Dawson Valley Free Range

Dawson Valley Free Range

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Happy Christmas!

Well, it's that time of  the year again.....who is like me and hasn't done a thing towards Christmas preparation? I'm sure it will all come together eventually - well it usually does.

If you are looking for a present for that hard-to-buy-for person, how about a Gift Voucher from Dawson Valley Free Range? We can do any amount that you like and then the recipient can order whatever they like to that value.

I love the idea of supporting local businesses, and if you do too, this is a good idea! Also we will have some of our soap for sale, which could be another gift idea.......I will have some certificates available to fill out at the markets, but if you know that you would like to get one, please email me ahead of time and I can bring one with me.

This will be our last market for the year and we won't be back until the 17th of January, so if you want to stock up, please get your orders in by Sunday night.

Kim and I would like to give a big Thank you to all our supporters this past year. I especially appreciate your understanding when we stuff up an order or don't have what you want or would like. Our life does seem to get busy at times and I don't always get to spend enough time in the office doing the planning! We are very grateful!

So all the best for the holiday season and we hope that you spend the time how you want! Whether that be with family or friends. Take care if you are travelling and we look forward to a busy year ahead!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Markets in December

We have only got two markets left for 2015! The weekends of the 5/6 December and 19/20 December we will be in Yeppoon and Rockhampton. Gladstone delivery will be on the 19th December. Please get your orders in. I will need the orders for the next market by Sunday night, and the orders for the following (and last) market would be great as soon as possible. Especially if you want any special requests for Christmas.

Sad news......most of you would be aware by now, but we won't have any hams for Christmas this year. We will be building up our pig numbers next year, so will definitely have them for Christmas 2016!!! We have had so much trouble this year with our supply keeping up with demand (it just isn't!) so I do apologise for all the times that we run out of meat at the markets. It's a good thing for the long term, just not very good when we disappoint you, our customers.

The beef has been getting very good feedback, so that's been really good to hear. We will have plenty of beef this time as we have done a bigger beast! We will also have goat along with the usual porky products.

We've had some lovely rain over the last month, so the place is looking pretty green - although the heat lately is starting to zap some of the grass. This paddock below has been left empty to freshen up since the beginning of the rain, but we are now putting weaners into it. We have them fenced in a small area first, but will open it up today to let them have the whole paddock. When the piglets get weaned from their mothers, they need to be confined for a couple of weeks, otherwise they would escape back to mum.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Change of Plans (Again)

We have to cancel the markets next weekend - in Yeppoon and Rockhampton. I'm terribly sorry, especially to those who have pre-ordered, and I will contact you separately if I have contact details.

Therefore our next market will be the 14th and 15th November. I have also changed the order form. I am changing the 5kg packs and deleting the 3kg ham and bacon pack. We have been having a few problems with the way the orders are being packed and so I thought I'd change it to be a bit simpler.

Now, you can choose 3-5 (or more) items of fresh pork and if your order is over 5kg's you will only pay $15.60/kg for the total of the fresh pork received. Eg, instead of the Roast Pack with sausages and mince, an example order would be: 1.8kg Roast, 1.6kg mince, 1.8kg sausages = 5.2kg x $15.60. You can choose any meat that you wish to be in the pack, except ham and bacon. Also, I will use my discretion if you order 5kg's of one product - eg I can't supply 5kg's of belly roasts! Either type the list of cuts in the first box, or select from the full list. Ham and Bacon can be ordered separately on the order form.

If you choose to order, please get your orders in before the 31st October. I ran low last market on many items, especially bacon, and this is mainly due to not being prepared enough when orders come in late. We take the pigs over to the abattoir on the 2nd November so it's much easier for me to plan if I have an idea of how many orders I will be getting. For Gladstone customers, this will be your delivery weekend also.We will have goat, beef, pork, salami, chorizo and beer sticks available. We may run low on bacon this time and so I will reserve the right to reduce large orders. Our pig numbers are a little low at the moment, but will pick up soon.

Thankyou for your patience with my market date changes. One of the inconveniences of being a farmer is that circumstances can change and we need to be able to change plans with them!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Markets and Delivery 17-18 October

Next market we will have beef, goat and pork. We will also have salami, chorizo and beer sticks again. These sold like hot cakes last weekend. What did people think of them - luckily I tried the chorizo before the weekend, because we sold out of it.

Hopefully our nitrate free issue will be sorted and we'll have plenty of propper NF bacon and ham!!

