Making Your Own Dog Food (why and how)

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It is amazing how media coverage can make folks paranoid.  The news about Beneful killing dogs made me very nervous.  We usually feed an equally crappy dog food because it is the only one that doesn’t give Bumble gas.  But one bag ago Doug accidentally brought home Beneful.  Rather than drive back into town we opened it up and fed it to him.  He ate doubled his normal portions and loved it!  But I went back to the other dog food because I couldn’t afford for him to be eating that much food!  It was a good thing because then I saw the news reports about the poisoning.  Then Bumble got sick.

Memories came back of our feisty and cuddly Siamese cat.  He was only eight when he suddenly dropped weight and became very ill.  He went into renal failure and after an agonizing two months, died.  And broke our hearts.  Do you remember that time?  It was when many of the cat and dog foods were being recalled and were killing numerous pets.  Including mine.  I was buying the expensive food.  The good food.  I was being a good pet parent.  But it turned out that the expensive food was made by the same companies that made the crappy food.  That was a solemn discovery.

It angers me that this multi-billion dollar industry does not care whatsoever about animals.  Animals are kept in cages in holding facilities their entire lives to be tested on with animal food.  They feed the public lies about nutrition and then sell us poison.  Knowingly, and then not pulling it until the lawsuits win.  It is sad.  Because for many of us our animals are a part of our lives.  They take up space in our photo albums and our phones.  They entertain us, love us, make the house a home.  Most of us don’t think about making our own animals’ food.  But why not?  Time and know-how I guess are the elusive answer!

Bumble had all the symptoms.  The diarrhea, the lethargy, he stopped eating for five days.  He limped and had trouble moving.  I told Emily that she and her siblings may need to come out and say their goodbyes.  He has been our family dog a long time.  Now at ten and a half years old, it is hard to see him suffer.

Then he made a miraculous recovery.  Turns out that the bitter cold caused his hip to stiffen up and his teeth are bad.  But it certainly made me think.

A Nutrient Complete Dog Food

Part of this recipe was inspired by a recipe in Ani’s Raw Kitchen.

2 cups of nuts like cashews, walnuts, pecans (protein and antioxidants) soaked overnight

2 cups of fruits and vegetables like kale, avocado, carrots, banana, and/or green beans (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants)

2 Tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil (coat shine)

1/2 Tablespoon of dried herbs like basil, oregano, thyme

1 clove of garlic (anti-viral and anti-cancer)

1 teaspoon of sea salt

Sprinkle of nutritional yeast (B 12)

Dogs are able to live very well as vegetarians.  In fact, wolves and coyotes in the wild eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.  But some humanely raised, organic meat could be added as well.

Grind everything together in a food processor, adding a little water for dogs with bad teeth.

This recipe feeds a 75-80 pound dog for a day giving him two servings.  It keeps well in the refrigerator.

Perhaps I could designate a day to make his food for the week.  It doesn’t take long and wouldn’t cost anymore than the dog food.  The dog food could be costing me much more.  We don’t want to lose Bumble yet!

A Homesteader’s Guide to Preparing For Winter (not just for homesteaders!)

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When I was growing up Autumn was a time for a new pair of shoes and back to school.  For getting excited about holidays and playing in the leaves.  Each season was really no different than another.  Once we became homesteaders there are marked differences in the seasons that we have to respect.  For instance in the spring we plan, start, plant, and get ready for farmer’s markets to begin.  In the summer we farm, do farmer’s markets all week, and start canning and planning what needs to be done for winter.  Imagine that!  Planning what needs to be done for winter in the midst of July.  Now it is fall, and we will be insanely busy this month.  You could wait like we did last year to get all of our hay for winter, only buying what we needed but there was a shortage come February and we had trouble locating good hay.  We could wait to get all the wood we need but there is nothing guaranteeing dry, available wood come January and that is how we will be heating our home.  Should we be snowed in it is quite lovely to walk to the long pantry waiting for me in the new house and grab everything I need for dinner without ever worrying about a shortage or having to run to the store.  There are lessons in here for the average city citizen or the non-homesteader as well.  No one can be sure what the winter will bring and if the Almanac is correct and the weather serves prediction, our winter this year may be a doozy.

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1.  Heat- If the power goes out for an extended time, how will you keep warm?  We will need to make sure we have plenty of wood and coal at the ready.  We’ll have plenty of blankets and wool sweaters at the ready.

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2.  If you can’t get to the store, how will you feed your animals?  Make sure you store a bit extra than you normally would for just in case scenarios.  I will need to get a few months of hay at least and an extra bag of dog and cat food.

3.  If the city water gets turned off due to a water main break or other reason (or if the electricity goes out and the well stops working), how will you get water?  I will be filling several canning jars and jugs with water.  It won’t be enough for an extended time but it could certainly help get us through for a bit.

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4.  If a blizzard kept trucks from delivering food to the grocery store or if you were home bound, how would you eat?  So far we have 378 items canned.  I have another 100 to put up.  This is enough to get Doug and I through the winter, have some to give as gifts, and give to the kids should they need it.  I also have a freezer full of meat that we have already obtained and I am ordering another ten chickens from a local sustainable farmer.  Here is a problem though….if the power goes out I will need to find a right cold area to keep the meat in!  I should be canning meat but as of yet, that sounds like a pain and not very appetizing but I know I need to learn to do it!  It won’t go bad if it is canned.  I also have a fridge full of cheese wheels that I have made.  So, we have cheese and if the fridge goes out the cold back room will probably keep it just fine.  We have dehydrated food and have more to do.  I have canned jars and jars of juice and am doing the rest today.  We will stock up on staples like flour and sugar and other grains like cornmeal, of course beans and legumes, and salt and spices.  There should be little we need to go to the store for.

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5. What if you or your animals are ill or injured and can’t get to a doctor or vet?  Make sure you have plenty of herbal remedies on hand so that you can treat yourself or your animals in an emergency.  We have remedies for colds and flu, for pain, for infection, even for broken bones at the ready.  (You can see these remedies at http://gardenfairyapothecary.com)

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I encourage you to think ahead just a bit just in case so that you won’t be panic stricken should the electricity go out or if you cannot get out the front door due to snow!  It will give you great peace of mind and a homesteader spirit!