The Farm: Stage 1

January 10, 2014
So...a year of hard work, many lessons and many changes. This project has given me so many beautiful and difficult moments, and the process of learning is truly leading it down a sincere and honest path. What do you do when the professional work that you carry out isnt even recognised to start off with? Or when you try and comunicate healthcare information to someone who cant read or write and lives very far away?  These and many more challenges have really made me question the words 'impact', 'sustainable', 'value'.  The people here work hard every day to earn enough resources to feed themselves and their families. Influence from the USA is leaking in (mainly in the way of coca cola..) but generally the people still live by woodburning stoves and wild plants. However as the old knowledge goes, the community becomes more and more dependent on the ever lacking resource that is money, and with that goes their health levels, living conditions and general welfare. There are high levels of alcohol abuse and violence towards women, children and animals. Farmers are replacing old, organic techniques with chemical fertilisers and pesticides that give them a larger window shortterm into an ever dwindling economic market. Unemployment is incredibly high. 

BUT after all of that, my time here has shown me the true beauty and wisdom in these mountains, the people and their animals. The Farm will be a space to improve life quality in the most holistic senses possible. It is a life's work, being done by hand, with time and with much love. Here are the planned steps:

STEP 1: Homestead

- Renovation of old earth house

- Natural earth and wood construction of a compost toilet - people here use latrines - there are various well known connections between some of the diseases present linked with the hygiene issues of latrines. A good, simple compost toilet model could be used as an example to local people to improve their basic hygiene, health and living conditions. 

- Solar shower using coiled black pipe - many people here bathe in cold water in the rainy season and in winter - and many children have chronic chest infections/flu viruses. They dont want to use their scarce wood to heat water to bathe - a simple and cheap black pipe can revolutionise this situation

Solar panels - sun is a ready resource at relatively little cost - the more that people here become aware of the power of solar, the less they have to slave searching for the ever diminishing supply of wood, helping the people and the surrounding forest

Organic vegetable garden - many people here have space to sow a small garden but don't have the knowledge of how to best utilise a small area to its full potential, and have lost organic techniques. A simple demo garden is already helping many locals to grow their own, natural food source

- Organic grain cultivation - people here struggle to feed themselves and their animals good quality grain. Amaranth, oats and wheat grow readily here and the leaves/straw can be easily utilised for food for all, at a much lower labour and space use than seed harvest (which is also possible)

- Organic local medicinal plant garden - local medicine knowledge is very limited when there is such an abundance of wild and easily cultivated medicinal plants. 

All of these are in progress at present.Plans for the animals and photos to follow

smack in the face

February 15, 2013

Smack it hit me. In the face at about 4am as these things tend to do. I have wanted to be, strived for, trained to be and practised as a vet for 20 years of my life. A vet helps animals. A vet is The One who cares about upholding animal health and welfare.

As much as I still very respect the job, its place and how it helps in the world, my experiences up until now lead me to question - what is the bones of animal welfare? Is it anything that clinical treatment/standard veterinary work can re...

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The Value of something valuable

January 24, 2013
So, something of Values has been learnt in these past few months. What they are and how they differ. The region has taught me many things regards what it really means to develop a community led project. It is one thing to use the words, but to actually, truly get to know and respect a rural mountain community in Mexico is and has been a beautiful challenge. 

For a start I had it in my head that the ideal way forward (that there in the beginning 'ideal' was a mistake) was to start up a clinic t...

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<Doing The Dream> Take 1 - BRASS TACKS

November 4, 2012

When I was dreaming about Starting My Own Project I always looked at the huge international charities and thought - where did they start? There's always some romantic dream about innocent beginnings with a wooden shack and a three legged dog but how exactly do they reach any sort of successful level? The past few months for me have definitely been a series of wide eyed moments.  I have £2000 in savings, the beginnings of a project, great people, some skills in blowing up stuff to produce co...

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Cup of tea

October 26, 2012

So its all good talking about community led solutions and forming relations with people and their needs, but how do we actually do it?  Wandering on up and having a chat about somebody's livelihood may end up in a cup of tea or a whack to the face depending on your charm level.

So, obviously just like all community work, there is nothing set in stone, or one written code. In my experience the following works for me

- Spend real time chatting in general to the community. The gems of inform...

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August 17, 2012

Why, as a race, are we so fond of putting things in neatly wrapped boxes?  Why are such massive concepts, such as 'civilisation', 'progress' and 'developed' thrown about in such a simplistic almost childlike way?

I was thinking about this recently with regards to indigenous peoples.  Now I am no anthropologist, but it is clear to me that, in the mainstream sense, they appear to be deified or vilified. Now it is clear and of value to note that indigenous peoples have a lot of ancient philos...

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Moving forward

July 23, 2012
I have to say, it is definitely true that positive energy comes back around. The past 3 months have been a whirlwind of funding interviews, funding proposals, mad vet work, more proposals, and finalmente....SUCCESS!

Animal Nature has officially achieved the following..
- Funding from Humane International and the Persula Fund for the general clinic, workshops and regular sterilsation programmes
- Collaboration and possible funding from the Donkey Sanctuary
- Volunteering offers from 3 vet nurses, ...
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1st world

May 9, 2012
So I am currently back the UK raising some funds for Animal Nature, aka - insane locum veterinary work, midnight scribblings of funding proposals with impossible formats and finding just about anything to make and sell (cosmetics, artwork, jewellery made from bits of computer and paper beads...). And here's the thing - its actually so much harder to work in the UK for me than out in Mexico. I would have never expected here, but as I see the 50th woman drag her 4 bored screaming children, scab...
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Animal Nature has a home!

January 31, 2012

Well, after much travelling and stumbled Spanish, Animal Nature has finally found a home in the beautiful San Sebastien Rio Hondo, Sierra Oaxaca, Mexico.  Here amongst mountains and pine trees I have found a region that is overflowing with native knowledge, practical skill, an open and warm people and many problems with animals and people without any health or social care.  I am working and living with an innovative ecoproject -, and together we are progressing towards a...

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for the greater good?

October 29, 2011
So this is in response to some interesting debates the last blog sparked.  The major point was - how can you say whether it is better to substantially improve the life of an individual or basically improve the lives of many?  The answer is, I don't.  I feel that both are equally valid.  I feel that my role in life is to try and contribute to the latter, after what I have seen.  

It strange that I have almost been afraid of what I am about to say, for fear of seeming cliched or extremist, but t...
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