LEARNING DESPITE OUR UNIVERSAL BANTU EDUCATION

What we have seen Dragons eat

On the photos of our Dragon Garden, you may notice some familiar plants; Daisies, Dandelion, Burnett, ox grass, strawberries, purslaine, hemp. Not seen is grated pumpkin, carrot, salad, apple, all things Dragons love. It is quite satisfying to watch your Dragon lay into a clump of English violets like there's no tomorrow. They also like worms and bugs, of course, and I suspect they will snap at anything smaller than their own head.

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Dragon Habitat

Dragons are from Australia, in particular the bushveld type areas. By that we mean it is not desert, not forest, not grassland, but rocks and bushes and grasses and tough flowers and even tougher prey. We have tried to emulate this, and we built the Critter Garden habitat for them. We originally received two Dragons as a gift from some colleague. They lived in their -admittedly roomy- glass-fronted prisons for a year, when I decided to take interest. Frankly, who the hell keeps a cold-blooded lizard as a pet? It's not even like the thing can learn even basic tricks. Seeing them sulk behind their windows really got to me though, so I built them a place in the garden, where they now live and seemingly love. See the photos.

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Chickens, a crop to crow about

We breed totally and completely free range, no pampering, wild running bug eating mouse gobbling Bosvelders.

Of all the things this article will one day tell you, let this be the first:

Don't let your chickens sit in a heap soiling themselves, and never, ever, collect their waste for any reason other than to get it as far away from your chickens as possible. Free ranging chickens are much happier and healthier than anything you buy, but the meat is certainly tastier, but also much tougher.

How and Where to Buy Chickens.

 So, you want to keep some chickens. Maybe you already know where to find a chicken. Like puppies, they are a dreadfully compelling thing in a shop window. Maybe you should read this too, it may have something new to say about where to find chickens. Firstly, what kind of chicken are you looking for? How do you want to keep it, and most importantly, what do you want to do with that chicken? I guess your first answer has something to do with eggs. You are, of course, aware that only girl chickens lay eggs, and there are no boy hens. You will need at least one hen. If you want to have a rooster as well, take note of two things: 

You are not allowed to keep a rooster within city limits. The darn things crow at ungodly hours, your neighbour will contact you, and he’s not likely to be in a good mood after a ruined night. 

A rooster is too much man for one hen, get at least four hens, or five, they can share the abuse and survive the constant, umm, you know.

 Anyhow, where to find your chickens. Most pet shops on the outskirts of any town will keep some fancy ones. Many people actually want pretty chickens, and there are some real pretty chickens out there. Showgrade exotic chickens can cost a bundle, and many are quite useless as egglayers, and their meat poor, so do some research on that special breed you so much want. Those are really best bought at shows, from the people who show them. Like all thoroughbreds, there is a lively community to help you. For the common man, I say you go to the nearest smallholding. If they do not have extras to sell, they will probably know someone who can help you. Unless you know how to sex chickens, I suggest you get mature ones, who are easy to differentiate; hens do not have a hard, pointy bone thing sticking out just below their knees, which bend backward. It is called a spur, and it can hurt you bad.

 Another warning about buying chickens: the real professionals, who ‘produce’ six thousand eggs per shift, they do not have any roosters, because they do not need them to eat expensive feed. Roosters are separated at very early age, and ‘made away with’. Apparently the modern way is to gas them en masse. Some are rescued, or rather, sold off to unscrupulous vendors for mere cents per live chick. These very handsome young fellows then end up as bona fide merchandise on the corner of every peri-urban community. Given they were bred to grow fast, they have some value as meat, if slaughtered early and tender, but you will never get an egg from a roadside cardboard chick tray roosterlet.

 Another ready source of live chickens is the hens from the same egg factory. Battery hens are fed a cocktail of hormones, supplements and antibiotics to speed up the production of eggs and to stay alive in the severely unnatural confines of a wire cage. These hens’ production rates are carefully monitored, and hens beyond the age of profitability requirements are ‘done away with’. At least this time, they tend to be sold off to be slaughtered. It is possible, from certain factories, to buy these hens at fair prices. The easiest source for these chickens is Saturday Morning Pavement Market at any informal settlement. Do be aware; these chickens lived on a cocktail of hormones, supplements and antibiotics. If you do not continue feeding them this chemical smorgasbord, you have a guaranteed mortality rate after two days of 60-100%. If you can pull them through, you have another day or three to teach them to eat normally. This can best be done by putting a piece of fencing between the (by now exhausted and weak) chicken and her bowl of seeds. They seem to understand the stuff on the other side of the wire cage is food. Water is also a problem, as their beaks are likely to be malformed by the steel nipple they drank from all their lives; make sure there is some moisture in their first food.

