There was a crowd last Sunday on the Chemin des Prairies (Prairie Road) in Saint-Anicet during the UPA Open House event at the goat farm owned by Sophie Gascon and David Vincent. Proof that the bucolic side of family farms – notably the small farms that Sophie Gascon represents as an administrator with the Haut-Saint-Laurent syndicate of the UPA – plays an important part in our collective memory. As though the opportunity to find oneself in a barn full of goats in the middle of fields as vast as the horizon suddenly brought Quebecers back to the deep roots…
“I really enjoyed it,” said André Picard, a participant in the Open House activity. “It was very well organized, and I learned a lot about raising goats and chickens. Congratulations to the Gascon family.”
It goes without saying that the Boer breed the young couple has been specializing in since 2011, is magnificent. The thirty or so kids in the enclosure adjoining the barn are extremely playful and their behaviour a tad unpredictable as they climb and play on different objects for no apparent reason. But for the visiting families from the city, what a joy to pet the nanny goats in their enclosures while looking them straight in the eye.
Certainly, our visit to the Biquettes à Flopine allowed us to learn a great deal about goat breeding considering their herd is composed of up to one hundred or so breeding goats. In the breeding enclosures, three dashing Billy goats each manage around thirty young females, whose hoofs are all trimmed to prevent injuries. The gestational period lasts five months followed by a dry period of about 45 days. When kidding season arrives, the owners no longer have a second to themselves as they must ensure, at all hours, that new arrivals and their mothers are all doing well. Cameras, rolling 24 hours a day, a very useful during this period.
The 3.2 ha goat farm was made possible as the result of a ruling by the Commission for the Protection of Agricultural Land (CPTAQ) in favour of the Ferme Chatrac, owned by Sylvain Gascon, a former journalist from Val-David and a well-respected producer at the Huntingdon County Farmers’ Market. Sophie is the third generation to live off the land purchased over fifty years ago by her grandfather, Philippe Brunet.
The farm now produces a relatively rare and sought-after meat, to which they have added the production of eggs. Goat meat is considered a red meat, which is low in fat with a high protein content.
And, what exactly does Flopine mean? When Sophie was very young, she was not able to pronounce her first name, explains her father, with a smile. She used to refer to herself as ‘Flopie’ instead of Sophie. From then on, she was given the nickname ‘Flopine.’
Flopine, what a beautiful name for Mr. Séguin’s next goat…
Denise St-Germain, Volunteer Correspondent for the Haut-Saint-Laurent
Lise Guinard, photographer
Translation by Sarah Rennie, Volunteer Correspondant for the Haut-Saint-Laurent