Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Creating A Positive Vision Of The Future

By Gavin Webber from The Greening of Gavin


Writing most days about living a more sustainable lifestyle is so very rewarding, and I have come to treasure telling my family's story via this blog and my own.  I strive to keep my posts as positive as I can, given the ever approaching post-petroleum future and climate chaos that we now face. Most of the time I succeed.  I have come to learn that positive visions are increasingly important in engaging people which help them to avoid and overcome fear and inaction due to these issues being constantly bombarded at them.

So many activists and environmental messages are filled with doom and despair which attempt to engage via negative emotions in an attempt to urge people into action.  It is not working, because I believe that this is backfiring more and more.  It is simply alienating ordinary people further by disengagement.  People do not want to hear negative messages by choice.  I know I don't.

However, people are becoming increasingly aware that our current consumer culture is not exactly Earth friendly, or is conducive to a long and fruitful future for mankind.  Without a positive vision to be drawn to, or role models from which to learn good examples of simple, green and frugal solutions, they probably just switch off and continue on with business as usual or get stuck in denial of these events.

I have come to realise that there is no us and them, and that we are all in this together.  People want a better future for their descendants, and are willing to work hard at a better life, but will only strive in the right direction if given all the facts, and a positive vision of what they can achieve.  The future is not set in stone, and with each decision we make, they can have a remarkable effect upon it.

So I urge you all to paint that positive vision in everything you do, say or write.  As we begin to share our positive vision of the future, we will find that more and more people will become interested and engaged, and hopefully strive towards one that will have the best outcome for all life on Earth.

Chance favours the prepared mind.
-Louis Pasteur

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Connecting the Dots

by Linda from The Witches Kitchen

I was looking back through my blog this week, looking for topics that have been neglected for a while. And I realised that I haven't done a "Sustainable Seafood" post for so long. And it is because I haven't had fresh caught fish to experiment with for so long.

My partner is a mad keen fisherman. I think fishing is a kind of meditation for him, with the by-product of food that lets him feel like he is doing something productive. His ultimate relaxation is standing thigh deep in water gazing out into the ocean, waiting, thinking about nothing but whether the bait is right, the weight is right, the cast is right, and how beautiful the ocean is.

He has fished all his life. He hasn't suddenly lost the knack. He hasn't stopped going fishing every chance he gets. He's just not having lucky fishing trips. He catches some, occasionally, but he hasn't caught a dinner party's worth for ages. I suddenly realised this week that he hasn't caught enough to inspire me to create a new recipe for a long time, and before that, for a long time.

There's a lot of luck in fishing. You can get the right tide, the right wind, the right time of day, the right bait, the right rig, even the right attitude and still not catch anything. Then the next time hit a run of tailor and pull them in one after another. And as any statistician will tell you, there's probability mathematics that says that it's not that unusual to get runs of luck. So you can't put the lack of fish on any individual fishing trip down to the collapse of marine ecosystems. You have to step back enough to see the big picture for that, and connect the dots.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Herbal Play dough

An easy to create play experience for kids is homemade play dough. It is so simple to make, stores well in the fridge and is much cheaper and kinder to your child than the store bought stuff! This is one of my tried and true recipes.

PLAIN PLAY DOUGH

1 1/2 cups of salt
3 cups of plain flour
3 cups of water
2 tbsp of cream of tartar
3 tbsp of olive oil


Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.





Warm gently over low heat on the stove and continue to stir until mixture thickens and starts to form a ball. Allow to cool slightly then knead on a protected surface until nice and smooth.



I cut mine up into portions, wrap in baking paper or greaseproof paper and store in an old tupperware container in the fridge. The play dough should last this way for a very long time, unless exposed to air. Mold can occur over time if bacteria is present in the dough...just let your nose and eyes guide you there. I have read that a tablespoon of vinegar added to the batch can hinder mould growth, but I haven't tried this as yet.

