Six In The City!

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Have your voice heard on raw milk debate in Canada

Durham dairy farmer Michael Schmidt was found guilty of selling and distributing raw milk on Wednesday, a decision that overturned his 2010 acquittal.

While it is not against the law to drink unpasteurized milk in Canada, it is illegal to sell it despite the niche demand in Ontario and other provinces.

Health officials maintain that milk must be pasteurized before it is sold, as it can contain pathogens like salmonella, listeria and E. coli – all harmful or deadly if consumed.

But Schmidt, a vocal advocate of food freedom, insists that Canadians shouldn’t be told what they can or cannot drink. He said he won’t give up the fight to endorse and sell raw milk despite the latest court decision.

Like-minded supporters say the pasteurization process kills beneficial micro organisms that aid in digestion and metabolization, among other arguments in favour of the milk.

Do you think people who want to drink raw milk should be able to buy it, if they understand the risks? Should farmers face jail time if they disobey the law? Have you or would you drink unpasteurized milk?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourcommunity/2011/09/should-raw-milk-be-sold-in-canada.html#pd_a_5543872

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Filed under Food Security, Food Sovereignty, Heritage foods, Milk preservation techniques, personal food sovereignty, Politics of Food, Uncategorized

Word on the Street!

On Sunday, Sept 25th, I will be in the Author’s tent at the National Book and Magazine Festival, Word On The Street, in Vancouver, BC speaking about Chicken Poop For The Soul! You can find me here.

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HDR Moves North, Part Two

The Arrival:

Is this where I get out?

Having loaded the goats first thing in the morning before leaving Howling Duck Ranch, once Nick was installed in the rear, I was set to go. Originally, I had thought about over nighting in Williams Lake. I phoned the Veterinary Clinic there to see if this was possible. It was in theory but because it was a Sunday, I would have to get there before by 5 pm when they closed. In light of the fact I had to conquer The Hill and get 458 kms of rough road behind me, I just couldn’t see how I could to it. Also, I was still tired from the trip in and needed to visit a few more people before leaving town. I realized, talking with the clinic, that I was going to have to do the trip in one go.

Tens hours into the journey, I stopped in Quesnel for a Tim Hortons coffee. I wondered if Nick needed a break from being cooped up but worried about the wisdom of letting him out. After all, what would I do if I couldn’t get him back into the trailer? What would Claire do, I wondered. Rex (the Vet) had told me that I could safely drive with the animals for 36 hours. But, because I knew I had nearly 24 to do, and I worried that if I had a flat or some other vehicle trouble, we could easily get over that time limit and then what would I do? Finally, I decided to risk it.  I walked him around a field for about twenty minutes while he sniffed the night air and fed on the grass. When it was time to load him back up, again, lovely boy that he was, he went in without any drama.

Nick's first minutes on Couplands farm. I'm talking with Rex about how to integrate him into his herd.

Twenty-two hours of total driving time later, I was at Rex’s just outside Grande Prairie on Saskatoon Mountain. I unloaded Nick and introduced him to Rex’s herd, Dusty and Bo. Rex was certain that Dusty would create a fight, or at least a bit of a horse rodeo so Rex asked if I would stay for a while just in case. I assured Rex that I thought Nick would integrate nicely and not cause any fuss. I took Nick into the pasture and turned him loose. Just as Rex suspected, Dusty was the first to run up to greet him. She pranced around Nick trying to stir the pot. Nick put his ears back once and turned his bum to her. “Well, I think that’s all the show we’re going to see today Rex,” I said. Rex was unconvinced, “I’m sure there’s going to be some trouble. Dusty is a bit of a terror. She seems to get other horses whipped up. I’ve seen it before!” And so we waited. And, we waited some more. And nothing happened. Finally, Rex visibly relaxed and I headed to the next farm to unload my goats. “I’ll call you later to see how things are going,” I said before getting into the truck.

Within minutes of being let loose into the paddock with his new herd mates, Nick is happily integrated.

