Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Natural Way to Deworm Critters

Such a great thing to barn cats have worms.  Yeck.

I have known about it for some time.  I have also been buying some treatment from the local store to mix in their food.  Over and over.  At $5 a shot.  But I have one smart cat - Spot.  He knows what the stuff smells like and there's no way he's eating that crap.  Or that's his attitude anyway.  I have tried mixing it with various foods that he'd normally tear into, like tuna.  Nope.  A couple of sniffs and he walks away.  Since the barn cats eat out of a couple of dishes, he keeps the worm cycle going in all of the cats.  Having a pregnant or nursing mother cat also added to the challenge.

Today I decided to take the natural way - DE (diatomaceous earth - not the swimming pool stuff).  I had read on a bunch of sites that you use 1/2 tsp. per cat, once a day for four days, then repeat in two weeks. I was lucky enough to see Spot and the nursing mother close by without the other rats, I mean cats around.  I mixed up 1 tsp. of DE into a bit of hamburger and split it between the two cats.  The stuff is tasteless, so Spot chowed down.  I did the same for the two other cats.   So we'll see. 

A couple other things that I'm going to try is garlic and pumpkin seeds.  I have plenty of garlic that I can mince to mix w/ their food, but at first it's getting them accustomed to the taste.  I'm sure that Spot will be the challenge here, too.  Ditto with ground pumpkin seeds added to their food.  But I did put a few pumpkin seeds in the ground today.  The ducks and I will enjoy some pumpkin if I can keep the squash bugs off them.  I'm also going to try these methods on my hens.  I'm a big advocate of free range, but the hens all come running when I shake the oatmeal jar.  I think I'll add some DE to their oatmeal and some to their feed in the coop.

Walter at Sugar Mtn has a great blog post about using natural deworming methods for his critters.  He's got a great blog, too, so plan on being there a while!

I do want to mention that traditional worm medicine paralyzes the roundworm, then cat (and chickens) poop 'em out.  My attitude towards this was to give the critters something to make them really poop and hopefully get more nasties out of their system.  I gave the cats a bit of yogurt a few hours after they had the de-worm medicine.  The hens got some oatmeal, applesauce and yogurt mixed together.  Every critter was poo-ing.  Except for Spot.
I'm not so keen on having my cats with belly aches for four days, so I think I'll pass on the yogurt this time.

Update 7/19:  I'm not convinced that the DE is doing much of anything.  The thing that make it effective on insects is that while it feels like talcum powder to us, it's very sharp to the bug.  It scratches the outside of the bug, causing it to dehydrate and die.  In that respect, DE is good while it stays dry.  Which it's not when eaten. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Better Homemade Window Cleaner

I recently found a different recipe for window cleaner.  I never made one of the old recipes because it used ammonia and I just can not tolerate that stuff.  Plain vinegar water didn't work all that well.  I also don't take a newspaper, so I don't have a stash of them to use for wiping off windows. So yesterday I mixed up this new recipe and wow!  It works really good, just as good as Windex or whatever you buy.

Simple stuff as usual:

2 cups of water
1/4 cup of white vinegar
1/2 tsp. liquid dish soap (I like Dawn)

Mix it all together in a spray bottle.  Give it a couple shakes before you spray it on your windows.  Don't forget to label the spray bottle.

This gave me the squeaky sound you get when your windows are getting clean.  No streaks.  And frankly, I like using old t-shirts or rags to wash windows. 

I love this stuff.  It inspired me to wash a few more windows today.  And it appeals to the eco-friendly, tightwaddery side of me, too.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Great Garden Sink Idea and Harvesting Garlic

A few years ago I discovered this wonderful garden sink idea at Mother Earth News.  One of these days I'm going to have this baby.  This is their image:

You can read about this garden work station (plus a bunch of other handy gardening tips) at

I don't do a traditional compost pile like the image, but there's always a tomato plant or a duck that would appreciate the water.

This morning I dug the garlic.  Wow!  Most of the bulbs were a lot bigger than what I can buy in the grocery store locally and definitely larger than anything that's come out of my garden in the past.  I'm happy.  Nothing else is doing squat in my garden, so I appreciate the little things.

I don't have a root cellar or cold room in my house, so I do what "they" advise NOT to do.  I freeze it.  (Who are "they", anyway?)  It's great to pull a couple of already peeled cloves out of a freezer bag, chop 'em up and throw them in the skillet with the onions.  I don't notice any loss of flavor, texture sure isn't an issue since I'm not eating it raw and no one has gotten sick or died.

Usually "they" advise to let your garlic dry.  I do just the opposite since I'm going to freeze it.  And I want to finish it up today.  I dug the bulbs, then hosed them off to get most of the dirt off the roots. Using scissors, I cut off most of the roots and most of the stem.  Put the bulbs in cold water.  You might want to use a glass or metal bowl so the garlic smell isn't an issue later.  In a bit, you can trim off the rest of the root and stem, peel off some of the outer skin and put them back in clean, cold water.  After about 30 minutes, the skins are easily peeled off and the cloves can be popped into a freezer bag, then frozen.  If they have been in the water for about an hour or so, cut off the end (root end) and give each a squeeze.  They'll pop right out of the skins. Of course you don't want a lot of water in your bag, so drain them well before freezing.
Soaking dried cloves in cold water for 10-15 minutes (or longer) is a great way to get the papery thin skins off.  The clove will just pop right out of the skin.  Smashing it with the side of my big ol' knife might make me feel like Emeril for a moment, but I hate picking the smashed garlic pieces out of the papery skins.  I'll pull it out of the freezer any day.  Just my take on it.

Added the next day:  Here's what I ended up with from my $0.25 bulb of grocery store garlic that I planted last October:

Two and a half cups of already peeled garlic, ready for the freezer.  The house smelled like a pizzeria.