Eating & Drinking

GROW YOUR OWN: A Val-des-Monts couple tries their hand at food self-sufficiency

Dean Roussel and Jackie Hansen believe food should be both sustainable and ethical. So the couple began growing their own vegetables, raising their own chickens, and milking their own goats. Soon, they plan to begin hunting their own meat  BY JUDY TRINH

Goats at play. Photography by Colin Rowe.

On a recent fall day, on a winding road in Val-des-Monts, I suddenly found myself in a standoff with three goats looking to butt heads with the front end of my car. I had just turned into the long gravel driveway belonging to Dean Roussel and his wife, Jackie Hansen, and thought they would be the first to greet me. Instead, I was facing the goats, which had quickly been joined by some dogs and chickens. The cacophony of bleats, barks, and clucks was so loud, it drowned out the sounds of my problematic muffler. “Down!” Roussel jogs into view, raising his hands to calm the animals. None of the animals pay too much attention. As I cautiously exit the SUV, the goats come up to say hello, followed by the dogs, then the chickens. “We have ducks, too, but I think they’re by the pond,” Hansen notes cheerfully as she comes out of the house. She proceeds to introduce the extended family. The newest members are the goats: Princess, Cappucine, and Hill Billy were acquired this past spring. A Great Pyrenees splits apart a group of hen-pecking chickens. It’s Nanook’s job to protect the poultry from predators — and the goats. Rounding out the dogs are a goldendoodle named Noah and a cockapoo named Peluche. Two cats, Frida and Fidel, lounge in the shade of the house. I ask about the chickens’ names. Rousell shakes his head, “We don’t name the food.”