What Herbs Keep Chickens Healthy?

herbs keep chickens healthyCan herbs keep chickens healthy?  Does herb use increase the immune response in the flock?  The answer to both questions appears to be, yes! Chickens love herbs, so dosing them with these natural compounds is an easy task. 

My Top Herb Choices For Chicken Care

If I could only grow a few herbs I would choose Mint, Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Lavender and Sage. As far as chicken keeping and animal care needs, Sage and Oregano are great for intestinal health and to ward off infections from Salmonella and Coccidiosis (cocci). Lavender is an all around great herb for infections, relaxation, odor control, and repels pests. Mint  repels insects and rodents, is a stimulant for egg laying, and the chickens love it. Thyme and Basil are aromatic herbs so they also repel pests.

Thyme and Basil are good for mucus membranes and Thyme is great for keeping the respiratory tract healthy or aid in recovery from a respiratory illness. Knowing that herbs keep chickens healthy is empowering. When I notice a potential health problem, I can immediately start supportive treatment by visiting my herb garden.  All in all, most herbs are beneficial and growing them to add to the nest boxes or daily feed is a great idea. Of course humans benefit greatly from herbs too.

 I recommend the top six I mentioned because they are great culinary herbs, in addition to being good for your health. Chickens love to eat herbs but we can still use them in our cooking and health care. In the event of illness, making a tea and adding dried thyme to it, can help loosen a cough and make breathing easier. Thyme is great for respiratory health. I grow quite an assortment of all herbs and dry them in the dehydrator. If I am going to make a lotion or salve, I make an herbal infusion in olive oil.  Continue reading to find out how to make an easy herbal oil infusion.

Herbs keep chickens healthy

Adding Herbal Care Into Everyday Life  

Most of the ways I use herbs takes only a few minutes a day.  Snipping an assortment of herbs from the kitchen garden, and putting them in a basket to take to the coop is an easy task.  I can even perform this job with a coffee cup in one hand!  Years ago, I was only growing mint and basil.  I had little idea of all the creative and healthy ways to use herbs.  Cooking and baking our food with fresh herbs is one reward from growing herb gardens. The other rewards are seeing how healthy and strong my flock of chickens is, since I began incorporating herbs in their regular treats and diet.  I have no trouble stating that herbs keep chickens healthy.

herbs keep chickens healthy

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Simple Herbal Oil Infusions

 When I need an infusion of one or more of the herbs, I start gathering the herbs by snipping some each day. It’s better to use the herbs dried so you don’t add excess water to the oil infusion. It won’t take long to dry out a cup of herbs on a drying rack or pop them on the dehydrator tray. 

Using the charts below, you can customize mixtures of herbal infusions for specific issues. Or simply make a fresh herb blend of some of the herbs and add to the coop or feed pan. If you use a chicken feeder, I would suggest adding the herbs to your hens diet separately. Pieces of herbs left behind in the feeder can get soggy and even mold. Be sure to clean up any fresh herbs that are not eaten by the flock.

Drying herbs from your garden is the best way to have a ready selection for winter herbal flock care. Herbs dry easily in a well ventilated area. Electric dehydrators speed up the process and allow you to keep a constant supply of dried herbs for nest boxes, infusions, salve making and cooking.

Simple Wound Salve for Chickens

What you will need:

  1. 2 glass jar – quart size recommended but pint can work too.
  2. quarter cup of each of – Oregano and dried dried plantain leaves, and a quarter cup of one of the following dried floral herbs-choose from calendula  petals, Nasturtium, chamomile, wild violet,or dandelion petals  
  3. olive oil, sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil
  4. mesh strainer
  5. 1/2 ounce beeswax
  6. 1/2 ounce coconut oil
  7. tea tree essential oil
  8. vitamin e oil

Prepare the infusion 

Add the dried herbs to the jar. (always use dried herbs and botanicals when making an infusion)

Pour the oil over the herbs to cover. The quick method for creating an infusion is to set the jar into a pan with a few inches of water in the pan. Bring the water to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let the jar with the herbs and oil sit in the warm water for a couple hours. A crockpot set on low can also be used to warm the water and infuse the jar of herbs and oil.

