Natural Hoof Oil

Natural Hoof Oil

3 cups Olive Oil

1/4 cup rosemary

1/4 cup rosehips

1/4 cup nettles

1/4 cup calendula

1/4 cup comfrey

1/4 cup bladderack

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup lanolin (optional)

1 Tablespoon Tea Tree Oil

1 Tablespoon Lavender Oil

1 Tablespoon Vitamin E Oil

* In a double boiler, heat the olive oil and dried herbs over very low heat for about 2 hours.  The heat needs to be low enough that the oil doesn’t sizzle at all – if it does, you are effectively ‘frying’ the herbs.  I use a stainless steel bowl for the oil and herbs and I sent it on top of a saucepot of water on super low heat.

* After 2 hours, strain the oil mixture using a screen sieve lined with a couple layers of cheesecloth.  You really want to make sure that you get all the plant material out of the oil, as any left could mold and make the whole batch unusable.   I like to strain my herbs directly into a glass pyrex pitcher.  This allows me to get an accurate measurement of how much oil there is (not a big deal for this recipe, but often very important). It also makes it a lot easier to reheat the oil and eventually pour it into whatever container you are planning to use.

* Paint the entire hoof with the oil from the coronet band all the way to the frog underneath.  If the hoof is in bad shape, use the oil 2 – 3 times per week for the first month.  Watch carefully to make sure that you are not “over moisturizing” the hoof – you’ll know if you see the hoof starting to become spongy or over soft.

After about a month, hopefully you will see marked improvement in the hoof quality and you can move to a maintenance level of once a week.

My personal maintenance program for hoof health is that every time I pick their hooves, I spray the bottom with my Hoof Spray (a blend of Apple Cider Vinegar, Rosemary, and Distilled Water).   Once a week I paint their hooves generously with my Hoof Oil.

Remember that environmental conditions play a big role in hoof health.  The climate where you live, whether your horses are on pasture or kept in a stable, age, and diet will all affect the health of your horse’s hooves.e pyrex pitcher full of strained oil directly into a saucepot of hot water and return to low heat.  Allow the oil to warm for about 5 minutes, and then add the coconut oil and lanolin. (Lanolin is an animal derived product, so only use it if you want.  It comes from the sebaceous glands of wool bearing animals, like sheep.  It’s very emollient and helps protect the hoof against the ravages of nature.)

* Once the lanolin and the coconut oil have been fully incorporated, remove the oil from the heat.  Take the Pyrex pitcher out of the water (be careful, the glass will be very hot) and allow it to cool for 20 minutes.  It’s important to allow it to cool fully before the next step.  Essential oils are highly delicate at high temperatures and you’ll evaporate a majority of the volatile oils if you add it to the hot oil.

* Once the blend has been cooled sufficiently, you can add the Tea Tree Oil, the Lavender Oil, and the Vitamin E.  Both the Tea Tree and Lavender oils will function as antibacterial agents, and the Vitamin E will serve as a preservative to the oil as well as supplement to the hoof medicine.

To Use:  Using a paintbrush, generously paint the hoof with the oil.  Be careful not to get too much on the floor, as it might be slippery!

Pumpkin Chicken Treats

I saw this recipe on one of my favorite web blogs, Fresh Eggs Daily.  I modified it a little bit and thought I’d add a few more herbs into to it give it that special herbal ‘boost’.  It was easy to make and the girls seem to love it!

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cups oats
1/4 cup dried nettle leaf
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup cooked pumpkin
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon molasses

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a large bowl, whisk together the dried ingredients; flour, oats, nettles.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, eggs, pumpkin and molasses.
Combine the wet ingredients together with the dry and mix well, forming into a dough.  If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour.  If it’s too dry, add a touch of water.
Roll out onto a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.
Use a cookie cutter to cut the desired shapes, and using a chopstick, poke two holes in each shape.
Bake for about 30 – 45 minutes (mine were a little thick so it took a little longer).
Once they are allowed to dry, just string a string through the holes and hang it in your coop.

It took the ladies a little while to find the treats, but once they did they seemed to like it and it was a great boredom buster for the winter, as well as using up some of my extra pumpkins!


