Category Archives: Uncategorized

Howling Duck Homestead Take Two

I’ve  bought land again but this it’s in Northern Alberta! More to come… Be patient while I get back in to the swing of writing in the spare moments that I have outside a full time and a half job and land development. Good things are afoot finally.


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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?


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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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!


Filed under Books, Educational, Food preservation, Food Sovereignty, Hunting, Learning to Farm, personal food sovereignty, Politics of Food, Recipes, Uncategorized

It’s the policy, stupid

Couldn’t have said it better myself! Tom Philpott gets to the heart of the matter on and echoes my own thoughts about why individual choice about food won’t solve the problem of change the system in his ‘gritty’ GRIST article.

Why eaters alone can’t transform the food system

Grist admin avatar badge avatar for Tom Philpott

by Tom Philpott

29 Jun 2010 12:03 PM

Farmers market

Farmer Morse Pitts’ stall at the Greenmarket.(Windfall Farm blog)In the cover piece of the newest American Prospect, Heather Rogers skillfully makes a point I’ve been flogging for years: that public policy, not consumer choice, is the villain propping up the industrial food system and constraining the growth of organic farming.

Rogers, author of the new book Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution, opens with the example of a New York State farmer named Morse Pitts. He sells the bounty of his 15-acre Windfall Farm in the Hudson Valley at Manhattan’s famed Union Square market, where his eggs command a steep $14 per dozen and “some of his greens go for more than $40 per pound.” Yet even though his weekly market stand teems with consumers eager to “vote with their forks” (to speak nothing of their checking accounts), he nets just $7 per hour for his labor and plans to shut down his operation soon.

The problem, Rogers makes clear, is a widespread lack of infrastructure for supporting small-scale, ecologically minded farmers. The public resources that might do just that are siphoned off by the industrial food system, in the form of commodity subsidies and largesse to the corn ethanol industry. Farmers like Pitts have to pass on the costs of their ecological stewardship directly to their customers in the form of eye-popping prices, which still don’t add up to a decent salary, while industrial-scale farms can generally trash the environment with impunity, letting society as a whole, or distant communities, pick up the bill. See, for example, the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone.

At this point, farmers like Pitts — whose experience aligns with my own efforts to farm in North Carolina — have plenty of conscientious consumers willing to pay the full cost of their food. What they need now are conscientious policymakers willing to take on the agribusiness and food-processing interests that profit most from the current situation.

President Obama is not passing muster on this front, Rogers argues. Sure, he placed organic-friendly Kathleen Merrigan in a high post at USDA, and the First Lady has energetically promoted the consumption of local fruits and vegetables over industrially produced, highly processed garbage. But the president remains committed to mass-scale, chemical-intensive farming as the dominant thrust of U.S. agriculture. Anyone who doubts that will have to explain Obama’s stated goal, flagged by Rogers, of doubling exports of commodity crops like corn and soy over the next five years. The man clearly wants to ramp up, not dismantle, industrial agriculture. (See also his tapping of high-profile reps from the pesticide and GMO industries for key ag-policy jobs.)

I agree with Rogers’ assessment, with a caveat. Even if Obama were serious about transforming the food system (which I don’t think he is), he would have to contend with a set of highly profitable incumbent industries, from agrichemical makers to cheeseburger purveyors, that will defend their interests by fang and claw on Capitol Hill. And their immense lobbying power leaves any would-be reformer in the White House with little room to impose change.

Of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Rogers writes “he commands a $134 billion annual budget that includes agriculture subsidies, the National Organic Program, and food-stamp and nutrition programs.” True, but Vilsack has very little discretion over how that cash hoard is spent. The USDA chief mostly executes farm policy made in the House and Senate ag committees, and those entities are notoriously captured by the Big Ag and Big Food lobbies.

Just as healthcare reform could not move through Congress without making stark concessions to the insurance industry, just as even highly compromised climate legislation has been throttled by dirty-energy interests; and just as efforts to impose financial reform languish under the boot of Wall Street and its kept politicians, any serious presidential effort to reform the food system will crash into a brick wall constructed by the likes of Monsanto and Tyson Food.

Which brings us back to the role of consumers. Voting with your fork, it turns out, is not enough. We can’t just “be the change we want to see” in the food system; we also have to get out there and organize for policy reform: to become, in short, a countervailing force that challenges the power of the food lobby.

Easier said than done, of course, and a tall order at a time of 10 percent unemployment and falling wages. My own mother once confronted me with this: “Not only do I have to pay more for my food, but now I have to attend food-policy council meetings in my highly limited free time?” she complained.

The answer is yes, for those who have resources to invest in those or other things. If you want to see real change, for farmers like Pitts not to have to charge $14 for eggs and still be in the red, for the average American to be able to afford food grown by values such as his — that’s the only way it’s going to happen.

