Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Spring is sprung, and there are flies on the dung

Hooray. I was clearing up our little meadow, and delighted to note a great cloud of Scatophagid flies. Dung flies. Our llamas and sheep have not been wormed since we had them and the first couple of years there were no dung flies -- largely I suspect because many of the farmers round about pump ivermectin and other helminthicides into their livestock, and prior to our ownership they had been wormed.

We have been heavily grazing an acre and a half of what was a field of nettles and thistles three years ago. Now it is already a nice short turf. The next stage is to reduce fertility and hope that wildflowers come back -- perhaps with a bit of help from me. One of the ways of reducing fertility of soil, is by removing all the dung of the grazing animals. This where llamas are good -- they are territorial dungers. Their little, well digested, pellets are deposited in heaps, and are suitable for digging into the garden straight away.

And while I was clearing up one of the llama dunghills, I found a lovely seething mass of earthworms. Even better.

But elsewhere, farmers are still pumping their livestock fill of anti worming compounds many of which will destroy all the invertbrates that feed on the dung. Earthworms and dungflies may not be the most popular of creatures, but the world will be a lot worse off without them. Yet another example of biodiverstity being whittled away, and like the bricks of a jenga tower, one day the whole ecosystem will collapse.

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