How to Treat Impacted Crop, Sour Crop, and Pendulous Crop

How to Treat Impacted, Sour and Pendulous Crop

I’ve written about keeping chickens healthy in the winter but I didn’t realize that spring brings it’s own challenges, specifically, Impacted and sour crop.

One day I went out to check on the chickens while they were scratching around in the dirt. I noticed that one chicken, Slater, was not scratching around with the others and was perched on a low branch instead.

A little while later when I went back out she was still there perched on that branch sleeping. She wasn’t interested in any of the treats I was dishing out and wasn’t “playing” in the dirt with the others.

Hmm.

I started researching and quickly realized she had an impacted crop.

What is impacted crop and how does a chicken get it?

A crop is a little sack where a chicken’s food hangs out just after being swallowed and before going to the stomach (Proventriculus and gizzard). Food can hang out in there for a while waiting to be digested.

Impacted crop is when something, usually straw or dried grass, gets stuck in a tangled mess and blocks food from moving from the crop to the stomach.

How do I know if my chicken has an impacted crop?

Impacted crop symptoms:

  • A firm, large crop (like a tennis ball) that doesn’t empty
  • Refusal of food
  • Drinking a lot of water (an attempt to move the blockage)
  • Lethargic or just acting odd

To check your chicken’s crop, hold her like a football with beak pointing forward, you can reach around the front of the bird and find the crop, a small bulge, below her neck and above her chest.

A chicken’s crop will feel full after she’s eaten and will be flat (and hard to find) when it’s empty. Your chickens crop should be empty at some points in the day or, at least, first thing in the morning. If you aren’t sure if your chicken’s crop is emptying properly, check first thing in the morning before you feed your chickens.

Prevention

The best way to prevent impacted crop is to offer granite grit, free choice, and limit your chickens’ access to long dry straw or grass. That may mean keeping your birds in their run until the grass gets green and is cut in the spring so they don’t eat the dead dry grass.

Natural remedies for impacted crop

You need to break up the blockage. The best way to do that is with water and massage.

  • Withhold food until the impaction is removed. Don’t worry about your chicken getting hungry. Adding food to an already impacted crop will just make things worse and won’t provide any nutrition to the bird since the food can’t get out of the crop and into the gizzard. A chicken can go a few days without food.
  • Give your chicken plenty of water. If she isn’t drinking on her own, or isn’t drinking much you may have to force feed the water. You want lots of water to break up the blockage.
  • Provide granite grit.
  • Massage the crop. Try getting as close to the bottom as possible and massage up.

When you think you have removed the impaction:

  • Separate you chicken and/or bring her inside for a few days.
  • Feed her some layer pellets mixed with water or a hard boiled egg yolk with water or applesauce which are easy to digest. Don’t feed too much at once. She’s going to be hungry and will fill her crop if she can, you don’t want her to fill her crop until you know it’s working well. Keep an eye on her to be sure the impaction was removed and the crop is emptying.

If water alone doesn’t help break up the impaction you can try olive oil. Many chicken owners swear by it while others swear against it. The way I look at it is: if the oil will save her life and nothing else is working, then try it!

After we fixed the impaction we released Slater back into the flock. After a few days she looked ill again and soon we found out she had sour crop.

What is sour crop and how does a chicken get it?

Sour crop is basically a yeast infection in the chicken’s crop. It occurs most often because of an impacted crop that hasn’t been cleared, and yeast begins to grow and feed on the food that is stuck in the crop. Continue reading

How (and Why) to Recycle in the Bathroom (and a Giveaway!)

Be recycle giveaway

Do you recycle in the bathroom? I have to admit that I only sometimes recycle shampoo bottles and other things from the bathroom.

It’s pretty unlike me too, since I stress out over organic material going into the garbage instead of the compost and I prefer to UPcycle (like these upcycled peanut butter jars) before REcycling anything.

And it looks like I’m not alone. A new study conducted by the Ad Council found that 52% of Americans don’t know which items can be recycled in the bathroom and 47% are not recycling in the bathroom.

That’s a lot of waste hitting the landfill that could be turned into useful products instead!

My problem is that I don’t know which ones are actually recyclable and if we put items in the recycling bin that can’t be recycled, it could mean that a whole bunch of recyclables just get tossed in the trash anyway. Bummer.