Strain the oil, using the fine mesh strainer. Add a coffee filter or piece of cheese cloth if you feel it is needed. Save the herbs! you can feed these to the flock as a treat. Extra oil not needed for the salve recipe can be stored in the refrigerator for future use. Label the jar.

Healing salve pictured on the right. The left container is a drawing salve using charcoal and infused oil

Making the Healing Salve

Using a double boiler method described above, melt the beeswax and coconut oil together in a glass jar. Add four ounces of infused oil. 

When the oils and beeswax are completely melted together, add 15 drops of tea tree oil.  Add 3 drops of liquid vitamin E or contents of one vitamin E capsule. Vitamin E acts as a preservative.

Have your salve containers ready. Use clean jelly jars, small tins, or other handy containers with lids. Remove the jar from the warm water bath. Quickly pour the mixture into the containers. The salve hardens quickly. 

Use this salve for cuts, scrapes, pecking wounds, bites, and other open wounds. Store in a cool location as the salve will melt if left in the car or in sunlight. 

Always consult a veterinarian if the wound is not improving, worsening, infected and not responding to your treatment. 

Herbal Tip:

Comfrey is an easy to grow herb that can aid soft tissue healing. For sprains, broken bones, and tendon damage, a compress of comfrey salve can be made using the same method. Apply using a compress to the injured area.

 

Knowing What Herbs Keep Chickens Healthy is Simple 

Learning how herbs keep chickens healthy is pretty simple.  Knowing what type of problems cause chicken illness helps you remedy the situation.  For example, if you know that weak egg shells can be a result of calcium deficiency or a reproductive tract issue, seeing that Marjoram, Parsley, Mint and Dandelions are high in the properties that improve reproductive health helps you know which herbs to use.  Of course, make sure to only use wild plants and beneficial weeds from areas that have not been treated with herbicides or weed killers. Here’s a chart that lists common chicken ailments or problems and the herbs that may help.

Herbs keep chickens healthy

Herbs Keep Chickens Healthy Print out Information 

The four page graphic PDF is my way of organizing  the herbal information.  You are invited to print out the PDF, for your own personal use.  

To download and begin referring to How to Keep Chickens Healthy , 

herbs keep chickens healthy

Click here.>>>>>  to download a printable copy of this series of Herbal Info for Chickens

For more Do it Yourself Healing Remedies for Chickens, check out my book, 50 Do it Yourself Projects for Keeping Chickens (skyhorse publishing 2018) available through Amazon and local book sellers

 

herbs keep chickens healthy

 

The Herbal Starter Kit by the Herbal Academy

 




Honey Bees in Late Spring

honey bees in late spring
Honey bees in late spring need a hive check to ensure that the new hives are thriving.  No matter whether you start with a Nuc or a package with a queen, there are hives that do not do well.  The queen may have died. The weather could have been all wrong.  Often spring weather is unpredictable. If the early sources of pollen fail, the new hive may starve.  In short, it is recommended that we take the time to check on a new hive after the first couple of weeks. 
 

What to Do While Checking the Honey Bees in Late Spring 

When I picked up the new bee colony this spring, the beekeeper recommended feeding.  He must have said it three or four times. Our spring was odd as usual. Our springs are always odd, but never the same form of odd!  This year, we had an unusually rainy two months. The temperatures were much cooler than normal and everything was slow to grow and bloom.  And then it became unseasonably hot!  One extreme to another is normal although a bit unsettling when trying to grow bees and gardens.  

Normal Hive Activity?

During the rainy days I was getting things ready for being away from the farm for at least a week.  I tried to find the time to check on the bees but it didn’t happen.   I did not have sugar syrup made to feed the bees either.  When I observed the bees from afar, I saw what looked to be normal hive activity.  
When I left on the trip, I had not checked the hive or provided any extra food for the bees.  Once again I felt that I was failing as a beekeeper.  I really needed to check the honey bees in late spring, and it was almost summer.
 
honey bees in late spring
Returning home two weeks later, the bees were on my mind.  Checking the honey bees in late spring was the first thing I did.  First, putting on my protective clothing and gathering up the beekeeping supplies.  I have my bee keeping tools in a bucket that makes it easy to carry everything to the hive. I like to carry my camera along too, for documenting the hive progress. The camera also goes in the bucket.  

