Category Archives: Self sufficiency – animals

Super sustainable, renewable resource: wool!

With living self reliant, things like sustainability and renewable sources become much more important. We don’t want to repair or replace stuff all the time; things should just work. For a long time.
So the quality of our resources is important. And I have a favorite resource: sheep wool! I love it so much; I wear it, sleep on & under it, put it in my shoes and insulate the house with it. It grows back (on the sheep) every year and woolen products are easy to repair.

Why wool is great

Sheepwool is amazing. Just a few crazy facts:

  • Sheep wool takes 600º Celsius before it starts burning. Try it yourself: it is really hard to burn wool. And therefore it is also a great fire extinguisher!
  • Wool can also absorp up to 30% of its own weight in water, without feeling wet.
  • Wool regrows every year (renewable!) and keeps its good properties for about 80 years (sustainable!).
  • Sheep fur even seems to lower CO2 in the air!
Working with wool
Working with wool

The benefit of wearing woolen clothes

Wool breathes, ventilates, and insulates because of the air pockets. Temperature and moisture are regulated, so woolen clothes are nice in warm and cold weather. It protects your body against sudden temperature rises and falls.
But one of the best aspects according to me, is that wool is self cleaning! Because of the lanoline in it (which works also anti bacterial). I hang my wollen clothes in the sun & wind and after a few hours they are “as good as new”! No washing machine needed.
Oh, and by the way: you never ever have to iron woolen products because wool is sort of elastic & jumps back in shape! 🙂

Sheep wool & health

Because wool regulates moisture and temperature, it is not an attractive environment for dust mites or moulds. So if you have some allergies, treat yourself on a nice woolen duvet or blanket!
Sheepskin prevents (and even heals) wounds caused by bedsores (decubitus).
Wool grease (lanoline) is great for your skin. In hand cream it heals your dry hands and softens them.
With many cold related illness (like stiffness, throat ache, ear ache and bronchitis), wool seems to encourage the self healing mechanism of our body. Raw sheepwool, right from the sheep and still greasy, seems to do the best job in this.

Wool as insulator

So now it is only a small step to use wool as insulation for your house. It doesn’t burn (and even kills flames), it “breathes” and regulates temperature.
And the best part: farmers are happy to give you their wool because they have so much of it every year again!
LINKS to sites about wool:

De natuurlijke eigenschappen van wol


In my next blog I will write about what you can do with wool and how you do it. Spinning, carding, felting…

At Bogata Suma I give wool workshops a few times a year, where you can get enthousiastic yourself.


We love chickens

We love our chickens because we love their eggs, their meat and we love to play with them. Yes: we play with our chickens! Games like: “find the hole in the fence” (their favorite) or “Jump to the bread”. They also like to be petted and to be carried around. And I think our chickens love us back because we take good care of them.

Chickens checking out the rabbits
Chickens checking out the rabbits

Good chicken housing
We made a great bedroom for them. It has a north facing window so they can enjoy the first and the last light of the day, but it will never be too hot from direct sunlight. Their bedroom has 2 sticks on the same level so they can all sleep in the same rank.

In the morning we keep them in stable (so we can find their eggs) and after lunch they can stroll in their garden. The chicken garden is a fenced piece of terrain with 2 plum trees and a walnut tree, and lots of blackberry shrubs. It also has a “tipi” made of branches to give them shelter and to make it difficult for birds of prey to find a landing strip.

There is a cage connected to their sleephouse, which they can access through a little door. We only let them use it in winter for extra vitamins (although they eat all these vitamins in no time), and to have a safe outdoor area to get some extra light. It gives us some more time to sleep 🙂

Our chickens in their garden
Our chickens in their garden

Healthy chickens

Of course it is better to prevent diseases than to fight them when they are there, so I have several ways to boost my chickens health. Like giving them the left overs from our herbal tea, especially nettle tea. Or a clove of garlic that I crush, and put in their water. Garlic helps against worms, lice and mites.
Nasturtium leaves and seeds have antiseptic and medicinal properties and are also good wormers.

In their chicken garden we grow lemon balm, rosemary, lavender and fennel to help them being clean from mites and lice. And those herbs grow also on the other side of their garden fence because they like to eat some of the plants!

When I have vegetable seed leftovers, I throw them in their chicken garden for some surprise veggies.

Egg!Fermented grains booster
What yoghurt is for our intestines, are fermented grains for chickens. I fill a big glass jar half with oats or wheat grains, sometimes acompanied with sunflower and/or flax seeds. I fill up the jar with rainwater (or well water or mineral water), leaf the cap off and wait for 2 or 3 days. When it smells good (you can smell the fermenting process), I start feeding my 10 chickens with 2 spoons a day stirred under their regular (corn) food.

Fermenting grains for your chickens improves its enzyme content and increases its levels of vitamins B, C and K. It also makes food more digestible, and boosts the protein level. Their shit is more solid and smells less.

You can find a great article on fermented food for chickens on Natural chicken keeping.

Chicken rescue tea
When a chicken accidentally eats chicken shit (because it fell into their water or the chicken ate something from the unclean ground), it can become ill. It just sits there, and doesn’t want to eat or drink. And when you don’t do anything, it dies.

My chicken rescue remedy is a herbal tea with:
– 50% chamomile (anti-bacterial, anti inflammation, with stomach problems, painkiller)
– 15-20% nettle (full of vitamins, minerals. cleans and strengthens the body, diuretic, strengthens immune system, stimulates intestines, diarrhea & flatulence).
and the other 30-35% are herbs like
– wild marjoram (boosts the immune system and cleanses the body of bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast and other germs),
– dandeli
on (detoxifies, cleans blood, cleans lymphatic system),
– hyssop (anti septic, stimulates the gastro intestinal system),
– calendula (anti inflammation, detoxifying, blood cleaning, stimulates liver and stomach, helps digestion)

I feed the chicken this (cooled) tea with a pipet, at least 3 times but more if I can, and the next day she is better!

Eating our chickens
We don’t have our chickens for meat. We have them for the fun of it (they are definitely in our top 3 favorite animals) and for their eggs. Only when our chickens are old and they retire from laying eggs after a happy life, we will eat them.