Therapy animals are largely associated with easing end-of-life care or aiding the blind, but the role of animals in rehabilitation and recovery is vast. Therapy animals can be incorporated into many diverse programs that assist all types of patients, including the speech impaired, recovering alcoholics, abuse victims, and many more.
Farms and farm animals have become a popular form of assisted animal therapy for the varied experiences they offer patients. Are you interested in animal assisted therapy? Read on to learn the role of farms and farmers in animal assisted therapy.
Image via Flickr by solarpluvia
What is Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)?
AAT is often a clinical method of socializing animals and humans for therapeutic treatment and benefit. The definition of AAT could include programs used to manage mental, emotional, and behavioral issues to actual programs that psychically aid those with disabilities. According to Scientific American, there are two types of ways to implement AAT: recreational and psychological.
"Some uses of animals are purely recreational: their goal is to allow their human companions to have fun. There is scant dispute that interacting with friendly animals can 'work' for such purposes, because such activities often make people feel happier temporarily. To show that AATs work, however, researchers must demonstrate that animals produce enduring effects on people's psychological health, not merely short-term changes in mood, such as pleasure, relaxation or excitement."
Much of farm-based AAT is often recreational, purely based on the ways patients interact with animals. However, this doesn't mean farm animals don't offer psychological therapy as well.
Different Types of AAT Farm Programs
AAT must be well-organized for maximum benefit. This generally means defining where and how farm animals will be used for therapeutic purposes. Common types of AAT farm programs include:
Equine Therapy: Since horses are easily accessible in farm environments, Equine Therapy is a particularly popular form of AAT. The therapy typically involves trained horses. In some states, the farm owner must be certified to run this type of program.
Equine Therapy is empowering to individuals with physical disabilities; therefore, the treatment goes beyond recreational. It's possible that Equine Therapy could have positive long-term effects.
Domesticated Farm Animal Therapy: Many farm owners also choose to include domesticated animals in their programs. Domesticated animals are considered any animal that can live within a human environment. These types of programs typically incorporate dogs and cats; however, it's not uncommon for highly intelligent pigs to be included in AAT.
Domesticated Farm Animal Therapy (DFAT) programs are often used for bonding. For this reason, DFAT is beneficial to abuse victims or those with autism and other emotional conditions.
Image via Flickr by Bob n Renee
Farmers Empowering Through Social Work
In a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, it was found that, "Both farmers and therapists believed that AAT with farm animals could contribute positively to therapy to a large or very large extent, with farmers being significantly more positive. Most of the therapists thought that AAT with farm animals contributes to increased skills in interactions with other humans."
Empowering through social work starts with the farmer's interest in AAT, as well as the patients who benefit. A similar study noted, "Social support by the farmer appears to be important. Positive effects are best documented for persons with affective disorders or clinical depression." If you're interested in starting an AAT program on your farm, be prepared to interact heavily with patients as they undergo treatment; your role in AAT could positively impact your patient as much or more than the animals they work together with.
Opening Up Your Farm
Since the role of the farmer is customary in farm-based AAT, it's important to receive proper training to facilitate an AAT program on your farm. A degree in social work provides an important foundation for community practices, direct practices, and mental health.
An accredited farm and farmer will likely appeal to more potential patients, giving you and your farm greater opportunity to affect change within your community.
As a farmer, what interests you about animal assisted therapy? Have you already implemented an animal assisted therapy program on your farm? What challenges, if any, did you encounter? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you live in an area with hard water, it seems logical to have a water-softening system installed. After all, no one wants bathtub rings, spotty dishes, or dull-looking hair. However, these systems use salt for the water softening process and can create challenges for the environment, water conservation, and water management. Today, water softener alternatives that use no sodium or potassium in the process represent the latest water technology and don't present environmental problems.
