Time to get involved?

This year, there are a number of opportunities to get involved in the Association. Remember the DSA is what its members make it, so if you think you might be able to help out with any of these things, then please do get in touch with us. You can do this through the contact page.

1. Farm Walks. All of us tend to be a little bit nosey about how other people do things on their holdings, and the DSA farm walks are a great way to find out more. The process relies on members being good enough to host an event, but it’s easy, and something that each one of us can do. At this point, you’re probably thinking to yourself “Oh no, I don’t have anything to show other people.” or “The place is a tip! I’d be embarrassed for anyone else to see it!” Guess what: pretty much everyone of us feels like that. Our holdings tend to be works in very slow, painful progress. So don’t panic, all you have to do is provide tea and coffee, and let people have a look around. As well as being a change to meet other people, it can be a really useful opportunity for you to get some advice or ideas about what you could do with those tricky little problem areas that all of us have. So come on, why not? Host a farm walk for us!

2. Not going to hold a farm walk? Okay, how about a workshop? Right, we get the point. You don’t want to hold a farm walk. OK then, why not hold a workshop? Each one of us has different skills and abilities (Yes, this includes you), and it would be great if we could share them. Can you weld? Do you know about fencing? Pasture management? House renovation? Ditching? Streams? Conservation? You get the idea, if you’ve got a skill, and you’d like to help people learn about it, then let us know!

3. No Farm Walk? No Workshop? We have speakers on a variety of subjects at our meetings, but perhaps we don’t really make the most of our very knowledgeable members. If you’ve got a topic that you care about, or think should be raised then why not join in with our short talk evening? We’re planning a meeting where several members can tell us about a subject they’re passionate about, even if only for five minutes. So come on, get in touch!

Forthcoming events – Eco Tour

An Eco Tour has been arranged for Sunday June 15th 10-4pm. It will involve visiting 7 houses or communities in the Newport Pembs. area to view various form of eco-power and heating. Cost £10. Places are limited so don’t delay phone Pam Willey for details on 01269 870976

Report on March Meeting

March’s talk came from Kristian Lloyd Davies & Tony Salini of Thermal Earth. Thermal Earth is a Heating and Electrical Engineering company established in 2006, based in Ammanford, which specialises in renewable energy.

In Wales wood boilers are the most popular option as there is more standing wood in the country now than at any time in the last 100years. The choice is between log biomass or pellet boilers. Log biomass boilers obviously require logs to burn which maybe either soft or hardwood which has been seasoned, i.e. split and stored bark side down, to a moisture value of less than 20%, moisture meter supplied with boiler. These boilers come in a range of sizes, 25kW to 95kw and run at 95% efficiency and are connected to a large,1500L to 5000L, accumulator tank from which heating and DHW are derived.

Pellet boilers burn preformed wooden pellets and are auto lighting and cleaning with automatic temperature control. The pellets are usually stored in a large hopper but may be supplied in small bags. They will burn approximately 1 tonne /month. The majority of the pellets produced are exported due to insufficient domestic demand. Both these types of boiler are usually installed in a separate building with ducted supplies to the home.

Other options include heat pumps which extract a small percentage of heat from a large thermal mass such as the earth, a large volume of water e.g. lake or river or from the air into a piped water supply to the heat pump. This energy is then transferred by the heat pump to the domestic heating and hot water system. This process uses electricity but in a well designed system can give a fourfold return. The Renewable Heat Initiative is a Government Scheme, (so expect red tape!) that enables people to move away from fossil fuels and use sustainable resources. It is part of the Green Deal so the property will require an energy assessment. Payments are then made over 28 quarters, 7 years, so that the costs of installation will be recovered. The tariff paid varies with the circumstances of the installation but Tony and his team excel at this. Rather crazily the RHI also applies to business but in this case payment is made over 20 years and the more you burn the more you get??!! Farms can be classified as businesses if they fit a fairly broad template. Unfortunately wood burners and multi-fuel stoves are not covered by the scheme.

Many thanks to Thermal Earth for this very informative talk.

 

We need your help!

During our January Meeting , The Amphbian & Reptile Conservation Trust asked for our members’ help in recording the presence (or absence) of amphibians and reptiles in West Wales. The current level of data is very poor, but it is vital to effective monitoring species. If you’ve seen amphibians or reptiles in your area, then we need to let the ARC Trust know.

To record your sightings, go to arc.cofnod.org.uk, or http://www.recordpool.org.uk/ and fill in the online card. Alternatively, because some of our members don’t have great internet access, we’ve decided to print out some sighting recording cards and bring them along to meetings, you can fill in your sighting, and the committee will make sure they get passed along to the ARC Trust.

You’ll need the following information:

1. What species you’ve seen, ideally it would be good to know: age, (adult, juvenile, spawn/egg, dead), sex, number of specimens at any one time. If you’re not sure what you’ve seen then the ARC trust have put together identification guides which can be downloaded.

The Amphibian guide is available here:

http://www.arc-trust.org/advice/species-id/amphibians

The Reptile guides are available here:

http://www.arc-trust.org/advice/species-id/reptiles

2. Where you saw it, this doesn’t need to be accurate to within half an inch, but a postcode or grid reference is useful.

3. When you saw it (Again, this doesn’t need to be exact, if you saw a palmate newt in 1964, then that’s great, as the ARC Trust can report this as an historic sighting. If this is the case, please email the Arc Trust directly: mark.barber@arc-trust.org. Thanks in advance!