Why I use a Smoker

I chose to use a smoker while checking the honey bees in late spring, for a couple of reasons.  One, the bees aren’t used to me yet.  I don’t know if that even happens, but the only time we have met was day one.  I added the Nuc frames to the hive and closed up the hive!  Two, it was getting late in the day and the bees would be heading back into the hive.  This can be a time of more aggressive behavior.  The smoker can help calm or distract the bees.  
 
honey bees in late spring
As I removed the top cover  I immediately noticed that a huge population explosion had occurred since starting the hive. Bees were everywhere, spilling from the top of the hive, and under the inner cover.  Not only bees, but comb was being built on top of the frames and on the inner cover. Lots of comb was being built and some comb also had honey in it.  
 

Adding a Second Super While Checking Honey Bees in Late Spring

I was pretty sure that I knew what had to be done, but I checked with my local beekeepers to be certain.  This is another good reason for taking a camera into the hive with you.  I was able to show what the inside of my hive looked like and get reliable advice.  It was time to add the second box, or super and ten more frames, to the hive.  The bees had filled out most of the frames with comb.  The comb being built on the top of the frames and on the cover would have to be scrapped off using a hive tool.  It can be left nearby for the bees to eat.  
 
honey bees in late spring
The next day I suited up again, (don’t you wonder about the beekeepers who only wear a hood?) and took the super with ten frames ready for the bees to build up the hive.  While in the hive, I scraped the extra comb off with the frame tool.   The bees seemed pretty upset with me for removing the comb so I worked quickly.  I sure don’t want to stress out 40,000 of my honey making friends!  I didn’t look for the queen bee this time.  It is obvious at this point that she is happily breeding and sitting on her throne. 
 

 What to Look for with Honey Bees in Late Spring Hive Check

 
The reason to do an inspection is to verify the health of the bees and the colony.  If you see an active beehive full of drones and workers, and notice eggs in the cells of the comb, your hive is doing well.  The Queen Bee usually stays in the center of the hive, but not always.  Looking for and seeing brood confirms the presence of a healthy queen, even if you don’t see her.
 
honey bees in late spring
In addition to eggs, look at how the cells are arranged.  A healthy hive will have brood cells tightly packed. If you see cells capped but spread out all across the frame your queen bee might be older or not laying eggs,  The queen can get sick or old.  You might also notice nectar and pollen stored on the wax frames.
 
We have all probably heard of the term,  bee swarm.  There are actually signs in late spring that tell a beekeeper the hive might be getting ready to swarm.  The presence of queen cells or cups is one sign of potential swarming.  
 honey bees in late spring

Can the Bees Get too Hot

Yes the bees can get too hot and you will notice what is called bearding on the outside of the hive if that happens.  Adding a bit of ventilation space under the lid will increase air flow throughout the hive.  
 
honey bees in late spring
 

How Much Water Do Bees Need

When it’s hot the bees will gather close to a gallon of water a day.  They will fly miles to retrieve water so its a good idea to give them a shallow dish and something to float on while getting a drink.  Bees don’t like to get their feet wet!
 

 How Often Should You Check The Hive?

 
If you see normal activity around the hive once or twice a month may be enough checking.  If activity seems to be less than normal for your hive, it would be important to get in there and take a look. The sooner you find a problem the higher chance you have of correcting the issue. 
honey bees in late spring
 
Bees are hardworking members of our sustainable farm.  We are looking forward to that first spoonful of honey from a healthy bee colony right here at home.  
 
 For more on the subject of pollinators and the plants that attract and feed them take a look at these blog posts
 
How to Plant a Butterfly Garden
 
Meet the Pollinators
 
 If you enjoyed this post please consider saving it to your pinterest boards!  Thanks so much!
 honey bees in late spring



Keep Your Chicken Coop Smelling Fresh

Keep Your chicken coop smelling freshHere are five quick tips to help you keep your chicken coop smelling fresh.  If your coop makes you hold your breath when you go in to collect eggs, think about how the chickens feel!  It’s not too hard to keep the coop clean and fresh, if you do a little bit of cleaning every few days.  I am listing a few important basics for you.