This post is also a quick reminder to the Gladstone Area customers that we will be delivering there again next weekend - 17/18 October. Most likely the same place and same time. Saturday the 17th October: 1 - 2pm at the Puma Service Station, Calliope Crossroads.

If you would like to order could you please get back to me this weekend.

A couple of weeks ago I had a spare pork belly. It wasn't really big enough to feed us all, so I decided to make some bacon. I don't smoke it as we don't have a smoker, but after salting I dried it out in a very low oven. It was delicious!!! (although I did overdo the salt a tad!)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Change to market date

They say it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind.......so I did. I told everyone last weekend in Yeppoon and Rockhampton that I wouldn't be back for  a month. I changed my mind and decided that I would go again on my usual day - the first weekend of the month, which is next weekend the 3rd and 4th of October.

I will however, only have pork, ham and bacon. We will have beef and goat on the following trip, which will be the 17th and 18th October. That weekend will also be a delivery for Gladstone customers, so please get your orders in as soon as possible for that weekend.

This might be a good recipe to try out - all the vegetables are in season and locally grown (except the mushrooms) at the moment, so pick up some while you are at the markets.

Pork Ratatouille Bake

Diced Pork - approx 1kg
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
500 g tomatoes, pureed or chopped (substitute 2 tins crushed tomatoes)
1 red or yellow capsicum, chopped
200 g mushrooms, roughly chopped
300g zucchini or button squash, chopped
Mozzarella cheese

Sauté onion and garlic in butter or lard until softened. Add pureed tomatoes. Simmer until thickened - may need to add more liquid (eg red wine or chicken stock if it looks like drying out), add chopped basil and sit aside while preparing the rest.

Brown the Pork in batches.

In a shallow baking dish, layer the vegetables and pork. Top with the tomato sauce, then place sliced or grated mozzarella on top.

Cover with Foil and Bake in a 200o oven for 15 min. Remove foil, turn heat down to 180o and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until cooked.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Farm Interships and Farm Holidays

Well, we have come to a point in our business that we have been concerned about for a while. We no longer have an endless supply of Backpacker helpers coming to work on our farm.

We have been fortunate over the last few years to meet some really lovely young people who have come into our lives for short periods and have won a piece of our heart. If an overseas tourist is in Australia on a working holiday visa  and they spend 3 months working in regional and remote Australia, they are eligible to apply for a second year working holiday visa. We have had many people come to us for this reason. We have offered them accommodation and food in return for their labour and the signing off on their visa form. We have gained so much more than simply labour! We have gain some (hopefully) life long relationships, we have had the joy of having young people sharing our home and our lifestyle, we have had the pleasure of seeing these young people go from "townies" to country kids in a few short months. We hope that we have taught them a little about how important good food is to the health of their bodies and minds and that they will go on to influence others.

Some of our helpers have come from a life in the city at university or work, where they have had little or no exposure to animals, dirt and dust and physically hard work! They have learnt to drive quads, tractors and even cars. They have learnt to care for sick or injured animals. They have learnt to put up with the dust and heat of summer and the cold, windy days of winter. Even though most of them come from places where there is snow, they still find it cold on a winters morning getting up to feed the pigs. They have mentally and physically challenged themselves. They have worked without complaint alongside us and sometimes they have been quite long days.

Most of them have come to us as they had heard stories of people being mistreated when fruit picking, or they just didn't really want to do that sort of work and thought it would be better to work for nothing and be looked after than work very hard and not be treated well. We even complained on their behalf to the media hoping that things would change in the fruit/vegie picking industry and they would be treated better. The only result was that the government decided that voluntary labour should no longer be accepted as eligible for the second year visa application. This is going to affect a lot of farmers. Most of the farmers that use this form of labour, do it so that they can keep their cost of production down. Producing sustainable or organic food is a lot more labour intensive than conventional food and it therefore costs more to produce. It is very difficult for us to compete with the Colesworth model but unfortunately we do

We have worked on an Internship / Farm Holiday program to enable us to encourage people to come to our farm to help us out. We will exchange their labour for a great learning experience and some really good food and accommodation. If you could share this post and the website, I would greatly appreciate it.

As I was finishing this post, Edmund walked in with the mail. There was a parcel from two of our recent helpers - Loum and Marie (these are gifts from their home regions in France). This is what they sent us and so I suppose that shows how much people enjoy their time with us. These two girls were very special, (as are all our helpers) and it just makes me sad to think that we may not have the pleasure of sharing our life with others.