Not more than two miles down the road, I saw something odd. There was a vast number of deer bunched up along the brush line just off the road. I wondered why they were all clumped up like that until I saw a flicker out of the corner of my eye. Not more than 30 yards in front of them was a full grown cougar laying like a house cat in the snow. His tail flicking in concentration every now and then. I pulled over to watch the scene and called Rex. “Really? In nearly thirty years of living up here I’ve never seen a cougar. Trust you to see one in your first five minutes of being here!” I didn’t wait for Rex to get to the scene but moved on with my load. To this day, Rex still has not seen a cougar. He’d moved off before Rex got to the scene of the crime. A few hours later Rex called to say that Nick and Dusty and Bo were all acting like they’d known each other forever.

Thirty minutes later I pulled up to Russ and Brenda’s farm and unloaded the goats. I introduced my ‘Group of Seven’ into their herd, and then there were 60. Theirs had just had kids so there were goats of all shapes, sexes, and sizes in the mix along with one token guard llama, Gibbs. So devoted to his job was he that he would not let my goats into the feeding area. Russ eventually had to have a talk with him and let him know his job duties extended to the seven newcomers!

My 'Group of Seven' follow me like perfect little citizens into their new home.

Today, I farm sit at both places and look after my own and others’ animals. I have farm sat for Russ and Brenda a few times and gotten to look after their livestock. Before that I had never taken care of cows. It was a unique opportunity for me.  Presently, Rex and Debbie are away and I’m sitting their farm. It is a beautiful place on the mountain. Best of all, I get to see my horse every day. These opportunities not only make me happy but also they let me play farmer.

Fatty-Fat coming in for a pet.

I'm very happy to have my animal family united with me after 18 long months!

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Howling Duck Ranch Moves North, Part One

After conquering 'The Hill' and several hours of the poor Chiclcotin blacktop, it was time to stop for a much needed rest for everybody.

Here’s to good friends old and new–thank-you all:

Some would say I seem to have a knack for meeting interesting people. I would say I get terribly lucky with who shows up in my life! After many months of being alone here in Grande Prairie, Alberta, I finally have my beloved goats and horse with me. The are now safely installed and well looked after on two different farms. How did this happen?

One night around 2:30 am, one of the Nurses I was working night shift with leaned across the table and asked, “So what else do you do besides work here?” I couldn’t have asked for a better entree. Without a word I flicked on the computer and showed her my blog.

We spent the next few hours getting much work done (not) and learning a whole lot about each other. As it turns out, we are kindred spirits. She has married a farmer and despite her city background now finds herself  knee deep in cow poop, often. Cuz, life on a farm is always about poop! Hence the title of my book. But I digress.

I can’t remember if it was actually that night or soon thereafter that she offered not only a place for my goats to live but also the loan of her stock trailer to get them here.  I couldn’t believe my ears, or my luck. She then took me to her farm to meet her husband, her son, and her variety of barn animals: cows, goats, horses, and token llama. These folks lent me their stock trailer without hesitation or acceptance of payment. But they did wonder if I could perhaps look after their place when they went away later than month? “Later this month, later next month, and any other time you want to go!”

Once the idea of moving my horse and goats was transformed by my new friend from a fantasy to a real possibility, I asked my friend Rex  (who I’d met very briefly along with his wife years ago at another friend’s place and whose farm I moved up here to look after for 5 weeks last summer) if he was really serious last year when he said I was welcome to bring Nick to his farm. “Of course you can. I just can’t promise nothing will go wrong out here. It’s got older fencing and barbed wire and who knows what else in the field,” he cautioned, more I hope to console himself than to warn me. He does after all have two of his own horses on the land and it quite meticulous about keeping his place up. Moreover, he is a Vet. I decided I would risk  it and bring Nick here!

It was a whirlwind trip and I barely had time for two nights at Howling Duck Ranch. I did manage to get a visit in with a couple of  good friends from the valley, Clarence being one of them. We had a pancake breakfast reunion. Something a few of us used to get together to do when I lived there. It was too short a visit but better than no visit at all. The next day I was up early, loading the goats, and heading to the barn where Nick was kept.  I was looking forward to seeing my friend’s husband. I was not looking forward to not seeing her. Clare had developed Rolling Pigeon Ranch over many years in the valley and I met her when I decided to take up horse back riding lessons. Clare died far too young last December and I’d not been able to get to her funeral. She is the first friend that was part of my day to day life (up until leaving the valley) that I have lost. Coming to the valley and visiting with her husband was an emotional reunion for both of us. I finally got a chance to grieve her with someone who knew her and loved her too. It was a bittersweet, but much needed, visit for me.

