HOW TO MAKE YOUR PLOT PROFITABLE
Vol 14 No 10
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Disclaimer While every care is taken to ensure the accuracy of the information in this journal, neither the Editor nor the Publisher can be held responsible for damages or consequences of any errors or omissions. The Publisher does not stand warranty for the performance of any article or service mentioned in this journal, whether in an advertisement or elsewhere. FRONT COVER Are ostriches making a come-back on Gauteng’s smallholdings following various health scares?
et's face it: Smallholdings, particularly smaller ones, are more like oversized suburban plots than farms. While a hectare or two may seem like the wilderness to a townie used to living cheek-by-jowl in some cramped security complex, in reality one or two hectares still means that one can see, and hear, and smell, one's neighbours. Thus there are many “agricultural” activities which, frankly, are unsuitable for a smallholding. If you examine Ekurhuleni's municipal regulations, for example, you will see that it is impossible to keep pigs ~ legally at least ~ on a plot of one or two hectares, because the regulations call for the pigs' housing to be 100m or more away from any human dwelling, and 100m away from any boundary. It is very unlikely that these two dimensions can be achieved on such a small piece of land. And there are some activities which might seem agricultural, or horticultural, but which border on industrial. Collecting manure and storing it for resale in bags, composting with manure, slaughtering livestock and dealing with the remains, sawing up logs and making firewood, making shavings from logs and chipping brush and scrub for mulch … these are just some of the “agricultural” activities which will probably result in more noise, smell, and dust than is acceptable in a semi-built-up area. Plus the fact that smallholdings are close means that the concentration of livestock is often very much higher than one finds in the open countryside. Look at your immediate surroundings ~ say, the five or six plots around you ~ and count the number of horses, sheep, chickens, geese etc that are kept on those plots. You will often be amazed at how densely populated our areas are with livestock and poultry of all sorts. And now consider the conditions under which those animals are kept. While you may be exemplary in providing suitable stabling, clean bedding and adequate food for whatever it is you own, are your neighbours as scrupulous? Are you sure, for example, that your neighbours inoculate their animals as regularly as you do? Are you sure that your neighbours would recognise an outbreak of Newcastle Disease among their chickens and, if they did, would they do the right thing and report the outbreak to the local State Veterinarian? Are you sure that your horse-keeping neighbours take the same precautions against the culicoides midge that you do, and thus are part of the battle against the scourge of African Horse Sickness? Veterinarians and animal health experts are well-aware of the fact that smallholding areas can be breeding-grounds for diseases, firstly because of the high concentrations of various species in relatively small areas, and secondly because many owners ignore the most basic precautions relating to health, nutrition and hygiene: precautions that would see a large-scale commercial farmer go bankrupt if he were to ignore them. So, there are some “agricultural” activites whch simply are not suitable for a smallholding, and there are some activities which one should undertake with circumspection if one wishes to remain on friendly terms with one's neighbours and avoid run-ins with municipal inspectors. Moreover, the density of animal populations on smallholdings means that one should be ultra-vigilant about the health risks to one's own animals. But the converse is also true: Agricultural holdings are exactly that: Agricultural. And one therefore has every right to pursue one's agricultural activities with impunity and vigour, provided one complies with whatever laws and by-laws one's local authority deems necessary. And at times this will result in the generation of odours, dust and noise. The spreading of manure in the spring upon one's lands is a necessary part of the cycle of fertilization. Ploughing, harrowing and the like will generate dust. Animals attract flies, regardless of the measures one takes to prevent them. Cocks crow in the morning, donkeys bray and sheep bleat. And sometimes it is necessary for one to wield a noisy chainsaw or run a noisy water pump in the pursuit of one’s agricultural goals. This is all part-and-parcel of life on a working smallholding trying to earn additional income in an agricultural way and if you don't like it, or can't handle it, then don't live on a smallholding. Take your trucking company, or guesthouse or business or whatever and move to town. Because you've got no business interfering with our legitimate agricultural activities. SAY YOU SAW IT IN THE GAUTENG SMALLHOLDER