Please have a look at our website and share it with anyone that you think might be interested in taking up one of our options for a cultural exchange! We've called it Farm Internship Australia. This experience is aimed at people wanting to complete an internship with us, have a tree change learning experience, or a working farm holiday. I do use the word holiday loosely, because it won't be a holiday, people will come here to work.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Market Time

Markets are on again in Yeppoon and Rockhampton this weekend coming - 19th and 20th September. I will be doing a delivery run to Gladstone area on Saturday. It's too late to order anything for the Gladstone run, but if you would like to come along and see if there's anything you would like to get that will be fine, or send me a text message Saturday morning to put something aside.

Saturday 19th September - Puma Service Station, Calliope Crossroads. From 1 - 2 pm.

We will only have beef and pork this weekend. Our goats and sheep have slowed growth down over the winter and I think they are waiting for the pasture to freshen up before they start growing again! One of the pitfalls of grassfed meat is that the few months from about May to September are very slow grass growth months and therefore the animals growth slows down to. Our beef cattle are in short supply too!

We would normally be at the markets in the two weeks following this one (first weekend in October), but we are going to cancel it. Therefore the next market following this weekend, will be in a month, which will be the 17/18 October. This will be a Gladstone Area delivery as well and we should have Pork, Beef and Goat available.

Don't forget that we now sell Soap, Bone Broth, Lard, Pet mince and Pet bones. I should have all these available for sale this weekend. Unfortunately I won't have salami as it didn't get made, but hopefully we will have it for the October market - salami, beer stick and chorizo.

Seeyou all soon,

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Who knows what Tri-tip is? I didn't until we started selling it, as it's a cut that we never used to keep when we killed our own meat. It's a small triangular piece of beef off the end of the sirloin. I decided to do some research on it and this is what Wikipedia had to say about tri-tip. It's most widely known in Santa Maria, California and I adjusted this recipe.  Our pieces are usually around a half kg and are perfect for a one or two person meal. It is  a very lean piece and as long as it's not overcooked, will be tender and juicy. We'll have two this weekend so if you want to give it a go let me know.

Santa Maria style Tri-tip with salsa
This is traditionally served with beans however because I was going to have the oven on I did oven chips. It went together beautifully.

I piece of Tri-tip
Dry rub - do this several hours before cooking if possible.
1 teaspoon cumin seeds - toasted in a dry frypan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 clove garlic, crushed
Using a mortar and pestle, grind the spices and garlic together and rub into the meat. Allow to rest in the fridge.

2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 capsicum, chopped - use yellow or green for contrast
1/2 stick celery, chopped fine
Handful of coriander, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 or more chillies depending on how hot you like it.
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of Worcester sauce - I didn't use this because I didn't have any
Mix together and let rest for an hour if possible.

Put the chips in the oven. Brown the beef in a hot pan, on all sides. Place in the oven with the chips. The meat shouldn't take more than 20 minutes in the oven, so I will leave it to you to judge your oven heat and the timing for the chips to be cooked at the same time as the meat. The oven I was using is hotter than mine at home, so my chips were cooked way before the meat!

It was a really nice way to cook and serve this beef, and the half kg piece was perfect for Kim and I.

Friday, August 28, 2015


First of all, please note that there's five weekends in August so we won't be at the markets in Yeppoon and Rockhampton until NEXT weekend - the 5/6 September. If you would like to put an order in, there is still time - I would like them before Sunday please. You might even like to get some pork osso bucco to try out this dish. I've baked the osso bucco on a bed of tomato and onion. I'll do up a recipe before next weekend and you will find it in the recipe section.

Kim and I will be away again next week, so I won't get a chance to make any bone broth, however I do hope to still get some lard done. I will also have soap available - what do people think of it? I've had some good reviews so far.

We've had a few opportunities lately to get away. Maitland, our youngest son has been home for a couple of months and will be until towards the end of October. So we are trying to take some time off while he is around.

There's been some storms around over the last week and while we've just been getting the tail ends, we've had 25mm so far. We are very happy with that, as the storms tend to start off following the same path, so we may get more yet. The weather has certainly changed and it's been quite warm lately. I suppose it is spring very shortly, so we can expect lots of growth starting to happen. We've had a pretty good year so far, good summer rains and a mild winter - I wonder what's in store for the next few months?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

We are now back to two markets a month and it's been so good to see that we continually get new customers. Thank you to all our older customers who continually refer us to others. I think word of mouth is one of the most successful ways to spread the message and we do appreciate it greatly. This month is a 5 weekend month, so it will be three weeks until the next market - 5/6th September.