Healthy Plants and Landscaping
Image via Flickr by Nicholas Lundgaard
If you use softened water on landscaping or plants, the salt from these systems causes a build-up of salt in the soil over time. This high concentration of salt causes a decrease in the oxygen levels in the soil, especially if you live in an area that doesn’t get much rainfall. The soil begins to swell and plants are unable to receive the necessary nutrients to their roots.
As a result, plants eventually die of thirst. Salt rings and yellow tips on grass, trees, and plants are an indication of salt stress. Since water softener alternatives don't use salt, plants and trees can thrive and be healthy.
Non-Poisoned Soil for City Water Sources
Unlike traditional water softening systems, water softener alternatives don't poison the soil. When water softening systems are used, salt is deposited in the city’s wastewater from everyday activities like showering, operating the washer machine, and using the toilet. The water that you use is likely the city’s water source for community agriculture and also used to irrigate parks.
Over time, the high salt concentration impedes the city’s agricultural system along with preventing new plants from growing in parks. With water softeners alternatives that don’t use salt, you can help support your city’s endeavors to maintain picturesque parks and its agriculture.
No Harm to the Environment
There's always an issue of environmental harm with cities that use water softeners. For example, where's the salt from the water discharged? In many cities, it’s discharged into local streams, lakes, or oceans. The high concentration of salt has a detrimental effect on both fish and plants that live in the water. Water softener alternatives contribute to the life of fish and plants; they don't require any water treatment before discharge, too.
Although salt-based water softeners propose to conserve water, they actually use more. When the soil is compacted with salt, it doesn’t absorb enough water like porous soil. The result is that more water is needed to get the best results. With water softener alternatives, there's no wasted water.
Lower Operating Costs and Less Energy Consumption
Water softener alternatives can save consumers from $100 to $200 a year on salt refill expenses when compared to salt-based softening systems. Since no electricity is required, there's also less energy consumption. These systems also increase the efficiency of hot water heaters.
Conventional ion exchange softeners result in salty water with a high sodium content. This can exacerbate health problems for those with high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health issues. Since water softener alternatives don't use sodium, the cardiovascular system is improved and health risks are reduced.
Water softener alternatives are ideal for those who want an eco-friendly solution to salt-based systems. In addition, they're a good choice in areas where conventional softeners have been banned because of negative environmental impact and for those who prefer to keep healthy minerals in their drinking water. All around, water softener alternatives are a smart choice for consumers.
Today, there are many water softening alternatives on the market for both residences and businesses. Life Source offers a revolutionary water softening product for commercial and industrial applications. Its Scale Solver is a high-performance scale prevention system that's effective for boilers, water heaters, fixtures, and other appliances.
Technology can be beneficial too. Products like Life Source Water’s home filter system can help homeowners to get better tasting water without using sodium at all. They use high-grade granular activated carbon that filters that water from tastes like chlorine while adding nothing to the water.
Both water softening systems and water filtering systems provide water the way Mother Nature intended. Enjoy all the benefits of both.
Social media is a great way to stay connected with friends, but that’s not the only thing you can do. You can also show off what you’re eating and see what others are eating, too. Take a look at why people share photos on social media and how it inspires us to bake.
Instagram Lets Us Show Off What We Bake
People like using Instagram because it's an instant way to show friends and the world what you’re up to. All you do is take a photo and then choose a filter to enhance it. Then, you can share the photo with all of your friends. This social media site was bought by Facebook, so the two are commonly used in conjunction with each other.
For instance, Instagram photos of food can be streamed through Facebook. People are constantly posting photos of what they're eating or baking to show off. And this encourages others to do the same.
Pinterest Helps Us Find Baking Ideas
People also like to share what they're baking on Pinterest. You could seriously spend an entire day looking through the baking pins on Pinterest and never get through them all. The difference between Pinterest and Instagram is that Pinterest is more about showing off recipes and DIY tips. It's a platform for bloggers and others to show what they can do. Karlynn Johnston says, “Bloggers/food writers are in the entertainment industry. Plain and simple.” They use Pinterest as a form of marketing. And people don’t complain because they want the baking ideas.
