Friday, November 7, 2014
Farming as career path
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'Once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman,and a preacher but everyday, three times a day, you need
a farmer'. Brenda Schoeep's grandfather
A couple of weeks ago our local garden club
had a special guest speaker from Mechosin. A farmer and editor of Small Farm Canada, Tom Henry, .attracted a large contingent
of local farmers and the discussion was informed and lively. A silence fell over the audience as he informed us the
income of a successful small farm in BC - $12,000 to 15,000. Huh?
Last week I was surprised
to be introduced to a new acquaintance as a 'local farmer'. A compliment for sure but certainly an exaggeration. I
do have a small backyard farm raising ducks and chickens for meat and eggs and I have a couple of dairy goats for milk and
cheese, I sell the surplus product when legal to do so. It is not a financially robust career path but it is immensely
gratifying work and to know exactly where and how your food was grown or raised is priceless I have struggled with
labels especially when they pertain to career choices. I don't like to be defined by what I do for a living. Although
being a farmer is a label I would wear with pride.
If you are visiting Quadra Island or have
the fortune to live here please make an effort to meet and support our local farmers. October through April, you can find
them selling their bounty at the Local Food Market on the occasional Saturday at the local community centre. In the
summer months they frequent the Q Cove Market located behind the Credit Union. They are a stellar group of people making our
island just a little more sustainable and a lot more delicious.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Year of the Kids!
Last year the little herd of goats on Bliss Farm grew by one. Sweet William, a wee buck, joined us in June 2013. He
settled in well and has earned his keep already by fathering two kids. In early January, on a starry starry night, Pixie gave
birth to a big healthy buckling we named Vincent Van Goat. Three days later Cleo birthed a sweet little doe. The two
kids became fast friends leaping and racing about the farmyard. Now chores are taking considerably longer as 'socializing'
the kids is part of the routine. Oh what joy it is to snuggle a kid on a cold winter morning. And the wee ones
have wattles just like their dad! Sigh - now if I could just get more than a tablespoon of milk from their reluctant
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Shinrinyoku- the power of the forest
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It smells good on Quadra. Not just the clean air. Forest floor mingles with seaweed strewn beach mixed with
an undercurrent of cedar sap. Much like a fine wine it's complex.
Now the Japanese have come
up with a word for what many of us enjoy on Quadra Island on a regular basis. Shinrinyoku is a popular Japanese experience.
It is, to put simply, a walk in the forest breathing in its splendour. There are scientifically proven benefits
of Shinrinyoku. Two of which are lower stress levels and higher natural killer (nk) cells which can help our immune system
fight cancer. The benefits can last up to one month after the walk in the forest.
get out and breath in those Phytoncides. Oh and if you need a dog to join you Blaze, our lab, is always available!
Saturday, April 20, 2013
New chicks on Bliss Farm!
Our lovely muscovy duck, Belle, is the delighted mother of two chicks! Now how could that happen? A few weeks
ago she went broody on about a dozen duck eggs. Great more ducklings! Then a clever chicken started laying eggs in her
nest and I somehow didn't notice until they were well incubated. Belle has successfully hatched two chicks this week
and the duckling are due to hatch in a few days! Just in time to enjoy the amazing Spring weather.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Muscovy Ducks - red meat of the future
Waiting for Pixie to deliver kids this summer was a bust. The breeding was not successful What nature did provide
was 50 muscovy ducklings! So what was to be the year of the kids became the year of the ducklings. Friends, cottage
guests and neighbours came to visit Bliss Farm as Belle and Blossom paraded about the yard showing off their ducklings. If
you want to experience living in the moment, pull up a lawn chair by the watering hole and watch the little ducklings have
a bath. The posters went up - $5 a duckling and sales were brisk. 38 ducklings later we had a small farm income.
The last hatch was on my birthday in mid October. After reading about how healthy and lean muscovy duck meat is
we decided to reserve this last hatch for the freezer. We have ,for the last three years, raised our own chickens for
meat Duck meat was an obvious next step to being more self sufficient and eating local - the 100 metre diet. Last
Saturday night with eight special friends around the table we tasted what we had raised for 15 weeks. They were
delicious. Free range muscovy duck breasts are comparable to filet mignon and my new red meat of choice. I believe
we have tasted the meat of the future.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012
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Sunday, April 15, 2012
Nettle for dinner!
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An afternoon in Open Bay on Quadra Island is like a mini vacation for me. I live on the more populated southern end
of this Norther Gulf Island. twenty five minutes of forested country roads lead me to My friend Michelle's oasis. Her
hand built cedar shingled home with vintage multi-colored windows makes me smile. Any one who has built a home can appreciate
the love that went into this one. As I walk the path to Michelle's door I notice that there are nettles everywhere.
I have always been thrilled with the free food nature provides but stinging nettle, as the name warns, has never been
high on my list. The thought of pain as part of the process and the likelihood that my children won't eat it has let
nettle season pass unnoticed. But I have learnt over the past few years that an invitation to visit Open Bay always
results in something tasty.
Step One - Long sleeves and gloves on. Very Important as the stinging nettle leaves a painful rash on any
skin surface it comes in contact with.
Step Two - Pinch top four leaves of nettle leaving the thick stem and larger leaves behind. These
top leaves are the tender ones.
Step Three- with gloves on wash leaves and steam as you would spinach.
Four -place cooked leaves in a clean tea towel and remove as much moisture as possible.
Your nettle is now ready to be eat with a little butter
or add it to your favourite recipe that calls for spinach.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
New kids on the block
This post was abruptly terminated by my son Jesse hollering "the goats are out"! Last seen bolting across the driveway,
outside the fence, and on their way to an unsuspecting neighbors' yard. Several tense,prayer filled minutes later they
were found munching on salmonberries within ten meters of "Chateau de Chevre" aka the goat shack. Goats do roam
but in this case entirely due to my first misstep as a goatherdess - I left the back gate ajar.
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have a new and satisfying rhythm now that the goats have joined our journey. With coffee in hand, the goats and I wander
the lavender meadow. While I harvest and prune the lavender, they attempt to irradicate the ubiquitous weeds. Life has
taken on a profound sense of well being these days but I remind myself this is summer on a Gulf Island!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Nothing is more magical for me than the morning sun on my little patch of lavender. Since we took
a few trees down last summer the lavender has been performing better. So have the weeds! A few friends have been
by to make lavender wands, nibble on lavender shortbread and harvest fresh bouquets, My "to do" list went
on hold yesterday as I took a wee nap in my new outdoor bed with a view. Yes dreams do come true!
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Nature photographer - through the eyes of a child
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I handed off the camera to Ben yesterday
and he captured this shot of a Pacific Tree Frog on a Paul's Glory Hosta. It's one reason I am grateful for the abundance
of rain - the frogs come out to play. This little guy was hiding in Ben's gardening gloves so we relocated him to a
safer place! He also snapped this picture of a couple of bees on the chives and Bonnie, our muscovy duckling!