Fallen Baby Birds

Hi, everyone! I really want to talk about something that happened recently on our farm that I know some people have experienced, even if they don’t live on a farm. It’s something that really tugs on maternal heart-strings and if one doesn’t know what to do, the scenario becomes quite nerve wrecking quickly.

Baby birds. The fact of the matter is they do fall out of nests. And some of them do indeed die. And it is gut wrenching. Since moving out here my emotional skin towards the circle of life has thickened, but I still cannot get over the loss of a child, even an animal. Even a wild animal.

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This is Taz. He’s a Weimaraner. And he steals babies. He has never hurt a baby animal, but he does take them home. Our first year out here he found a baby softshell. He brought it to the front door and I was able to move it to a safe location away from our huskies.

We’ve had him sit with sick baby goats so they don’t get lonely. He’s very loyal and stays close to anything in distress or ill. When I was nearing the end of both pregnancies, this dog was attached to the hip. When my husband used to work nights and we were alone, Taz would always be by my side and the first to stand guard when he’d come home, only to quickly return to a friendly stance once he knew it was just daddy coming home.

We got him right after my first miscarriage. He was attached to me from day one, but I think that’s just his temperament. He truly feels it’s his duty to help.

He’s also an idiot though and there is no doubt in my mind that he had some part to play in today’s events. I went out into our garage and there’s a small pile of old train tracks we had for trains that toddlers can ride on. My kids are too big for that so it’s just sitting there. I saw wings flutter to the top then just drop down. Next to the pile? Taz. “What the hell did you do?” I asked him and he wagged his tail. Jerk. About thirty minutes earlier I remember him hanging out by some of our trees and a mockingbird striking him. He didn’t even flinch. He just sat there. I hoped the thing could fly as I lifted the train tracks it was trapped in and all it did was hop. Crap. As it was hopping, Taz was trying to herd it back into the garage. Double crap.

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So I scooped the baby bird up. It had its flight feathers, but still some baby fluff. I looked at its face. It looked like a grumpy old man. The chirp it cried out only gave me the final confirmation I needed. Taz had abducted a baby mockingbird. I HATE those things. But, it was a scared baby. I went outside near the trees that Taz likes to hang out under looking for a nest. I was unable to find it. I saw a full-grown mockingbird watching me pretty closely, unusually quiet. I approached one particular tree that agitated the bird. It came swooping toward the tree and landed half a foot from my face. Judging by the size, it could very well have been the mother.

Because I have no shame in talking to animals like they’re humans I scolded the bird “You lost your kid. Seriously? Do you know that if one of the huskies got it, it would be dogfood right now?” The bird chirped angrily at me. I didn’t see a nest. The baby I had was a hopper, but it wouldn’t be long before it took its first flight. There was no way I could provide for its needs, with me being a complete stranger at this stage of its life.

So, what did I do?

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I brought the bird back to the tree I was hoping the nest was in since mamma bird was angry at me being there.

Then something happened I never saw happen. The baby bird took off out of the tree, fell, then ran to the neighbor’s yard. Mamma bird was even more upset. Taz got worried and watched his baby leave. We’re working to make sure the thing is fed and hopefully he’ll interact with other birds still and take flight. Normally, birds reunite, but I think there was just too much going on and the baby panicked.

I mainly wanted to share this experience because most people think that if they see a baby bird they should leave it alone because the parents will not accept a baby bird that a human has touched. That’s not true, in fact if you know where the nest is you should pick that baby up and return it to its nest.

If you do return a baby bird to its nest know that there’s a good chance that you won’t see a parent return right away. Most birds do not possess the bold demeanor that a mockingbird does and will hide until they’re sure it’s safe, especially if they saw you handle the baby. It doesn’t mean they won’t return though. Resist the urge to keep peeking into the nest. Let mom–and sometimes dad–do the job mother nature intended.

