Monday, November 17, 2008

a must have

There are a handful of things I would consider must-haves on a small farm. Little tools you use nearly every day, but in themselves seem kinda of ubiquituos. Some that come to mind are those stretchy gloves that are partly dipped in latex that help you in a the garden and picking up chickens. Another would be a t-post pounder (which I use nearly every week when a sheep uproots a post of bends one over). But the most vital of them all happens to come in a little green tin, and without its aid I may have gotten into a lot of trouble.

Bag Balm is a salve that I use on everyone. If I have a bug bite that itches, I slap on some bag balm. If Jazz gets a cut on his paw, I clean it and then slap on some Bag Balm. If I trim a hoof too close to the quick and it bleeds, I shout to the friend next to me "Go in the house and bring the Bag Balm!" After I tattoo the rabbit's ears, you guessed it - they get a layer of Bag Balm over the fresh ink. I remember my mentor Diana from Idaho telling me about a cow who lost an udder on a barb wire fence and thanks to Bag Balm, healed up just fine. I tell you this stuff is top shelf.

Bag Balm is a tan salve that has the consistency of a "clean" petroleum jelly. So it's less gross. It includes a mixture of lanolin and hydroxy and together as far as I'm concerned, they can heal the world. (By the by, as a shepherd-in-training, I also like buying a product that uses lanolin). It was invented in 1899 right here in Vermont and I doubt the mixture has changed much since. And the top of the tin bears the same dairy cow and roses that most companies would have considered out of date sometime around 1964 and changed to some godawful typeface and laser treatment. But they didnt cave to the times, and as a designer who loves old stuff, I appreciate that.

If you don't have a tin of this in the house, and you still have pets, livestock, skin or live in a world of bugs. Go buy some.


Blogger Mama Pea said...

Hand quilters also go through tins of the stuff. Our fingers get really torn up by feeling for the needle as it exits on the underside of the quilt. It also comes in a teeny-tiny little tin you can throw right in with other quilting supplies. I, too, hope they never change the design of the tin!

November 17, 2008 at 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are allergic to lanolin (as I am) BEWARE! I love this stuff and used to use it all the time with my horses, but eventually it ate through the skin on my fingers. It has a very high concentration of lanolin, so if you're sensitive to it, Bag Balm is not for you. I do love the tins, however.

November 17, 2008 at 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's also great for chapped lips! Just slather on a good coat before going to bed. When you rise in the morning, presto! soft lips!

November 17, 2008 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

It's also fantastic for those of us who are breastfeeding.

November 17, 2008 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger EJ said...

A quick google search on Bag Balm for human use: "Bag Balm, the product container itself, ONLY suggests its use for animals only. What this means, is that this product does NOT have to follow FDA guidelines since it is a product NOT intended for human use. What does it mean to not have FDA-approval? The FDA requires all cosmetics to be used by humans to 1)be made in a sterile environment, including the ingredients themselves (i.e. water with no bacteria, hairnets and gloves, etc.) 2) list all ingredients on the packaging from the most to the least 3) ingredients not approved for human use to NOT be used 4) strongly suggests that products be tested for safety. What does this mean to you? Basically, you can have a product that was not made in a sterile environment, that doesn't list all the ingredients, that may include ingredients that could potentially be harmful to you, and the safety of the product is questionable."

Looks like good stuff for animals but I wouldn't put it on my lips or use it for nursing breasts....

November 17, 2008 at 8:20 PM  
Blogger s said...

i think that from now on, whenever i reach for this stuff, i will forever hear your voice shouting, "go get the bag balm! RUN!"

good stuff, that bag balm.

November 17, 2008 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger Country Girl said...

I've used bag balm for years on my animals. As well, it works great as a foot balm or if you have really dry cracked hands. (Just put gloves/socks on to keep from making a mess.) It is the best udder balm on the market.

November 17, 2008 at 9:24 PM  
Blogger Jocele said...

I grew up with bag balm on the ranch, but I thought it was gross then. Now I love it. We used it all the time for diaper rash for my son too. That's what they gave us in the NICU. Love love love it. And another fan of the old fashioned tin here too.

November 17, 2008 at 11:54 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I know here in Vermont Magazine, the company actually runs all its ads for people. Like "fix those chapped hands" and such. So while it isn't FDA approved, I think it's been in practice so long most people are okay with that.

November 18, 2008 at 6:26 AM  
Blogger pat said...

Hey Jenna, Check out all the Vermont made salves (with many local ingredients) for your personal use!

November 18, 2008 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

I wish I could get behind Bag Balm, but I can't stand the smell. My husband bought me a tin of it and I can't even open it.

November 18, 2008 at 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last night we discovered that a long standing warty thing on my dog had broken apart. It was sort of open and needed some cleaning and I said to my husband: "Wish we had some Bag Balm." and he insisted that this was not a use for it. So, who's right? Wife or husband? Bag Balm for slightly open wound on dog or not?

We went with hydrogen peroxide and bacitracin.

November 18, 2008 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I use it on open dog cuts all the time. Annie had a gash on her neck from an opened tick bite and I friggin lathered it on. Now it's scabbed over a day later and healing fine.

November 18, 2008 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger Moon said...

Moesewco...With the cow that lost a teat on the barbed wire fence, we sprayed iodine into the open wound and then loaded in the Bag Balm daily. She healed up nicely with no ill effects and went on to birth and nurse 3 more calves while she was with me. Do remember that a cow lays in manure regularly. The reason for putting the balm in her bag's open wound was to prevent the normal "ick" in her environment from populating it with bacteria. I would think that putting it in a dog's wounds would serve the same purpose.

November 20, 2008 at 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in follow up to EJ and the epinions link, here's a site that explains the chemical (8-HYDROXYQUINOLINE SULFATE)in particular question in bag balm. it's also in denture cream, hair color, body powder, deodorant and oral pain relief - all skin contact items.

I had just seen this Cosmetics Database link in a back issue of Vegetarian Times.

For the record, my family has used Bag balm for hands and feet for 40 plus years. I have become more accepting of the smell, but it still takes a dedicated 20 minutes or so to work it in to my hands before i go to bed.

November 25, 2008 at 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my continuing education and again in relation to EJ's comment and the epinions link, read this. I followed this link from an article on mother earth news.

"Does FDA approve cosmetics before they go on the market?
FDA's legal authority over cosmetics is different from other products regulated by the agency, such as drugs, biologics, and medical devices. Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA premarket approval authority, with the exception of color additives. However, FDA may pursue enforcement action against violative products, or against firms or individuals who violate the law."
In the spirit of sharing what I learn.

November 25, 2008 at 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, Bag Balm has changed. it's a weak version of what it used to be. The original Bag Balm (the kind with with lid that has a sharp edge) had .5% hydroxy quinoline sulfate. The new stuff has .3%, and is a pale yellow (like store bought egg yolks).

November 27, 2008 at 3:32 PM  

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