Natural Dishwashing Cubes

Natural Dishwashing Cubes

1 cup borax

1 cup washing soda

1/3 cup Epsom salt

Lemon Juice

Mix all powders together in a large stainless steel bowl

In a smaller bowl, take one cup of the blended powders and add 4 Tablespoons of the lemon juice. When you add the lemon juice, the mixture will foam when it hits the powder- mix it until its sticky.

Spoon the sticky mix into an ice cube tray and pack it into the ice cell.  When you run out the mix, just mix up another cup.  Mix it a cup at a time until you use up all the powder.

Place the tray in a sunny location to dry for a couple of days.  In dryer climates, like here in Colorado, it’ll dry a lot faster.

Once the cubes are fully dry, just tap them out of the ice cube tray.  You can store the dry cubes in a Tupperware or glass container. If you live in a humid environment, add a little rice to the bottom of the container to absorb any moisture, or you can include on of those little silica gel packs.

6 Things to do in Winter to Prepare for the Spring Garden

6 Things to do in Winter to Prepare for the Spring Garden

Those of us who love to work in the dirt can get a bit depressed and stir crazy in the dead of winter.  When I look out at the brown fields, or at the horses rolling around in the mud pasture, it’s hard for me to remember the abundance (and heat, sweat, and weeds) that make up the bulk of the summer at Three Leaf Farm.  But as January hits, and the seed catalogs start arriving, I start to get that little bit of excitement to start the whole process again.  I spend hours pouring over the seed catalogs, making lists, cross checking them, studying seeding dates, and mapping the fields.   The time I spend preparing gives me an opportunity to learn more, become inspired, and organize my farm for the upcoming season. So what can be done in January and February?

 1. Study and Learn – If you’re an experienced gardener, you may already have a good idea about what grows well here in our climate, as well as what you’ve had success with in the past.  You’ve probably experienced your own share of failures as well.  But if you’re new to gardening, don’t worry, someone else has ALWAYS ALREADY tried, and probably failed, with just about every aspect of cultivation.  That’s the good news!  The bad news is that it takes a bit of work studying and reading to learn what is a sure bet for your region, and how to best plant, transplant, cultivate and harvest what you choose.

Reputable seed companies usually have careful instructions on how to grow different seeds.  Take the time to read how to do it right and you’ll have a much higher rate of success. There are countless articles and blogs (like this one) on the internet now to help you in your quest for knowledge.  Always keep in mind the region about which the author is writing, however, as climates can differ greatly.  I write for the foothills of Colorado, which is unique in its hot summers, cold winter, low water, and dry climate. It’s very different in South Carolina!

2. Map your Garden – This doesn’t have to be a huge project.  You don’t need to create professional level blueprints here, but you do need to have a general idea about the space where you are planning to plant.  There are four primary necessities for any successful garden: Light, Water, Soil, and Space.  You need to determine the range of all of these so you can choose plants that are best suited for that area.

Measure and draw your garden as close to scale as you can.  Draw in any large fixtures, such as the garage, a large tree, a big rock, or anything else that could potentially cause shade during the day.  Determine which way is East so you can mark the map and so you’ll have a general understanding of the way the sun will move through the day.  Determine your water source, and mark that on the map as well. Consider your soil, and what you will do to keep it healthy and productive.  (A huge topic, best left for another article).

3. Make your Seed Graph –  This is probably one of the most useful tools that I use each year, even though it does take me a bit of time to create it.  Keeping my seed catalog in front of me, I create a spreadsheet that has the following columns:

Type/ Varietal/ Source/ Stock #/ Quantity/When to Plant/ When to Harvest/ Notes

Type: like Peas, Herbs, or Tomato.
Varietal: like Sugar Snap, Tarragon, or Beefsteak.

Source: I try to buy organic seeds when I can, so sometimes I have to use different sources.  I like to keep track of the stock number too so I can easily remember next year what I bought.  When to plant:  I indicate whether the seeds should be planted inside, to be later transplanted, or direct sown outside later in the season.   Example: Out – Late April, In – Mid March. You can naturally be as detailed here as you like. 
One year I put exact days in this column, trying to be even more organized, but unfortunately since I can’t control the weather, or when my child gets sick and stays home from school, or any other thing that might throw a cog in my wheel (like laziness!), I make the schedule a little more flexible now!
When to harvest: Most catalogs will give you the days to maturity.  For me, though, I do the math now so I can schedule accordingly at harvest time.  If I plant June 1, and it has 85 days to maturity, I’m looking at around harvesting around August 15.