What do you do if you can’t find a nest, especially if the babies clearly don’t have their feathers in yet? This is actually easier than my little runner this morning. They don’t really move. It’s possible they got knocked out by a strong storm or even just wind. If you have a hanging planter, you can take it and create your own little nest. Use natural materials like the parents would. Needles, dried leaves, mulch, etc. will do. Create walls like a nest with the natural material and put the bird–or birds–in it. Hang the new nest as close to where the previous nest may have been as possible and leave them be. Hopefully the parents will find the new nest, especially when the chicks start chirping for food.

In most scenarios, it is best to try to keep the babies with the parents as much as possible. Birds are quite sensitive and even though we mean well, the traumatizing experience of being moved can be enough to kill a young chick. When you find a baby bird, always try to return it home. Resist the urge to take over and care for it like it’s your own. It’s not yours and they’re not the easiest of animals to care for, especially when young.

Hopefully this post was informative and you’ll know the basics of what to do if you ever do find a fallen little one.

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Sage

Sage. Antimicrobial, bitter, carminative, diuretic, and astringent. There’s a lot going on with this herb, so it’s a great addition for many dishes to help get the benefits. You can also use this herb in medicinal recipes.

Antimicrobial

Something that is antimicrobial kills microorganisms, or stops their growth. Natural or synthetic antimicrobials are grouped based on the microorganisms they act against. So that means, something that is antibiotic is antimicrobial; something that is antifungal is antimicrobial. But something can be antimicrobial, but not necessarily antibiotic or antifungal. And the antimicrobial is then further categorized based on which strain of bacteria, fungi, etc. they fight against. There are TONS of herbs that are antimicrobial, but their microorganism fighting speciality differs. Sage fights against Bacillus Cereus. Bacillus Cereus is a bacteria that causes diarrhea and vomiting. Sage can also fight against minor skin infections/acne.

Bitter

Fun fact, bitter-tasting herbs aid in digestion, strictly because of the bitter taste. If you have chronic stomach issues with bloat or gas, or you want to give your digestive system a good kick-start, drink an herbal tea that is bitter about 20 minutes before eating. If you’re taking sage for an illness this bitter taste can be beneficial. 75% of your immune system is in the gut and keeping your digestive system healthy and running smoothly, especially when you’re sick, is important. You want your immune system to be focused on fixing you and not working extra hard on an ill functioning digestive system. How does this work? As soon as your taste receptors detect the bitter taste, your vagus nerve gets going, meaning all the digestive organs responsible for secretions begin as well as other functions involved in getting food from point A to point B.

Carminative

In short? Got the farts? Yeah, carminative properties help with flatulence.

Diuretic

Increases urine flow. This can help with water retention and high blood pressure.

Astringent

If you have oily skin, applying a sage infusion (especially if your skin is sensitive) can help because it tightens the skin.

In Ayurveda

Sage is classified as a drying and slightly heating herb, which makes it great for colds with lots of phlegm. It’s not something I would recommend by itself for a fever, but you can use it in combination with other herbs that are diaphoretic and fever breaking. Since sage is drying, avoid use in dry coughs.

So, that’s sage! I could actually do a second post in sage for culinary use to maintain good health as well. I can even write a third post on its history in different cultures. This herb is awesome and so easy to grow. Mine is going nuts.

Curious about other medicinal/culinary herbs we have on the farm? Click here and check it out.

 

 

 

Homemade Deodorant

Hi, everyone! I’m going to share my incredibly easy deodorant recipe. A little goes a long way and this stuff lasts awhile.

I haven’t bought deodorant for myself for almost a year now. I have been using homemade the entire time and it actually works. All you need are: coconut oil, shea butter, essential oils, arrowroot powder, a mixing bowl, and hand bender.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 2 tablespoons shea butter (or more)
  • 10 drops of chosen essential oil, or oil blend
    • Add 10 drops cypress essential oil to existing essential oil or blend if you need extra strength like I do

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It’s pretty simple. Add all of the ingredients to a mixing bowl then mix with the hand mixer. If the consistency is too wet, add some more arrowroot powder. If it’s too dry, add more coconut oil or shea butter if you need it to be less dry but more solid.

If you use extra strength, cypress essential oil is great for deoderizing.

