Friday, May 29, 2009

Children -- The Growing Up Years

Preparing Your Daughter for Womanhood:
(Note: If your daughter is following along with this class, you may want to preview this first.)

As we've discussed before, understanding child development is important in the life of a home keeper. Babies start out totally dependent on their mothers. As they mature, they gradually grow into adult responsibilities. By the time they are grown, they are responsible for making their own choices, though -- as parents -- we want to be there to support and guide when necessary.

There's so much to teach our daughters (and our sons) that the task of motherhood can seem overwhelming at times. That's where we have to remember to surrender our children to the Lord and to depend on his strength. Also, we need the support and guidance of older women, who have raised their families, as well as peers, who are going through the same things that we are. We also have to remember that we will make mistakes, but those mistakes can be overcome with love.

Part of your daughter's task in growing up is to develop healthy attitudes about her physical, emotional, and spiritual nature. That involves passing through physical puberty and also dealing with the emotional passage that goes along with it. How we model our appreciation of our feminine nature and deal with our own physical and emotional passages sets a role model that our daughters will follow.

Some guidelines for helping our daughters transition from childhood into the teen years are

1) Be positive about your own life. Don't speak negatively about your bodily functions, especially not about menstruation and certainly not about pregnancy and childbirth. If we happen to suffer physical symptoms of PMS or painful periods or a painful labor or an uncomfortable perimenopause, we don't have to pretend that we don't. However, we can admit those things in a faithful way, without being the picture of doom and gloom. We don't want to complain or use words like "the curse" to describe what is happening to us during our periods, for example. Instead, we want to model thankfulness to the Lord that He has given us bodies which can serve Him. We also need to express wonder that God has designed the human body to be so amazing.

2) We need to realize that children -- especially girls -- are reaching physical puberty earlier and earlier these days. There are many theories about why this is happening, from hormones in our environment to better nutrition in our day than in times past to too much visually sexualized stimulation in our culture, which possibly affects brain chemicals that control growth. Whatever the reason, we need to be aware of how our daughters are developing emotionally and physically. We don't need to give too much information too early; yet, we don't want to be too late in preparing our daughters for the physical changes they will be going through, either. I have a friend who started her first cycle at a very early age, in the middle of the night when she was spending the night at another friend's house. Never having heard of menstruation, she was terrified that something terrible was happening to her. Looking back on it, I can see that it was obvious that she was developing physically ahead of the curve. Had she been prepared, perhaps, she wouldn't have been so frightened.

3) We all know that puberty can be an emotional time for a young girl. One minute, she may want to be a child; the next, she feels she is an adult. She may long to be held at one moment, yet need some space the next. She may need to bathe and wash her hair more often, and she might or might not experience some trouble with skin break-outs. In an effort to grow into her own self, she might be tempted to push her parents away at one moment; yet, she may want to cling to them the next.

Yet, we can guide a daughter to embrace all of the wonderful things about this time, as well. It's a joyful thing to be growing up to be the woman God made her to be. She can look forward to blooming wherever the Lord will plant her. Perhaps, marriage and children will be in her future. Perhaps, not. However, the Lord has designed her with a wonderful womanly nature, and she will discover in the coming years that He has given her unique gifts. In the meantime, this is a great opportunity for her to learn how to live in today and to make the most of today, without worrying about tomorrow.

4) Some girls experience very little discomfort during their monthly period. Others have a greater degree of discomfort, or even pain. If a daughter does have painful cycles or if anything seems to be amiss with her cycles, it's wise to consult a physician. Sometimes, the pain results from correctable physical problems.

Things that might help with pain in the moment are using a hot water bottle on the abdomen, drinking chamomile tea, and rest. Some women feel better after doing gentle stretches; others find that lying down is better.

Getting plenty of fresh air and exercise throughout the month, as well as eating nutritious food, can help.

Often women who don't have much discomfort during a period find it hard to empathize with women who do have a lot of menstrual distress. It's important to understand that every woman's body is different and to know that some women do have very real physical causes for more severe menstrual pain.

Do not be surprised if all of the women in your family frequently experience their cycles at the same time. There is actually a biological reason for this. Be patient with each other!!

5) When your daughter does start her periods, teach her how to keep track of them. This is important in case you do need to see a physician. Throughout her life, she will need to be able to tell her physicians the date of her last period, as well as what age she started her cycles. Also, for those who do have PMS or cramps, it's helpful to be able to predict when a cycle is coming in order to prepare.