If you want to pre-order, please do so as soon as you can. We ran out of pork and most other meat too last weekend. I got caught short because I thought things might have been a little quieter as it had only been two weeks since the previous market. Looks like I'll have to send more pigs for next time as our meat is becoming very popular. Thanks to you guys!

Thank you too, to all our Gladstone customers that we saw on Saturday. And a few new ones too! We will be delivering again there on the third weekend of September. I had originally planned a Friday afternoon delivery, but then had to change it to Saturday afternoon. What do you guys think - would it be better on the Friday afternoon about 5-6pm or Saturday from 4-5pm?

I'm looking forward to a trip out west tomorrow. We are going out to Kim's brothers family at Aramac. Only a very short visit unfortunately, as we both love it out there!

Cheers for now,
Pork Osso Bucco cooked in beer with olives and garlic.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Paddock Walk

It's starting to get very dry here, mostly because of the frost we got a week or so ago. Where the grass is a bit taller, there is some green still in it so there is still some good feed around. In the pig paddocks there's probably less grass than the cattle country, but it's holding up okay. My milking cows are enjoying the fertility in the pig paddocks. We are resting some paddocks that I can easily put the cows in, so I have. Their milk production has increased, so that's something we want to do more of.

I went for a walk this afternoon around the pig paddocks to check on all the pigs. This is something we do each day, but I haven't done it for a while. Maitland has been doing it for the last few weeks, but he has gone today for a week off. It was a lovely walk - something I do enjoy doing, because it gives me a chance to say hello to some of the girls!  The older pigs seem to be pleased to see me and will come up grunting and looking for a scratch.

The temperature is quite lovely at the moment - cool at night and quite pleasant during the day. A little bit of winter might be coming back for a while, but it's not as cold as it was the other week.

This pig is one of Kim's pets, she's as ugly as all get out, but lovely and quiet. I couldn't get far enough away to take a photo of her and her babies, because she wanted a scratch.

This Tamworth has 5 piglets and she was just happy to lie there, but the babies wouldn't stay still......

A huge Box Tree.

Our latest litter born today. This is a first time mum. Those babies are so cute!

 And then when I got home Kim wanted a hand to pick the last of the oranges off the tree. I was very surprised that he trusted my tractor driving to lift him up! I was a little nervous!

Don't forget the markets are on next weekend. Orders close on Sunday night. We will not have a lot of pork cuts, as I'm focusing on making lots of bacon. We'll have beef, goat and lamb as well.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Markets - Yeppoon and Rocky - 1st and 2nd August

August will see the return of our twice monthly visit to the markets - yes you read correct - We will be in Yeppoon and Rocky for the 1st weekend of the month and then the 3rd weekend (1st and 3rd Sunday's).

For this first market of August we will only have pork, bacon and ham. Kim and I are away at the moment so it was too tricky to organise to get other animals over to Monto for the butcher. We will have plenty of pork! I will be increasing the amount of bacon that we do, so I hopefully won't run out this time! If I still get a lot of orders, I may limit each customer to 2kgs bacon. We will be back in the following two weeks though, so I'm hoping it won't be a problem.

I would love some feedback on our beef, lamb, and goat (if you haven't already given it). We will be continuing to offer these other cuts, but may only do them once per month, depending on what feedback we get. We did have quite a bit of beef and lamb left over last time and so we are still finding our way around stock control.

If you would like to order any pork products, please email me as soon as you can. It's so much easier for me to give the butcher the orders, and that way there's less chance of you missing out. Sometimes when I get busy on the Saturday morning, I don't remember all the late orders and people do miss out. I'm really sorry about that, but if you were to look inside my coldroom on a Saturday morning, you would understand why! Saturday's are usually busy from 6.30 to closing time so there's not a lot of time to be putting orders together.

Also, please remember that we will be selling our Dawson Valley Farm Produce soap this time, as well as the Lard, Bone Broth, Pet mince and Bones. If you want more information, please send me an email. dawsonvalleyfr@bigpond.com (this is a new address, but the old one still works.)

See you soon.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

New Products

The Yeppoon and Rockhampton markets will be on next weekend. Tonight is the last chance to get pre-orders in. You can still order this week, but you may not get what you would like if you leave it too late.

I now have access to a commercial kitchen so I'm going to be making Bone Broth and Lard for regular sale.