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I store mine in a dark glass container, because of the essential oils. Like I stated before, a little bit goes a long way. I put mine on right after a shower on clean skin, not wanting to lock dirt in with the blend inadvertently. I like using this recipe because it doesn’t have unneeded chemicals in the blend that can have ill effects on your skin. When I’m out, it takes 5 minutes to make more. I love it!

How about you? Would you try homemade deodorant instead of store-bought?

Cinnamon Roll Bread for the Bread Machine

Hello again! I have a treat to share with everyone. A few weeks ago I used the bread machine to make cinnamon roll bread. It’s my take on a recipe in the book that came with my bread machine.

Now, if you’re looking at getting a bread machine, I use the Zojirushi BB-PAC20. It’s not cheap, but you do get what you pay for. I have never had this thing fail and have never had any parts go bad. It’s as efficient as the day I got it nearly four years ago. So one of the first recipes I tried from the book was this cinnamon roll bread. It’s a good recipe. I adjusted it to gear more towards our joint cinnamon obsession we have as a family. The icing recipe downright sucked, so I used an old one I’ve had forever. Probably not as healthy for you, but if you’re baking cinnamon roll bread, healthy probably isn’t that high of a priority for this recipe.

This loaf doesn’t last more than two days at my house and that’s only because we have to limit the kids. My son will projectile vomit if he consumes too much junk in a day. He has been that way forever, so we all practice self control around sweets as a general rule.

Anyway, this bread. If you do not have the same bread machine, you can tinker with it. My machine is for a 2 lb. loaf and is more horizontal in shape, not vertical. It looks like a meatloaf pan. If you do not have a bread machine, you can still use a loaf pan and it’ll look just as pretty.

I am going to add the manual time adjustments made to the bread machine for rise times the rolls spend in the actual machine. If you are not using a machine, you can easily make the rolls and roll them out and let them rise in the fridge overnight to use the next day.

The first thing we do is add the ingredients. Add the ingredients in the order your manual for your bread machine specifies. The order I use is:

  1. Liquids
  2. Any substance that is almost that in between consistence of solid and liquid
  3. Spices/herbs/seasonings (including sugar)
  4. Flour
  5. Yeast in a hole I make in the flour pile

For the bread, I add the following in this order:

  1. 1 cup milk (we use milk from our own goats)
  2. 2 beaten large eggs (we use our duck eggs because they’re the best for baking)
  3. 2 1/2 tablespoons softened butter (we use home churned cow butter from another local homestead)
  4. 4 tablespoons sugar
  5. 2 teaspoons salt
  6. 4 1/4 cups bread flour (all-purpose works, too)
  7. 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (I have used bread machine yeast with success)

 

Now the interesting part. The first time I did this part I felt like I was doing it wrong because everything was put in manually. Now I have this setting saved in the machine and it’s not so bad. Again, you can make the rolls and store them in the fridge overnight and then bake in the oven if that’s easier.

Some bread machines have a “REST” option. The reason is you don’t really use a lot of cold ingredients for most bread recipes as it can actually affect the whole process. So the rest period is used to have everything sit and come to as close to room temperature as possible before kneading begins. This isn’t needed for this particular recipe so I shut it off. So, when I use this recipe it immediately begins kneading. I have the kneading time set to 20 minutes. I tell our Amazon Echo to let me know when kneading is done so I can do some laundry, prep for dinner, feed the animals, whatever I need to while I let the bread machine do my least favorite step of bread making: kneading. I hate it.

My machine also beeps for what is now called the “SHAPE” phase. You should have a pretty decent sized bit of dough. If you have my brand, or if yours does something similar, leave the machine on and take the dough out. You need to split the big ball of dough in half. Because it’s huge. Shape each piece into a ball and cover with a damp cloth for 30 minutes of rest time. At this time, before you forget, take out the kneading blades from the bread pan. You no longer need them at this point and they’ll puncture your pretty bread. After time is up, roll out one ball with a rolling-pin into a 12″ X 12″ square. Don’t let this intimidate you though. It did me and I don’t know why. It’s going to be just as tasty and pretty if it’s not a perfect square or exactly 12″ X 12″ so don’t fret if it looks ugly at first.