6) For all women, whether they have little distress with their periods or if their periods are more difficult, the following things are helpful in taking care of feminine health:

a) Practice good hygiene.
b) Get lots of fresh air and exercise.
c) Cultivate an attitude of thankfulness.
d) Drink plenty of water.
e) Study enough about physiology to understand the workings of your menstral cycle, as well as what happens during pregnancy and menopause.
f) Understand your personal rhythms -- For example, you might be quieter and more reflective around your period and feel more active at other times of the month. With modern hygiene, a girl can be just as active as she wants or needs to be during her period; however, if you want to spend some quiet time, that's ok, too.
g) Perhaps, you will enjoy taking extra care of your appearance and your room during the time just before and during your period. Taking the time to create a special retreat for yourself and to dress in a way that makes you feel special if particularly helpful if you get the "blahs" around that time of the month. Also, just the activity of doing those light chores can help chase away the "blahs" or the "blues".
h) Watch your posture. Mothers need to help young girls with this. As they develop a more womanly figure, they may either exagerrate their posture to show it off or slump to hide it in embarrasment. Neither approach is healthy. Instead, aim for a confident, feminine, healthy posture, and walk and stand and sit in a way that promotes health for your body. Slumping or habitually throwing your body out of alignment is not good for your organs or your bones.
i) Avoid undue fear about your health; If you have questions, seek the aid of a physician. Do what you can to be a good steward of your health. Do what you can to overcome discomforts. Otherwise, don't dwell on your discomforts or imagine that they must be signs of something worse. Also, don't dwell on what others might say about their periods or their childbirth experiences, especially if they are of a frightening or exagerrated nature. Instead, as we mentioned above, be in awe that God has designed such a fearfully and wonderfully made thing as the body. Mothers can help a daughter with this by avoiding overly fretting about the daughter's health and by listening carefully to her to correct any misinformation she may be picking up from peers or other sources.

6) Be a listening ear for your daughter. Listen, listen, listen. One of the most important things you can do for a child (boy or girl) who is a preteen or teen is to keep the lines of communication open. You will need to instruct and correct, but you also need to make your child feel that he or she can safely confide in you. If you are not your child's safe place, she will go to her peers. While it's great for her to have some good friends her own age with whom she can talk (and you should encourage that, as well), it's not healthy for her to run only to her peers because she feels that she cannot talk to you.

7) At some point during her development, a girl will naturally experience an increased interest in looking attractive, as well as an awareness of boys. It's important that she understand that this is a natural part of growing up. It's also important that she understand the importance of purity, wholesomeness, and waiting for God's timing. Help her see that modesty and purity are not restrictive, but are actually a protection for her spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. Help her channel her thoughts and her energies into wholesome directions.

Since puberty comes so early in our culture, it may be quite some period between the time she becomes interested in marriage and motherhood and the time when she meets her future husband. Or, she might be someone who stays single. If a girl has a strong interest in marriage, she might despair of that day ever coming. Therefore, we must equip our daughters to prepare themselves for the possibility of marriage, but also to trust in the Lord and live a full life in the here and now. Learning godly contentment now will stand her in good stead all of her life.

8) Teach your daughter the importance of unfading, inner beauty. Also, teach her that every woman is beautiful in some way. Obvious physical beauty can be a great blessing. If your daughter is naturally physically beautiful, she will receive a lot of attention for that fact. Be happy about her beauty and joyfully acknowledge it. However, also teach her that her beauty is simply a gift and not the source of her worth. Help her to develop those inner qualities that are so important. Likewise, a less striking daughter may feel overshadowed by girls who are naturally stunning. To you, she is beautiful, and you can sincerely tell her so. You can also compliment her best features, such as a beautiful smile or lovely eyes. Again, teach her that looks are not the ultimate source of her worth. Help her develop those inner qualities which shine out and illuminate even the plainest face.

Teach your daughter to keep herself neatly, modestly, and attractively groomed and attired, and, then, to focus her attention off of herself onto loving others. Teach her how to enjoy life and how to spend her time on the most worthwhile things in life.

Early adolescence is a time when many children are insecure about their looks, and our currently looks-obsessed culture can add even more pressure. One sign of maturity is to have come to have come to terms with how the Lord made you and to appreciate His design for you and your life. In helping our daughters mature to this point, we need to demonstrate this maturity, as well. It doesn't help a daughter to hear us complain about a large nose or fat thighs, especially if our daughter also has those same features. Instead, dress in a way that becomes you, and, then, focus your attention on being thankful and loving others.

We may be on the other end of things than our daughters are. Just as our daughters are blooming physically, we may be seeing the first wrinkles creep across our face, fighting middle aged spread, noticing stretch marks from childbirth, or wondering why we can't get as much done as we used to. Places may ache that never used to before. We may be nearing the end of our fertility, which can be an emotional adjustment whether or not we actually want to have more children. We may be tempted to complain about how our body looks and functions as we are getting a bit older. It's important for us to come to terms with this in prayer and with the counsel of good friends, both for our sakes and for our daughters' sakes. They will imitate the way we approach the aging process. If we model a happy mature beauty for them, they will look forward to the various stages of life.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pillowcase and May 26

This is the material I'm using for my pillowcases. If you are sewing along with me, you will have already cut the material for two cases. See my earlier posts about this for the correct sizing.

