We had a murderous visit by a sly Reynard to the duck pen overnight. Every time you become complacent Reynard will take advantage of the smallest opportunity. We lost Clarissa, a beautiful large white Aylesbury duck. We thought we had also lost Jennifer her pair (the Two Fat Ladies - Clarissa & Jennifer) however I found Jennifer wounded in the garden covered in blood and very traumatised.
Emergency first aid - a dose of Rescue Remedy primarily for the duck and a dose for me as well; clean the blood away, assess the wounds, antiseptic powder, then a warm contained space with plenty of water with glucose or honey. Jennifer slept most of the day, but it was clear that she would require antibiotics. A visit by the vet, some pain relief and antibiotics, now five days later Jenifer is still alive although not out of the woods. However it is clear she is a survivor and not of faint heart. She greets me every morning with a little quack and sits quietly during the day enjoying the sun.
Unfortunately I can offer no guarantees on how to fox proof you poultry pens other than for trial and error, but I can provide some basic information on poultry first aid. Shock is the major danger and cause of death for poultry when surviving the traumatic event. Rescue Remedy is excellent initial treatment for shock in all poultry and also can be a great help to you the owner. If there are no obvious injuries, keeping your traumatised poultry warm and contained is an essential component for managing shock. Make sure the bird has water with honey or glucose. Hopefully your beautiful hen or duck will survive the next 12 hours and will be well on the way to recovery.
Any injuries your bird may have sustained will require different considerations and actions.
It is possible to manage many injuries without veterinary intervention, but this should not be attempted without some basic knowledge of animal first aid and a basic understanding of their physiology, welfare and characteristics. Always consult your local vet with any concerns.
If you want to know more about animal first aid please see our on-farm course in July on Basic Animal Care and Welfare. The course aims to provide practical knowledge and skills to manage livestock on a small scale.
May has finally seen the arrival of some cool weather and frosts. After the very warm April it is not surprising that we are feeling unusually cold with this change.
Just as we are feeling the cold so is the garden. While many vegetables can cope with the light frosts we are currently experiencing, it is beneficial to provide them with some support. Seaweed products (Seasol) can be used to to increase plant resistance to frost. Foliar applications take about a week to be effective and can also be helpful when plants are damaged by a frost, to stimulate healthy new growth. Regular (weekly) applications of a seaweed liquid fertilizer during our cold months can be a beneficial routine. While the use of seaweed foliar sprays can provide some support for plants during light frosts, to maintain healthy strong plants that keep growing though our extremely cold climate and harsh frost season, frost protection fabrics are essential.
Plastic can provide very good protection, but does not necessarily create a healthy growing environment as it does not allow for good air circulation or water penetration. In our low rainfall location and our current drought, preventing water penetration into the garden is not recommended. Agricultural fabrics overcome both air circulation and water penetration issues. There are a number of fabrics that can be used to provide adequate frost protection.
The first thing to remember is that we are not aiming to grow things out of season, but we are aiming to provide support and a level of protection to our winter crops. This support and protection includes;
The importance of local food systems Part 2
"A Farmers’ Market is predominantly a fresh food market... that provides an environment for farmers and specialty food producers to sell farm-origin and associated value-added specialty foods..., and plant products, directly to customers.” Australian Farmers market Association
The Braidwood Farmers Market has been operating since November 2013 and is possibly if not the first, cold climate Farmer’s Market that began operating in the region. The SAGE markets in Moruya commenced in early 2013 but located on the coast it is not within our climate zone. The Southern Harvest Markets in Bungendore did not commence until 2015.
The Braidwood Farmers market has very basic rules with a primary focus on local food production. These include that, all produce should be sold by the principal producer; Re-sellers are not permitted; value added produce is to be... derived primarily from the vendors property or from within the geographic boundaries; and cooked/processed foods should... preferable utilise local produce and where possible, obtained from other stallholders. While many other markets across the region have become increasingly dominated by ready to eat food vendors with no connection to food that is grown in the region Braidwood Farmers Market has remained essentially a local food producers market.
Between these three vegetable produces Braidwood Farmers Market has an extensive range of seasonal produce, that ensures market goers can source all their weekly vegetable needs.
Another little known fact is that the Araluen valley, a unique pocket of temperate climate is located within our LGA. The Harrison’s farm is in the Araluen Valley and this ensures that Bradiwood Farmers Market always has a range of produce available well ahead of their cool climate colleagues. Harrisons also operate the last large peach orchard in the valley and for that matter the district.