So, I’ve decided to finally figure out which bathroom products can (and can’t) be recycled, and start, well… recycling them.

Which bathroom product containers can be recycled?

Shampoo, body wash, lotion, and mouthwash containers

These containers are usually made of #2 plastic (HDPE), or #1 plastic (PET) which are accepted by most recyclers.

Some facilities might require you to remove the tops which are usually #5 plastic (PP). Plastic #5 is recyclable, however, is melted at a different temperature than #1 and #2 so they may need to be separated. (Click here to see what a shampoo bottle can be turned into! #berecycle)Ad Council Recycling

You can reduce your use of these kind of containers and reduce your need to recycle them by:

  • Making your own mouthwash and storing it in a (reusable!) glass bottle
  • Showering less often (many american shower too frequently)
  • Buying shampoo in bulk using your own reusable containers

Pill bottles

Many can be recycled. Check the bottle for #1 or #2 plastic which are usually accepted in curbside recycling. Plastic #3 and #5 are less likely to be recyclable but you should still check with your local recycling facility.

You can also upcycle pill bottles to a million things (check out some ideas on my Pinterest board).

Cardboard packaging

Cardboard packaging from soap, toothpaste, makeup, etc can be recycled. Don’t forget about the toilet paper roll too. Most cardboard packaging can be composted too.

Makeup containers

Makeup containers can be difficult to recycle. If they are made of plastic #5 and your local facility accepts #5 then great! Otherwise, you can send them to Terra Cycle. Also, some makeup companies (like MAC and Lush) have a recycling program so you can send your used compacts back to them for recycling (and usually get discounts or free products).

Or you can reduce your use of these containers by:

  • Making your own and storing it in a glass jar
  • Wearing less makeup

Plastic packaging and films

These are typically not accepted curbside but can still be recycled with a little extra work. Find a drop off location here.

Toothbrushes and toothpaste containers

Typical toothbrushes and toothpaste containers aren’t recyclable, however, Tom’s of Maine and Colgate both accept toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes for upcycling and recycling through Terra Cycle.

Instead of using plastic toothbrushes that need to be recycled you could try these biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes.

And now for the giveaway!

Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council have teamed up to spread the word (#berecycled) about the importance of recycling in the bathroom.

 Enter to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Build Raised Beds

How to Build Raised Beds

There are many ways to start a garden but raised beds have numerous advantages over in ground gardens.

  • elevated soil warms sooner in the spring so you can get cool weather plants into the garden that much sooner.
  • It’s easier to keep weeds and grass out of raised beds.
  • You can plant much more in a raised bed since you don’t walk on the soil and it doesn’t become compacted which means higher yields per square foot.
  • Raised beds drain faster so water is unlikely to pool and drown your plants.
  • You have better control over the soil health.

I think the number one reason many people choose raised beds is that people don’t typically have time to evaluate and fix their existing soil before putting in their garden.

How to build a raised bed garden

We stole borrowed this idea from my sister and brother-in-law because it’s a super easy way to build raised beds that are simple and attractive.

We built 4 – 4×8 boxes while QC was napping over the course of 2 days. It didn’t take long at all. We used pine because it’s inexpensive. If you want really long lasting boxes you can use cedar, however, pine works just fine for most gardeners’ needs.

For each raised garden bed you will need:

  • 2 – 4ft x 1ft x 1in  pieces of pine (we bought an 8ft piece and cut it into 2 4ft pieces)
  • 2 – 8ft x1ft x 1in pieces of pine
  • 4 – 1ft long 4x4s (we bought 8ft long 4x4s and cut them into 1 ft pieces using a chop saw)
  • outdoor screws

To assemble:

  1. Screw a 4×4 to either end of each 4 ft plank making sure to keep the end of the plank flush with the edge of the 4×4.
  2. Attach the first 8 ft piece to one side of the 4 ft piece.
  3. Move the box to the ground to screw the other two sides on.

Pretty simple! Here’s the video Matt made for you so you can get a closer look at the box.

What kind of garden do you have?

9 Reasons Your Kids Want Fewer Toys

fewer toys

Play is an important part of a child’s emotional, social and intellectual development. In play, they learn about the world around them and how they fit into that world. However, toys and play are not the same thing. Though lots of play is good, your kids will probably benefit from fewer toys.

Kids want to play, it’s in their nature. When we give them too many toys we are squelching their inner desire to play and to learn through play.

