Dawson Valley Free Range

Dawson Valley Free Range

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Final Post

I was going to shut down this Blog, but then I realised that I have recipes on here, as well as a history. So I decided to delete the pages that relate to the business that we once had. A business that I'm still sad about having to stop. I tell myself  that it wasn't a failure, because we learnt so much and met so many wonderful people.

We haven't yet gone on our holiday, but will hopefully head off soon. There's always final jobs to get done on a farm! We will leave the farm in the capable hands of our daughter and head off into the wild blue yonder.......soon.

I have some really good recipes on the Recipe tab that I was worried about losing, so thought I'd keep that page open. Mostly for my own use, but if there's something there that you'd like to try, that's a bonus too.

Please support small farmers and especially regenerative farmers as much as you can. Follow me over on Healthy Farming Healthy Food, although I haven't updated it for ages - I keep saying that I'm waiting until we're on holidays and I have time....hopefully soon!

Much Love and Gratitude to you all xxx

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Nearing the End.....

A few weeks ago I sent out an email to all those on my email list to inform customers that we would be ceasing business by the end of June. This was a really tough decision to make as we have loved being free range pig farmers. It has been a huge learning curve for us, and I really think I could write a book about it and about paddock to plate marketing.

Through this journey we've not only learnt alot, but we've met some wonderful people. Some of those we've been their first point of contact with eating real food. Food farmed the way it should be. I have been a big advocate of the ethical farming of animals and also the ecological farming of land. Both these are needed to be run in conjunction to enable healthy food. We've seen our land change rapidly once we put pigs in the paddocks. Paddocks that grew very little grass as it was poor sandy soil, now has a large range of grass and other plants.

We will always farm animals in this way, just not to the scale we have over the last few years. It's been a lot of years of very hard work. We've put a lot of money into it, but we just haven't been able to really make it work. Unfortunately we are not alone. There are quite a few other free range pig farms that have succumbed over the last couple of months. Please consider this when you next tuck into a feed of bacon and eggs. Ask your butcher, your cafe, where they source their bacon and eggs from. Please support small scale local producers where ever you can. We don't do it because we think we'll get rich, we do it because we hope we'll make a living doing something that we love doing and that others may get a direct benefit from.

We had thought that we'd keep going with the markets until June, but we made the decision recently to bring it forward. We will have two more markets before Easter and then on Easter Monday we take our final load of pigs to the abattoir for Sunshine Coast Organic Meats. This will signify the end. It's actually very fitting, because Sunshine Coast Organic Meats was right there at the beginning. They were the first butcher to take us on and have stuck with us right to the end. Different owners, but both lots have been incredible to work with. Chris and Jono who own it now, are just great blokes, so if you're down that way, continue to support them as they continue to support farmers!

Markets, and please note that these are not my usual weekends, so in Rocky I may be at a different spot:
  • Saturday 30th March at Yeppoon Community Markets
  • Sunday 31st March at Rockhampton Kern Arcade Carpark Markets
And then.....
  • Saturday 13th April at Yeppoon Community Markets
  • Saturday 13th April at Benaraby Turnoff for Gladstone area - 2.30 to 3.30pm
  • Sunday 14th April at Rockhampton Kern Arcade Carpark Markets

I'm now looking forward to a long holiday before we work out our next plan. We will still continue to run cattle on our property at Baralaba and Chloe will be looking after things here while we head off for a bit. If you want to keep up with what I'm up to when we are done, please follow my personal facebook page, as I will be closing down the Dawson Valley Page after Easter. You should be able to find it on this link I hope. Lucy's Farm Kitchen or if you enjoy reading blogs, I'm hoping to spend a bit more time blogging at Healthy Farming Healthy Food

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

February Markets

Not sure what's going on with this weather - crazy weather up north and we're still missing out. It's been cloudy for days and you think it's just got to rain but no......it doesn't rain in a drought!

Anyway, we're a lot better off than some people so shouldn't really complain.