Now, with right sides together, pin along the sides and bottom. Be sure the material is pressed. Starting at the top, sew a 1/2 inch seam down the side. Be sure to back stitch at top and bottom of the seam to reinforce it. Turn the corner and sew 1/2 inch along the bottom, again remembering to back stitch. Trim the seam to 1/4 inch. go back to the top and do a line of zig-zag stitch between your original stitch line and the edge of the fabric. Press your seams. Turn pillowcase right side out and press again. Press the top edge under 1/2 inch. Fold under another 2 inches on the top edge. Sew top of pillowcase 1 and 3/4 inch from top edge.

Or, use one of the pillowcase tutorials I linked to in an earlier post.

Decorate your pillowcase if you wish and as you wish.
Remember, always use a new needle when beginning a new sewing project on the machine.

Remember, Colonial Patterns is a great resource for iron-on transfer patterns. You can use these as guides for embroidering or cross-stitching items, such as pillowcases. You can generally find at least a small selection of their patterns in a Wal-Mart craft department or other craft store. Or, you can find more at their online site.

How are you doing?

How are you doing with your personal stewardship?

Exercise/Movement/Healthy work and activity_______________________


Up to date on Doctor/Dentist/Eye appointments_______________________

Mostly Healthy Diet __________________________________________

Attitude/Investing in doing and thinking things that build you up emotionally and spiritually rather than depleting you in those areas? ____________________________

Making the time to present an attractive, modest, neat appearance; taking the time to
present yourself in a way that refreshes and energizes you?__________________

How is your bedroom? Is it a haven for you right now, or does it need tidying in order for it to feel more peaceful?

Being a home manager means extending hospitality to others. What about when you are on the receiving end of hospitality?

1) When invited to someone's house, particularly for the first time, it's always thoughtful to take along a little gift. It doesn't have to be expensive, but should be some small token of your appreciation.

2) After spending a meal time or a longer visit at someone's home, write a thank you note. This is especially important after a first visit. If you are such good friends with someone that you are frequently in and out of each other's homes you may not feel the need to write a bread-and-butter note for every occasion. Still, it's nice to offer a little note or a gift at some point thanking the person for their friendship.

3) When considering the length of your visit, be sensitive to the needs of your hosts. Stay long enough that the person you are visiting has enjoyed your company, yet not so long that your stay becomes a burden on their time. For example, if you are dining with a young family, remember that the parents will not only need to tidy up, but to put their children to bed after you leave.

4) If the hostess is still putting the finishing touches on a meal, offer to help.

5) If you stay over one or more nights, tidy the bathroom and bedroom behind you. Also, ask the hostess what she would like you to do with the sheets and towels you have used. Offer to wash them, or, at least, to bring them to her laundry area. Or, make up the bed with the sheets in place, if she desires. It's nice to leave a little gift and a card in the room where you stayed.
Once you are home, write another little note of appreciation.

6) Always reply to an invitation! Don't leave the host and hostess guessing how many people will come and if you will be among those attending or not.

7) Be sure to thank the host and hostess before leaving. Do this even if you are at a large party.

8) If you are visiting someone who is a new mother, an elderly person, or someone who is ill, be helpful! It's fun to sit and chat, but the person you are visiting may appreciate it if you do some small chore or if you offer to fix a glass of water or tea for the two of you. Unless the person needs you to do several things, keep your visit short. An elderly person may greatly appreciate company, for example, but may also become quickly physically tried.

9) Listen, listen, listen. Contribute to the conversation, of course. However, a listening ear is a powerful need and a soothing balm to so many in today's world. A good listener is always a welcome guest!

10) Be cheerful and positive. There are times to confide our troubles to a good friend, especially along with a request for prayer. However, choose those times wisely and choose your confidante wisely. As you grow older, be especially wary of letting the conversation to a litany of health woes, with graphic details included. When my dearest husband and I visited with his parents recently, we let ourselves fall into that trap, along with my mother-in-law -- a retired nurse. Finally, my dear father-in-law, who is recovering from an illness, said, "Y'all sound like a hospital waiting room." Then, he quickly changed the subject! I appreciated the reminder that our talk had not been encouraging to him.

Happy Homemaking!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

For your home economics notebook: Who is a historic home keeper from your area who is still known today? Is her home still standing? If so, visit it and write a bit about her.

Here's an example of a historic home keeper in my neck of the woods. Her name is Dorothea (Dolly) Cross Gordon (1779-1859), and she was married to Captain John Gordon Below is what remains of her homestead which stands along the Natchez Trace. Originally, there was a long porch across the front, as well as several outbuildings around the home.

