Dharma, happy and loving life!

I am happy to report that Dharma is still going strong!  She has her good days and bad days, but overall happy and loving life!  Naps are good as well…

Sad news…

14_1026 DharmaDharma, our beloved Papillon, was recently diagnosed with mast cell cancer.  It started with 3 tumor like growths.  Our regular vet biopsied them and gave us the diagnosis.  They offered to do surgery to remove the 3 tumors.  The problem with this option as a solution is the following week, 3 more tumors may pop up.  Mast cell cancer can pop up anywhere.
We found an alternative medicine vet who is doing immune system support, acupuncture, medicinal mushrooms, and homeopathics.  She currently has her good days and bad days.  Not bad for a 12 year precious pup!

 

What to do with a jacuzzi that you don’t use…

And the answer is…
Turn it into a tilapia pond!
Here’s our jacuzzi with hydroponics beds over the top ready to be filled with bags of clay pellets.  The plan is to pump the fish water up to the plants, allowing the plants to clean the water, then flowing back into the fish pond.
14_0831 aquaponics 5To protect the fish, we decided to build a geodesic dome greenhouse over the top.  We used PVC due to its ease of cutting and construction.  Here’s the 1st row being laid out.
14_0831 aquaponics 6The 2nd row going up.

 
14_0831 aquaponics 10Looking over the finished framework.

 
14_0901 aquaponics 4The covering is solar rated plastic covering.  We have a door cut on the north side.  And we ended up cutting two windows towards the top on the east and west sides to create more air flow.
14_0901 aquaponics 6Here’s the 10 or 12 tiny tilapia coming home in the ice cooler.

 

14_0901 aquaponics 9And here are the babies home in their new pond.
We completed this project over a month ago and the fish have grown tremendously.  About 2 weeks after this first group, we purchased 10 or so more.  And since then, we have 2 or 3 new babies.  In 14 months or so, we will have dinner!

Waterer our girls prefer…

I know we have had lots of questions about which watering system to use for our chickens.  We have tried a couple, some have gone by the wayside, some we still pick up some at the feed store and then put them right back down again.  Our girls will drink out of the gravity-fed, nippled barrels that we posted about earlier.  But, they are definitely not their preferred method of drinking.

This is our chickens’ favorite waterer… Ours holds between 2 and 3 gallons.  They do make them bigger.  The only drawback we have found is we cannot put cider vinegar in it since it is aluminum.

Mites, mites, mites

One day, all of a sudden, so it seemed, Charlotte started loosing the feathers on her back right above her tail.  Soon after, Sandy followed.  We would stand at the chicken run, trying to figure out who was doing the pecking.  As much as we would stand there, eyes peeled, we did not see any pecking going on.
Charlotte with mitesSandy with mites

 

 
After doing some recon/research, we found out that mites were the problem and are one of those things that is a “normal” occurrence with chickens.  GOOD NEWS!  There is an organic solution – food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE).  The sharp edges of the DE cuts the exoskeletons of the mites (and other insects), which causes them to become dehydrated, and therefore, die.

We take a 4″ high plastic bin and the bucket of DE into the chicken run.  One by one, we pick up one of the girls, place them in the plastic bin, with one of us holding the chicken while the other one sprinkles and massages the DE into the chicken’s feathers.  In the beginning, the girls would squirm and try to fly away, and once released, would shake, run, and shake again.  We applied DE yesterday for the 4th or 5th time.  Each chicken stood in the bin, with no resistance, closed their eyes while being massaged, and walked away when placed on the ground.  No squirming, no fighting, no shaking.  The white on the back of the girls is the applied DE.
Girls with DE in their feathersSandy with DE appliedPunky with DE applied

Personalities

A very good friend of mine told our students that I was talking about my chickens as if they had personalities.  Little does she know about chickens!  Of course, those of us who have chicks absolutely know and experience their personalities on a daily basis.  Check out the chicken personalities Ernest Goh caught on camera, http://www.ernestgoh.com/animalia/cocks

The serpents are pretty cool as well…

animal feed

We’ve been feeding the chickens fermented grain for the last couple of weeks and they love it!  And we have been feeding the dogs their raw “paleo” diet one day a week for the same amount of time.  The dogs are also very happy with this change!  What dog wouldn’t love raw organ meat, raw fresh eggs, sardines and vegies!

For me, I could do without both of these things… the smell is noxious.  I woke up around 5am this last Saturday, stumbled out of bed and headed to the kitchen. As soon as I rounded the corner between the end of the hallway and the dining room area, my nostrils were met with fermentation sour and sardines.  I stopped dead in my tracks, gagged, and made the fastest u-turn back towards the bedroom that I could make.  Yesterday afternoon, I fell asleep reading.  As soon as the dogs were finished with their paleo dinner, Roxy, one of the Jack Russels, jumped up on the bed and started licking my face.  It was the smell of sardines on her breath that actually woke me up.

What is good for the farm is not always the best for the farmer…

Organ Meat Treats

I forgot to show everyone what we did with the leftover, thawed organ meat…

I sliced it into small pieces and put it into the food dehydrator for dog treats.  The dogs love them and would like to have them cut into larger pieces… ; )

Organ meat treats

Fermented Feed Day 2

We lifted the towel off the buckets of fermented feed this morning – did it smell!!  I don’t know what smelled worse, the fermented feed or the sardines in the dogs’ raw food…Isabella loves fermented feed!

I took the bin out to the chickens and Isabella came right up, no hesitation today!

Girls belly up to the binSeconds later, all the girls bellied up, finding their spot around the bin.

Before I could let myself out the Girls in the bindoor of the chicken run, a couple of them had jumped into the bin for easier access.

Canine Ancestral Diet

Our dogs are all getting older and their bodies are showing signs of ill health. One of our Jacks has been on porcine enzymes all her life because she is challenged with digesting proteins.  The other Jack Russel eats dirt, rocks, and poop.  Her poor digestive tract is exhausted.  The Papillon is on thyroid and blood pressure meds.  Our Weimeraner is the healthiest, but he also the youngest.

We recently had a new vet come to the house to evaluate the dogs to let us know if there were any alternative methods we could employ to help them stay healthy.  Her top recommendation was feeding the dogs raw food.  She suggested that we read “Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet: Healthier Dog Food the ABC Way” by Steve Brown.  ‘A’ stands for the Amount of fat, protein, and carbs based on the ancestral diet of dogs, ‘B’ is for Balancing the fats, and ‘C’ is for Completing your dog’s nutrition needs by feeding your dog fresh, whole foods.  Sounds like Paleo, if you ask me…

Raw dog food ingredientsWell, we know that health begins with food.  Therefore, we committed to feed the dogs raw foods once a week to see if it makes a difference.  Tonight was the first night we made a batch of food.  The ingredients for our four dogs (approximately 137 pounds of total dogs weight) for one day are 20.3 ounces of organ meat (heart, liver, kidneys), 19.3 ounces of fruits and vegetables, 10 eggs, and 6 cans of sardines (packed in water).  We used green beans, a tomato and a sweet potato for the fruits and vegetables in this batch.  And here’s what it looks like blended… Raw Dog Food blended
Not so visually appetizing, but we’ll see what the dogs think tomorrow morning!  Stay tuned for more paleo dog updates!