Notes: This can be anything I want to remind myself of for next year. Perhaps the plants grew slowly in the greenhouse and I should have started them earlier.  Perhaps the tomatoes were so abundant that I don’t need so many of them next year (this year I went crazy with an heirloom varietal of tomato called “Indigo Rose”.  It turned out I needed maybe 3 plants of it when I had about 50 in the fields.  I also didn’t love the tomato, so – guess what I wrote in the note section?)

Other columns that I’ve used in the past are things like:
Light: do they need sun, part sun, or shade, and Spacing: how far apart to plant the seeds or transplants. Since I’ve done this for many years now, a lot of that is information that I no longer need to be reminded of, but you can add any column you think will give you information that will help you.

4. Order Your Seeds – Now that you’ve figured out what you want and where to get it, you get to order your seeds! I always order as early as possible to insure that what I want is not sold out or back-ordered.  Potatoes are always notorious for this, so order early. 

5. Organize your Seeds – when the boxes of seeds arrive, I like to organize them.  I will carefully check to make sure that my orders are complete and that I got everything I wanted.  Then, I separate the seeds by what I need to start in the greenhouse to be later transplanted, and what can be direct sown in the fields.  Next, I organize the seeds by planting date. 

6. Inventory your Supplies – Take the time in the dead of winter to inventory all your gardening supplies so that you’ll have what you need in the spring.  For me, there’s nothing worse than being ready to get my hands dirty only to learn that I can’t find something I need and having to run to Home Depot and battle the spring crowds.  

Pull out your tools and give them a good wash if you didn’t do so in the fall.   Check to make sure you have seed starting soil, seed trays, pots, or anything else you will need if you plan to start seeds indoors.

If you use large power equipment, like a tractor, tiller, mower, weed eater, etc, this is the time to have it serviced if it needs it. 

And then, the fun part, order what you need for the next season!





Natural Herbal Carpet Powder

Natural Herbal Carpet Powder

Do you have dogs?  Do you have carpets? Well, if you do, and your like me, your carpets smell like dogs. . .  (I noticed this morning when I was laying on the carpet, pretending to do yoga, but really just laying there. . . .)

So, I made this easy carpet deodorizing powder : Simple, quick, and delicious smelling.


1/2 cup lavender flowers – smell delicious and attract friendship, happiness, and tranquility

1/2 cup rosemary – anti-microbial and cleanse all negative energy

1/2 cup baking soda -absorb odors and deodorizes


Step one: Put the herbs in a clean coffee grinder (I have one that I only use for grinding herbs.  If you only have the one you use for coffee, wipe it out well, and then wipe it with a little vinegar. Allow it to dry before you grind the herbs.)


Step Two: In a large bowl, add the baking soda and stir with a whisk.  Make sure you get all the blobs of baking soda broken up (you might have to use your hands).


Step Three: Put it in a shaker jar (or don’t, you can just sprinkle it on the carpet if you want).  Don’t have one? You can make one easily with a mason jar, lid, hammer and nail. Just make sure when you hammer the nails in the mason jar lid you do it from the back to the front, and hammer into a block of wood, not your floor or kitchen counter.


Step Four: Sprinkle a bunch onto the carpet.  Allow it to sit for at least 3o minutes to absorb the stinkiness.


Step Five: Vacuum it all up (it also helps to deodorize your vacuum cleaner!



And now, you have a delightful smelling carpet.  And dog!



Hen Pecking Chicken Salve

Hen Pecking Chicken Salve

Our chickens have been pecking each other’s backs, and creating ugly bald spots.

Here’s an ointment I made to help soothe the ouchiness as well as getting the other’s to “lay off”.

1/2 Cup Almond oil
1/8  cup beeswax
30 drops tea tree Essential oil
20 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops camphor essential oil
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops pine needle essential oil

In a double boiler, heat oil gently.  Add beeswax and heat until just melted.
Pour hot mix into a 4 oz jar.  Allow to cool 3 minutes.
Add essential oils and Vitamin E.  Stir gently.
Cap and label.

To Use:  Spread heavily on exposed, pecked skin.  Repeat as necessary.  It will be messy but should keep away the other chickens and give the skin some time to heal.