Captain John Gordon was fifteen years older than Dorothy (to the day -- they were born on the same date, which also became their wedding date). He was a merchant, a famous fighter and diplomat in wars with Native Americans, a soldier, an owner of racing horses, and a friend of President Andrew Jackson. He partnered with a chief of the Choctaws to operate a ferry across the Duck River, which travelers along the old trace had to pass in order to proceed along the Trace that ran from Natchez to Nashville. At the time he operated his ferry, he lived very near Choctaw land.

The Gordons had ten children. His military activities took him away from home much of the time. So, it fell mostly to Mrs. Gordon to supervise the building of a home/trading post near her husband's ferry. He died shortly after the home was completed in 1812. She continued to oversee the farm and businesses he left her until her own death in 1859. She also finished raising the couple's ten children, plus a number of orphaned or stray children.

Though Mrs. Gordon moved with her family to Nashville when she was a child, she was born in Virginia, and she was proud of being a descendant of Pocahontez. She was said to be kind, well-respected, and to have a positive nature.

You will show me the path of life;
In Your prescence if fullness of joy..
Psalm 16:11

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Spring Cleaning -- Windows, Part II

Cleaning Windows -- Part II

Cleaning your windows does not have to be an expensive facet of house keeping. There are many recipes for homemade window cleaners, many of which use either vinegar or ammonia in water. If you use an ammonia based homemade cleanser, think twice about using it on bathroom mirrors. Likely, it will be fine. However, if the mirror has an aluminum frame, as many bathroom mirrors do, the ammonia could be corrosive to the frame.

Even commercially made window cleaning solutions are not that expensive. Likewise, any other tools you might want to purchase do not have to be costly. One useful item is a squeegee, either a short handled one or one on an extension pole. Other items you might need are a ladder (and someone around to steady it while you work ), or a cleansing tool on a telescoping pole. Be very, very careful when cleaning windows from a ladder. Do not attempt to do this when you are by yourself!

You might also want to use old linen or cotton towels or any cloth that is lint-free and absorbent. Paper towels are good for cleaning inside windows, but it's obviously more economical to work with a reusable cloth. Some home keepers have even been known to use old newspapers to clean windows. If you try this, wear gloves so that the newsprint will not smudge on your hands.

If you don't want to take the screens down to wash them, it is possible to vacuum the dirt out by opening the window from the inside and using your vacuum attachment. You can also use a medium-stiff brush, but you must be careful not to brush the dust back into your house -- thus creating an even bigger mess. Still, as I mentioned in my previous post, the most thorough way to clean your screens is to take them down one a year and hose them down and let them dry on cloths in the sun.

After cleaning your windowsills, give them a good waxing. This will keep water spots from developing on your sills, as well as make them easier to dust. It will also make your windowsills look extra nice.

If you dust your sills weekly, you will find the task of seasonally cleaning your windows to be much easier!

If you live in a cold climate, you might use storm windows. I don't have any personal experience with storm windows, so one of our readers who does use them might care to comment about this. As I understand it, storm windows fit outside of regular windows and are put up in the fall and taken down in the spring. If they are made of glass, you can clean them as you would any other type of window. If they are made of plastic, you will need to be careful. Homemade and commercial window cleaning solutions can cloud them. So, you must find out what the manufacturer's suggestions for cleaning these plastic storm windows are. Lacking that, use a very mild detergent, rinse well, and wipe dry.

If you have windows that are very high, you might consider having them professionally cleaned once in a long while. I do have some high windows, one of which is in a very awkward place to get to. All but one of my high windows have the feature I mentioned in my earlier post that allows you to clean the bottom pane from the inside. For the rest, I use the spray cleaner and hose system, which does a fair enough job.

Of course, while you are cleaning windows, it only makes sense to deal with shutters, blinds, curtains, drapes, and awnings. Likewise, you might as well check the condition of your gutters and downspouts to see if they need attention, as well. But, all that's another story for another day.

Happy spring cleaning!

Spring Cleaning Project Windows -- Part I: Have you tackled your outside windows yet? Shiny windows go a long way toward making a house feel fresh and clean. The most beautiful scene outside your window is more enjoyable if you have a clear view of it. Even if the view outside of your window is less than picturesque, you'll still find it inspiring to view it through sparkling, rather than dim and dirty, glass.

Some windows, like mine, are made so that you can open the bottom part inward and clean it while you are cleaning the inside surface, too. Even if you do have these handy windows, you will have surfaces that you must clean from the outside.

What if you don't have the time or strength to do a thorough cleaning of your outside windows? There are solutions that will greatly improve the shine, even if they don't constitute a thorough cleaning. For example, I have used a spray which you attach to a garden hose. The spray bottle of cleaner has a switch that can be opened to release soap along with the water. You close the switch to rinse with pure water. Then, you let your windows air dry. Voila! Your windows and screens may not be perfect, but will be much, much cleaner. In fact, you might decide that a good spray once or twice a year gets your windows and screens sufficiently clean for you and your family to enjoy.