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Uninspected meat trucks enter Canada from USA

Canadians are wondering if meat from the United States is safe after learning 70 truckloads have evaded border inspections since January.  That’s how many truckloads the Windsor Star newspaper said had risked fines to cross the border before inspectors from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) showed up for their new 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift times.
The new daylight only inspections began Jan. 4.  The Star went public with its truck count on Feb. 19. Food entering Canada outside of those hours designated for inspection must wait until an inspector is scheduled to report for work before an inspection can take place and the truck can proceed to its destination.  As a consequence, many trucks choose to ignore the regulation and pass on through to Canada with their loads.

border-crossing-featured.jpgIn the U.S., every truck entering the country with food destined for its citizens’ dinner plates is inspected. “In the States if you miss going to an inspection, your fine is three times the load you’re carrying,” said Marchuk, president of Windsor Freezer Services Ltd.  Together with Border City Storage, Windsor Freezer Services is responsible for conducting the import inspections in Windsor.  “Nobody skips inspections in the States because it’s too risky,” Marchuk concluded.

In contrast, Canadian fines are considered a joke since there is no real consequence for breaking the law.

The border inspection companies have joined New Democrat Border Critic Brian Masse–who discovered the flaw in the border inspection at Windsor–in calling on the federal government to implement stiffer penalties for long haul truckers who avoid inspection. They would like to see the Canadian policies and fines align with the US policies and ensure the Canadian public that every truck carrying meat be inspected.

Food safety has been at the forefront of Canadian minds since August of 2008, when 22 mostly elderly Canadians died during a listeria outbreak traced to the consumption of packaged deli meats made at a Maple Leaf Foods plant, despite the fact the company recalled 23 packaged meat products. Since this event, Canadians were expecting the food inspection regulations to become more stringent and effective, not to mention enforceable.

“Canada’s imported meat inspection regime needs to be strengthened immediately,” said Kam Rampersaud from Border City Storage Ltd. (Canada). “US producers are becoming increasingly aware of the lax inspection standards at the Canadian border,” he warned.

“There is something desperately ironic about the situation where one government agency goes overboard with a regulatory regime that seemingly has nothing to do with actual food safety but that imposes enormous costs on local small abattoirs and butcher shops while at the border Canada has lost track of an estimated 70 trucks full of actual meat products selected for inspection in the last few months,” said Grant Robertson, of the National Farmers Union of Canada.


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The eagle has hopefully landed

I’m checking out Smithers, BC as a potential new home for Howling Duck Ranch. So far it looks promising (despite the fact they tell me it could take weeks, even months to get a phone and internet connection!) I’ve already found a potential home for the goats and a possible job for the goats as well! Nothing yet for me but maybe the goats can support me. More later when I’m actually set up and online officially (just borrowing a connection for the moment). Please be patient with this move (God knows I’m having to learn how to be/do that!)




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Pumpkin cheese-cake, with low carb version

Fresh pumpkin cheesecake


1/3 cup sugar (splenda if making low carb version)

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 1/4 cup flour (replace regular flour with soy flour if making low carb version)

1 egg

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together and press into spring-form pan. Bake at 450 for 5 mins. Remove and cool.

Cheese-cake filling

3 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

2/3 cup sugar (splenda if making low carb version)

2 eggs

2 cups fresh pumpkin, steamed and blended

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Beat cream cheese, sour cream and sugar together well. Add pumpkin and mix until smooth. Then add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour over crust Bake 350ºF for 1 hour or until firm.

Chill and garnish with whipping cream. Sprinkle a bit of nutmeg or cinnamon on the whipped cream if desired.

NOTE: for true low carb version, omit the crust all together. Spray the bottom of the pan with non-stick spray.


Filed under Desserts and sweets, Eggs, How to..., Low carb foods, Recipes, Uncategorized

Dehydrating veggies


Yellow zucchini ready for dehydrating.

Yellow zucchini ready for dehydrating.

A summer challenge for most gardeners is what to do with all that zucchini when it “comes on”; it’s like watching a marathon where most of the runners finish together, rather than spaced out in an orderly fashion that one can deal with.

sliced zucsIMGP3037

My solution is to pick the vegetable small (up to 8 inches) and often (once a day, ideally, especially if it rains). Then it’s matter of slicing—

Then laying them out on your drying rack (the photo shows undried zucchini slices on the left, and dried on the right):

Zucchinis, before and after dehydrating.

Zucchinis, before and after dehydrating.

I use an Excalibur dehydrator in my garage, but even though it has a capacious 9 shelves, I often need more, so I have two other older models (5 tray) as well.

My Excalibur dehydrating machine set to go to work!

My Excalibur dehydrating machine set to go to work!

I set the timer to 4 hours usually, but often check earlier than that. It’s tempting to stop the process when the vegetable is pliable and ‘chewy’ but I’ve learnt, from having to abandon some mouldy packets, that crisp is best, and safest.

I usually fill ziplock bags with the dried product, press out extra air as I seal them, and keep them in a tote, in the dark.

However, some of them I am so proud of, and so enjoy looking at the varied shapes and colours, that I keep them in jars on my kitchen bench. You really shouldn’t, since sunlight advances oxidation, but don’t they look great?

I like having my dried veggies on hand in the kitchen; they're part of my Fast, Slow Food pantry.

I like having my dried veggies on hand in the kitchen; they're part of my Fast, Slow Food pantry.


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