Facebook Helps Us See What Our Friends Are Baking
Just like Pinterest, Facebook is the perfect place to show off what you're baking and see what your friends are baking, too. The difference is that Facebook lets you post the recipe along with the photo without additional links. Pinterest prefers people to just share photos. Addie Broyles says, “… eating is one of society’s most essential communal activities, and sharing food photos virtually is the next best thing to eating together.” So, go have lunch with your friends through social media.
Twitter Lets Us Brag About What We're Baking
If you login to Twitter, you’ll probably see a few tweets about what people are eating. Tweets about food show a person’s personality and lifestyle. It's more than just bragging about what they're baking. For instance, you can sometimes tell if a person is a vegetarian, allergic to wheat, or on a gluten-free diet, simply from a tweet.
Dr. Valerie Taylor from the University of Toronto says that posting photos of your meals on social media sites is a sign of an eating disorder. The reason for this is that most people like to post pictures of themselves with friends or having fun. Constantly posting photos of food leads to unhealthy eating habits. If you’re starting to show signs of symptoms of obesity or diabetes, it might be worth your time to check out Health Testing Centers guide.
Of course, a mild level of food photo posting is fine and even encouraged on social media sites. You just have to find a balance and watch what you eat.
Anyone who has ever planned an outdoor event will tell you that there's more to it than what you'll probably initially expect. When the success of your party is at the mercy of the elements, there are so many things that can go wrong – it can be discouraging to even the most experienced party planner. Whether you're putting together a beautiful wedding reception, a birthday party, or a simple barbecue, it'll be sure to go infinitely smoother if you have these three essentials.
image via Flickr
A Solid Pest Control Strategy
The last thing you want your guests to worry about is getting eaten alive by bugs. The best way to prevent it from happening at your party is by utilizing a multi-tactical approach.
Treat the area with bug repellent ahead of time to get rid of any existing nests and eggs. Treating it ahead of time will cut down on the all-too-familiar smell of chemical treatments.
Strategically place plants that naturally repel bugs around the area. Focus on the perimeter, as well as places where people will be likely to congregate, such as the food table and the game area. Lemongrass, lemon balm, dahlias, dill, garlic, lavender, marigolds, petunias, and chives are all natural bug repellents, and they make lovely add-ons to outdoor wedding decor as well. Go to town on incorporating these natural bug-busters into your party's decor and avoid having to spray everyone down with nasty bug spray.
Invest in decorative citronella candles and torches to ward off any remaining bugs and add a soft ambiance to the party's atmosphere.
Keeping the bugs at bay will be one of the best things you can do to make your guests comfortable. You want them to leave with happy memories, not miserable bug bites.
Menu Items that Reflect the Season
All parties should include food that's in line with the current season, but this is especially the case when it comes to outdoor parties. When the shindig is outside, guests are especially observant of the weather, so it's a nice touch to let the season help you decide what to put on the menu.
Autumn and winter events are great for comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, pumpkin pie, stuffed mushrooms, apple recipes, and sangria to drink. Menu items for spring and summer shindigs should gear more toward fresh fruits, veggies, grilled options, and light beverages such as lemonade and iced tea. Check out some healthier alternatives that won't leave your guests in food comas. Since guests to outdoor parties will have few opportunities to wash their hands, avoid offering messy foods such as barbecue ribs or corn on the cob. Stick to serving finger foods that can be served with toothpicks and keep everyone's hands nice and clean.
Inclement Weather Alternatives
Of course, every outdoor party should have a backup plan for when the weather doesn't cooperate. One of the simplest solutions is to rent a party tent. Even if it doesn't rain, guests may find it to be a nice break from the sun's rays or any harsh winds. Chances are you've planned an outdoor party to avoid bringing it into your home. But some backyard party hosts have the luxury of an indoor rec room that can serve as a backup area for the party. If this is an option for you, go ahead and plan to use it – but hope that you don't have to.