Report on January Meeting

Our January meeting featured a talk by Mark Barber of the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust. The ARC Trust exists to champion the cause of amphibians and reptiles across the UK through education programmes, species recording, and habitat creation. Mark and his colleague Peter started a major project in 2012, which covers all of Wales, and aims to encourage a sense of ownership and responsibility for welsh biodiversity and provide opportunities for people to engage with amphibians and reptiles as part of the shared natural heritage in Wales.

West Wales has a variety of native amphibians and reptiles, including the common frog, common toad, palmate newt, smooth newt, common lizard, slow worm, grass snake, and adders. The decrease in numbers of many of these previously fairly common animals is causing concern to conservationists. This is, unfortunately, largely due to human activity. The construction of housing, draining of ponds, and road building programmes have all led to a fragmented landscape which these animals are not well equipped to deal with, or travel through.

This then, is where we as smallholders, may be well-qualified to help out. We tend to live in rural areas which aren’t heavily developed, and we tend to have the odd bit of space that could be put to good use for the sort of specialist habitats that our amphibians and reptiles so desperately need. So what can we do?

Firstly we need to record our sightings! Mark has been putting together a map of amphibian and reptile sightings across Wales and there is very, very little data for West Wales. So, if you’ve seen any amphibians and reptiles then the ARC trust want to know. To do this, go to arc.cofnod.org.uk, or http://www.recordpool.org.uk/ and fill in the online card. Alternatively, because some of our members don’t have great internet access, we’ve decided to print out some sighting recording cards and bring them along to meetings, you can fill in your sighting, and the committee will make sure they get passed along to the ARC Trust.

You’ll need the following information:

1. What species you’ve seen, ideally it would be good to know: age, (adult, juvenile, spawn/egg, dead), sex, number of specimens at any one time. If you’re not sure what you’ve seen then the ARC trust have put together identification guides which can be downloaded.

The Amphibian guide is available here:

http://www.arc-trust.org/advice/species-id/amphibians

The Reptile guides are available here:

http://www.arc-trust.org/advice/species-id/reptiles

2. Where you saw it, this doesn’t need to be accurate to within half an inch, but a postcode or grid reference is useful.

3. When you saw it (Again, this doesn’t need to be exact, if you saw a palmate newt in 1964, then that’s great, as the ARC Trust can report this as an historic sighting.

Perhaps more important is the management and creation of habitats for amphibians and reptiles
Because this is so important, the ARC Trust has put together a handbook for anyone interested. You can either buy a hard copy from their online shop, or download a free copy from

http://www.arc-trust.org/advice/habitat-management/for-amphibians/AHMH.htm

Specialist advice about pond creation can be found at the Freshwater Habitats Trust, their website can be found here: http://www.freshwaterhabitats.org.uk

If this is a subject you’re interested in, you might also want to go ahead and join the South West Wales Amphibian and Reptile Conservation group, their website can be found here:

http://groups.arguk.org/SWWARG/ or on facebook https://www.facebook.com/SWWARG

Report on faecal egg count workshop

FE1

This was held on Saturday 23rd November at Doug and Wendy,s holding in Henllan Amgoed. Peat Gleed held the workshop, bringing along microscopes and everything else necessary for us to examine the poo samples we had all brought. We looked at calf, sheep, goat, horse and even chicken poo samples. Nobody had a cause for concern with an overwhelming worm burden. The most common eggs to be seen were Strongyles, but none of us, it seemed needed to reach for the wormer on getting home.

FE2

It is important when doing these faecal egg counts that the samples are as fresh as possible ie. they are picked up as soon as excreted. Those that attended found it extremely interesting and big thanks go out to Peat for giving his time, expertise and equipment, and also to Doug and Wendy for providing us with a venue.

By Claire Beddoes

DSA AGM 12th Feb

DSA’s Annual General Meeting will be held next month, and we’d really like you to be there! Whilst I appreciate that AGMs might not seem to be the most interesting of our meetings, they are perhaps the most important. This is your Association, and this is your chance to have your say.  You’ll get to hear how the year has gone, and be a part of electing a new committee. If you would like to be part of the committee then come along, and make yourself known! The meeting is on the 12th of February  at the normal time and place, 8.00PM, The Gremlin Club, Carmarthen.

Seedy Saturday, 8th March

This year’s Seedy Saturday Green Fayre will be held on the 8th March 10am-3pm in St Peter’s Hall, Nott Sq, Carmarthen SA31 1PG. It’s a great opportunity for local gardeners to get together to swap their saved seeds & knowledge before the growing season gets underway. There will be lots of ethical & Fairtrade stalls & products as well as some short skill-sharing demonstrations. Tools for Self Reliance Cymru will be selling their range of quality reconditioned garden, green woodworking & misc tools. Food available from Carmarthen’s Caffi Iechyd Da. Entry is free. More information can be found on our Facebook page under Seedy Saturday Carmarthen.

26th of Jan, 12PM, Christmas Lunch. In January as usual.

Just to remind you all that we are holding the New Year Lunch at The Hollybrook Country Inn, Bronwydd, Carmarthen. SA33 6BE. Two courses will cost £12.95 and three courses will cost £14.45. Please book your places with either Liz Phillips at Blackwelshsheep@hotmail.com or 07855 516367 or with Claire Beddoe on 01558 685753 or at bodblu@yahoo.co.uk If you want to come along, PLEASE LET US KNOW THIS WEEK! Look forward to seeing you there.