Can You Use Essential Oils on Livestock??

essential oils livestock

I like to post a variety of content here on The Prairie Homestead, and for the most part, we keep it pretty light and fun. But every once and a while, I like to dive in a little deeper and explore the science behind some of my crazy natural choices. I am ecstatic to be welcoming Eric Zielinski back to the blog today. He is a health coach and skilled researcher who specializes in natural topics that are right up my alley! From time to time, he’ll be joining us and helping me out by digging into research, as is the case for today’s oily livestock post!

Essential oils… for Livestock??

This past year, the Journal of Parasitology Research highlighted the findings from an interesting study that surveyed Kenyans in Bungoma County to see which essential oils they used to repel brown ear ticks (Rhipicephalus appendiculatus) on their cattle. Evidently, they use essential oils quite a bit.

Can you imagine what a survey like that would look like in the U.S.?

They’d probably get a lot of blank stares and “I don’t use oils on my livestock” kind of answers! Well, after some digging around, they uncovered that Kenyans favor these eight to keep ticks at bay:

1. Southern cone marigold (Tagetes minuta)
2. Tree marigold or “Mexican sunflower” (Tithonia diversifolia)
3. African juniper or “Kenya cedar” (Juniperus procer)
4. Solanecio mannii (no common name in English)
5. African or “popcorn” senna (Senna didymobotrya)
6. White sage or “tickberry” (Lantana camara)
7. African violet tree (Securidaca longepedunculata)
8. Orange bird berry (Hoslundia opposita)

After testing the oils further, the researchers uncovered that they were naturally rich sources of chemicals like cis-ocimene, dihydrotagetone, piperitenone and some other ones that I couldn’t pronounce if I had to. So, what’s the big deal?[Continue Reading]

How to Whitewash Your Barn and Chicken Coop

how to whitewash a barn or chicken coop

Wanna know how you can instantly feel like a homesteading rockstar?

Whitewash something.

I say this because:

(a) It’ll make all your friends give you a weird look (I always enjoy that)

(b) It’s delightfully old-fashioned

(c) It actually does provide some benefits to your barn/coops (besides just making you feel cool)

Whenever I think of whitewashing, my mind instantly goes to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. But before we dive into a bucket of whitewash, let’s talk a bit about why this is something you’d even want to mess with.

What is Whitewash?

Sometimes you’ll hear people referring to “whitewash” as simply painting something with white paint, but in the most traditional sense of the term, whitewash is powdered lime (lime as in limestone, not the green fruit!) mixed with water.

Whitewashing has been a favorite paint/sealant in farms and homestead for centuries because it is effective, simple, and cheap. It’s also safe for animals, and you don’t have to worry about paint fumes.

It’s important to pay attention to what type of lime you are using in your whitewash–be sure to select hydrated lime (also called mason’s lime)– NOT dolomite lime or garden lime. We were able to find ours at our local building supply store, although you might check feed stores too. Hydrated lime is different than the type of lime you spread on the ground/garden, so make sure you have the right stuff!


Why to Whitewash?

Whitewash is the perfect coating if you want a bit of old-fashioned charm, but it also has some practical applications too. The main reason I chose to whitewash my chicken coop is to brighten the dingy, dark wood. Whitewash also has some antibacterial properties, which makes it a handy option for sealing tough-to-clean surfaces against bacteria and insects.… [Continue Reading]

Simple Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

sundried tomato pasta recipe

You are in for a treat today! I am so pleased to be welcoming the amazing Linda from The Organic Kitchen today! Not only are her recipes out of this world, but her food photography is drool-worthy too. I can’t wait to make this simple pasta with some of my home-dried tomatoes!

Hello I am Linda Spiker from The Organic Kitchen. I am thrilled to be guest posting for Jill here at The Prairie Homestead! I love a simple meal, especially when it’s delicious and easy on the wallet. And if it can be made in less than fifteen minutes well, what’s not to like?

This is The Organic Kitchen Sun Dried Tomato Pasta. It’s rich, savory and filling, and light because it contains no meat…but honestly, it’s so savory no one will miss the meat!

When making a meal that has so few ingredients I always recommend that those ingredients are very high quality. I use an organic extra virgin olive oil, just picked basil from my herb garden, fresh garlic, organic sun dried tomatoes, freshly grated Parmesan and a good quality sea salt!


While my pasta cooks, I whip all these gorgeous ingredients together in a food processor…


…and voila! A fresh and delicious sun dried tomato pesto pasta sauce!


Always reserve a little pasta water for thinning…


Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta


  • 16 ounces pasta (any you like, we use Farfalle, cook according to package instructions)
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil (or make your own dried tomatoes!)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (depending on how much of a garlic lover you are)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup roasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 reserved pasta water


Cook the pasta according to package directions and reserve ¼ cup pasta water before straining in colander.… [Continue Reading]

11 Creative Ways to Use Old Egg Cartons

ways to use egg cartons

My name is Jill and I am an egg carton hoarder.

It’s not entirely my fault though… Well, sort of…

People know we have chickens, so people give us egg cartons. Lot of ‘em. Which is awesome, because we do need egg cartons. But we probably don’t need hundreds… *a-hem* I guess I just have a hard time saying “no” to a good carton.

Therefore, I have a giant, precarious stack of them in my basement that falls over and whacks me in the head every time I walk by.

I think I need an egg carton intervention.

Of course, when you’re a homesteader, the most obvious use of egg cartons is to use them to hold your farm-fresh eggs–especially if you are sharing them with family and friends. However, my little flock of chickens can’t seem to keep up with the sheer volume of eggs cartons I’ve been collecting lately…

So it’s time it figure out some alternative ways to use them.

Recycling and composting are two very viable options if you are in a state of egg-carton-overflow like I am, but I’ve also found some more creative uses for those egg cartons that I think you’re gonna love.

11 Creative Ways to Use Egg Cartons

Photo Credit: Upcycle That

Photo Credit: Upcycle That

1. Make Egg Carton Flower Lights: 

A bit of creative cutting, a strand of Christmas lights, and a dab of paint can turn a boring carton into an adorable floral lighting string. Check out this egg carton light tutorial from Upcycle That.

2. Give ‘Em to Your Chicken-Owning Friends:

But not if they have an egg carton hoarding problem. Then you’ll just be enabling them.

3. Grow Seedlings in Egg Cartons

The small cups are the perfect size for smaller seedlings. This post has a bunch of other ideas for frugal seed-starting systems, too.[Continue Reading]