Keep Your Chicken Coop Smelling Fresh with These 5 Tips

1.  Water and moisture are not your friend.  If you slop or spill water when filling the water founts or bowls, the moisture will mix with the droppings and create a bad ammonia  odor.  The best way to keep this from piling up is to clean up any spills as they happen. We had to switch to a fount style waterer instead of a bowl  because we had one duck in with the chickens and she thought we were giving her a small swimming pool each evening.  Mrs. Duck could still get enough water to dip her bill in with the water fount.  And there was less mess to cleanup in the morning. Now that the ducks are housed separately, we have returned to using the flexible rubber feed pans for the water bowl in the chicken coop.

Keep the Air Circulating

2.  Install a box fan to keep air circulating.  Stagnant air smells bad and the flies will accumulate more in a stuffy airless building.  Running a fan, even on low speed, will keep the flies, and the odor to a minimum.  Not to mention that it keeps the coop from becoming too hot, also.  We hang an inexpensive box unit over the coop doorway.  You can read more about that here, in my heat stress post. Installing a fan is one of the easiest ways to keep your chicken coop smelling fresh.

3.  Use fresh herbs and rose petals if you have them, in the nesting boxes and in the sleeping areas.  Not only will the herbs and petals smell great, the hens will appreciate the yummy treat. Mint is another great addition and it will help repel pests too.  Check out more about using herbs in your nesting boxes.  Another good source for chicken information is The Homesteader’s Natural Chicken Keeping Handbook, by Amy Fewell.

4.  Every few days or once a week, clean out any bedding  that is soiled or damp.  We use hay or straw  in the nesting boxes.  Straw is preferred because it is low in moisture, which is optimal for keeping odor at a minimum.  Occasionally we have to use hay because we are out of straw.  I try to use the driest hay bale I can find that is not dusty or moldy.  The chickens will track in some wet mud, or occasionally an egg breaks, in the nests.  The bedding is thrown out in the chicken yard for them to peck through before it is added to the compost pile.  Sprinkle some Diatomaceous Earth powder or First Saturday Lime product, under the fresh hay or straw to absorb moisture and odors.

Why You Should Use Lime in the Coop

Last year I started using an agricultural product, First Saturday Lime. I am not an affiliate with the company, but I am a happy customer. I believe in sharing my thoughts on good products when I find something worthwhile. First Saturday Lime is basically lime, but the formula is 100 % non toxic, non caustic and safe for pets and children, along with livestock and poultry. As with any dust type product, care should be taken when applying the product to avoid inhaling the dust.  I make sure the fan in the coop and barn is off and that it’s not a windy day. Once it is applied, the product does not seem to blow around at all.

You can read more about the product on their website. After a year of using the product, I can honestly say that it does a better job of preventing odors, controlling insects and providing an additional calcium source than any previous product used here. We still offer oyster shell, or crushed egg shells but it’s good to know that the FSL provides an additional source of calcium for our layer hens.

keep chicken coop smelling fresh

In addition, we use it in the sheep and goat barn, rabbit house, and the litter pans for our house rabbits get a liberal dose of FSL at each cleaning. If you raise house rabbits, you know odor can be a problem. Since starting to use First Saturday Lime in the rabbit litter, I clean the boxes less frequently.

Time For a Major Cleanup

5.  Several times a year, completely clean out the bedding on the coop floor.  Sometimes we use the deep litter method of coop bedding. This means that we continue to add fresh bedding or shavings as needed to the coop and only remove the damp/wet or soiled bedding on the floor as needed.  In the winter this adds to the warmth of the coop by keeping the decomposing litter and feces in the building.  Decomposing matter creates heat.  We keep less litter and shavings in the coop during the hot months of summer to keep it cooler. The frequency of cleaning out the coop will depend on the weather, humidity, how much time the chickens are kept in the coop, among other factors. 