Here's another easy solution for those who don't have time to do a thorough, old-fashioned window cleaning. I recently purchased a long-handled tool which comes with disposable soap pads. One soap pad will clean up to twenty windows. You can also attach the threaded top of the handle to an extension pole to reach windows that are even higher. The idea is to wet the window and the soap pad with a hose. Then, you scrub the window. Then, you rinse the window with clear water, and you let the windows dry. I also used the soap pad to scrub the outside surfaces of my car, as well as some grungy places on the vinyl siding of our deck.

Before attempting any seasonal cleaning of windows, make sure the windowsills and and frames are clean. Start by wiping with a dry cloth and/or vacuuming. Then, clean with If you don't do a dry cleaning first, the dust and dirt on the sills will bead and smear, rather than coming off easily.

If you want to do a deep cleaning of your windows, take the screens off, spray and scrub them, place them on a clean cloth and let them and your freshly cleaned windows dry before replacing them.

Many say that you should not clean windows on a sunny day, as the sun will dry the cleaner before you can polish the window. This means that you will end up with streaked windows. Sometimes, you don't have much choice over this, though. For example, we've had an unusual number of rainy days this spring, followed by bright, sunny days. I felt like I needed to grab a window when it wasn't raining to clean my windows, so I went ahead, despite the bright Southern sun.

Windows, inside and out, are best cleaned from top to bottom.

Happy Home Keeping!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Catching Up -- Pillowcases, home keeping books, animals, and such

Well, I've been bumping along with some minor health issues this month, as well as it being a busy spring. So, I've got a lot of catching up to do on my one year project in home economics. How's your home keeping coming along?

My climbing roses and a potted rose that I have are flowering and flowering. They are such a delight to behold. We've been having days and days of rain here, so I do need to watch the roses for diseases that attack in the damp, such as mildew. Also, the Great Maiden's Blush slip that I ordered is growing, too. While this much rain is unusual, I love how it makes things grow. I also love the way it causes flowers and leaves to glisten when rays of sunlight pierce through the rain. The rain washes the air, as well.

One thing to note, though. When you pass through an unusually rainy spring, especially if you live in a temperate to warm climate, you may need to watch out for an unusual amount of insects to appear. That is happening in our area.

Tonight, I'm washing the material for my pillowcases. I've selected a pattern of blue and yellow flowers on a white background. One good hint is to zig-zag the edges of your material before washing in order to prevent raveling. However, I did not do that tonight, as I think my fabric will be fine. I will need to make sure the edges are square, anyway.

How are your home economics book and Book of Days coming along? Here are some ideas you can incorporate:

For your home economics book:

1)If you sew, list the materials that you already have on hand and what projects you had in mind when you bought them. List the composition of the materials.

2) If you sew, price various fabrics for a project. Determine where you can find the best fabric bargains.

3) Make a note of the patterns of sunlight in your yard during this month. How many hours of direct sunlight do certain areas get? Which areas receive direct sun, and which are shaded. Refer to this list when planting new beds or changing your garden in any way.

4) Do you need to update your spring and summer wardrobe? If so, make a plan and a budget. Look for what items you need. Take note of what you already have in your closet. Jot down how specific items can be paired to make several different outfits. Make a note of what needs to be mended.

5) Do you generally eat lighter foods during the spring and summer months? Collect some new spring and summer recipes or write down old favorites. Don't forget foods you enjoy for picnics and cookouts.

6) Do a study of a particular type of pet or farm animal. If you have a dog, acquaint yourself with everything you can about dogs, for example. If you have a particular breed, study the care and habits of that breed.

7) Jot down any spring cleaning chores that you still intend to do but haven't gotten to yet. Also, write down garden plans.

For your Book of Days:

1) What's happening in your yard and garden right now? Take photos. Make notes of growth rates of various flowers, veggies, etc.

2) Read a lovely garden diary -- There are many historical garden diaries or even current garden diaries that you can find in your local library. Read a book about gardening, spring, flowers, etc. Jot down your favorite quotes. At the same time, let those quotes inspire you to write down lovely thoughts about your yard and/or gardens and also what is happening in your neighborhood. Take photos, as well. Pretend that you are creating lovely thoughts for a future generation, who may one day what your yard looked like in your time.

3) Attach a snip of a favorite, sentimental garment or other fabric item and write down your memories associated with that garment. If it's time for the garment to move on, let it go -- knowing that you have kept a piece of it in your notebook.

Just as people sometimes do, animals might also require first aid, either to completely take care of small ailments or to prepare an animal for transport to a vet for further care. Often, the keeper at home is the first person to discover that one of the family's animals is injured or sick or else children will bring this to the attention of the mother-at-home. Thus, it's good for the home manager to think through what to do in an emergency ahead of time.

Providing first aid to an animal can be easier than for people, in some senses, for animals often instinctively know how to care for themselves in certain situations. On the other hand, if the cause of the animal's distress is not obvious, your pet cannot tell you what is wrong. Likewise, you cannot explain your intentions to your pet.

