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Don’t Forget The Animals This Christmas

When we first started farming, about 15 years ago, my husband stayed in the city for the weekdays and I stayed on the farm with the children. We were always doing projects to keep us busy and take our minds off of missing Daddy. One year we decided to surprise him by making Christmas treats for the animals. As the years have gone by he is home now, and the tradition has taken on more meaning to our family. We feel it is important to remember the stock in our celebrations. We depend on them for our food and livelihood so we try to recognize that by giving them special treats on occasions such as Christmas.

One year we even included the wild birds in our yard that help keep insects under control. We decorated a large pine tree in our front yard with recycled mesh onion bags filled with meat cutting trimmings for the chickadees along with little baskets of birdseed. My husband named it the Addam’s Family Christmas Tree due to the bags of rotting meat hanging off it (it was a mild year). Most Christmas mornings we make sure to bring out some carrots and apples for the livestock and I send out the turkey giblets for our barn cats. We can’t forget the felines in our yard; without them we would be overrun with rodents. This year we decided to bake special cookies for the livestock, dogs and cats. There are many recipes on the Internet but I wanted one that didn’t contain ingredients such as processed sugars that aren’t a good choice for livestock.

This is the recipe for our goat, sheep, cow and horse cookies. Herbs can be added to suit your animals. For example, dried nettles are said to bring out the dapples on your horses’ coats while dried rosehips help with the immune system.

APPLE AND CARROT LIVESTOCK COOKIES

1 c. sweet feed

2 c. bran OR wheat germ

1 c. flaxseed 4 large carrots

1 c. molasses

1 large grated apple with skin on (no seeds as they contain cyanide)

Mix molasses and grated apple in one bowl. In another bowl mix the dry ingredients. Slowly combine the molasses mixture with the dry ingredients to form a thick dough; add more bran if necessary. Line cookie sheet with foil. Scoop onto a teaspoon, flatten with another teaspoon and scrape the dough lump onto the foil. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Keep checking to make sure they don’t burn. Let cool thoroughly on foil then pop off. They will not come off unless cooled.

For the dogs and cats I wanted something with meat. These recipes can be used for your own pets or packaged prettily and given as gifts to friends’ pets for a Christmas treat.

LIVER TRAINING TREATS

I use whatever liver is in our freezer. I cut it into strips roughly 1/2 X 1/4 inch and as long as you like, then place on a wire mesh tray (I use a cooling rack). Sprinkle with garlic powder, then place in the oven on slow cook or the lowest possible setting and let it cook/dry out for five or six hours or until it appears dry. I leave it out overnight or for a couple of days to dry further, then place in a container. It does not need to be refrigerated. I put some in my walking coat pocket and keep it there for weeks. The critters love it.

BASIC DOG/CAT TREATS

2 eggs 1/4 c. milk

2 c. whole-wheat flour

3 tbsp. wheat germ

Optional — chopped liver, bacon ends, grated cheese (or any meat treat you have)

Preheat oven to 350F. Break eggs into a bowl and stir until blended. Add the wheat germ and milk. Stir until smooth. Add optional protein items if desired. Add whole-wheat flour and mix into egg mixture with your hands. Pat dough into a rectangle 3 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick, then cut it into shapes. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes on one side and turn over and bake 25 minutes on the other side. Cool biscuits on racks. Makes 16 biscuits depending on size of shapes.

With these new Christmas cookies to add to your baking schedule your whole farm will have a special treat this year.

Debbie Chikousky farms at Narcisse, Man.

E-mail her at [email protected]

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