We do still have some green grass down on the banks of the Dawson River Annabranch.

We've had our first market for the year and it was great to see everyone again and a few new faces as well. We are back to our regular schedule with markets twice per month, based on the 1st and 3rd Sundays. First weekend will include a Gladstone run and the third weekend will include an Emerald run if we can get enough orders.

Next markets:

Saturday 16th February in Yeppoon - 6 -10am
Sunday 17th February in Rockhampton - 6-12pm
Sunday 17th February Emerald delivery - 4.30 - 5.30pm at the bridge.

The Emerald delivery will be a trial to see how it goes. We'd prefer to only do the two markets each month, so this delivery is a compromise. I will need to have enough pre-orders to make the trip worthwhile, so please get orders in as soon as possible, but by Wednesday the 13th at the latest. We will have Pork, ham, bacon, goat, beef and mutton (no lamb sorry).

Please remember if you would like a different cut of meat to what we usually do, then please ask in advance and I can organise the butcher to do it. Next market we'll have the old style nitrate free bacon back, so if you want some of it, it may be best to order it as I don't know how much I'll have. We ran out of bacon last weekend so I'm hoping to have more this time.

Cheers for now,


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Happy New Year!!!

Another year has begun and we're already down a week! I hope you all had a very happy and peaceful holiday period. We had a quiet and very relaxed Christmas. A very small family at our house this year so no fuss and luckily not too much farm work either. We got a great new years present with our youngest son coming home for a month or so. He will look after things for us so that we can get away for a few weeks. We head off in less than a week and won't be back until the end of January - just in time to get myself organised for the first markets of the year.

First Weekend in February will be our first markets:

Saturday 2nd February - Yeppoon Community Markets at the Showgrounds - from 6 to 10am
Saturday afternoon I will head to Gladstone - Benaraby Turnoff - between 2.30 and 3.30pm
Sunday 3rd February - Rockhampton Kern Arcade Carpark Markets - 6am -12pm

We will have beef, pork and goat - sorry the lambs aren't big enough yet. I'm pretty sure I will have some pigs heads available too, so if you are keen to make some brawn or put some crab pots in or just use to feed your dogs, please email me to get me to hold one for you.

New Butcher Processing
We have had a topsy turvy processing for the last year. From this market onwards, we will have a new butcher doing the processing for us. He is based in Monto - Millers Gourmet Meats. Initially we will still have some bacon and salami coming from the current/old butcher and this will continue to come from him for a little while. We will however eventually have bacon from the new butcher and this will be very similar to the bacon we used to do. So, our nitrate free bacon and ham will be like the old style stuff that is a lot browner. I know that some of you will be quite pleased to have it back again! I'm not sure how long it will take to phase out of the more recent bacon, but I'll let you know when the old style bacon is going to be back!  We appreciate the efforts that Des from Barritt's Butchery in Bundaberg went to for us and our processing, but we've made the decision to move to Millers as Monto is closer and much more practical for us.  Sadly though, we won't have Italian Sausages as they were Des's recipe. We will just have our regular paleo snags and will have some fat and some thin ones - both in beef and pork.

Frequent Free Range Group
A few people have pulled out of this or put it on hold, so if you are one of those that stopped in 2018 and would like to start up again, please email me. If you haven't been a FFR but would like to, please read all the details here and then send me an email with your details. I will be doing ALL free rangers this weekend - all fortnightly, monthly and Gladstone FFRr's. I've already organised the first processing with Millers and won't be able to change it as we'll be going away, so no special orders will be available, just the regular cuts we usually do.

Gladstone customers please get your orders in as soon as you can. Because I'll be away, I may not respond immediately. I will most likely leave all responses until I get back. Sometimes if I respond on my phone, when I'm back on my laptop, I don't always "see" the email so easily and it can get lost. If I leave the emails unread, I know that I need to attend to them. 