Keeping chickens happy and smelling good is not a full time job and doesn’t need to be.  Maintain a dry environment and you will be able to keep your chicken coop smelling fresh. 

 

keep your chicken coop smelling fresh

**Updated 4/28/2017 from the original post written 6/25/2013

Updated 5/20/2019 


Keep Your coop smelling fresh

 




When Can Chicks Go Outside?

when can chicks go outsideOne of the top questions I am asked is when can chicks go outside. The need for warmth is key to a growing chick. The growing period is important and making adjustments at the right time is crucial to their future health and well being. The answer really depends on providing warmth, safety, food and water, where ever you house the brooder.

The first weeks of life you are dealing with rather fragile beings. They require a very warm environment. Even if you have a shed, garage or coop with electric, the heat source will be needed 24/7.  As the chicks grow, you will see them venture away from the heat source more and more. The chick’s downy covering will give way to new feathers. You can start to reduce the heat level gradually. Starting with the brooder near 100 degrees F, gradually reduce the heat by 5 degrees each week.

As the chicks grow, it is ok to take them outside for a short time, for a play time. I recommend keeping it to 15 minutes or less, and provide a secure enclosure so you don’t lose a wandering, brave chick! 

when can chicks go outside

If the chicks are mostly feathered and the weather is warm enough at night, you can gradually begin to wean them from the heat. This won’t happen for the first few weeks of life, however. Chilling is one of the leading causes of chick death. Once a chick gets chilled, it is hard to bring them back. The first few days are critical in giving your new chicks the best start. 

when can chicks go outside

When Can Chicks Go Outside?

As the chicks begin to grow, the mess becomes messier. You may begin to wonder if they will do just as well, outside of the brooder,and in the coop.Let me encourage you to wait as long as possible before doing this. Not only can the chicks become chilled and suffer illness from being moved too early, but you set them up to become ill from bacteria and parasites.

Chicks are growing rapidly and need free access to food and water. Moving them to a coop situation where they will come in contact with staphylococcus , e-coli, coccidia, and Mareks disease is risky. Chicks need good nutrition, and time to build a strong immune system before being moved outside.

when can chicks go outside

I hedge a little on my answer, because each breed feathers out at a slightly different rate. And each area of the world has different weather patterns.  Sometime between 4 and 6 weeks of age, depending on the weather, the chicks may be able to begin living in the coop. There is nothing to be gained by rushing the chicks from the brooder environment into the coop. 

Some people are successful with leaving the chicks in the coop and run during the warmer daytime, and bringing them into the garage or home at night. The answer to when can chicks go outside is a variable situation!

This does not mean that the chicks are ready to be integrated with the big chickens. You will want to take that slow and easy, when they are a little bigger.  

when can chicks go outside

When Can Chicks Join the Flock

If you watch a mother hen take care of her babies you will see that she protects them from other flock members. It takes a bold chicken to mess with a mama hen. In the case of chicks raised by humans, we have removed this protective barrier. We must use safe practices to integrate the new young pullets to the flock. Gradual and slow are the terms to keep in mind. 

My usual time line for introducing the new chicks to the flock is around 10 weeks. The chicks must be fully feathered, and on their way to similar size of the chickens they are joining. Adding small bantams to large breed, more aggressive hens is not always going to end well. A sharp hard peck on the head can damage a tiny bantam pullet. In addition, a full size rooster trying to mate with a small bantam pullet can damage or hurt the little one. I have had some bad outcomes from integrating small breeds into large breeds so I don’t recommend it. On the other hand if they are raised together, I  have had no such issues.

when can chicks go outside

When chicks are losing the baby appearance, feather growth has come in, get some sort of enclosure to put them in as they begin to experience the big kids area. I do not recommend just tossing the chicks into the big chicken’s area. Let them both get used to each other through a fence, dog crate, or some other wire enclosure. The chicks will still have their own food and water so they are sure to get plenty to eat and drink. You may need to keep the food and water in the middle of the pen so the big chickens can’t reach in for a snack. 

when can chicks go outside

when can chicks go outside

Fully Integrated Flock

Once the chicks don’t seem to be getting much attention from the flock, through the fence, you can try some short intervals of letting them out.  I try to keep an eye on this and I do rescue anyone who seems to be picked on. Placing some hiding spots around the run.  One year four of our pullets liked to hide out behind the coop door. I have also leaned a piece of plywood against the fence for a lean-to. A fallen tree limb with leaves can provide cover, too.

when can chicks go outside

Is There a Right Answer?

