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The Canny Crofter: A wise farmer on a small holding in Barriere, B.C.

Column: Valley Voices from the North Thompson Valley
Jayne D’Entremont runs The Canny Crofter in Barriere. She is pictured here with one of 34 goat kids born on the farm this spring.

The agricultural industry in the North Thompson Valley, and specifically in the Barriere area, has changed from all inclusive farming to specific crop productions for the purpose of marketing ventures.

However, there are still farmers, such as North Thompson Valley farmer Jayne D’Entremont, who grow a variety of crops and raise animals for their own supply and food sustainability.

When Jayne D’Entremont began turning a dream into the reality of having a completely self-sufficient farm to call home; something old and tried, but for her was becoming new again.

Jayne grew up in the Barriere area, she attended kindergarten and elementary school, and graduated from Barriere Secondary.

Jayne says, “I was not drawn to school sports activities, but enjoyed life on the home farm, especially being with the animals there”.

Jayne says she eventually decided to enroll in Roads College and study Beef Production and Management.  That set her on the path of further agricultural studies.  She attended the University of Alberta in Edmonton and there received a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Agriculture, majoring in Animal Science.

From then on Jayne’s dream began to take form and she decided to return to Barriere where her parents had a 10-acre  property. She settled in with them, and began researching and planning the “Canny Crofter” project, a name with a Scottish origin that means ‘wise farmer on a smallholding’.

It took Jayne two years to plan her project.

“I realized that 10 acres were not enough for working with cattle,” commented Jayne, “After a lot of research I settled on breeding and selling cashmere goats. I chose them due to their size, temperament and because they produce cashmere, which is unbelievably soft and light. My goats would be used to produce fiber, kids [baby goats], as well as doing targeted grazing.”

Jayne notes that targeted grazing is a scientifically studied method to keep noxious weeds out of pastures.

“Different types of livestock have certain preferences. My goats will eat anything from noxious weeds to shrubs, and cashmere goats are especially well suited for that job,” said Jayne.

She also explained that her goats cleared the land that had not been managed for a long time on the farm.

The goats had their job cut out for them, which apparently agreed with them, since they were in good shape and also had a great fleece when they had completed their work of land clearing.

‘The Canny Crofter’ is home to four different breeds of goats, and Jayne explains that each one has its special purpose. To begin with, there are the cashmere goats, followed by the Nubians who are milk goats.   Goat’s milk is becoming quite popular and is used in the production of body care products, making cheese and even butter. At this time Jayne is making goat’s milk soap and selling it from her home. It is a completely organic product and can help users with skin issues.

The next breed additions were Boer goats, who are raised for their meat. Jayne says she is still finding it difficult when the time comes for making the decision to send the animals she has raised to the butcher, “I realized that I had to look at this farm as a business, and even though I love animals dearly, this was a part of it that I had to accept.

Jayne tells she then decided to add myotonic goats to her herd.  These are miniature goats that are friendly and social from birth.  This breed is only sold as pets. Goats, although traditionally thought of as farm animals, do make good pets, their curious and friendly nature make them good companions. Watching them play, and jumping around each other can even bring smiles to a cranky person.

They don’t wander far away from their mothers, but if they do venture out too far, one of the ever watchful Maremma guardian dogs, Dego or Paddy, makes sure they come back where they belong.

Since spring arrived, Jayne says the farm keeps her so busy she hardly finds enough time to sleep, let alone be able to get some time for herself.

Jayne also notes how much she appreciates her parents help and the assistance from friends.

With 34 goat kids and their moms,  ducks, chickens and even a few bunnies, the little farm is buzzing with life, and so it should be.

In October of 2016 ‘The Canny Crofter’ moved one step closer to self sufficiency with the installation of a solar system. The farm now has 30 solar panels set up which feed back onto the grid through net metering.

Jayne sums up her dream for the future by saying, “I want to have complete biodiversity that is environmentally healthy and forms a circle of self-sufficiency where all the animals are a part of the program along with the produce grown on the farm. Eventually, I want to have a store to sell what we produce, and therefore be financially able to operate this farm.”

If you would like to find out more about The Canny Crofter, go to Facebook:  The Canny Crofter, or contact Jayne D’Entremont at 250-672-9963.