Rain isn't the only way Mother Nature can ruin your party plans. Extreme heat or unexpected cold fronts can also put a damper on things. If you live in an area where temperatures fluctuate significantly, plan for both extremes. Arrange to set up a misting fan and keep plenty of water on hand in case it gets super hot. Patio space heaters are also helpful additions to a party tent, should the temperature drop unexpectedly
As you make the major plans for your outdoor party, keep these essentials in the back of your mind. As with many things, it's always best to plan for the worst and hope for the best. No matter what the weather has in store the day of your party, you'll be ready with these tips. Please feel free to share any outdoor party planning wisdom you have with us in the comments below.
Keeping your house cool during the summer doesn’t mean you have to give up on your green endeavors. In fact, there are plenty of ways to get your home’s interior temperature down without the utilities bill going up. With environmental friendliness in mind, the following six tips will help you keep your house cool without burning a hole in your wallet or the ozone layer.
Ventilate, Ventilate, Ventilate
Ventilation is the art of getting hot air out of your home and replacing it with cooler air. OK, so it’s not an art, but it’s definitely a helpful tip that'll keep your home’s temperature cool during the long summer months. To properly ventilate your house, all you need are windows and good timing.
During the day, hot air collects in your home through natural heating and heat absorption. To ventilate that warm air, simply open your windows when you notice the temperature dropping at night. The hot air will naturally escape, and the cooler night air will take its place.
Turn on the Fans
If you can’t tell already, ventilation is pretty important when it comes to keeping your house cool and environmentally friendly during the summer. The ventilation tip above is great, but there's a way to kick the ventilation process up a notch: ceiling and window fans.
When outdoor temperatures begin to drop at night, open your windows and place a window fan on the east side of the house, pulling air in and another window fan on the west side of the house pushing air out. Doing so will expedite the ventilation process. Likewise, get those ceiling fans going at night – but just remember that ceiling fans cool people, not rooms.
Landscape for Shade
If your home is exposed to direct sunlight for more than two hours a day, it can raise interior temperatures by 10 degrees or more. Planting tall shrubbery along the east and west-facing sides of your house can cut down on exposure and naturally keep your house cool.
Likewise, planting bushy, low-lying shrubs or installing trellises around your outdoor air conditioning unit will also provide shade that helps it run more efficiently. Whether you’re trying to beat the heat in your Florida new home or you’re looking for ways to keep cool in your current one, remember that shade-smart landscaping goes a long way.
Avoid Heat Producing Appliances
Your home is probably full of electronic appliances, and although most of them don’t generate much heat when in use, some of them do. Try to avoid using the top three heat-producing appliances during the day: the oven, the clothes dryer, and the dishwasher.
These hot potato appliances use heat as their main function, which does the job but also increases the interior temperature of your home. If possible, only use the oven at night or early in the morning. In addition, wash and hand dry dishes and hang dry your clothes. It’ll keep your house cool, your energy usage low, and it’s great for the environment.
Keep the Air Conditioner Running Like an Eco-Friendly Champ
When the summer unleashes record-breaking temperatures and your house is hot enough to bake bread, it’s probably time to turn on the AC. Before you go running your air conditioner around the clock, first remember to clean the filter. A dirty filter uses much more energy than a clean one.
In addition, remember the thermostat rule: 74 degrees during the day and 78 degrees at night. If your AC has to drop five degrees or more to reach the desired temperature, it’s working too hard, which isn’t good for you or the environment.
Make Use of Good Blinds
Ultraviolet rays can raise temperatures through the roof, especially during the summer. A great way to keep those rays out is by installing blinds throughout your home. Not all blinds are built the same when it comes to blocking sunlight, so skip the mini blinds and choose neutral colored, wide slat wood blinds for the greatest light blocking potential.
By following the green tips above, you’ll keep your home’s interior cool without spending a fortune in air conditioning costs.