Braidwood Farmers market is certainly fulfilling its role in the local food economy and provides an excellent opportunity for co-producers (consumers) not only to have a direct link and role in the agricultural process but to purchase an incredible range of truly local food.
The Braidwood Farmers Market is on this Saturday at the National Theater. It operates the first & third Saturday of the month from 8.30 to 12.30.
A Local food system “describes a method of food production and distribution that is geographically localized, rather than national and/or international...In general, local or regional food systems are associated with sustainable agriculture, while the global industrial food system is reliant upon industrial agriculture.”
“Is a collaborative network that integrates sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management in order to enhance the environmental, economic, and social health of a particular area”
So why is this important?
It is clear that not is all well in our food and farming systems and often our food is causing harm rather than nourishment. We are eating a disproportionate amount of highly processed foods and we have lost any real connection to food production. Mostly we see food as coming from large supermarkets with our food choices being manipulated by advertising and big business. Farmers and the environment are bearing the cost of Coles and Woolies so called 'cheap food'
Let’s look at some basic facts about the current food production system based on industrial agriculture and global food empires. According to information from the FAO (United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation) Global food empires control 80% of world agriculture and promotes monoculture farming. Industrial agriculture is:
Local food systems and local food economies are about changing these appalling statistics
How can we help create this change?
We need to recognise that there is no such thing as cheap food. Up until the 1960’s a farmers received 90% of the $ value of the food produced; today the farmer gets 10%. This has to change. Another economic viewpoint is possible and necessary. It is time to reconsider our role as consumers. We need to go beyond the passive role of consuming and take an interest in those who produce our food; how they produce it; and the problems they face in doing so. In actively supporting food producers, we become part of the production process. The term co-producer was coined by Slow Food to highlight how collectively our consumer choices can bring great change to how food is cultivated, produced and distributed.
As co-producers we do have the power and ability to create change.
A co-producer relationship is one of mutual support and commitment between farmers “consumers” . When “consumers” obtain food from local farmers, they are directly supporting sustainable agriculture in their community as well as receiving the freshest available produce. This relationship between producers and consumers can underpin the kind of understanding that leads to long-term commitment and tolerance amongst consumers. It can also encourage consumers to consider their wider behaviour and practices, perhaps leading to more radical changes to production–consumption relationships. Through our food choices we can collectively influence how food is cultivated, produced and distributed, and as a result bring about great change.
Next week (part 2) I will look at the role Farmers Markets have in (re)developing, sustainable and local food systems.
I had planned to talk about the increased number of pests in the garden due to our very temperate weather through March & April but this week as the weather is cooling down and we have had a light frost, the infestation of aphids and white cabbage moth in particular will soon disappear. Although there will still be a need to deal with the progeny from the cabbage moth over the next few weeks. So perhaps it would still be a good idea to discuss the management of these pesky caterpillars.
The eggs of the cabbage moth are usually laid on the underside of the leaves; are quite small and white. These can be removed by simply rubbing them off. The eggs hatching result in small green munching caterpillars. Just as the eggs can be removed by hand so can the caterpillars. Picking them of can be a very effective pest management strategy in a small garden but can be a time consuming task in a large garden or with a very heavy infestation. Exclusion fabrics and decoys can be effective deterrents but if you have a garden bed of eaten brassicas these strategies come a bit late.
If they are eating your plants at this stage, you will need to consider some type of organic chemical control. Dipel is a biological control that is highly effective against most species of caterpillars. It is a bacterial stomach poison for all caterpillars, which is mixed with water and sprayed onto foliage. It is ingested by the feeding caterpillar, which dies 3-5 days later. It is totally safe to beneficial insects, bees and mammals. The active ingredient Bacillus Thuringiensis is broken down by sunlight within a few days. In my view dipel is a very good option as it has very little impact on any other insects, One or two applications at this time of year should resolve the infestation as cabbage moths disappear in the cooler weather. We have been regularly using dipel during the summer as the hotter it got and stayed the more the moths thrived. At one point Helen got totally over them and ran briefly out into the garden wildly spraying from a can of fly spray... needless to say the moths thought that was a bit silly -! Not even one looked a little bit sick!
We have had some well needed rain across the region, although the amount appears to have been quite variable. Our garden had 7mm and while this might sound very little to those outside the region, here where we have been in drought for nearly a year (total rainfall 450mm since April 2017) any amount of rain is significant. It was wonderful to go into the garden after the overnight rain to see the soil dark and damp and the plants glowing. There is nothing more nourishing than some long awaited rain.