Wednesday February 17 2016 15 OP-ED AGRICULTURE Adventures in erding the NFTI goats just kept coming Ding ding ding Maya our spotted Nu- bian has a bell around her neck that sets o the alarm in the otherwise calm and quiet morning barn. The other goats rush over to- wards me as I waddle in to their pen with two full buckets of grain for the nursing moms. All of a sudden the sheep are curious too and really start o the cacophony. Ive been announced and now everyone in the barn is excited about morning feed- ing. Its just full of bleats and baas and moos and cuck-a-doodle-doos that gets your heart racing. One of our animal managers booked a holiday this winter before we realized we would have so many goat kids 23 is the nal count so I have been called in as a support for Thomas Schenkel who lives out at the farm. I work there two days a week to give him a bit of a weekend and it sure has been a big learning process for me The rst time I had any responsibility at the barn I thought that I killed Pancake our little orphaned kid. Her mom had twins and not enough milk for her and when I rst saw her I thought she was a goner as she was just so tiny and lying at on the ground. We had to bottle feed her and soon her nickname became Spunky because she just turned right around and had so much vigour and drive She would literally jump all over you as soon as you went into her little house with the bottle of milk to feed her. And so the rst day working at the barn I fed her too much milk and was so worried I had caused some damage. True to her nickname though she survived my inexperience and is now one of our friendliest and most en- ergetic kids. Last week our last moms kidded. La Mancha is a Spanish breed which has tiny gerbil-like ears and she had beautiful triplets with ears of varying sizes. We have Nubians too and they have very long oppy ears suited to the African heat where they originated. As it is very cold here the long ears are prone to getting a bit of frostbite and so we have been thinking that La Manchas tiny ears would be better for the North. As it turns out La Mancha got a bad ear infection just after she gave birth and we think it is because the small ears got some frost around the little hole and some irritation from that. Our experienced animal manager took very good care of her with antibiotics and cleaning the ears and she is back on her feet and looking strong as ever. Now we are thinking that very long ears and very small ears both may not be ideal for our area and we will try to breed mid-size ears that will be better adjusted for our temperatures. Although the excitement of new kids has now passed we are looking forward to spring lambs. We have over 20 sheep mostly Icelan- dic and a few Friesian Milk Sheep. We have beautiful white golden and black Icelandic bucks and so we just bred them. The goal here is to get the good quality milk produc- tion from the Friesians with the hardiness of the Icelandics and have a really well suited sheep for the North. These are just some examples of the type of research we are excited to do more of in our mixed animal barn. Our erd ock plus herd is over 80 animals right now and we are very pleased to put our holistic manage- ment training to use managing the erd in a regenerative way out on the land this sum- mer. The Northern Farm Training Institute NFTI wants to truly be a support to grow the agricultural industry in the North with high-quality training by experienced locals as well as tools and supplies that are suited for our type of growing and now animal varieties and housing systems that will make animal husbandry a success as well. Last week I did a Skype presentation for a food security class at the University of Ottawa and they asked a good question how does raising domestic animals fit into the culture in the North Well we know that in the recent past Northern people had fully functioning local food systems. Now with settlement population growth climate change and resource development affecting all types of wild harvest our traditional local food systems have be- come stressed. By learning about raising animals domestically in a way that fits with our values of protecting the environ- ment and honouring living things we can take some of the pressure off of our wild herds and reduce our reliance on industy factory-farmed animal products from the south. In this way we can restore a thriving food system in the North that celebrates our own unique culture and environment. NFTI truly believes that together we can harvest all we need. In our new modern context the people of the North need to recreate the way we feed ourselves locally in a genuine way that will create real health security and celebration. We can do this by learning new things while at the same time making sure we protect our traditional ways as well Kim Rapati is the operations manager at the Northern Farm Training Institute NFTI a non-prot society based in Hay River NWT. Since 2013 NFTI has provided im- mersive farm training to residents of the NWT committed to improving local food systems. Their goal is to provide foundational knowledge tools and support to empower local people to build a sustainable industry in the territory that addresses our food security issues creates economic opportunities and healthy lifestyles. Find out more or apply for training at www.nftinwt.com. PhotoscourtesyofNFTI A total of 23 kids have now been born to nannies at the Northern Farm Training Institute. The births - every one of them - were a surprise as the farms animal manager was unaware they were pregnant when he bought nine females in B.C. Pancake and Maya hanging out next to the salt lick with nannies Stella and Gaia in the back- ground. Pancake was so named because she was part of a set of twins whose nanny could not produce enough milk so she was at and malnourished when Kim Rapati rst found her.