Not Your Typical English Country Garden

Sister Island, a 42-acre property located just a couple of kilometers down river from Dawson City, has a long tradition of growing. Given to the Sisters of St. Ann in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, the nuns used the island to grow vegetables famous for their quality, and raised cows, chickens and pigs to feed a hospital and orphanage in Dawson.

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Sister Island has a long-standing reputation for growing great veggies. Photo by Lou Tyacke.

The island was purchased a few years ago by Lou Tyacke and Gary Masters, and the couple are keeping the island’s growing tradition very much alive. Visitors are also able to come and stay on the island.

Lou and Gary are originally from the U.K., and while the sub-arctic climate and short growing season they deal with is about as un-English as you can get, they are  trying some new cultivars and livestock not typical to the Klondike. Among the fowl they are raising are some species more common to the British Isles than the Yukon. This year they are raising  quail, pheasant, and heritage chicks as well.

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Lou and Gary are trying some exotic species more familiar to the U.K. like quail, pheasant, and heritage chicks. Photo by Lou Tyacke.

A Tamworth Pig enjoying its mud bath. Photo by Lou Tyacke.

There are also Tamworth pigs, a well-known species in the U.K. The animals seem well-adapted to their home, and when they are not chasing the farmers’ quad, love to take mud baths.

Lou and Gary have been growing turnips to help feed the pigs, but they are growing so well, the farmers are thinking they’ll be keeping some of the vegetables for themselves.

Turnips were meant for pig feed but some of them are finding their way into the farmers’ pot too. Photo by Lou Tyacke.

> Check out the Sister Island Facebook page

 

The New Lambs of Spring

Video by Peter Dunbar

Welcome, nine new lambs to Peter Dunbar’s sheep herd, on the banks of the Yukon River, about 5 kilometers downstream from Dawson City. There were two sets of triplets, one set of twins and one singleton.

It is still cold in the Yukon so the newborns get sweaters to help keep them warm for their first few days of life.

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Photos by Peter Dunbar

Spring is in the Air!

The cows at Klondike Valley Creamery catch some rays while awaiting spring and grazing. Photo by Suzanne Crocker.

The nights are still cold in Dawson City (-20°C), but the days are warm, the sky is blue and the sun shines for at least 12 hours every day.

In the mid-afternoon it is very pleasant to bask in the warmth of the sun.  The cows at Klondike Valley Creamery agree.

During the winter, the snow cover prevents the electric fence from grounding properly, so the cows spend most of their days in the barn.  But soon, they will be pasture grazing once again.

Bring on the sun!

New Life at  Klondike Valley Creamery!

Klondike Valley Creamery welcomes the newest member of the team. Photo by Suzanne Crocker.

Lily gave birth to a new calf — a heifer.

Gentle Lily is one of Jen and Loren Sadlier’s dairy cows at  Klondike Valley Creamery in Rock Creek, just outside of Dawson City, Yukon.

Another wonderful celebration of farmers’ ability to overwinter and breed livestock at 64 degrees north!

The New Kids In Town

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New kids Freddie, Fiona, and Freda. Photos by Suzaane Crocker.

There are 3 new kids in town!  Welcome to Freddie, Fiona, and Freda, born 10 days ago at Sun North Ventures in Rock Creek, outside Dawson City, Yukon.

Goats are a marvellous addition to food security in the North.

According to the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River, NWT, one person needs approximately 1 million calories per year.  The milk from just one goat provides 600,000 calories per year, more than half our calorie needs!  In contrast, the meat from one goat would only provide 40,000 calories.

Goats are multipurpose.  Female goats will provide milk as long as they are breeding and reproducing.  Goat manure can be added directly to a vegetable garden as fertilizer – it doesn’t need to compost first as does horse, cow and chicken manure.   And goats not capable of milk production or not required for breeding can become a local source of meat.

Becky and Paul Sadlier are two of many farmers who are successfully raising livestock in the North, despite the challenges of overwintering, feeding and breeding.

Becky Sadlier with Freddie. Photo by Suzanne Crocker.

Larger animals, like goats, pigs and cows are able to produce enough body heat to keep their barns warm without needing any external heat – even at minus 40° C.  Finding local feed is important, as shipping costs are expensive to bring feed from down south.  And then there is the breeding – keeping variety in the gene pool to keep the stock healthy without having to import animals from down south.

Congratulations to the Northern farmers who are finding ways to make it work.

Do you know of other goats being raised further North than Dawson?  Let us know.

More Baby Animals!

It is a wonderful thing that our farmers have the ability to overwinter and breed livestock in the North!

Red and black piglets from Aurora Mountain Farm - Whitehorse Yukon
Piglets on Aurora Mountain Farm, Whitehorse – Photo submitted by Simone Rudge

Piglets, Calves, Kids and Chicks are a Spring ritual at Aurora Mountain Farm  in Whitehorse. Aurora Mountain produces certified organic chicken, eggs, hay and vegetables (including garlic, yum!) available seasonally from their farm. They also offer delectable wild crafted preserves, jams & mustard, and even handmade goat milk soap!

Continue reading “More Baby Animals!”