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Donkey bodyguards entertain at organic field day

JANINE and Ian Jamieson proved to be the perfect hosts as the crowd was in turns entertained and educated at the Border Landcare Organic Group's field day at Maryland last week.

The entertainment came from the wide range of livestock, from Cayuga ducks to donkeys.

The children (and some adults) were delighted with a young kangaroo and a tawny frogmouth chick, the current constant companions of Ruth from the Wildlife Carers.

After an introduction to the property from Ian, Janine told the group of their quest to provide protection for their cattle and their herd of goats, bought to tidy up a previous property.

After losing a number of goats to feral and not so feral dogs, a Maremma dog was bought as protection for the goats.

Unfortunately the goats were not fond of dogs and the Maremma was bullied by the goats.

So the Jamiesons acquired some alpacas as guard animals but they were also attacked by wild dogs.

Finally a pair of donkeys was bought, and they have proved a success, as although they don't actually guard the goats, the donkeys will not allow a dog in their territory.

The donkeys, goats and alpacas are now breeding, with Barney, the young donkey, the star turn.

Rex Maddocks ended the formal part of the day giving a short educational report on the results of some scientific trials he has been running on fertilising garlic.

Rex reported that a number of additives had not made any significant improvement to the bulb size when compared with the control group, but a handful of wilted comfrey leaves placed under the garlic clove on planting had increased the average bulb size by 25%.

Rex speculates that this may be due to the high potassium content of the comfrey.

The meeting then broke for lunch and a tour of the property.

Topics:  environment feral animals field day landcare organics wild dogs