. I noticed her lying down in the sun, which isn't unusual, but much later in the day, when she was on the ground again, I kept a close eye on her.

  The following morning, at 4 am, when she wasn't waiting for me at the gate for her grain, I knew something was up. I ended up walking her for the next 5 hours in the drizzly, cold rain, waiting for the mineral oil to take effect and her bowels to begin functioning properly again. I'll be writing more about Colic now that I've experienced it, but from this, I've learned that oftentimes, during cold weather, horses don't drink enough water, which can exacerbate digestive blockage, so to remedy this, I now refill their water trough each morning with warm water to ensure they drink greedily after they eat their grain.

The most difficult thing that happened this month was that we had to put Abby down. If you read my last article: The Year in Review: 2014, you know that my 5 year old Rotweiller was bitten by a snake and had become blind.  Unfortunately, the infection continued to affect her, and last weekend her breathing became more and more labored. We were having to leave the house for long periods of time to celebrate my son's Eagle Scout Ceremony and all that went with it: shopping, food preparation, rehersals etc, and my husband did not want Abbey to be left unatttended with breathing problems.  He knew she was only getting worse, and I did too, though it was harder for me to come to terms with it, so Bob make the (right) decision to end her discomfort.  She will be missed.

The beginning of the new year was not all bad - The trials caused us to rethink some things and to change habits. For example, while Bob was so sick we both stopped drinking coffee - and if you know me, you know that that was about as unlikely to happen as my winning the lottery! Now we drink hot tea with honey.   We're changing our eating habits as well. The rule of thumb we now use is: If we can't pronounce or recognize the ingredients on the package, we don't buy/eat it.

 I believe that there is an awakening happening within the US as far as our diet, nutrition and health is concerned.  A growing awareness and participation in healthier lifestyles: clean eating, exercise, gardening, whole foods and informed health care decisions. 
Because of the flu, I decided this month,  to take more control and to have available in our home natural alternatives for treating illness.  As a beekeeper we have fresh, raw local honey on hand. Besides being a healthier alternative to granulated sugar, it helps with allergies. Honey and cinnamon are reported to be a great combination for relief of many ailments, and using garlic, coconut oil, sea salt or apple cider vinegar certainly does not pose the negative side effects that many over the counter and prescribed medications do.
Another positive outcome of Bob's flu is that it caused me to research and get involved as an independent distributor of Young Living Essential Oils - the purest, most high quality essential oils available in the world. I'm very excited to begin using and learning more about these oils, and as I discover new uses and recipes I'll be sharing them with you. Once I've had time to do more research, I hope to begin using  Essential Oils with my farm animals as well for their more natural curative properties.
I considered starting a Facebook page called Homestead Health, but instead I'll be expanding Homestead Life Facebook page to include recipes, nutritional information and healthy alternatives.

So now I'm off  to pick up a new LaMancha billy goat and to order seeds for our spring gardens.  More stories to come