Stu's View from the Loo

Mon, 01/16/2012 - 09:29 — Compost Stu

From where I’m sitting I can see the changes that have taken place here over the last 14 years. I bought my block at Barkers Vale as a clean slate, a stipulation from my financiers that has resulted in years of hard work and the satisfaction of transforming a degraded cow paddock into a model of sustainable farming and lifestyle. The throne I now sit upon was the first structure, a veritable icon that stuck out like the proverbial dogs balls when it arose from the red earth. I called it Mums throne, because it was she who threatened never to visit if all I had was hole in the ground. In her wisdom, she was helping me get my priorities right, dealing with my own potential pollution before all else could begin. At first, morning rituals were performed perched high for all and sundry to see, then we built the shade cloth walls that still afford a view, but with some dignity too.
The trees I planted flourished in the rich red soil, protected from wallabies by my audacious blue cattle dog, Cous Cous. I’ve often wondered at the prescribed local wisdom of banning dogs (as many communities do) for the sake of the wildlife. In any ecosystem, top level predators are extremely valuable for the system as a whole. My dogs don’t catch many wallabies, they’re too well fed, but they do keep them on their toes and stop them overgrazing in any one spot. Studies of predator prey relationships have shown that if grazing animals are left to their own devices, they will chew plants down to the roots and kill them, whereas if the predators and their scents are about, the grazers move about and target a variety of species. In the long run this results in a healthier system, with the capacity to harbour more species. In our man made pasture / grass oriented landscape, native grazing animals are probably in higher numbers than ever before. Road kill would account for some, foxes, dingoes and wild dogs for others, but with baiting and the absence of serious predators (i.e us), wallabies are still pretty rampant. I’ve never seen a wild dog on my property either, a fact I put down to their unwillingness to trespass on my dogs territory. I’ve heard the emotional argument that the sight of a half eaten wallaby killed by dogs is not a pretty one. I think it is beautiful, to see nature doing what is intended and that it is just our consciousness operating on a very narrow spectrum when we can’t see that.
Dogs also bring happiness to their owners. With dog ownership comes a lot of responsibility, and responsibility can assist in transforming lives. In a world where mental illness and loneliness are often cause and effect, we would do well to take another look at our arcane ideas about dogs and ecology, for the sake of people. And just in case you’re wondering, yes, dog poo can be put in the composting toilet too.


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