Spreading the word about conservation

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I volunteered at the International Plowing Match in September. What is a non-farmer doing at the IMP? Helping to spread the word about conservation, stewardship, nature, forest fires - more about that later.

This event which happens every September at different areas around the province is huge. Next year it will be in the Waterloo area. There were even two sets of flashing portable signs on Hwy 417 to tell visitors where to exit. Although I have never attended one before, I had been told about the size, but seeing is believing.

I am not sure if all the area that was used was owned by one farmer, but there were acres for parking cars, acres for parking RVs, and acres for the actual show. I went online to try to get an idea of the size of the area being used and my best guess from the map was about 1.5 km by 1.5 km. In that area there was a small woodlot area but the majority was for the IMP. There were many OPP on hand as well as volunteers for traffic control.

My environmental eye was busy as I walked around the site. The recycling bins near the food and drink stands were not obvious or missing. There was no littering which was excellent.

I was assaulted by the sounds of chainsaws being demonstrated and wondered at the efficiency of their engines and how much research goes into cutting back on their pollution.

I was awed by the size of the farm tractors and harvesters whose purpose I don't understand. I mentioned the amount of diesel that they use and what is going to happen when the cost of diesel goes skyward soon. The cost of our food will go skyward too.

I saw machinery for all sorts of rural work: a machine that saws logs into firewood lengths and then splits it, portable sawmills, equipment for making maple syrup and all sorts of ATVs. I only walked a few of the "streets" but saw more machinery in one place than I have likely seen in all my life put together. How will people afford running them as the price of fuel goes up let alone buying them?

My thoughts led from that unbelievable experience to a more mundane thought of growing more of our own food. More and more people are putting in gardens for vegetables. More and more people are taking out the sod and planting vegetables. Good!

When will that lead to wanting a few chickens in the backyard? Most towns or cities don't allow farm animals. Will that change as more people want to raise a few chickens or other animals for food?

A few chickens can keep the backyard clear of insect pests and they love table scraps. That is what our forefathers just a couple of generations back used. If my memory serves me correctly, the chicken tasted better too. The drawback is trying to keep the racoons from getting the chickens!

Geographic location: Waterloo

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