When can chicks go outside and when can chicks join the flock are important points to consider when raising chickens. I think that the answer depends on a lot of factors. Weather, coop set up, and breeds of chickens, are some of the variables involved. What tips would you add about when can chicks go outside? How did you introduce your chicks to your flock? I’d love to keep the discussion going in the comments.




6 Healthy Wild Plants to Harvest Now

wild plantsHealthy,wild plants,herbs and botanicals  grow everywhere in spring. Many of the healthy wild plants in your yard have healing properties.  From the common dandelion to wild violet, chickweed and berries, wild plants contain healthy nutrients. Many wild plants can be used as greens in salads, or added to a light oil to make an infusion.  With the right knowledge, the tinctures and extracts can provide powerful healing without resorting to pharmaceuticals. Adding dried herbs to baking takes the flavor to a whole new level. 

Pick the Wild Plants In Your Yard, Don’t Kill Them 

Being new to this subject field, I have been reading many blog posts and articles on using wild plants and herbs in different ways.   I provide links to the source whenever possible. Please click on the links for more information.  

Dandelions

The oh so common and well known wild plant is present in most yards that are not treated with chemicals. Dandelions (Taraxacom) are both edible and medicinal wild plants.  Pollinating insects love dandelions too. Many bee and fly species are very happy to drink the abundant nectar.  Dandelions play a vital role in honey production because of how much pollen and nectar they feed to the bees. The soil benefits because dandelions produce lots of nutrients, particularly Nitrogen, that go back into the soil.  

There are so many beneficial uses for dandelions including the leaves for salad greens, the flowers can be fried, the root can be used as a tea or coffee substitute.  Medical professionals caution that the use of any herb can be overdone, cause a reaction, or interfere with prescription medications.  Dandelions can be made into tea, tinctures, extracts, oil infusions, raw greens, and dehydrated.  

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Plantain

Plantain (Plantago Major) was introduced to this country by the early colonists. What many people don’t realize is, Plantain is actually an herb.  In our yard, we actually have both the broad leaf and the thin leaf varieties.  The leaves are edible and contain antibacterial and antiseptic properties for healing.  The leaves can simply be chewed to release the juice and the mushed leaves placed on the insect bite or inflammation.  Plantain leaves can be used to make a tincture, tea, or infusion.  To store nature’s bounty of plantain for winter, freeze the leaves or dehydrate.  Leaving plantain in the garden or lawn is good for the other plants. Plantain is a wild plant that accumulates nutrients in the soil, making the soil better for growing.

wild plants

Wild Violet

These small purple flowers grow abundantly in shaded areas and in lawns.  The leaves and flowers are both edible. The violet flowers are used in salads, and also can be sugared and used to decorate pastry.  The leaves are high in vitamin C.  Gathering a basket of the tiny violets is not hard once a patch is established.  The seeds spread widely from a hidden green flower in the plant. The flavor is reportedly mild and somewhat sweet.

For culinary use, gather the blossoms and make violet infused vinegar or violet jelly. 

Medicinally, this tiny posy has quite an impact.  Violets contain salicylic acid (common aspirin) and components that aid respiratory problems and wound healing.  Not bad for a weed, right?  Violets are so powerful that herbal info includes a warning to be cautious in the use, particularly the roots, because it is so strong. 

Chickweed

Chickweed is a favorite treat of my chickens, ducks and small ruminants.  I thought it was appropriate that the chickens liked the chickweed!  Did you know that chickweed is a wild plant that is very good for us to eat too?  Bees and other pollinators love the tiny flower of chickweed.  We can use it in a salad.  Leaving it for the pollinating insects is a great idea. If you cut the grass and wild plants, leave the chickweed to decompose on the ground.  It will add nutrients back into the soil.  Chickweed does many healthy things for our bodies if eaten.  It is a mild diuretic and contains lots of vitamins!

