JDW I WNS & AEC
The Jane and Dean Wilson Informal Wildlife Nature Sanctuary & Agricultural Educational Center
otherwise known as the
AUSTIN ROAD ADVENTURE
(Please send all correspondence to 5660 Austin Rd. Camden, MI 49232)
How many pieces of property comprise the JDWIWNS & AEC?
When was the first piece of property acquired for this project?
November 1979 (NorthEast 120 acres)
What years were the other 3 parcels added into the adventure?
Mable Moss’s or SouthWest 100 acres in Spring of 1983
Albert’s or NorthWest 80 acres in 1987
Jake’s or SouthEast 80 acres in 1999
Please describe the condition of each piece at the time it was included into the adventure:
NE: open areas plowed wheat fields, rare trees, large gravel pit area, wooded areas heavily logged the previous year, no wetlands or ponds
SW: open areas plowed wheat fields, rare trees, wooded areas recently logged, wetland drained
NW: open areas plowed wheat fields, rare trees, wooded areas continuously logged
SE: open areas plowed crop fields, rare trees, wooded areas recently logged, wetland drained
Please describe the current condition of each piece in the adventure:
NE: open areas in permanent pasture with abundant & varied trees, wooded areas intact,
5 acre wetland, 2 small and 1 large pond established
SW: open areas in permanent pasture (not currently grazed) with occasional, varied trees,
wooded areas intact, wetland established, 10 acre permanent grass hay field harvested twice a year
NW: open areas in permanent pasture (not currently grazed) with occasional, varied trees,
northern most field planted into trees, wooded areas intact
SE: open areas in permanent pasture with occasional, varied trees, 2 wetlands established, wooded areas intact
10 acre permanent grass hay field harvested once a year, northern most field planted into 200 conifer trees
How many times does the St. Joseph River flow through this adventure?
Please describe the condition of land surrounding the Austin Road Adventure:
open areas plowed crop fields, sprayed with chemicals, rare trees, open areas and wetlands tiled and drained, wooded areas continuously logged, multiple active small (50 - 250 animals) CAFO 's (Confined Animal Feed Operation), fresh manure spread regularly on limited acres, frequently near surface water ditches
What is meant by “permanent pasture” and why are these areas significant?
Land in “permanent pasture” was plowed one time, planted into pasture (diverse mix of grasses and legumes), and has since been allowed to thrive. It has not been and will never be plowed again, under the current stewardship.
Pasture is not always an accurate descriptor since much of the land here is not currently grazed by farm animals.
One could use the word meadow to describe “permanent pasture” areas.
Meadows are of ecological importance because they are open, sunny areas that attract and support flora and fauna that could not thrive in other conditions. They often host a multitude of wildlife, providing areas for courtship displays, nesting, food gathering and sometimes sheltering if the vegetation is high enough. Many meadows support a wide array of wildflowers, which makes them of utmost importance to pollinating insects, including bees, and hence the entire ecosystem.
As mentioned above, the “permanent pasture” areas are significant because they provide HABITAT for plants and animals.
The significance of “permanent pastures” also lies in the natural formation of TOPSOIL that occurs in these areas.
Without topsoil, little plant life is possible. Conventional agriculture encourages the depletion of topsoil because the soil must be plowed and replanted each year. The United States alone loses almost 3 tons of topsoil per acre per year. This is of great ecological concern as one inch of topsoil can take between 500 and 1,000 years to form naturally. On current trends, the world has about 60 years of topsoil left.
What is meant by wetland and why are these areas significant?
A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life.
As mentioned above, wetlands are significant partly because of the WATER PURIFICATION and HABITAT they provide.
According to the Ramsar Convention:
The economic worth of the ecosystem services provided to society by intact, naturally functioning wetlands is frequently much greater than the perceived benefits of converting them to 'more valuable' intensive land use – particularly as the profits from unsustainable use often go to relatively few individuals or corporations, rather than being shared by society as a whole.
Please list the educational activities available through the JDE I WNS & AEC:
A ] Hand milking cows -
Etiquette, cleanliness, technique
B ] Fresh cow care -
Differences in animal behavior, detect and resolve problem quarters, amount of milk to take on days 1 thru 7, monitoring for postpartum complications
C ] Newborn calf care -
monitor for temperature, nursing, stool, umbilical cord
D ] Care of Milk -
Cleanliness, filtering, cooling, storage, allowing cream to rise, skimming cream
E ] Knife sharpening -
F ] Butcher -
Confine, kill, move, skin, gut, cut in half, hang, proper use of remains
G ] Pork processing -
from hanging carcass, identify and harvest various cuts, cure bacon, season and grind sausage, render lard, proper packaging and storage
H ] Beef processing -
from hanging carcass, identify and harvest steaks, roasts, hamburger, tallow, proper packaging and storage
I ] Beef jerky -
Identify proper cut of meat to use, thin slicing meat, marination, dehydration, packaging
J ] Cheese making -
time, temperature, pH and bacteria management to curds and whey; pressing and rind formation
K ] Cheese maintenance -
daily temperature and humidity management, weekly salt wash and oil rub, crack butter plugs
L ] Butter - skim cream, set up and clean electric 8 gallon churn, determine correct churn time, drain, rinse, and squeeze butter, proper packaging and storage
M ] Kefir - Grain function and care, time, temperature and volume adjustments
N ] Maple Sugar -
Tap maple trees: Identify maple trees, use of hand drill, correct tap location, homemade Elder wood taps
Boil maple sap: fire safety and maintenance in the woods, 50 gallon sap pan management, correct sap depth and strength of boil, determine time to stop boiling
Make maple sugar: monitor and identify different stages of sugar bubbles, maintain correct heat to stir ratio, determine correct time to remove from heat, maintain stir and determine adequate granulation
O ] Apple harvest & Cider pressing
use of ladder to pick from tree, collecting from ground, proper storage
wash, chop, press, cider packaging and storing, use of remaining pulp
P ] Raw food tasting -
kefir, milk, cheese, beef, egg yolk
Q ] Fruit dehydration -
Harvest and preparation of pears, peaches, apples; dehydration time and packaging
R ] Cooking on a wood stove -
various heat locations, baking in the oven, adding wood, monitoring fire, water reservoirs
S ] Animal husbandry -
cows: approach, distance, reading behaviors, offering assistance and affection, halter training, moving single animals and large herd short and long distances
lambs: halter training, natural behaviors, offering assistance and affection
chickens: natural behaviors, dust bath, aggression, egg collection, noticing problems and offering assistance
Pigs: approach, feed and watering, pasture and fence maintenance
horse: approach, maintaining safe boundaries, reading behaviors, offering assistance and affection, moving short distances
T ] Fire wood - identify tree type, quality, safety, loading, stacking, splitting
U ] Natural material harvest and building project
V ] Nature walk
W ] Bird Identification
X ] Tree identification
Y ] Fence maintenance
Z ] Wild herb and wild edible identification, harvest
AA ] Gardening
BB ] Discussion topics
Does the JDW I WNS & AEC currently host any school groups?
Yes. A Montessori School from Dearborn Heights, Michigan currently brings 30 middle school students to the adventure 4 times every year for overnight trips. They have been visiting for 10 years.
|Education on Austin Road|