Here are some things to remember when dealing with a sick or injured animal:

1) If your animal is in a state of distress, the animal will likely not like you to crowd it. Pain and distress can make even familiar, loving pets behave in unpredictable ways. Be aware that the gentlest of pets might scratch or bite. If it is badly injured or in acute distress, it is best that you speak gently, approach slowly, and muzzle or otherwise restrain the animal before tending to it. Do not muzzle, though, if it is vomiting, unconscious or having respiratory distress. Remember, your safety and the safety of your family is of first importance in the situation. This is a good opportunity to teach your children to keep calm in a crisis and to also teach them how to give the animal some space to deal with it's distressed state. Make sure that your children, no matter how well-meaning they might be, do not endanger themselves or cause the animal more fear and pain by hovering around the animal or trying to cuddle it.
2) If you need to inspect a wound or otherwise examine your pet, do so slowly and gently. Do not keep going if your pet becomes upset.
3) If you need to transport your pet to the vet in a hurry, call ahead and let them know you are bringing in an animal that is injured or otherwise in acute distress. Ask for advice about the best way to transport the animal. You might need to put a splint on a broken limb, stop bleeding, or perform some other bit of first aid to stabilize the animal before moving it. Be sure to find out what your vet advises, first. Again, keep your and your family's safety paramount, as well as avoiding doing anything that actually makes the animal's suffering worse.
4) Often, you can handle a cat by holding the scruff of the neck at the same place that a mother cat carries a kitten in her mouth. Cats retain from their kitten days somewhat of an instinct to go limp when picked up by the scruff of their neck, even when a human holds the scruff with the hand. Do not attempt this if your cat is severely injured.
5) In the case of some problems, you can wrap cats or small animals in towels to calm them down and to restrain them from thrashing or clawing. Don't wrap the towel too tightly, and do not cover the nose so that the animal cannot breathe.
6) If you have a dog, you likely already have some type of muzzle on hand. However, if you are dealing with an animal that you do not normally muzzle or in an emergency, muzzles can be made out of gauze bandaging, stockings, or a necktie. The muzzle must be firm enough to keep the animal from biting, but not so tight that it harms the animal.
7) The Humane Society's web site offers first aid tips for animals, as well as offers a more complete book on the subject that you can order.

Happy home keeping!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Animals -- poultry

Taking care of poultry, particularly chickens:

1) Traditionally, the keeper at home on a farm or in a rural area looked after the farm's poultry. She raised a flock to obtain chickens and eggs for her own cooking, as well as to sell eggs to others. The term "egg money" refers to the fact that women often used the proceeds from selling eggs as their personal allowance. From this allowance, they would buy little items they needed for clothing or for the household. Even after many people moved into urban and suburban areas, the term "egg money" was still used to denote a woman's personal spending money, particularly if she had saved it by managing the household expenses carefully or by earning a little extra money in some way.

2) In today's world, it is not always a given that a family will earn egg money by keeping poultry. Large, commercial chicken farms have made both chicken meat and eggs easily available and very inexpensive for most consumers. Most people now turn to their local grocery store than to a local supplier for their broilers, fryers, and eggs, and most stores buy directly from large outfits. Also, the costs of keeping chickens may outweigh any savings produced by keeping one's own flock. Thus, it is not necessarily economical for a family to grow their own flock of chickens, and it is not a given that a family will be able to sell any chickens or eggs if their desire is to make some extra money. On the other hand, many families who have enough land on which to raise poultry enjoy having their own flock, as well as fresh eggs. They are willing to put in the time and expense whether the endeavor is strictly profitable or not. Plus, it is possible, with careful planning to both save money and earn some money by keeping poultry. There are an increasing number of people who are willing to pay extra for home-grown, free-range chickens and farm raised eggs. If you can find a way to tap into this market, you might be able to duplicate the egg money of yesteryear's home keeper.

3) Some people enjoy keeping exhibition breeds of chickens simply as a hobby. There are beautiful specimens of roosters, and these breeds are delightful to see at state or county fairs.

4) If you are interested in raising chickens and have never done so, it's wise to learn all you can before beginning. Also, be clear about what your goals are. Do you want this to be a money-making or money-saving endeavor? If so, you will need to have a clear and realistic plan. Likely, your customers will need to come from among your friends and neighbors, as you cannot compete with the larger operations in carrying eggs to distant markets. If you live in an area where most people already keep their own poultry, you may not have many takers. On the other hand, if you live very near a suburban area where people would be interested in farm fresh eggs, you might be able to find more buyers. Investigate before investing in your laying pullets.

Are you merely interested in supplying your own family with a fresh supply of eggs or chickens? Do you plan to do this for your own or your family's enjoyment? If so, you will need a plan for these things, as well.