At home I mostly make plain colour play dough and let the kids experiment with texture, colour and fragrance using things from around the house and from the garden. I particularly love making Herbal Play dough as the textures and fragrances are very stimulating. I place a few bowls of plant items for the children's own selection and they help themselves to make their own smelly shapes. Dough with raw plant pieces doesn't last that well, so you may like to portion off small amounts from the original batch and just toss after a couple of days.



Other aromatic dough suggestions:
  • Spices eg. ground cinnamon, ginger or allspice or try colouring with turmeric
  • Essential oils for aroma (taking into consideration the age of the children and safe quantities per recipe)
If you have children with allergies or a food intolerance you may like to try a recipe that excludes the trigger items. There are plenty of rice flour and gluten free recipes on the internet for you to try. There are plenty of no cook and microwave recipes too! Do you have a favourite family recipe?

Amanda

PLEASE NOTE: As with all children's activities it is best to supervise and do ensure that dough and plant pieces are not consumed.


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Annual Chick List

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

It's that time of year again - chicks have been ordered and are arriving any time now.  I know lots of you are old hands at raising chicks, but new readers stop in, so this post may be a refresher, or a good list to have on hand.



My Chick List is as follows:

Feeding:
Chick starter.
Boiled eggs for an extra nutritional boost.
Number 1 grit.
Carbo Vegatabilis homeopathic just in case there are shipping problems.

Equipment:
Wash and sanitize feeders and waterers, and make sure they work!
Inspect heat lamps, have extra on hand.

I make sure the brooder is well bedded, well-rested, and all my supplies are in place, so when the chicks arrive at the post office I am ready for them.

If you're new to raising baby poultry, you're going to be mama, so it's up to you to make sure your brooding area is clean, warm, draft-free, and predator proof.

In addition, heat lamps are a somewhat dangerous way to provide heat, necessary, but caution needs to be exercised.  Many barn and garage fires have resulted from poorly installed heat lamps.  The most dangerous, I think, are the clamp on type.  Sockets for heat lamps can be installed in chick hovers, or you can make sure your lamps are hung securely so there is no chance the hot bulbs can come in touch with the bedding.


Chicks need 90F degree temperatures the first week, and turkey poults need 95F degree temperatures the first week, so any attempt to treat them the same results in too high of temperatures for the chicks and too low for the turkeys.  And ducks fall in somewhere in between those temperatures. 


Let the chicks and their behavior be your guide instead of a thermometer.  If the chicks are huddled under the lights, they are too cold, if they are huddled away from the lights, the heat is too intense.  If they are running about or taking naps you probably have everything just right.  Make adjustments as needed - raise or lower lights, add lights, or turn off a light, check for drafts. 

My rule of thumb is if the chick dies within 72 hours of hatching, it is the hatchery or weak chicks fault, after that I figure it's my fault and I do my trouble-shooting to ascertain the problem so I can make corrections.  The goal is low mortality - if you have high mortality - figure it out and don't blame the chicks.

Raising your own poultry is a rewarding experience and gets easier the more you do it - Happy Chick Raising!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Raising Calves

Posted by Bel
from Spiral Garden

New babies are always exciting!  We have had calves born here on the farm (Wags and Mimi) and calves we've brought here and fostered onto Lucy (Honey and Poppy).  We've never raised calves ourselves though, Lucy has always helped.  You can read lots about our journey with a house cow and calves throughout the co-op blog and here.

Today a new little guy arrived - Red.  He's being raised for the freezer and is a by-product of the dairy industry.  I'm trying to foster him onto Lucy alongside Mimi (who is a big girl at over 4 months now), but Lucy's not exactly keen on calves which aren't her own!  So meanwhile I am also bottle-feeding him.



Bottle feeding a calf with calf formula is something I remember doing as a child.  Also trying to convince them to drink from a bucket by letting the calves suck our fingers.  It was lots of fun, even though newborn calves are quite pushy and can easily bump a child over!


I'll post more about our new baby as the journey progresses.

Meanwhile, read about calf-raising here.  And if you have experience with raising calves, or other baby animals, please share!