Reliable Recipes or Time Wasters

Home-made doesn't mean it's arguably better than what you grab from a store.

People love a home-made remedy. Many blindly believe it must be better than something store-bought. Make-your-own fly spray is a big favorite, followed by ointments, I’d guess. You can find recipes for almost anything we need for our horses – even supplements and feeds. That���s great, but I’m perplexed by the interest. A lot of folks must have more free time than I do.

Maybe the grass on the other side of the fence is home-made.

I am thankful for manufactured products. Sure, I want to save money and that’s why I usually choose a Horse Journal Best Buy, but I appreciate the convenience of knowing there’s a reliable remedy readily available. Rarely will I mix up my own concoction. It’s not worth my time, and the savings is usually negligible. 

It stands to reason that if there’s a recipe out there the manufacturer has researched it and would duplicate it if it were indeed “better.” With few exceptions – usually involving a specific horse with a unique problem – it is not. But home-made is often perceived to work better. We expect a commercial product to perform to perfection, but we give that home-made recipe a lot of leeway when it comes to being called “effective.”

We frequently get requests for a fly-spray recipe, almost always including original Skin So-Soft. That product has been proven repeatedly to not offer any more bug-repellent properties than what you would expect from anything containing a little citronella. Even Avon says Skin So-Soft isn’t a bug repellent; they now market a Skin So-Soft Bug Repellent (very, very smart, Avon). Still, the legend remains.

Of course, I’m not immune to the appeal of make-your-own products. This past spring I saw a recipe for home-made weed killer on Facebook (where else?). It claimed the recipe was cheaper than Roundup and worked within a similar time frame.

But this Facebook recipe included “blue Dawn Original” dishwashing detergent. I was mesmerized. That stuff is awesome. My husband mixes it with water and uses it to destroy small bee nests. I use it to clean my brushes, nylon halters, buckets, tubs and other things in the barn. (No, I don’t bathe the horses in dishwashing liquid nor do I use it on my leather tack because I know the pH is not optimal for skin of any type.)

So, excited about saving money and feeling confident that anything with Dawn in it must be good, I printed out the recipe and gave it to my husband. His reaction? “It’s more expensive to make than what I’m using and a lot more effort. Why would I bother?”

I was dumbfounded. I should have known that!

Some folks will counter that the Facebook recipe doesn’t include chemicals. Really? Have you read the ingredients in Dawn? Remember, prescription drugs are chemicals. Hemlock is “natural.” 

Yes, I do understand why you make your own product, if you have the time and desire to use a recipe and the recipe is truly effective. But avoiding a product because it’s “commercial” or from a “big corporation” is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. I buy cookies from Wegman’s bakery because they’re really good and, when you factor in time and ingredients, less expensive. Plus, they last a little longer – Aack! Preservatives!

I guess my life forces me to save time anywhere I can. Running around to a couple of stores to gather several ingredients that I then have to drag home and mix together in a container (if I can find one; probably would have to buy that, too) before I can apply it to my horse is a lot more work than grabbing a jar at the store. And, as far as the cookies go, well, I can probably use the preservatives.

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