Getting Ready for Winter: Part IV: Your Animals and Livestock

cow in the winter winter chickensSpeed Star 1.0496332  00
1. Lay in an adequate supply of feed, just in case you can’t get out due to weather conditions.
2. Make sure hay and straw are covered or are in a dry holding area.
3. Make sure all feed dishes are clean.
4. Pull out electric water thawing devices for outside animal’s water troughs. Check to make sure they’re in good working order and put them in place the day before an expected freeze. Make sure all electrical cords are out of reach of inquisitive animals.
5. Make sure all animals have plenty of dry bedding. Add a bit of rosemary to dog, cat, and other outside animal’s bedding to keep insects away. (yes, they do thrive in the winter months too!)
6. Heat lamp up in the chicken coop.
7. Have an ample supply of water stored for your animals, in the event of a power outage. Include your own water needs in your water storage plan too!
8. Winterize and cover stock trailers, utility trailers, etc.
9. Our rabbits need extra protection. Their hutches are next to the chicken’s run, but are not in an enclosed building. We make sure they have extra straw…and check it daily because they will nibble on it. The hutches are covered with tarps to prevent the cold wind from blowing through. Their nesting boxes are checked and repaired for cracks or open places where wind might blow through as well.


Feeding Time

help, they're after me!

This is the chore that I actually think that I love most. It’s like playing the Pied Piper. Just walk out of the back door, yell “Chicken!” at the top of your lungs, and they all come running. Ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys, cats, and the dogs. I’ve learned to feet the free rangers, the ducks, turkeys, geese and chickens first. Cats 2nd, and the dogs and goats last. If I make the mistake of feeding the cats first, even though I’ve learned to out it up high, inevitably, the chickens will fly up to get cat food. It seems like they ALL like cat food.

It’s a fun walk back to the chicken coop. Pied Piper it is. Speed Star 1.0455375  00They all follow in a single line, or sometimes, like yesterday, whichever animal got there first, won! The geese and chickens run with their wings outstretched as fast as they can.Speed Star 1.0446379  00

Speed Star 1.0359483  00 Those outstretched wings give them a little lift and enables them to run faster. Turkeys run like a prehistoric beast from Jurassic Park. The dog, well, she just runs over all of them, It’s like having an 80 pound weimeraner dozer. I can’t tell you how many animals she’s rolled in the past. It’s funny, because the rolled one just gets up and continues on their quick trek to the chicken coop.

I didn’t know that animals could be so much fun. One doesn’t need a television set with a collection of farm animals. Just sit back and watch. Eventually they will have you rolling, laughing. Farm work is hard work, but it’s so rewarding to see nature at it’s best. Enjoy the pictures…

Goat Mastitis Prevention: Herbal Treatment

Our Gabby lost a set of twins and we’ve had ongoing issues with her having mastitis. This is information shared from our vet and from personal experience. The following picture is not Gabby, but one that I found online to show you what mastitis in goats looks like. It is something that must be treated, otherwise the soft tissue in the teat will become permanently damaged and kids born to that doe will not be able to nurse her,

picture of goat mastitis

Goat Mastitis Prevention

If milk tastes salty, the goat usually has mastitis
Too full of milk will cause milk leakage

Eliminate chapping. Use a good quality teat dip

Use a bag balm after milking. Make sure to towel dry the udder after washing it. Use an antibacterial milking soap.

Milk 3x a day to evacuate bacteria out of the udder.

Infection leads to tissue damage.. the white blood cells can get ‘outgunned&# 39;

Bed in straw over sand. Silica gives no source for bacteria to live.. clean the straw daily to every other day. Strip stalls.

Mastitis prevention: Apple cider vinegar. 1 cup to 1 gallon of water. Add molasses if you like. Milk does with mastitis or suspect of it LAST! And always wash your hands between milking different animals

Teat dip; Dry powdered goldenseal root. Use as you would for any other dip, except it is dry.

Medicine Balls for Mastitis:

Add these dry powdered herbs to molasses.. stir to doughish consistancy, roll in wheat flour and/or slippery elm and dry.