Brush milk on the square and then add your sugar and cinnamon mixture on top and smooth it out. We use 1/3 cup of sugar and about a tablespoon of cinnamon, give or take. I swear not all of the cinnamon in my house smells as strongly depending on the brand I buy or how long it’s been stored. We love cinnamon so I add the tablespoon and mix it up, then I actually smell it to see if I’d like to add more. It’s kind of weird practice, but I don’t add the same exact amount every single time. Now, this can be overbearing for some. So if I’m making this for a crowd and not just my family I reduce the cinnamon to only 1 teaspoon. 1 tablespoon truly is a lot.

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After placing the mixture, I use my hands to roll it up, sealing either side of the roll. Then you take a knife and cut as close as you can to 10 equal pieces. Repeat this process for the second ball then place all rolls randomly in the bread pan. Truly be random. It’s so pretty when it’s done.

 

Put the bread pan back into the machine, close the lid, and hit start. On my machine, I’m given the option to put in for three different rise times so that the rolls rise sufficiently before baking. Again, if you do not have this option, let them rolls rise overnight in the fridge. My rising times are as follows:

  • Rise 1: 45 minutes
  • Rise 2: 25 minutes
  • Rise 3: 55 minutes

Then my loaf bakes for 55 minutes.

The icing I use is a simple one, but not as simple as the recipe in the book. The book states to just mix 1/2 cup of powdered sugar with 1 teaspoon or so of water. I didn’t like it. My family and I like cream cheese icing. The icing recipe I used calls for:

  1. 6 tablespoons butter
  2. 6 cups powdered sugar
  3. 4 ounces softened cream cheese (I have used more before)
  4. Start off with about 4 tablespoons of milk, but add more if needed

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, whisk until butter turns from yellow to a darker golden. Remove from heat and add to a mixing bowl. In the mixing bowl add cream cheese and mix for about 2-3 minutes until creamy. Mix the powdered sugar one cup at a time with about a tablespoon or two of milk after each addition. Once all the powdered sugar is added, add a tablespoon of milk as needed while mixing until you get the creamy consistency you want. Then pour over the loaf. The result?

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I sometimes make a double batch for dipping because some of the bread gets neglected. I like to pull the rolls off to eat, but you can certainly slice this like bread successfully. It tastes heavenly and looks great for parties. It’s one of our favorites and I love being able to make it in my bread machine because there is so much that calls for my attention in just one day. It’s just so easy to get everything ready and have most of it done in the machine.

Thanks for reading, leave comments below if you’ve tried it or have any questions. Until next time!

Happy Fourth of July!

This won’t be a really long post. We just wanted to wish everyone a belated Happy 4th and briefly share how we celebrated. We took time in the morning to speak with our 6 and 7 year olds about why we celebrate our Independence Day. Then we loaded up the truck and headed over to my in-laws’ hotel, Sierra Suites in Daytona Beach.

There we smoked some chicken for family, friends, and guests.

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We also smoked and grilled some of our famous chicken sausage. Others attending the celebration brought other yummy food like key lime pie, pasta and potato salad, strawberry tarts, macaroni and cheese, corn and black bean salad, and a really neat veggie pizza variation. It was a real treat and everyone had a full belly.

Being that we were on the beach with several little ones, I didn’t bring my camera. I apologize that we had to use the phone for photos. As it grew dark, we enjoyed fireworks and I do have to note it has been quite a few years since I’ve seen so many fireworks in this area. People celebrate where we live pretty patriotically in the traditional sense of blowing up a plethora of fireworks, but Daytona was lit up last night. Before the city started its scheduled show the beach’s sky–from all directions–was aflame with bright greens, reds, blues, and swirls of light. The whistles of other firecrackers got the biggest reaction from my son, who could not contain giggles of excitement. Riding home, was just as exciting of a show as on the beach. Fireworks were going off everywhere. I haven’t seen so many in Daytona for a long time.

We had a blast and from our farm to you, we hope you enjoyed yesterday as well. Happy Fourth of July and thank you to every man and woman who has contributed and continues to contribute to protecting our freedoms in the land of the brave.