Picking Wormer….From The Yard

As spring has come on, I’ve been thinking more and more about being able to grow natural wormer for our goats. For now, we still administer Fenbendazole (Safeguard) and Cydectin, and since it’s been an exceptionally wet spring, we have prime conditions for a heavy worm infestation. We allow a five day withdrawal period before we keep any milk for human consumption, but we do continue to milk, then feed it to the cats, dog and chickens. I didn’t want to experiment with all natural wormers only to have the goats become ill from worms, so this year we’re doing both.

The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette di Bairacli Levy is an amazing source of information if you want to learn how to treat most farm animal ailments naturally. I have spent much time reading and re-reading about many different herbs and plants, especially pertaining to worms. I would highly recommend this book if you are interested in herbal remedies for farm animals. As I read through this book, I began making lists of plants that are good for goats. 

This little notebook contains the beginnings of my research, with ideas for several categories including: plants for feed, plants for overall health, plants for worms and plants to increase milk production.


Now as I head out in the morning to do the chores, not only do I take a bucket to pick slugs and weeds from the garden for the chickens, I take a bucket for some goat pickings as well. The amount and variety of things I pick has grown since I took this picture, but it gives you an idea. Here is a tour of my morning wanderings as I pick for the goats.


I usually start off with comfrey, with anywhere from three to five leaves per goat each day. I am having to limit how much I pick for now until the plants are really at full production. Because of that, the chickens don’t get comfrey very often for now. Comfrey is a highly nutritious fodder plant for animals of all kinds.

Once the cabbage plants got big enough, I started picking leaves from the Michilli cabbage for the goats. It’s a very good source of sulfur and other vitamins. It turns out cabbage is good for lice, as well. Each time I introduce something new, it may take the goats a day or two to get used to it, cabbage was one of those things, but now they really like it.

I have also started including a few mustard leaves in the last few days, which helps to expel worms. Some of the goats seem to really like them, but some of them don’t. It’s always interesting to see how they will react.

 Next to the mustard is the dandelion patch. I always try to have at least a handful of leaves for each animal. Dandelion leaves are good for overall health as well as expelling worms.


I usually alternate between lemon balm and marjoram, which are both good for overall health. I want the plants to continue developing well for our own use, so the goats only get a few sprigs. They probably wouldn’t eat much more than that anyway. It’s part of the browsing nature of a goat.

Next comes garlic leaves which are high in sulfur and is an effective worm deterent. The goats won’t eat much, but they will eat some. I have started to include just a little each day. Behind the garlic is a patch of honeysuckle.

I have a couple of healthy chive plants that I have started picking small handfuls from as well. They are also effective against worms.


On Saturdays, I also pick a big handful of honeysuckle along with around four or five wormwood leaves for each goat. These two plants are especially good for expelling worms. One thing I have observed that I find to be very interesting is how the goats choose to consume them, or not. I have found that if I walk out into the barn with a large handful of honeysuckle vines, the does will gather around and heartily begin to strip the leaves from the vines. Until they are finished. Not until the leaves are gone, but until they are finished. My theory is, once a goat has eaten enough of a certain plant, they stop. Too much is not a good thing. And enough for one goat, may not be enough for another. They each stop eating the honeysuckle at their own timing. And the wormwood? Sometimes they will eat it and sometimes they won’t. Last week I wormed One Stripe and Copper with the commercial wormers on a Monday. Saturday when I brought up the honeysuckle and wormwood, neither one of them would eat them, even though they always did on the preceding days I had brought them. As I wondered why, I realized that they didn’t need the plants because I had just recently wormed them. Interesting, huh? Since tomorrow is Saturday, one week later, it will be interesting to see if they will eat these two plants tomorrow.


I started this wormwood from seed several years ago in this large wooden barrel. Now that I know it will continue to grow and have started using it, it’s time to move it back into the fringes of the herb bed. Many other plants don’t get along with wormwood too well, so it will be out on the edge of the bed next to the camphor wormwood I planted last year. It really does smell like camphor, and I haven’t quite decided what I would like to make out of it. I don’t use the camphor for the goats, though.

Since I recently read that blackberry leaves are good for goat feed, I stop at this patch of wild berries on the way to the barn and add a good handful of leaves to my bucket. 

Last week when the vet came to disbud our youngest baby goats, we found out they had lice. As far as I know, we have never had a lice problem on our goats before. The vet said our extremely wet spring has created prime conditions for lice. I got out my Herbal Handbook again and looked up lice. It turns out that sulfur is a good natural remedy and you can add a teaspoon of sulfur to the goat feed. Well, that wouldn’t work for the young babies that needed treating, so we put a little Sevin dust on them, and the teenage goats that are being weaned. But I needed a natural remedy for the does I am milking. It turns out garlic and cabbage contain sulfur. I was already feeding the cabbage leaves, so I increased the amount each doe was getting. That’s when I added in the garlic leaves. They ate more of them the first day, but since then, they will only eat a limited amount. But so far, I haven’t seen any lice on the does, so I hope this works.