I won't have any fresh ham for this first market, however I do have quite a bit of both types of ham in the freezer here - all sliced and in the regular packs. If you would like some, it will be half price but you'll need to pre-order it so that I can bring it in. I will do my best to keep it frozen so that you can then re-freeze it. I also have 3 pieces of ham - 2 nitrate free and 1 conventional, and not frozen - useby 29/01/19. They're are around 1.7 kgs each and I'll sell them for $40 - approx $23.50/kg. I can bring them into Rocky tomorrow to drop off or if you're in the Baralaba area, you can come and get one. If you're in Rocky, please email me with your phone number and whether you'd like NF or conv and I will need to know by tonight - Tuesday 8th January.

Looking forward to the start of another busy year. But especially looking forward to the rest of January and a break away for us! Seeyou next month!

Friday, December 7, 2018

December and the end of another year

I don't seem to write to many blog posts these days - usually rely on facebook or my newsletter to get messages out. That in itself is a bit risky as Facebook is not a reliable way to get to everyone, and not everyone is on my newsletter list!  Sometimes, life just gets really busy and we can't do everything! But I always seem to find time to do the fun things, like cooking/preserving. Don't these tomatoes look pretty! The grape tomatoes preserved in brine look interesting and can't wait to try them.

This year has been busy and the next couple of weeks will be also - 3 more delivery weekends and then we'll take a month off from markets. January is traditionally very slow and we are hoping that Kim and I might get an opportunity to take some time off and head away for a couple of weeks. January will also be a time for me to re-assess how we manage markets and delivery and we may make some changes to how its currently done.

Frequent Free Ranger Group - I'd love feedback on this - how it could be done better, what has made some people leave and why do those that are still doing it like it? What works and what doesn't? The idea behind the group was to enable us to manage stock better and to be assured of a certain level of sales. We've had a lot of people drop out, so it would be good to know what we could do differently to encourage people to have a regular order. Either comment below or email me direct for any feedback, good and bad.

Gladstone and Emerald Delivery - We go to these two centres monthly and only do pre-orders or we park up for a while at each place and see what else we can sell. Gladstone is mostly pre-orders which is great because we know exactly how much we need to take and it's a short time there. This works well for us. Emerald is further away and we stay longer because we don't have as many orders. I would love feedback on how this is working for those customers that do get meat from us - what would you prefer? What works and what doesn't work? More time, less time?

Only a few more opportunities this year to get our meat - please think about stocking up so that you can get through January. If you are in the Rocky area, we will be leaving the freezer in That Wholefood Place well stocked so you will be able to get supplies from there too.

Saturday 8th December - Emerald delivery - 9.30am to 12pm at the Roundabout near Coles and the Bridge.

Saturday 15th December - Yeppoon Community Markets from 6am to 10am
                                         - Gladstone Area - Benaraby Turnoff from 2.30pm to 3.30pm
Sunday 16th December - Rockhampton Kern Arcade Carpark Markets from 6am to 12pm

Saturday 22nd December - Yeppoon Community Markets from 6am to 10am and then in Rocky on the same day - That Wholefood Place from 11 to 2pm. This delivery is mostly to deliver hams. We will only have left over meat from the week before and look out for some good specials then too! If you live in Rocky and have ordered a ham, you will need to come and collect from me from That Wholefood Place. Yeppoon ham customers will obviously get there's from Yeppoon markets. Please note, I won't be going to the Arcade Carpark Markets on Sunday the 23rd.

If I don't see you over the next couple of weeks, I would like to take this opportunity to Wish you all a very Happy Christmas and I really hope you get to spend some time doing what makes you feel happy. Everyone has different ideas of what's important about this time, but for me it's about spending time with someone you love (or lot's of someones!) Lets hope it's also a wet, but not too wet Christmas too! Thankyou so much for the support you have given our business this year and we hope to continue to provide you with quality, ethical and healthy meat in 2019.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

October Update

We had some lovely rain over the last weekend - not enough, but a great start! We also spent a few days out mushrooming - I love it when we get drizzly weather at this time of year, as it usually means mushrooms. I tend to dry them as my preferred storage option. I can then crush them into different soups, stews or whatever as a delicious flavouring. When used fresh, they tend to contain quite a bit of grit, which is not so appetising.