They want fewer toys so they can:

Learn value and responsibility. when kids have too many toys they won’t care if one is broken because there are many others. Having fewer toys will help them learn to take care of a toy because there isn’t another (or the promise of another) to replace it. With fewer toys to create clutter and if the toys all have homes, kids will be more likely to put the toys away and develop a love for uncluttered space. Kids who value their toys will learn to value their other possessions and their money as they grow.

Develop focus. Having too many toys has been shown to decrease a child’s attention span. Alternately, the fewer toys they have (or have access to at one time) the longer they play with each toy and the more they learn from it. Having too many toys can be overstimulating and cause acting out. Kids who learn to focus will have an easier time in school and develop emotional maturity.

Develop perseverance and self esteem. When children are able to engage in one toy for longer periods of time they are more likely to explore it fully and spend more time trying to master it rather than moving onto something easier. When children spend more time mastering a toy they develop better self esteem.

Develop creativity and resourcefulness. A German study found that when all toys were removed from a kindergarten class for 3 months, children began to engage in elaborate dramatic play using just the tables, chairs and blankets they had access to. With fewer toys to entertain your child he will learn to use what he has to invent games. This means more imaginative play, less boredom and more self directed play. Continue reading

Real Food Resources – What to Buy and Where to Find It

Real Food Resources

One way to make sure we eat real food is to find real food resources that won’t break the bank. When I was just starting out learning how to eat real food on a budget I was so grateful to find great blogs that pointed me in the right direction for affordable real food. Since I’ve been doing this for a few years now, I want to share my list of resources for buying whole foods at good prices with all of you.

Buying locally is always preferable to buying online. You can save on shipping and support local businesses but, depending on your location, sometimes buying locally means paying twice the price. That’s why It’s important to look around and get a feel for where the best prices for certain things are and either write them in a notebook or keep track in your head. Do this for both local stores and online retailers.

When you have an idea of where the best prices are for the things you buy you can start to plan trips (or orders) around those things.

Where can I find real food at affordable prices?

Besides my local grocery store, these are the places I buy most of my groceries from:

Local farmers markets and farm stands

Since I live in a rural area these are numerous. I buy:

  • Produce
  • Grass fed and pastured beef, poultry, and pork

If I could eat it, I would also get:

  • Dairy
  • Fresh bread on occasion, just because – yum!

Food co-ops

I am lucky to have many food co-ops nearby. Honestly, they tend to be expensive but you can find good deals if you keep an eye on prices. The main reason I like food co-ops is that they support local agriculture and they often have specialty items or homeopathic remedies so I don’t always have to buy them online.

Tropical Traditions

Tropical Traditions has really amazing products. If you are able to save up for a large purchase it’s well worth it. If you catch your favorite items on sale you can save quite a bit of money. I like to check out the current sales every so often and build an order around what’s on sale.  If you make a purchase through one of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a FREE book on Virgin Coconut Oil (and I’ll receive a discount coupon for referring you, so thanks!)

Amazon

Amazon can be a really great resource for inexpensive food. When I order groceries from Amazon I set up a subscription and then make sure I order at least five products so I can take advantage of the subscribe and save discount of 15%. I also make sure I only order things that are already a good price (i.e. I can’t find it cheaper locally). It doesn’t make sense to order something that is 15% more expensive on amazon just to get the 15% discount (the math doesn’t quite add up, but you feel me, right?). If I don’t need those products when the subscription is set to renew I either reschedule it or cancel it.

Thrive Market

I’m really excited to share this new real food online source with you. It almost replaces all of the others as far as quality and price (though selection is still somewhat small but growing!) It’s sort of like Costco meets Whole Foods meets Amazon. For a yearly membership fee Thrive Market offers wholesale prices on natural and organic food. The great thing is that you don’t have to buy in bulk to get the wholesale prices. There’s also a 30 day free trial, so if you don’t like it, no harm done.
Another really cool thing about Thrive Market is that for every paid membership they give one free membership to a low income american family. So people who would otherwise not be able to can have access to healthy affordable food.
I’ve just started using them but many of the products I normally buy are cheaper  at Thrive Market than anywhere else.

Vitacost

Vitacost is a great place to find wholesome foods as well as vitamins and supplements. They offer free shipping on orders over $49 so I will make sure I meet that minimum (of only things I was going to buy anyway). They often have BOGO sales which can be really nice too.