How l like to remember Clare. She was at her best while instructing riding on her own hand made trails.

The only time I’ve ever trailered Nick, Clare was there to do the work for me. I could rely on her know-how and just be the heavy lifter! Today however I would be doing it for the first time alone and I was nervous about it. We had a long, long trip ahead of us and, to date, I’d only done a 5 hr journey with Nick when Clare was at the helm. Before I tried to get him in the trailer, I looked up at the sky and said quietly, “Clare, I’m going to need your help with this.” Then I opened the doors and walked Nick into the trailer. It was that easy. “Thank-you,” I whispered skywards as I closed the doors and latched them closed. And just like that we were on our way.

 

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My book is finally complete!

Well it’s taken a long time for me to get this book finished but it’s finally done and out in the stores for sale! This is thanks to the hard work of the Caitlin Press Publishing crew. I am very happy with how it turned out. Vici (the owner of Caitlin Press) said she wanted to try to get it in color but was not sure it would be possible. But she managed the impossible and it looks great. There are many color photos inside that illustrate what I was up to. Some you will have seen on this blog and some are new.

It was a nice surprise to wake up to a box of my very own book on my front porch last week. Even funnier surprise to hear that my mum bought a copy for my dad for Father’s Day!

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Blogline dating?

 

Goose peperoni shot by Kevin and prepared locally.

Nearly two years ago, not long after I began blogging, a fellow blogger commented on one of my posts. Because I enjoy seeing what other food enthusiasts are up to, I checked out who he was. Kevin Kossowan is a food writer/blogger extraordinaire from Edmonton with an unprecedented passion for all things food and drink. When I clicked on his site I immediately began salivating. It was, quite simply, love at first read. Instantly, I became a devout fan of his blog and spent many reads fantasizing about actually being fed by this man. After several months of quiet devotion, I left a subtle comment, “When can I come to dinner?”

Fast forward 18 months or so and I find myself in Alberta on a cattle drive. Not long after posting that story I received a lovely suggestion, “If you ever get to Edmonton let me know. It would be nice to meet you,” Kevin Kossowan. My first thoughts were: Meeting would be nice, yes. But for the love of god man will you cook me dinner? I wrote him what I hope was a slightly more tactful email than my thought train. He responded with great kindness and generosity which I have come to know is quintessentially Kevin: “1000 times yes!”

Three weeks later I arrived at his doorstep with this deal hashed out: he would feed me and I would help him make apple wine. When he came out to greet me I stuck out my hand to shake his. He looked down at my outstretched arm and nonchalantly batted it away, “I’m a hugger,” he said, then, he helped me with my bags.

“We don’t have a spare room set up yet,” he said over his shoulder as he lead me down the stairs to his basement. “Our facilities are pretty rudimentary but something tells me of all  the people I know, you’ll be able to handle it!” I came down the stairs and ‘my room’ came in to view. There in the middle of his basement was a small bubble tent replete with blankets, pillows, and ‘emergency’ flashlight! My dog was thrilled. She jumped into the tent as if she owned the place and turned to me with a look that said, “Wow, this whole room is ours… you coming in?”

 

One off my bucket list: Kevin Kossowan cooks for Kristeva!

I’d driven for five hours to get to Kevin’s (all the while dredging up juicy images from his blog and mopping them up with the crusts of my mind) so needless to say I was hungry when I arrived. He introduced me to his wife and children. We took a tour of his yard-garden (which has won ‘edible garden’ recognition by the city of Edmonton). The kids played with Tui until bedtime, when both children and dog were wore out! Finally, his wife and I sat at the dinner table while Kevin prepared the meal.

 

Local cheeses bought at the farmer's market.

It was everything I’d hoped it would be: there were myriad cheeses to be tasted, wines to be quaffed, and several beautifully presented exquisite little courses of home grown and locally sourced food to be savored.

The meal was topped off with a creme brullee, which of course, having a ‘sweet-tooth’, I decided it was a divine finish to a wonderful evening. I only wish I’d taken a photo of that!

 

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