Also consider whether you want to produce broilers or layers or both. There are dual-purpose breeds that are adequate for both purposes, but they produce neither the most plentiful, excellent eggs nor the best meat. If you are serious about producing excellent home flocks, you
you might prefer to raise egg-type strains for egg production and/or commercial broiler strains for meat. (Note that roasters are broilers kept beyond the period of 7 to 8 weeks. They are kept up to six months.)

5) Among the cost of keeping chickens might be your initial investments in stock, housing (and possibly brooding and rearing facilities, as well), feed, liter, heating and light for fall and winter, and transportation expenses if you carry eggs or chickens somewhere to be sold. Intangible costs would be the time spent cleaning the chicken house, feeding the chickens, and caring for them in other ways.

5) The most economical laying hens for small flocks are generally small-bodied commercial White Leghorn hens.

6) With careful management, the owner of a home laying flock can expect to receive an average of 20 dozen eggs per hen. Of course, this varies by breed and by the health of an individual hen. If you are raising hens simply for your own family's consumption, you can figure out how many layers you need by counting how many eggs you use per week, adding some extra for damage, and by doing your research to find what breed and how many hens will give you the yield you need.

7) Good lighting is essential to encouraging your hens to maximum yield of eggs. The laying hen needs about 13 to 14 hours of light a day. Thus, from September to April, you will need to supplement natural daylight. One 25 watt clear, white, or frosted incandescent light bulb will provide adequate light for a space of about 100 square feet.

8) When raising poultry, be considerate of your flock, your family, and of your neighbors. Others may become concerned if they are bothered by odors, dust, flies, manure, noise, and dead birds that are not properly disposed of. With care, you can raise a healthy flock and minimize any problems. Also, remember that chickens, like all living things, are vulnerable to diseases and pests. Be sure to check your flock for these problems and to take care of any medical issues that arise.

Here is a good resource for the beginner who wants to build a small home flock. Here is an article about breeds of poultry. Here is another resource about how to feed broilers and layers.
Here is an article about sustainable poultry.

Happy Homemaking!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Animals in Your Household

Are you working on the crochet project or pillowcase project? If so, how's it coming? I will start my pillowcase project this week -- Lord willing -- and I will post photos and instructions. In the meantime, we'll chat about the animal occupants of our household.

For various reasons, some families do not keep pets or animals. There are many valid circumstances in which a family may decide that they either do not want to or cannot assume the care of animals. However, many families do own pets and/or farm animals, at least at some point in their family life. Thus, the keeper at home does well to know something about the care of pets, and the aspiring keeper at home may want to learn about this area, as well. If the keeper at home lives on a farm or if the family keeps a horse or two for riding, she may need to know something about the care of livestock or poultry, as well.

Just as with the human occupants of the home, animals have needs for shelter, food, health care, affection, and grooming. Animals may also require protection from predators. Even in our urban area, there are foxes and coyotes that have been known to snatch pets.

In addition, animals may produce wastes, dander, or smells that must be cleaned in order to keep the home sanitary for the family.

If your family does keep animals, involving children in animal care is a great way to teach them about many things. They will learn to think about what another being needs, which will help them overcome selfishness. They will learn responsiblity. They may learn about birth and also about death and mourning. They will learn how to show affection to another being, and they may receive great emotional happiness and comfort from owning a pet.

Children as young as 4 to 8 can begin to help with basic pet care. Certainly, they can learn to set out food and water. Additionally, they may learn to gently brush or groom a willing pet. Of course, if an animal is large or there is any potential for danger to either the child or the animal, you will need to supervise the process until the child is old enough to take over the responsibility entirely.

There is some school of thought that children who live with farm animals or even with pets develop fewer allergies than children who are not exposed to animals. Perhaps, this is so. However, my mother grew up on a farm and loved to ride horses. Alas, in midlife, she developed an allergy to horses. I had pets when I was young, and I developed allergies, as well. Still, you may find that this works in your family.

Even if your family lives an urban lifestyle and you also choose not to keep pets, it's a good idea to take your children to see a working farm. Many city children do not have a sense of where food products really come from. They may have only a vague idea of what it means that eggs come from chickens and milk comes from cows. It is good for children to learn both the place of and the importance of animals in the Father's world. This helps them develop real knowledge of an important part of God's creation.

Also, if you have a chance to take your child to see baby animals being born, this can be a wondrous experience for them. A very young and very sensitive child may not be ready for this. Most children, however, do find great delight in the birth of puppies, kittens, and the like.

Animals, like humans, use water to regulate body temperature, to form blood and lymph fluids, and to keep the body tissues and joints and skin lubricated. Again, like humans, their bodies contain lots of fluid -- as much as 75 percent for some animals. Just as with us, they lose fluids through certain bodily processes, and these fluids must be replaced. Providing an adequate water supply for your pet is important. Again, this is one area where children are often eager to help. You can use this as a teaching opportunity to explain the importance of water to all living things.

