Japanese Farmers Producing Crops and Solar Energy Simultaneously

Japanese Farmers Producing Crops and Solar Energy Simultaneously.

This is thinking outside the square! A much safer way to power up their country than nuclear power. 😀

Films, motivation, dreams and plans

I follow a blog by a new but wonderful blogger who lives pretty locally to me, Lynda from Living in the Land of Oz. She’s pretty new to the blogosphere (like I’m such old news myself 😉 ) so please pop over and check her out. I’ve learned some very important things from Lynda. We’ve chatted on the phone, shared laughs, shared information and contacts and more. Her most recent blog post however is about another great eco film about a woman turning her traditional Devon farm, run using fossil fuels and traditional farming methods, handed down over thousands of years (although more recently mechanised) into a farm that can and will be sustainably run once the pending peak oil crisis hits us. The education I received in that one short hour! The mind blowing information, revelations and honest home truths left me absolutely floored! And VERY inspired. Inspired enough to raid the kids art drawer, pull out the textas (marker pens) and paper and get designing. Well, drawing more like. I’m not much for design to tell the honest truth. lol The most frightening comment made in the film though is the belief that the critical year for this crisis is 2013. It fits with what i believe, that’s for sure.

Anyway, long story short, I had planned to plant an orchard out the eastern side of our house where there is currently a stand of silver Poplar trees weeds and this had evolved into a hugelkultur inspired orchard but has been upgraded to the gold standard now. 😀 The plan is to chop out the trees weeds, remove the debris (there are rows upon rows of roofing tiles in there, all brittle and useless though I think) and grass weeds (I might just put down cardboard mulch), poison out the tree stumps (if only there was another affordable and practical option but truly there really isn’t 😦 ) then put the logs back in, cover them with a high nitrogen source (hoping to follow up some friends with horses) and cover the lot with soil. I’m debating on poplar tree borders and mulched poplars to fill the area but that will result in higher carbon output from the trees and hence a higher nitrogen content must be added – more horse poo or fresh mown grass etc – but that is highly dependent on being able to beg, borrow or steal an industrial mulcher like council workers and tree loppers use. Anyone have access 😉 We also need to channel a lot of standing water from our front garden that accumulates on our thick clay soil in depressions in our oh-so-even front lawn over winter. 😉 Rather than dig swales which are basically shallow channels like the ones that run down the middle of freeway verges, a time consuming and energy consuming practice, we’re planning on low but (hopefully) effective channeling hugelkultur beds which will also help absorb and use that excess water. 🙂 I figure we may almost end up with seasonal creek beds running across the garden, all of which we can channel into the creek that dissects our block. I also need to put paths through the beds to allow access to plant and harvest the trees.

Now however, with this heading to being a forest garden I have at least  28 tabs open in Chrome to look up cultivars of trees, to assess the qualities of the plants I plan to have in the forest garden and their compatibility with our soil, climate and each other as well as their safety (as much as my kids love rhubarb I am anxious about planting it as I am not sure whether the leaves being highly poisonous is too much of a risk to take) and growing properties. I mean, does it matter if the garden ends up with an under-carpet of mint if that mint is drawing up nutrients that will aide all the other plants? This is what I am ready to research this morning as I sit here typing by candle light. 🙂

Forest gardens are layered forests of edible or beneficial to edible plants, set out similar to how a real forest is. Large trees, an under canopy, large shrubs then smaller ones, climbers using the taller trees to haul themselves up and ground covers that suppress weeds, protect roots and help trap moisture. There are plants that fix nitrogen with their roots (legumes), plants that draw nutrients up from the deep (comfrey), trees with deep roots that draw water (as do the poplar trees and it’s probably why they were planted in the first place) and also trees that flower, drawing the pollinators. If you want to know more, check out here, here, here and here or ask Dr Google. There is heaps of information out there. 🙂

So Lynda, I just want to thank you so very much for your post. You have focused my direction, guided, educated and inspired me incredibly. From the bottom of my stomach (it IS a food forest after all) I thank you. 🙂

Factory Farms

I saw the ad on tv last night. It made me cry, just as much as I cried the first time I saw it. I watched it again just now and again I cried. You can watch it here.

I am a meat eater and I am ok with that. However, more and more the cruelty of our meat industry tears at my heart. And more and more I can see that there really CAN be a world without factory farms.

Stop for a moment and think. What did our ancestors do? My mum was born on a farm in country NSW and I know they slaughtered their own meat. It was just too far to drive into town. Even after they moved into town they kept chickens for eggs and meat. My grandfather, her father, who was also raised on the farm would most definitely have eaten meat either raised by his father and older brothers (he was number 10 of 11) or at the very least, raised by his uncles. My father’s family were city folk but I reckon you wouldn’t need to go back too far to find backyard chickens raised for eggs and for a Sunday roast. It was just how it was done.

Nowadays, meat is something that comes in nearly bloodless form, definitely without skin or wool or hair, on an unenvironmentally friendly styrofoam tray, wrapped in plastic, already cut into convenient sized pieces depending upon our need. The offasl is also dealt with quietly and away from our sensitivities. We are so far removed from the sources of our meat that we can just about ignore the fact that an animal has died to provide it. And the fact that we have allowed factory farms to proliferate shows that we do in fact ignore the origins of our steak or roast.

In factory farms animals are packed in to very tightly combined spaces. How many can we squeeze in the maximise production? Think of that crowded elevator at 5pm on a stinking hot Friday as everyone is making their way home. Squashed in with other people, everyone perspiring and uncomfortable. Now stop that lift, wedge the door open a mere 20cm and place a bowl of food for you to eat. But it’s not the meal you are used to eating, just a bowl of oats (not rolled or processed oats like we usually eat in our porridge either) with no milk or sweetenener or flavour. And that meal is placed there every time. It’s not food we are designed to eat. Now, you need to use the toilet… I won’t go on, but this is pretty similar to the life of factory farmed animals. Unnatural foods (cows are supposed to eat grass, not corn and neither chickens nor pigs are vegetarian in nature – both eat insects for starters), pumped full of antibiotics to prevent infections that are being shared in unsanitary and crowded conditions (think how cholera and dysentery spread in concentration and refugee camps) and no natural light, just artificial lights kept low to conserve electricity or switched on and off at unnatural intervals to convince you to lay faster.

We are already low meat consumers. We would have a meal with meat in it maybe once every 10 days with the exception of ham. We do eat a bit of ham. Our egg consumption is pretty high although I buy free-range eggs (I have my suspicions on how free range free range eggs really are though) or from our own backyard, mostly organically raised, free-ranging grass accessing and hiding their nests hens. I have no intention nor the inclination to give up eating meat, a personal choice that I hope can be respected. Believe me, it is something I have thought about and it’s not just a non-choice of that’s how I’ve always done it. The true test will come. I also believe for optimum health that animal products are required in our diets unless you try to substitute with synthetic ingredients but I also completely respect those that choose white meat vegetarian, full vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. It is a totally personal choice and it gets my complete respect. One day, in the not too distant future I hope to be able to raise most of my own animal products. That way I can ensure that they live clean and healthy lives, enjoying room to roam and be the animal that they are. In the meantime though I do pledge to you all to start making a change to eating non-factory farmed meat.

I urge you to watch this film, I really do. And I urge you to think about what you can personally do to make factory farms an embarrassing part of our history, not of our present.

Caged eggs. Makes you think twice about that omelette.

Or that Parma down at the pub.

Steak? Hamburger? More like sardines.

Christmas ham? This image is rather close to home for me as a breastfeeding mother.