So what do I do with all of these leaves? I dump my bucket on top of the big round bale of hay by the milk stand and sort everything out. I want to make sure each doe gets a portion of the harvest I have brought. And I only do this for the does I am milking, not the babies or the billy and wethers. As each doe comes to the milk stand, I give them their grain ration, then pile all of the leaves I have brought right on top of it. At first they seemed to be a little irritated with me, but now they just dig around the leaves, eat their grain, then usually have the leaves for desert. It’s rather comical. But if I took all of these leaves out to the feeder and spread them out for the goats to eat, they would just turn up their noses and go graze in the pasture. I’m not sure why they will eat them from the stand, but not from the feeder. It’s like it’s a treat or something.

I am hoping that feeding the goats plants that we have growing here will eventually be enough to keep them healthy and somewhat worm free. I don’t want to experiment to the detriment of their health, but I do want to try to eliminate the commercial wormers. I know there are companies that sell a natural wormer, but if I am going to change over to natural, I would like to see if growing our own plants will work. Only time will tell. It may take a year or more to really see what the outcome will be. I’ll let you know.

For the off season when the plants aren’t growing, I plan to dry the herbs. But, with nature, worms generally aren’t a problem in the winter months since the worms go dormant, some in the ground, some in the goat. There are other techniques for controlling worms, pasture rotation, short or tall grass and others. 

This brings us to another question. If the time comes when we are dependent upon ourselves, and we get worms, will these remedies work on us as well? Many of these plants are a common part of our diet and I have read that wormwood can be used with humans. But that is a whole different research project. Just food, pun intended, for thought.

Until next time – Fern

Our Daily Herbal Tea

For a few months now, we have each been drinking two cups of herbal tea a day. At this time, we are buying the herbs that we are using in our tea. We feel like this is a healthy addition to our diet. Here’s why.

I start off with:

3 tbsp. dried dandelion root simmered in 2 quarts of water for 20 minutes. I start this time when the water is still cold. This makes a decoction.

The benefits of dandelion root include:

  • liver detoxification/tonic

  • promotes good digestion
  • good for indigestion
  • good for arthritis
  • regular use helps reduce cholesterol
  • gentle laxative
  • good for psoriasis

After the roots have simmered, I turn off the fire and add:

1 tsp. celery seed & 1 tbsp. meadowsweet, which sits and steeps for 10 minutes. Seeds, leaves and flower parts are used to make an infusion, which is the steeping process. Since the roots of the dandelion are much harder and thicker, they need to simmer to release the desired properties.

The benefits of celery seed include:

  • helps reduce high blood pressure

  • good digestive; reduces muscle spasms in the muscles of the intestinal tract
  • purifies the blood
  • helps treat arthritis
  • has anti-inflammatory properties
  • stimulates thyroid & pituitary
  • clears uric acid from painful joints
  • acts on kidneys & is a mild diuretic

The benefits of meadowsweet include:

  • antacid properties
  • astringent

  • anti-inflammatory
  • contains salicylates like aspirin
  • diuretic 
  • calming for overactive digestive system
  • helps acid stomach, heartburn, ulcers, hiatus hernia
  • helpful for rheumatism & arthritis
  • clears sandy deposits in urine

This information has been compiled from several of my herbal books. Not everyone agrees with the effectiveness of herbs upon the body. You will have to do your own research and decide for yourself what is right for you.

Last year we began harvesting and replanting dandelion seed in the herb bed, just for this tea. I know many people see them as the bane of a beautiful lawn. Every time I see them I think of the benefits they are providing our bodies. We will continue to harvest the seeds and spread them all over the herb bed. They are already up and blooming this year, so it won’t be long before the seeds are ready. Now I need to learn how to harvest and dry the roots for our tea, as well as start incorporating some of the greens in our diet.

May 2014

I have one meadowsweet plant established (I think, I haven’t seen it yet this spring) and need to add many more to provide the amount we are currently using. 

October 2014, over wintered and is coming back out now

Celery seed may be a whole new challenge. I think I will do some more research and see if I can dry the leaves and/or stalks to use in the tea. It would be much easier for us to produce the plants than the seeds. My other research will include celeriac to see if it contains the same beneficial constituents as celery.