Another source that I haven’t used personally but hear good things about are:
Azure Standard which is available in the US to those who live south or north of Pennsylvania (yes, including Hawaii and Alaska, go figure!)

What do I buy?

Ideally I would buy all organic food. Realistically, I stick to the dirty dozen and anything I’m concerned may be genetically modified, like zucchini and corn. I also stay away from processed food as much as possible and if I do buy it I try to find products with the fewest ingredients.

Produce

My local grocery store or a farm stand/local farm. The great thing about farm stands is that everything is fresh and seasonal so you don’t have to think much about whether the apples will be mealy or if the price will be lower in a different season. In the summer months I will usually hit a farmers market before going to the grocery store so I can see what’s available locally first.

Meat

Beef, Poultry and Pork I buy either at the grocery store or from local farms. I am trying to develop a taste for fish, but so far no luck ;).

Dairy

I don’t eat dairy but if I did I would buy it from a local farm. You can find a local grassfed dairy farm here.

Eggs

We typically have enough eggs from our chickens. If not I will buy from a local farm or buy Pete & Gerry’s eggs at the grocery store because they are from a local farm.

Grains and legumes

Beans and Lentils– I buy these in cans at the grocery store. Someday when I don’t have little kiddos running around I may try to buy dry beans instead.

Quinoa – I get this brand at my grocery store or from Amazon.

Brown rice – My grocery store has a generic organic line so I usually get brown rice there. Since it goes bad relatively quickly I wouldn’t suggest buying brown rice in bulk.

Rice noodles – I get these ones either at my grocery store or from Thrive Market.

GF oats – Thrive Market or Amazon.

Organic Popcorn – My grocery store or Thrive Market.

Fats

I use coconut oil and olive oil almost exclusively. I buy this olive oil at my grocery store as it’s the only one that isn’t fake but you can find it at Amazon too. I buy refined coconut oil (tasteless) most of the time and virgin coconut oil  (tastes like coconut) once in a while (more on coconut oil below).

I would also use lard from healthy animals. I would prefer to get it locally but if you can’t you can find 100% grass fed animal lard here.

Sweeteners

Local raw honey is the best. If I can’t find it I will buy this one from Vitacost.

Sucanat Vitacost or Amazon

Local grade B maple syrup is my favorite sweetener for almost everything. If you can’t get it locally you can find it on Amazon.

Nuts and seeds

Walnuts – They are cheapest in my grocery store’s baking aisle.

Almonds – I sometimes buy these almonds through amazon.

Pumpkin seeds – If you want sprouted seeds you can find them here. Otherwise, I usually buy them in bulk at the co-op, grocery store or I save them from our fall pumpkins.

If you’re looking for larger quantities, many people have had good luck buying from nuts.com though I haven’t tried them myself.

Herbs and spices

If I don’t have my own dried from my garden I will buy herbs and spices at my local food co-op or at the grocery store. Once in a while I will buy them online when I find a good deal.

  • Sea Salt – This one or this one from Amazon.
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Turmeric
  • Onion Powder
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

Coconut products

Since becoming dairy free I have fallen in love with coconut. Along with avocados coconut products have provided me with healthy dairy alternatives that are satisfying. I can’t say enough wonderful things about coconut!

Refined coconut oilVitacost or my grocery store.

Virgin coconut oil – Tropical Traditions, Amazon, Vitacost

Coconut creme – Amazon

Coconut flour –This one or this one at Amazon.

Snacks

Typically, I don’t think cereal and packaged snacks are the healthiest choice (they are highly processed after all) but on occasion or in a pinch it’s good to have something on hand when everyone is hungry and there’s no time to cook, or when running out the door, or when you just don’t have time (as is the case for me very often!).

Cereal – Almost every kind that looked good to me was cheaper at Thrive Market than anywhere else.

Rice Cakes – Cheapest at Thrive Market.

Fruit Leather – Way cheaper at Thrive Market!

CrackersThese are the only gluten free and dairy free kind I have ever found and the price is decent.

Lara bars – They have the fewest ingredients of any packaged granola bars.

Personal care products

Dr. Bronners bar soap – I often buy it at Amazon but it’s actually a bit cheaper at Thrive Market.

Where do you find affordable real food? Let us know in the comments!

This post is shared at Wildcrafting Wednesdays

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