We ended up with about 4 basket fulls of mushrooms.

Kim out foraging in the pig paddocks. The pigs don't eat mushrooms, but they fertilise the paddocks nicely for growing mushrooms.

This last weekend, our local school at Baralaba celebrated it's 100 year birthday! The town did a fabulous job of organising the festivities and it was so great to catch up with old school friends (not too much emphasis on the old!) and some more recent friends from when my kids were at school there. My mum was involved at the school on and off since 1949 when she arrived as a student, then came back as a teacher, then a mum of students after she married my dad and then she went back teaching when I started school. She retired a little while ago, but was involved for a long time. At one stage in 1976, my entire family at the time (my young brother had not been born then) were at the school. Mum as a teacher, Dad as the groundsman, my oldest sister in year 10 and my youngest in year 1. The remaining five kids scattered through the classes in between. I think Mum would've taught, at some stage, a fair percentage of the people at the reunion on the weekend! 

This weekend coming, will find me at the Markets in Yeppoon and Rockhampton and will include a delivery to Gladstone area. I'm planning on a delivery to Emerald in November and then again before Christmas if people order hams.

Christmas Hams
We will have some hams available for Christmas this year. Please let me know if you would like to put your name down for one. They will be bone in only and $26/kg. I'm guessing that a whole one could be up to 6 or 7 kgs, and halves may be 4kg, as we'll use the biggest legs to cut in half. I'll need to know the following when ordering:
  • NF or Conventional
  • Whole or Half 
  • Your phone number
Last night I cooked up some ham hocks. I pulled the meat off to serve with eggs for breakfast and will now use that broth to cook some beans for baked beans.

I will still have a few ham hocks if anyone wants them this weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A very impromptu trip away

Sometimes you just need a holiday and if you can't get one, maybe a change will have to do. Kim and I were due to go away for a few days but it didn't look like it was going to happen. However, Edmund was going to buy a tray to put on his dual cab ute and he found one down near Brisbane, so we decided to pick it up for him. This was a decision made at the last minute without thinking about all the things I had to do at home this week. Not least, recovering from the Food and Wine Festival.  A days driving down to a quaint caravan park in the Mary valley, overnight stop, drive to Brisbane outskirts, and then back to the caravan park for the night and then a days driving home. 

The cabin we stayed in was a little plain, but had the best view.  Waking up during the night and looking out the window was just a delight! The moon was out after a drizzly day and there were misty clouds below us. It was just magical! The daytime view is pretty good, but not the same as night. And it was green - well greener than here anyway!

It is also so peaceful. Beautiful bird noises to meditate with, which is what I did on waking. And no mine noise! We have a very loud coal mine next to us at home!

The Capricorn Food and Wine Festival went well - it was a huge amount of work, but I think we can call it a success. It was certainly an experience to be part of and to work out how to do it all - the whole cooking for lots of people was a challenge!

But, now we are back home and I need to get a very much overdue notice out! I had hoped to do this while we were away but sadly we had no phone service and the place we stayed didn't have wifi. 

We will be delivering to emerald this weekend. We will be parked up near the roundabout near Coles and on the way to the Botanic Gardens. If you haven't ordered, that will be no problem as we will have plenty of meat available - beef, goat and of course all our porkie products - fresh pork, ham and bacon and salami. This is the best salami that we've made yet! Well (we) haven't made it, our butcher has. 

Then we'll be back in Yeppoon and Rocky on the first weekend in October. Wow October already no I haven't even thought about hams for Christmas! I will try and sort that out over the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Cheers for now, and hoping that the storms that are floating about will build up to give us a good drop of rain.