Make your Own Herbal First Aid Kit

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Mom's Home Herbal

It irritates me when people want to run to the doctor for every little cough, sneeze, sniffle or fever. I know I shouldn’t be impatient, since I was in that place once. I remember taking my oldest daughter, who is now 15, to the doctor for ear infections, fevers, and sometimes just plain fussiness. I remember the fear and insecurity that came with that, not being able to get a hold of a doctor over the weekend and my poor little baby suffering the whole time while she waited for me to take her to a doctor.

It’s like night and day – once helpless, dependent, and full of worries and fears; now empowered and confident. It is such a comforting feeling to know that for most family illnesses and health emergencies, I have the tools and know-how to take care of them myself! No waiting on a doctor over the weekend or dealing with a screaming child for an hour or more in an emergency room or doctors office waiting room full of sick people. If you have not yet educated yourself on simple herbal remedies for basic family health care, I strongly encourage you to do so – it is one of the best things I have ever done!

To make a family herbal first aid kit, the first thing that you will want to do is take inventory of your family’s health. Are you in basically good health, or do you catch every bug that goes around? What are your most common illnesses? Do you have an extremely clumsy kid? (Zee is very clumsy, and I have gotten calls from the school twice this year about bruises, one of which DCFS sent a social worker to investigate my husband and me at our home!) There are a few things that every family with small children should be prepared for – here is a basic list of some of the most common things that people go to the doctor for that can easily be treated at home:

  • ear infections
  • colds
  • stomach flu
  • pink eye
  • parasites
  • headlice
  • staph infections
  • yeast infections
  • warts
  • strep throat
  • chicken pox

And a few basics, usually treated with over the counter medicines:

  • indigestion
  • diarrhea
  • bug bites
  • sunburn
  • cuts
  • scrapes
  • bruises

All of these can be treated at home naturally without commercially prepared medicines, and would all but completely remove any need for a doctors visit, with the exception of real medical emergencies like broken bones or other traumatic injuries.

The ideal would be to have a small travel size kit with just the basics for the car, and a larger one that is kept in a safe place at home in a container like a large fishing tackle box with plenty of room for ace bandages, and supplies like a capsulator and a mortar and pestle, etc.

The following is a fairly comprehensive list of things that would be good to keep on hand and their uses (chose the items that are most relevant to your family. You can also add other items that you feel your family needs – if you feel the list is missing something important, please leave a comment!): read more »

The Rooster Delima

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Backyard Chickens

So, you want backyard chickens, but you don’t know about the rooster bit. . . so, here’s the deal with roosters:

The pros of having a rooster:

Some of the pros for having a rooster in your flock are:

  • You need one if you want to get new chicks every year.

If you want a truly sustainable flock, you have to have at least one.  A good rule of thumb for the rooster to hen ratio is that for fertile eggs, you need at least one rooster for every 20 hens.  Most backyard flocks are small, since city regulations often limit the number to as little as 6 chickens.

  • Roosters will protect your flock from predators.

This may be true out in the country where your chickens have more room to roam, however in the city where your chickens are probably more confined to a small area in your yard, this isn’t so much the case, especially if they are in an enclosed coop at night.

  • Fertile eggs are more nutritious and Fertile eggs taste better than infertile eggs.

This is highly debatable, and I have yet to see any conclusive evidence that either of these claims are true.

  • Hens lay more eggs when there is a rooster around.

My dad always said that having roosters helped the hens lay more frequently, but I haven’t really noticed a difference without. My hens still lay nearly 1 egg per day in the laying season.

The cons of having a rooster:

  • They are aggressive

The degree of aggressiveness depends on the breed, so if you have small children, you would want to consider not having a rooster, or at least having a more docile breed of rooster, but even the more ‘docile’ breeds are more aggressive in the spring and summer because it is breeding season, and even ‘docile’ breeds like the Rhode Island Reds can be very aggressive. The rooster that inspired the  name of my blog was a Rhode Island Red.

For a list of chicken breeds and characteristics, click here to see Henderson’s Handy-Dandy Chicken Chart

  • They crow

supposedly larger breeds crow less often than the smaller bantam breeds, with a lower pitched crow, but they are also louder. This is a problem if your city has a noise ordinance. You could silence them by having their voice box cut, but to me, that is animal cruelty.

  • They eat as much as hens, but don’t lay eggs.

I think that it is ideal to have a rooster, but in the city where your neighbors are apt to complain about the noise, the best use for a rooster is mean rooster soup.