The lemon balm is just starting to come out now.
June 2014

We have some other things growing in the herb bed that I will be adding to a tea blend of our own. These ingredients will be chosen for the beneficial characteristics they have, as well as compatibility with other herbs. Lemon balm and peppermint are on the list for now. If I can get a good crop of chamomile and echinacea, I will add them as well. We’re trying to cut down on the amount of herbs we buy, because we would rather consume those we can grow and harvest 

Peppermint, May 2014

ourselves. I still have a lot of learning to do when it comes to growing herbs, harvesting them at the appropriate time, dehydrating to retain the most benefit, and usage. This is another dream come true. I have wanted to be able to grow and use herbs for many, many years. Now I am starting down that path, and it’s wonderful.

This is just one more way Frank and I are trying to reclaim our bodies from the effects of the chemicals we are bombarded with everyday. I am grateful we still have the peace and freedom to do so. The more I can learn now, the better off we will be if it ever comes down to having to make do with what we know, have and can do. I pray it doesn’t reach that point, but it sure looks that way more and more every day. Learn something important this week that will benefit your family should times get hard. It’s critical.

Until next time – Fern

What’s Wrong With The Food?

We have a question for everyone. What is wrong with the food? We did a post a few days ago about what eating out does to us, and we were surprised at the responses we have had. I guess we just didn’t think that there would be many people with the same problem. So, we would like to get a conversation going. The more information we all have, the more informed our decisions can be.

Let me share a little background. When we moved here from Alaska, one of the first things we got set up were our appliances which included two freezers. We located a local butcher and made arrangements to get a beef. The local ag teacher provided a hog. In the meantime, until the meat was processed, we stocked up on some chicken, pork chops, ground beef and round steak from Wal-Mart. While in Alaska, we had purchased a side of beef and ate moose, caribou and salmon from the local wildlife menu. The meat we bought at Wal-Mart surprised us. This was in 2008. The texture of the meat, especially the pork chops didn’t really resemble what we would consider meat. It was almost like it was processed in some way and stuck back on the bone. It was almost scary to eat it.

When we first arrived here, if we ate out, we would go to a Western Sizzlin’ (similar to a Golden Corral or other buffet restaurant) because there was a buffet with salad and other vegetables. But before long we realized that every time we ate there, we felt bad. It didn’t seem to matter if we varied the content of our meals, we just felt bad, so we quit going there as well.

With Frank’s recent stay in the hospital, we have had more than our fair share of food prepared by others. Now that we are home we are trying to detoxify our systems of all of the chemicals we have ingested, as well as all of the medications and anesthesia that Frank has been exposed to. We are eating many fresh things from the garden, as well as our own meat, milk and eggs. The kefir is not perking along as usual since it didn’t get regular daily

attention while we were gone, but it will be back up to speed in a few days. We are having dandelion root tea daily to help cleanse the liver and keep the digestive tracts in good working condition. We hope to have our systems back to ‘normal’ in a few more days. One day while in the hospital, we had a very interesting conversation with Frank’s surgeon. He indicated that most doctors and nutritionists

really know nothing about food and nutrition. This doctor was aware of the benefit of goat’s milk over cows milk, the negative side effects of pasteurization, and he even knew the difference between A1 and A2 milk. It was a very interesting conversation.

We have written before about GMO food, MSG additives in foods and trying to avoid chemicals. Our sense of ‘illness’ after eating out, or eating processed foods has brought this to our attention more than ever. What is wrong with the food? Is there some kind of intentional scheme going on to affect the health of the population? Is this an intentional act our government is forcing upon food producers? Or is it just simply a matter of profit at any cost? If the food producers have any kind of business relationship with the medical industry, they have the perfect racket going. Produce food that makes people sick, send them to the medical folks for more treatment, and it is a financial win in both directions. Why is it the government appears to be attacking family farms when people are just trying to raise their own food? Are they going to regulate nutritional dependence upon the government? It appears to be one of their goals. A few years back Frank came to the conclusion that our government is going to release some type of toxin into the environment. This toxin itself will not be harmful to the individual, but when it interacts with other chemicals, then there will be a reaction which could cause an instant depopulation process. All the while, it would just look like a simple virus. Most medical people that I know do not get flu shots, but our government gives them away free. You can even get them at a drive through and not have to get out of your vehicle.

Our question for you is: What are your experiences? What is it about the food supply that is making people feel bad or sick? What has happened or is happening that is increasing health problems in the general population? When people that eat processed foods 24/7, and go to someone’s house and eat fresh grown food, does it make them feel sick? Is it a matter of what you’re used to? What are we missing here? We are trying to wrap our heads around this one, and haven’t come to a viable answer yet. Just food for thought. Let us know what you think.

Until next time – Fern

Dandelion Root Tea

A while back, Frank came across an article on Fox News.com that talked about dandelion root tea and how it benefits the body. It sounded interesting so we did some research.