Equal parts, Thyme, Garlic, Rosemary, Oregano, Sage, Mustard. Give
approximently 1 TB every 12 hours for 7-10 days

Quick List of edible and non edible (poisonous) plants for goats

 Acceptable and Non Poisonous Plants that Goats will Eat

Acorns (in moderation. Acorns do contain tannin, an acid that can be poisonous)

Althea, (also known as Rose of Sharon       Angel Wing Begoneas

Apple                                                                      Arborvita (aka thuja)

Bamboo                                                                 Banana, entire plant, fruit & peel

Barkcloth fig (ficus natalensis)                     Bay Tree Leaves green and dried

Bean (all parts)                                                  Beets, leaves and root

Blackberry bushes (all parts)                        Black Locust

Broccoli (all parts)                                            Buckbrush

Cabbage                                                                Camellias

Cantaloupe: fruit, seeds and peel                Collard Greens

Carrots                                                                 Catnip

Cedar Needles and Bark                                Celery

Citrus                                                                  Clover

Comfrey                                                            Corn husks & silk

Cottonwood                                                     Coyote Bush

Dandelion                                                         Douglas Fir

Dogwood                                                          Elm

English Ivy                                                      Fava Bean pods

Fern                                                                   Fescue grass

Ficus                                                               Garlic

Ginger Root                                                 Grape,, Grape Vine

Grapefruit                                                    Greenbrier

Hay Plant                                                     Heavenly Bamboo

Hemlock Trees (not the same as the plant      Hibiscus

Honeysuckle                                              Hyssop

Ivy                                                                Jackfruit leaves

Jade                                                             Japanese Elm

Japanese Knotweed                               Jojoba

Kudzu                                                        Lantana

Lilac bark /branches                            Lupine

Lemon grass                                           Magnolia Leaves green and dried

Mango leaves                                         Manzanita

Maple Trees, leaves & bark (note: red maples are toxic)

Mesquite                                                  Mint

Mock Orange                                          Monkeyflower

Mountain Ash                                        Morning Glory

Moss                                                          Mulberry (entire plant)

Mullein                                                     Mustard

Nettles                                                      Oak Tree Leaves

Onion                                                        Orange, fruit & peel

Paloverde – needles & seed pods     Pea Pods

Peanuts, including the shells           Pear

Pencil cactus                                          Peppers

Pepper plants                                        Photinia

Pine Trees                                               Plum

Privet (hedge)                                        Pumpkin

Poison Ivy                                               Poison Oak

Poison Sumac vine                             Pomegranates

Poplar Trees

Potatoes  (not the leaves as the leaves are a nightshade plant and are toxic)

Raisins                                                    Raspberry, entire plant

Rose bushes wild and domestic roses

Sassafras                                                Southern Bayberry

Spruce trees                                          Sumac tree

Sunflowers                                            St. John’s Wort

Strawberry                                            Sweet Gum Trees

Sweet potato leaves

Tomatoes (just not the leaves or the plant stems as they too are of the nightshade family and are toxic)

Turnips                                                   Youpon Holly

Yarrow                                                    Yellow Locus

Yucca                                                       Vetch

Virginia Creeper                                  Wandering Jew

Watermelon                                         Wax Myrtle

Weeping Willow                                  Wild Tobacco (not the same as domestic tobacco)



Aconite                                                          Allspice (plant)

African Rue                                                 Andromeda (related to foxglove)

Avocado                                                       Azalea  (ask me how I know)

Bleeding Heart                                          Bloodroot

Blue Cohosh                                               Boxwood

Burning Bush berries                              Calotropis,

Cassava                                                       Celandine (tetterwort)

China Berry Trees                                    Choke Cherries

Common Poppy                                    Crotaleria (aka rattlepods or rattlebox)

Crow Poison ( Nothoscordum bivalve)

Death camas (toxicoscordian venenosum)

Diffenbachia normally a houseplant

Euonymus Bush berries                         False Helebore (aka Indian poke)

False Jessamine                                        False Tansy, “Fiddleneck”

Fume Wort                                                 Fuschia

Helebore                                                    Hemp (incl. Indian Hemp)

Holly Trees/Bushes                                 Horse Nettle

Japanese Yew                                            Jimson Weed

Lantana Larkspur                                   Lasiandra

Lilacs                                                         Lily of the Valley

Lobelia                                                     Lupine  Seeds

Marijuana                                               Monkhood

Moonseed (menispermum)               Milkweed

Mountain Laurel                                   Nightshade


Poison Darnel (lolium temulemtum, aka: darnel, darnell ryegrass)

Poison Hemlock                                   Poison Nightshade

Ragwort (senecio)                                Red Maples

Rhododendron                                      Rock poppy

Rhubarb leaves                                     Spider lily

Spotted Cowbane                                Spotted Water hemlock

Stagger grass and staggerweed       Sweet shrub (calicanthus)

Thorn apple                                          Varebell

Wild Parsnip

Wild Cherry (wilted leaves are toxic whereas fresh and fully dried are not )

Wolfsbane                                             Yew


note: this is only a partial list. For more complete information, read: David Sherman’s Goat Medicine.