 At Greenpets, we made all these mistakes and more. We know how to get those chickens through their initial shock, we save most, actually, but we don’t bother anymore. They never learn to breed, raise chicks, run from predators… they are too stupid to keep themselves dry, and most importantly, the genes:

 Last statistics I heard was that the two most popular strains of battery chickens in South Africa have between two and four allele pairs relating to immunity and disease resistance. Two or four, normal farm chickens have twenty and more pairs of immunity alleles. Battery chickens are not bred to survive nature, and freeing them is an expensive and mostly doomed exercise. Eating them, well now, that is now your informed choice. Genetically degenerated meat raised on a cocktail of hormones, supplements and antibiotics, yummy.

 To sum up: Get a box as big as your car will hold, and take a drive through your any neighbourhood you see chickens running around. Like with all other business transactions, there are always sharks, but this seems to be the standard rule: you will pay per kilo, live or dead, for just about any edible animal on this earth, including some creatures you would never expect on your plate. Chicken meat prices available from your nearest shop, a very large chicken can weigh four kilos, but two kilos is considered fair deal on the average hen. The chicken at your supermarket is not a good guide, because after all the growth hormones and all that, you still have to add one last ingredient to your factory chicken: Salt water, at least fifteen percent, injected into the chicken ‘for flavour and softness’. You are paying forty-what per kilo for salt water! Those chickens weigh 1,5 or 2 kilos in the packet, real chickens are lighter after slaughtering.

 One last consideration before you buy chickens: they attract predators. All kinds of hungry feet will find their way to your chickens, trust me, so newbies beware, buy three or so at a time, until you have been robbed enough to have learned the somewhat specialist trade of chicken security. This is of importance when considering your family’s security.

 

Neigh, we do horse around

The ultimate all-terrain transport. The best friend you can have. A ton of muscle that allows you to drag it around the world.

We have four horses. Correction; we have two horses, a pony and a miniature horse. We always have to explain, the tiny thingy is not a Shetland pony, it is a local South African miniature breed horse, whereas that hulk of muscle over there, the highly trained Cowboy Showhorse (don't ask), that horse there just about three centimetres lower at the shoulder than the two other horses over there? Well, those three centimetres is the only difference between a horse and a pony. The only difference, promise, there is a specific shoulder height for a thoroughbred horse, and anything shorter is called a pony. Now you know, too. We also have two donkeys, very interesting animals, indeed. You want a free horse? well...

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What life Tortoise

Take it slow, but remember every single step; you may need a shortcut when there are tomatoes to be had.

We have a few tortoises who visit us from time to time. They roam free, but return regularly to come "harvest" the seasonal delicacy. The biggest, Tuirtz, was brought here from a place where he shared a garden with a big dog. The tortoise was a walking knaw-bone, he was oozing blood through his shell. One of the many reasons why keeping wild animals as pets is such a bad idea, it being illegal is not scary enough for some people. He was rescued (bought at a price the guy could not refuse), and brought to us for treatment. We knew nothing about tortoises, so we cleaned up best we could, and put it in a safe place outside. After a few days, he was healing well, chomping down my garden I just managed to dig in. We kept him safe for winter, by spring he took to the road hungrily, and returned a few months later, probably by accident, but I think it was for the tomatoes.Tortoises go apeshell for a tomato. And dandelions. A tortoise will eat a dandelion patch into the ground before you notice it moved.

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  • CRITTERS

    Our animals, your animals and all the things that makes life better for animals.

    Article Count:
    22
    • DRAGONS

      Everything we know about Dragons that might be useful to someone else.

      Article Count:
      6
    • CHICKENS

      Not those weird feathered flu-taxis that grow to slaughter weight in four weeks. Real chickens, free chickens that came dear.

      Article Count:
      2
    • HORSES

      The ultimate bug-out vehicle. Off-road, in water, and it can love you back. Also, they fart less than any SUV.

      Article Count:
      1
    • TORTOISES

      What life tortoise about snailosauruses

      Article Count:
      1
    • BUDGIES

      Keeping, Feeding and Breeding Budgies in Gauteng

      Article Count:
      6
    • CATS

      Keeping, training, Feeding, Breeding cats in Gauteng

      Article Count:
      6
  • PLANTS

    Gardening without modern poisons is a challenge, and understanding the lifecycle of your enemies takes some observation. This blog will eventually catalogue our attempts at poison-free farming for Naturally RAW! food.

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    0