Two of my favorite medicinal herb reference books both outline the positive affects of dandelion root tea for daily use. These benefits include:

  •  a liver tonic; to help stimulate a sluggish liver; for liver and gallbladder problems
  • promotes good digestion
  • for indigestion, loss of appetite and constipation

  •  one of the most effective detoxifying herbs
  • helps liver and gallbladder remove waste products
  • stimulates kidney to remove toxins in the urine
  • encourages steady elimination of toxins due to infection or pollutions

  • therapeutic benefits for constipation, skin problems, arthritic conditions including osteoarthritis and gout

Then I looked up information online and found the following at MindBodyGreen:

  • improves digestion and aids weight loss
  • eases congestion of the liver
  • helps to purify the bladder and kidney
  • reduces risk of urinary tract infection
  • contains calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, vitamins B and C
  • helps to purify the blood, regulate blood sugar, and improves blood circulation
  • helps to ease bloating and aching joints
  • helps to cure skin conditions

With all of this information in hand, we pondered the benefit of adding a cup of dandelion root tea to our daily diet. Since it is winter, we can’t harvest our own crop, but we could buy some and give it a try. Dandelion is something that is always readily available in the summer and we could easily grow and dehydrate our own crop of roots if we found this to be beneficial. So after we thought about it for a few days, we decided to order some. I went to my favorite bulk spice company, Monterey Bay Spice Company, found several choices, and ordered some.

When it came in, it was back to my herb books for directions. Since we are using a root for the tea it is considered to be a decoction, not an infusion. A decoction is: the act or process of boiling usually in water so as to extract the flavor or active principle. Compared to an infusion which is: the steeping or soaking usually in water of a substance (as a plant drug) in order to extract its soluble constituents or principles. From all of my reading I have learned that an infusion is used with leaves and flowers. A decoction is used when the plant parts utilized are seeds, berries, bark, roots and stems. With these plants parts it takes more time to extract the desired contents, therefore it has to be boiled. It has taken me some time to learn the differences since I am new to trying to grow herbs for health or medicinal purposes. 

Both books give similar directions for making a decoction of dandelion roots. The measurements for the amount of root is given in ounces so we needed to weigh it to determine an appropriate measurement.

The first scale we bought, many years ago, is on the right. We found out quickly that it may look good with the bowl on top, but it is not very accurate or easy to use. So we bought the one on the left. It is definitely the type we would recommend. It can weigh out one and a half ounces of herbs or six pounds of tomatoes. It is much more versatile and durable. It is also easy to adjust, so that regardless of the weight of the container you use to hold the items you are weighing, the dial can be set to zero, making accurate measuring very easy. 

We bought one pound of dandelion root to start with. If this appears to be something we want to continue, we will order more until we can harvest and dry our own this summer. It is very interesting to learn more about the properties of plants, even this pesky little weed, that have been put here for a purpose. The more I learn, the more humbling it is to know we are provided every needful thing.

The decoction recipe calls for one and a half ounces  of root per pint and a half of water. I think in cups and tablespoons so I converted things as we figured out the measurements.

We also decided to make a weaker version to start with until we can see if we have any undesirable side effects. I think it is always wise to err on the side of caution when trying something new of this nature. We can increase the dosage over time, similar to how we started off with kefir.

We decided to make our first batch one third strength. So we measured one half ounce, then figured out it was less than a quarter cup, about a tablespoon and a half. As we did this, I realized that one pound of root won’t go very far, but I didn’t want to order very much and find out we weren’t going to use it.

Well, here goes. We added almost two tablespoons of root to three cups of water, which is a pint and a half. It looks rather strange, honestly. The directions say to bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. We chose 10 minutes.

Our comment when it was done? It looks kind of like dirt and smells like dirt and grass. Do we really want to drink this? We were surprised how much the roots swelled during the boiling process.

The directions say to strain out the roots. Well most of them stayed in the pan as we slowly poured out the liquid, so we don’t really see the need for the strainer next time.

Hmmm…..it is a little bitter, but not near as bad as we thought it would be. Not something you would serve to guests, unless maybe you sweetened it with honey or something. I prefer to drink mine down quickly once it has cooled. It’s not something I want to sip on, like coffee. We have been drinking a cup everyday. There are no specific side effects that we can detect. For now we will continue to keep this at one third to half strength for a while.

So, next I got out another book about growing and harvesting herbs. This will give me good recommendations about collecting seeds, planting and harvesting this summer. Then I will figure out how to dehydrate and store these roots. There are so many things to learn and do to be more self reliant. Being dependent upon others for our food and good health makes us vulnerable. Dependence evokes a helplessness that we prefer not to have. Each and every little thing that we can learn and do for ourselves increases our freedom. Freedom to choose to live the way we wish without the preset mandates that marketing and the medical field insist that we live by. I truly feel this knowledge and the skill to produce viable alternatives will be essential in our future. I know so little and need to learn so much. I feel the time is short.

Until next time – Fern