Cornell University


After receiving  rather harsh email from a reader regarding rhubarb on both the safe and unsafe lists, I have removed it from the “safe list”. To note, rhubarb contains a very small percentage of oxalic acid which is the culprit behind kidney stones. It also contains anthraquinone glycosides which is also not safe for goat fodder.  The following is a link that explains it in more detail. Most of the further research I completed suggests NOT feeding goats rhubarb. Dried rhubarb leaves are the worst. Please refer to this link.

Contemplating Keeping Bees.

Langstroth-Hive-Parts”>top bar hive

Image, We’re striving for self sufficiency in every sense of the word. That means getting off grid, producing our own food, getting completely out of debt and the list goes on and on. I’ve been studying beekeeping and have my own fears about bees, but I know that honey is probably one of the most natural antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, wound healing, allergy healing and downright good tasting foods available. Bees are livestock and should be treated as such. Am I afraid of bees? Absolutely. It’s a learning curve that I need to conquer before we put in hives. I keep an epi-pen with me at all times, just because I am sensitive to bee bites. It’s been awhile since I’ve actually been stung, but a bite will make whelps on my skin as big as silver dollars. Yet. I walked out to a couple of beehives with my adopted dad, and his bees were passive, landed on me, tasted the salt on my skin and flew away.  As I wrote to a friend who has raised bees for decades, this is what he shared with me.

“Top bar hives are common in third world countries and have some fiercely devoted advocates in the United States too. But, as one who has had both, it takes more skill to run top bar hives than the conventional equipment. the modern hive developed by Rev. Langstroth and since fine-tuned by generations of beekeepers, has greatly simplified beekeeping efforts.

If you are desperately poor-and have a fine mentor, you might do better with top bar hives. But, I recommend that new beekeepers start off with conventional equipment if at all possible. when you come experienced with it, and want to go back to primitive equipment, then by all means, go for it.

As sources for up-to-date beekeeping references, I suggest you check out “Bee Culture” magazine and editor Kim Flottum’s blog.  Also check out Keith Delaplane. Both are incredible experts and the best at presenting modern beekeeping worldwide. They can be found doing a Google search.

If you are deathly afraid of bees, this may not be for you. The first hurdle is to get over the fear of bees. You WILL get stung from time to time, even if you dress up in a spacesuit. It’s a fact. You will “cook” in a spacesuit, so why not accept that an occasional sting will not kill you and dress to enjoy the work.

A bee veil and some tan Dickies will do the job for most people as far as dress. if the bees are testy on a certain day, the hobbyist has the option to wait for another day to do hive work. If the bees are always testy, re-queen the bee to a better line of worker bees.

And, I believe there are some mild benefits to an occasional sting.  It tunes up your immune system and helps fight against autoimmune diseases like arthritis.

It’s far better to start with two hives rather than one.  Get your hives ready and get your bees early, like in the last week of March in the South and no later than early May in the north so the bees can get established.

Think of your starter hives as baby animals. You are going to have to feed them until they can feed themselves.

And, learn the ropes before you jump into it. Some people think they can get bees, park them in an out of the way place and forget about them until it’s time to do an occasional “robbing” of honey.

Now, if you rob the bees of their honey, they will starve to death, so learn how to harvest a surplus instead.  Learn the ways of good bee husbandry. You would not buy cattle and not expect to learn to care. The Scriptures say that a Godly man is kind to his beasts.

Bees have diseases and parasites that must be dealt with. A neighbor, or a community mosquito spraying can poison your bees (and all the wild pollinators as well). You need to know how to protect them from the use of pesticides in the area.

If your bees do well in spite of neglect, they will blow off swarms in the spring, which will likely irritate your neighbors (especially when the bees take up residence in their house walls), and it will be a devastating loss to you. You wouldn’t raise cattle and let your calves run off. Good swarm management is critical. 

I highly recommend getting into a good local bee club. Find who are the best beekeepers and get a local mentor.

Beekeeping is a wonderful hobby and you will get more benefits from pollination than you do from the honey.

Just be sure that it’s right for you. Just as some people should not have pets or livestock, some people should not have bees. If you are going to do it, do it right. Otherwise, try to attract a beekeeper to your neighborhood to get your garden pollinated.

Dave ” 

Here are several resources to check out:  Top bar hive plan  great beekeeping magazine