As the last straw in a series of events that jeopardized our own food security, Lastraw Ranch (Est. 2012) was started with 12-laying hens and a neighbourhood egg route as a home-schooling project on the outskirts of Dawson City, 500kms north of Whitehorse, Yukon.
From its humble beginnings of teaching English, Math, Science, Biology, Business, Heritage, and American Sign Language (ASL), to learning ethical animal husbandry, humane harvesting practices, as well as team-work, work-ethics, and resiliency within our family – Lastraw Ranch has become one of the largest meat and egg producer in the Klondike region and the first farm in the Yukon with a transhumance (the practice of moving livestock to an off farm site seasonally) lease.
Lastraw is now partnering with other Yukon farms and value-added producers to become your source for locally-produced food.
Food security is precarious at the best of times living north of 60° and in the remote community 500+ kms north of Whitehorse, Yukon. Most food is trucked in and there have been several recent instances where food insecurity has been highlighted, like forest fires blocking highway traffic and road washouts (Check out: https://firstweeat.ca/).
We happened to be self-employed when our eldest child required a Deaf education that wasn’t available in our community. And with its corresponding work-ethic, determination, but also its flexibility, we remember thinking, “what job could we do that would give us the time to do homeschooling?” and “well, if we go bankrupt in the process — at least we’ll eat!”. And so, with twelve laying hens and a neighbourhood egg route we set out to teach English, Math, Science, Biology, Heritage, Business, and learn American Sign Language (ASL).
This kept us VERY busy and the farm grew exponentially. At first it was, “if we’re raising two pigs for ourselves – why not raise four and sell a couple to help pay expenses?”. Later, it was by the dozen, and now about fifty at a time. The twelve laying birds turned into a hundred. Meat birds numbered up to a thousand. We tried everything including rabbits and quails. We grew a market garden and herbs in a greenhouse and tried selling at the Farmers’ Market. Our three horses and two Jack Russell terriers complimented the various wildlife critters that visited, like ravens, owls, foxes, coyotes, wolves, lynx, and bears. We joined forces with other local farmers and formed the Klondike Farmer’s Forum, and territory-wide by becoming a Director of the Yukon Agricultural Association. All this from a tiny subdivision outside of Dawson City, Yukon on the North Klondike Highway.
And our poor neighbours! If raising the animals didn’t keep us busy enough – cleaning up after them did. We got busy composting the incredible volumes of manure, bagging it, and making it available to the community as natural fertilizer (see: Klondike Black Gold). Maybe the food helped, but thankfully our neighbours didn’t run us out of the territory!
So, if we set out to do homeschooling and teach the basics, like math – we ended up teaching our children self-sufficiency and how to farm, with ethical animal husbandry and humane harvesting practices, as well as: developing team-work and work-ethics, an environmental consciousness; and, how to be resilient in the face of adversity – learning ourselves along the way, always with a healthy sense of humour. Just as important as math we think!
Now we’re partnering with other Yukon farms and value-added businesses to offer more Yukon-produced food within our community, hoping to become your source for locally-produced food.
We shared our journey with friends and family via:
and later via: