Thursday, October 22, 2009

Natural flea remedies

Maisie (4) and Molly (6 months) in their "Flea-free Bandannas"

As you know by now, we live on a farm. Actually, it's officially called a "hobby farm" since we make no money on it. Ask any "real" farmer and they'll tell you that there is really no difference between our farm and theirs, as we both put money into them and never really see a return on our investments! But to us, it is a farm. Pure and simple.

Currently residing at "Jabez Farm" are our cows, Ms. Bailey's & Cream and her calf, Angus. Then there are the "girls", but to "city-slickers", they are called chickens. To us, they are pure entertainment! Next spring, we will be adding a milk cow, bees and meat chickens. When we get a smoke-house built, we will add a couple of pigs. In the past, we have had sheep, goats, rabbits, turkeys, a pot-bellied pig, lots of cows and a one-eyed, gimpy horse, aptly named "Old Man". (No offense to older men!) Also taking up residence are our "barn" cats, Maverick and Milo, who keep our back porch stocked with mouse cadavers, and our farm dogs, Maisie and Molly.

Maisie joined our family 4 years ago, after our yellow lab, Twinkie, died. Since she is a purebred beagle, she can only go outside if she is on a leash or tie-out. Off-leash, Maisie's nose takes her wherever the wind blows...literally. And hollerin' for her to come back, just gets her more excited and she runs faster! On more than one occasion, I've had to chase her down with the car, yelling out the window, "Ya wanna treat?", to which our neighbors holler back with a "YES!" Maisie is also a very talented dog. She knows all the words to "Who Let the Dogs Out?" and sings them loud and clear! Some might call it "howling", we just call it beautiful farm music!

Molly is the newest addition, having arrived at 6 weeks old. A little young to be away from her momma, her previous home could not take care of an adult lab and 4 growing puppies. We found her at the Humane Society and adopted her on the spot. Molly is a chocolate lab with green/blue eyes and has all the impishness of any puppy. The vet thinks that her "daddy" was a husky mix since she has a rather thick coat of fur and curved toenails. ( She also has webbed feet which is a true lab characteristic!) We decided to get a larger breed dog to "protect" the farm...Molly has yet to spend a single night outdoors. So while our "farm" dogs are basking by the fireplace, napping on their padded beds and eating scraps from under the kitchen table, the deer are happily feasting on our raspberry plants, nibbling away 2 years worth of new growth on the apple trees and pulling my rosebushes out of the ground. Molly too is learning the words to "Who Let the Dogs Out?" and along with Maisie!

One of the problems of having the dogs indoors is fleas. It is also one of the first (of many) questions that I have for God when I get to heaven! "WHYYYYY?" I'm sure the lowly flea has a purpose, but I'm not seeing it. The little blood-suckers multiply faster than a physics major and draw more blood than the Red Cross, and for what? Well, I don't know...yet. In the meantime, I have to do battle with these thirsty little militants and reclaim my home from their invading forces! Recently, we have used a flea prevention product called Frontline. The way it works is that you put this "poison" on the back of the dogs' necks and it absorbs into the skin, goes through the blood system and repels the fleas back through their skin. Hmmmm....if the doctor told me that in order to cure a skin condition, I would have to put poison on the back of my neck, let it absorb into my bloodstream, and wait for my skin to clear up, I would promptly walk out! (After telling him what I really thought!) Why would I continue to do this to my dogs? This would probably explain the horrible red rash that appeared on Maisie's tummy. I "Googled" Natural Flea Repellents and ended up spending half of a day reading about the consequences of using poisons and the all natural alternatives. Some of the dangers are; neurological defects, skin rashes, seizures, and in extreme cases, death. We decided immediately that "going natural" would be worth our time to try.

Does this mean that we have waved a white flag and surrendered to the fleas? Ha! I will not go down that easily! While visiting our oldest daughter, Kelsie, we found a natural remedy in one of her books she had recently picked up. We are trying it right now, and I have to say that so far, I am impressed! Not only is it natural, our house has a nice floral scent to it! It's like a "roaming potpourri"! (And you will ALWAYS know where the dogs have roamed!) This is only day 4 of the experiment, but the dogs are scratching less and we aren't worrying about anybody accidentally touching their necks! And the rash on Maisie's tummy? Almost gone! (Her last dose of poison was about 5 weeks ago.)

Natural Flea Repellent

1 bandanna, folded down to an inch wide

rose geranium essential oil

lavender essential oil

Before tying the bandanna around the dog's neck, put 3 drops of each oil in the middle of the scarf. Before you put the repellent on, bathe your dog thoroughly. I had been using baby shampoo, but have recently switched to castile soap. It is natural and rinses clean. I also sprinkle Borax on the carpet, let it rest for 15 minutes, then vacuum. Make sure that the kids and dog are outside or kenneled. Not the kids, unless that works for you...The Borax stuns the fleas and makes it easier to vacuum them. (It also works great for carpenter ants, but that's another story.)

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