May 18 – Courtney & Zach

G’day followers!

Today we visited the Jirrahlinga Wildlife Sanctuary. This sanctuary is an Animal Rescue Center, or A.R.C. for short. The main areas of focus the center specializes in are looking after animals, rehabilitating wildlife, and then releasing the animal back into the wild. The center is home to many animals, some who will eventually be released into the wild, and others who will spend there lives in captivity. A wide variety of animals call the center home. From cockatoos to white peacocks, kangaroo to emu, and bearded dragons to pythons, the diversity of the sanctuary is truly amazing. Interesting enough, the Jirrahlinga Wildlife Center serves as a home for several foxes, an invasive species known to have a very negative impact on the biodiversity of Australia’s native species. According to Darren, who provided a tour for our program, since foxes were introduced about 60% of ground dwelling mammals have been lost. However, the motivators for keeping the foxes in captivity are due in part to ongoing studies being conducted along with the Department of Education. Aside from the incredible wildlife encountered on the visit, the most impactful take away from the sanctuary is the importance of learning, understanding, and respecting others as well as nature. Do this well and so much can be achieved. It was a humbling experience that showed the importance of giving back to nature and taking care of those who are undergoing rough times.

The other site we visited was Ravens Creek Farm. It’s a 90 acre farm that produces free range pigs, lamb, beef, and eggs from chooks (laying hens). The farm also produces timber and apples, and it has a kitchen garden for the cafe on site. The majority of the food offered in the cafe is produced on the farm, which reduces the cafe’s food miles. Another way the farm is acting in a more sustainable way is with the rotation of their free range pigs. Everything on the farm mimics nature and can move around. With their movable pig huts and electric fences, they can rotate the pigs through different sections of the land. This helps to keep the land from becoming overly concentrated with manure, lets the grass regenerate for future pigs, cuts out the need for any added fertilizer, and prevents over grazing of the land. The pigs break up the soil so there is no cap on the surface, and this allows for better growing conditions for grasses. They also stock pile the grass and forage on the areas that have not been used recently in the rotation to help feed the pigs in the dry months.

With the pigs being free range, the sun can be very hot for them. To combat this, they put misters in the pig huts that mist every hour on the hour when the temperature is over a certain degree. This improves the health of the animals while also conserving the water they have.

The chooks also play a valuable part on the farm. They provide brown eggs for the cafe and other retailers. The diversity of their buyers helps to spread risk and make their farm more resilient.

Lastly, the chook’s range area moves around the farm as well. Their coop has solar panels, and these supply energy to the coop’s doors. These doors are on a timer so they open during the day to let the chooks out and close at night to protect them without needing someone to go out and open the doors themselves. This frees up valuable time for the workers to be able to focus on other things on the farm. This farm utilizes sustainable free range farming methods and it was interesting to see the technology they use to implement them.

To finish off the day, we attended a professional Australian footy game between the Geelong Cats and the Western Bulldogs. It was a very exciting experience to watch such a different sport compared to what we are used to watching in the United States. There were over 31,000 fans in attendance and overall it was a great way to finish the night.

Our group with the owner of the Jirrahlinga Wildlife Sanctuary and a baby wombat.

Our guide Hayden at Ravens Creek Farm and their pigs in one of the fenced in sections.

The chooks at Ravens Creek Farm and their coop.

Our group’s view of the footy game from our great seats.

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