Purslane

Purslane  (Portulaca oleracea),  is so high in Omega 3 fatty acids that it is considered a super food.  In addition, Purslane is high in vitamins and beta carotene. It looks somewhat like a small leaf succulent.  You can eat the entire plant, leaves and stems as a salad or green.  Pectin amounts are also high in Purslane so it can be used as a thickener in recipes.  

Purslane can grow anywhere, although I have read that it prefers rich freshly turned soil.  In our gardens it seems to grow in the more barren, dry areas of the garden where other plants are struggling to survive.  It grows like a ground cover.  If we don’t eat it, I pull it up and throw it to the chickens who seem to be very happy to have a Purslane snack.

Purple Dead-nettle

An early growing weed that spreads quickly has probably been in your garden.  I have quite a lot of it in my yard so I wanted to know how it could be used.  The Purple Dead-nettle is not very heat tolerant and doesn’t survive the hot summer weather we have.  It comes back again in the fall. My favorite use for this plant is making natural dye for use on wool yarn.

The medicinal properties have been used to help heal bruising after making a poultice. Also, it has been used to stop bleeding.   Teas made from Purple Dead-nettle have been used to treat chills. 

Dandelion Salve for Achy Muscles and Skin Healing

Dandelions are a completely edible wild plant. The flowers are eaten battered and fried by many people. Dandelion wine and Dandelion jelly are both delicious ways to use dandelions. The greens are delicious in salads, and my rabbits, chickens, ducks and pigs all love a healthy dandelion green treat.  

Take care to harvest dandelions that have not been sprayed with chemicals and herbicides. Also, you might not want to collect your dandelions from the edge of the road. These dandelions might contain contaminants from the road and automobiles.   

This was my first attempt at making a herbal salve so I consulted a few friends blogs about the subject.  I most closely followed this one from Grow Forage Cook Ferment.

Harvesting Wild Plants for Salve

After I harvested a few cups of yellow dandelion flowers, I laid them on a cookie sheet on paper towels.  Since our weather had warmed up, I left the tray on the porch to take advantage of the warm breeze and sun.  What you are trying to do is dry out the flowers some because they have a high water content.  After a day or two the flowers should be dry enough to start the oil infusion.  Infusion sounds so medical to me.  It’s really simple.  Add the Dandelion flowers to a pint size jar until about three quarters full.  Pack lightly.  Add olive oil or sweet almond oil to the jar until the flowers are completely covered.

 

To make the infusion, place the jar in the sun for a few days.  If you don’t want to wait that long, place the jar in the top piece of a double boiler set up.  Bring the water to simmer, and then turn off the heat.  Let the flowers in the jar of oil sit in the warm water for  a few hours. 

Strain the oil.  I used a mesh strainer.  Add a piece of cheese cloth if you think it is necessary.   Store the oil in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it in a salve or lotion recipe.

healthy wild plants

Make the Dandelion Salve

Making a healthy salve from the dandelion flowers in another way to benefit from what many consider a weed.  

Again, use a double boiler type set up.  Heat 16 ounces of  Dandelion oil in the double boiler.  I didn’t have quite enough infused Dandelion oil so I just added more olive oil.  

wild plants

Melt 2 ounces of Beeswax and 2 ounces of solid coconut oil.  When the three ingredients are completely melted, add the other optional ingredients.  I used some ground lavender leaves, lavender essential oil and a few drops of wild orange essential oil.  Stir to combine and then quickly pour the mixture into the small glass jars or small metal containers.

Using the Salve Made From Wild Plants

The salve will harden fairly quickly.  Since it has so much coconut and olive oil in it, when you take a scoop to use the salve it melts quickly and absorbs quickly into your skin. After the oil has penetrated your skin, the salve continues to work and heal your skin.  

wild plants

 

These are a handful of wild plants that are growing in my yard.  What sort of wild plants do you use in cooking or homemade remedies?  Share with me in the comments.

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wild plants

 

Disclaimer – None of the information presented here is intended to be medical advice.  When using plants for health care, it is always best to consult your health care provider.