Welcome to this week’s blog from the Organic Shepherdess.
Today I am going to share an easy recipe to soothe dry skin, using an everyday food – oats. I was first introduced to using oats for dry skin conditions by the British botanist, author, and presenter, Dr David J. Bellamy, OBE many years ago in a television show. At the time, I was looking for a treatment for eczema that didn’t involve steroid cream. Although steroids are sometimes necessary, I wanted to find a natural, everyday alternative.
In the programme, he placed some porridge oats in a cotton flannel, tied it to make a bag, and hooked it over the tap of running hot water. The result was soft and milky bath water. I thought it was worth a go, so I found an old flannel and followed his lead. As promised, the oaty bath soothed my itchy and dry skin.
… However, I was left with a horrible, sticky, porridge pie in my flannel. Ugh!! Although the remedy was effective, it wasn’t really practical for a busy mum, so I set about making it more convenient. The result was my Oaty Dumpling.
Here’s the recipe for my Oaty Dumpling:
1. Cut a square of muslin cloth (organic if possible), to a size of about 20cm x 20cm (8 inches x 8 inches). You can use cheesecloth or similar. The important thing is that the oats are contained within it, so if the weave is quite loose, use a larger piece and fold it over.
You can see that my edges are quite rough, but you can fold and stitch them if you wish (and have time!).
2. Cut a length of about 30 cm (12 inches) of garden string or jute.
3. Measure 25g (about 3 tablespoons) of organic porridge oats. I prefer the jumbo rolled oats as they are less powdery.
4. Lay your muslin cloth out and heap the oats into the centre.
5. Make a dumpling by gathering the muslin cloth full of oats together and tying with the garden string. Leave a long tail so you can attach it to the bath tap if you want to.
6. Run the hot (not too hot though!) water into the bath, through the dumpling attached to the tap, or float the dumpling in the hot water, so that the oats release their milk.
7. You can see (and feel) how the oats turn the water into a lovely milky solution if you put them into a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
I do this to make a lovely hand soak when I’ve been gardening and have rough, grubby, fingers and nails!
8. When you’ve finished, the whole thing can go into your home compost bin. You could probably use it a few times, but please remember that once you add water, you will start to invite microbes to the party! To be on the safe side, just use the dumpling once.
If you use strong muslin, you could empty the dumpling into the compost bin, wash the muslin cloth and reuse the string in the garden.
Try it at home and see what you think – please share your experiences and ideas by leaving a comment below.
If you fancy learning more about making your own organic skincare, have a look at our workshops.
… And now, The Last Word… from Adge the Alpaca.
All this talk of oats is making me hungry! Although my natural diet is mainly grass from the Andes high plains, I do like a treat now and again. We’re very lucky to live in fields that are lined with fruit trees, and it’s amazing how high you can reach by balancing on your hind legs and stretching. One advantage of having a long neck!
Because we alpacas come from the Andes where there is much more UV light, we need to have supplements when we live in other countries with lower light levels, such as the UK, USA, Canada (brrrr!) and even Australia. We can get Vitamins A, D and E from our food, but we also need a top up in the winter months.
Although we can be shy and nervous creatures, we are tough when we need to be. I would say that we are THE most important animals on the smallholding! We protect the hens and lambs from predators…okay I know there are no lions, bears or tigers (Oh my!) in the UK, but there are foxes! Smaller, maybe, but they can still decimate a flock of hens or sheep. That’s why we are often called upon to be protectors…
Oh I like that …. Adge The Protector! I’ll remind the cats of my title next time they trespass into our field… Adge The Protector… hmmm.