Remember, if your pet eats a diet largely of dry food, the animal will need more water to digest the food. If the diet contains more liquid -- such as with table scraps or canned foods -- the animal may not need quite as much, but will still require an adequate supply. Obviously, pregnant and lactating animals may require even more water than usual, and animals that have been recently exercised or that stay outside in the hot summer sun may be quite thirsty. Animals may also require more water if they are eating more than previously.

Like people, animals enjoy fresh water. They may turn up their nose at water that has been sitting too long in a pet bowl. Be sure to change the water daily.

Some people believe that adding raw animals to an animal's diet will improve the condition of the coat. Be careful with this. In both dogs and cats, eating raw eggs can cause a biotin deficiency, which can produce the opposite of a healthy coat: poor skin, loss of hair, and stunted overall growth.

Cats notoriously love cream or milk. While milk and cream contain some fluids and many nutrients, they do not provide enough fluid to substitute for an adequate water supply, nor do they provide enough nutrition to be a food substitute for adult felines. Like some people,
some cats are actually lactose intolerant and cannot digest milk or cream. You will know to stop feeding your pet milk if your pet develops diarrhea or vomits after consuming it. If your cat can handle milk or cream, he may enjoy a nice bowl from time to time.

Some plants are toxic to pets. Likewise, some foods that we people can eat are also toxic to pets -- particularly to dogs. For example, dogs cannot safely consume chocolate, onions or garlic, grapes or raisins, or liquids with caffeine. If you have a pet in the home, it makes since to educate yourself about which plants or foods are safe for your particular animal and to keep unsafe substances away from the pet. Ask your vet if you have any questions.

Here's a link that provides information about taking care of various small pets, such as rabbits, hamsters, or birds.

Before purchasing animals (or land), research covenants and codes pertaining to animal ownership. Find out if leash laws apply to dogs. Also, find out if you are required to fence dogs or other animals. Determine what type of animals you are legally allowed to own.

Even in a rural area, your options for animal ownership may be restricted. For example, my family recently sold some land deep in the country. This land was turned into several acre country lots. Purchasers were allowed to keep horses, but they had to sign an agreement not to keep certain other animals.

On the other hand, you might be surprised to find how many different types of animals you might be allowed to own in the middle of a city. Many cities allow residents to own poultry or rabbits, for example. If you live on farmland that was grandfathered into a city, you might even be able to run a few cows or sheep.

Given the wide variety of local laws and covenants, it's always better to do your research rather than to assume that you may or may not be able to have a certain type of animal. It's better to know upfront than to either miss out on the joys of owning your dream animal or, conversely, to fall in love with an animal, only to find out that you must give it up for legal reasons. If you do live in a city, remember that even if the codes and covenants allow you to keep certain animals, your neighbors may not be excited about your choices of animal ownership. The early cry of a rooster may not be music to your neighbors' ears, for example.
There's some controversy about including raw meats in the diets of dogs and cats. Dogs and cats are largely carnivorous. So, on the one hand, these animals, do by nature kill and eat smaller animals. Dogs have long participated with man in hunting, and cats have long "earned their keep" by assuring that both barns and houses free of rodents. Dogs and cats have God-designed digestive and immune systems that handle some germs found in raw meats better than our human systems do. For example, they may be less susceptible to e-coli infections than we are. Because raw foods are a natural part of the diet of a dog or cat and have been for centuries and centuries, I tend toward the idea that giving these foods to a pet is ok -- especially if this makes up only part of their diet.

On the other hand, I also see the point that raw meats can carry certain parasites. In the long term, these can be harmful to your pet's health. Moreover, this may have some implications for your family's health as well, especially if the pet lives indoors with you. Plus, in the wild, the animal will choose foods that are right for him, and we may find it difficult to replicate their ideal diet exactly. Likewise, animals that do spend most of their time outdoors or in the wild often do not live as long as house pets do, so there might be some benefit to giving our indoor pets a more domesticated diet. Not only that, but some pet stores charge a fair amount for raw or natural food concoctions, and it can also be espensive to feed your animal raw meats that you purchase elsewhere. So, even though I do tend toward the idea that cats and dogs were created with the ability to enjoy some raw meats in their diet, I do see some sense to this argument, as well.

Talk to your vet, and do some research to determine what your beliefs about including raw meats in your animal's diet are. Also, educate yourself about what raw foods are actually good for your pet. For example, cats do enjoy liver, but a steady diet of liver causes some health problems for them. They also enjoy raw fish, but not all types of fish are good for them. Eating a certain kind of fish can cause vitamin deficiencies.

If you do decide that your animal will thrive on raw meats, for your own safety, be sure to carefully wash your hands and any surfaces the raw meats have touched. You may also want to use separate utensils and surfaces for preparing the raw meats for your pet than you do for the meats you cook for your family.

More on animals later!

Happy home keeping!