The bone broth is made using a mixture of bones from Chicken, Pork and Beef please read my other blog for more information on how I make my stock. Healthy Farming Healthy Food. I will be packaging it in plastic takeaway containers and it may be frozen. If it takes off as a viable sale item, I will look into packaging differently. The containers are 500ml containers and will sell for $4.50.

Pork Lard will sell for $1.75/100g and the jars I've bought to use hold 430g, so that will be $7.50. I do sometimes use recycled jars, so these will be $1.50/100g. So if you want to bring your clean jar back to recycle/refill I can.

We also hope to have pork pet mince next weekend as well.

And coming soon.......(drum roll)........

Soap - I have been getting soap made for a while now out of our lard and my cows milk, and I've decided that the next lot I get made, I will add to our product lines. I may only sell these in Rocky and not Yeppoon, as the lady that makes them is also at Yeppoon and she may not appreciate the competition. It's lovely soap and quite a bit harder than the normal home made soap, so it lasts a little longer in the shower. Please look out for it at the August markets.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Quick Update

I made an error on the dates of our next market - it will be in Yeppoon and Rockhampton on the 4th and 5th July. Sorry for any confusion caused.

Also if you have wondered where abouts we are, I've done a post over at Healthy Farming Healthy Food, which is my other blog, that will shed some light on where we are in Queensland. I write posts about our life, farm and food etc, so if it interests you, feel free to subscribe via the email thingy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Next Markets

We are two weeks out from the next markets in Yeppoon and Rockhampton. These will be held on the 3rd and 4th of July. Preferred deadline for orders - 21st June.

If you would like to pre-order, please do so by this weekend - 21st June.  You can order online or via email. Orders received by this weekend have a better chance of being filled without any "not availables" so to help me out, please consider doing this. I can't guarantee that you will get what you want if you order after this time.We will have pork, ham, bacon, beef, lamb and goat.

I'm also going to be going along to Barefoot Kitchen's Livin' Paleo workshop this coming weekend. If you are going to be there, you can fill out an order form then if you like. Read more about Jen Shaw and her barefoot kitchen here You might even be lucky enough to get one of my lucky door prize vouchers.

Look forward to seeing you either then or the following week at the markets.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Corned Beef

We do two types of corned beef - a conventional cure and a nitrate free cure. Conventional cure brisket was our dinner the other night and it was really nice. My only criticism was that it needed to be saltier. One of our customers said that he found that the nitrate free wasn't salty enough either.  My sister Rita roasted a piece of the nitrate free silverside and said that it was really good like that. I roast the nitrate free pickled pork and roasting it keeps it lovely and moist. Does anyone else have any feedback?

When I cook corned beef, I like to cook potatoes and pumpkin/sweet potato in the same water as the corned beef. I then serve it with greens AND a white sauce, or greens cooked in white sauce. My mother does cabbage and carrot in white sauce, but I like just about any combination of vegetables. I cook the vegies first in lots of butter and then add plain flour and milk.

Combinations to try:
  • onion, cabbage, kale, celery turnip and corn (this one)
  • cabbage, onion and carrots
  • pumpkin, kale/spinach
  • broccoli, cauliflower
Choose your own adventure!

Let me know what you think about the saltiness of our corned beef - do we need more salt or is it just right the way it is?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Beef Special

I have taste tested the beef for this weekend and it is delicious!!!

Beef Special for this weekends Markets:

Buy at least 4kg's of beef and only pay $11/kg. This doesn't include prime cuts like Rump, Fillet, Sirloin/Porterhouse. It DOES include, roasts, bbq steaks, sausages, stewing meat, mince etc.

I'm not taking pre-orders for this, you will need to come along to the markets to select and collect.

See you on Saturday at Yeppoon or Sunday at Kern Arcade.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

June Markets

A reminder to our customers that the next market will be held in Yeppoon and Rockhampton on the weekend of the 6/7th June. We will have beef, goat, lamb and porky products available. Including Salami! If you would like to order anything, please do so by next weekend (30/31st May).

We will be continuing a once per month market for the next few months, until our numbers get up to where we need them to be.

This photo is our latest babies.....Wessex Saddleback mum and Duroc dad.....they are very cute!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Interview with me.....

This week I had the pleasure of having a chat with Gavin Webber from The Greening of Gavin . If you follow that link it will take you directly to the podcast. Or there is a little Gadget to the right of the screen that you can click on and listen to it. While you are there (after you listen to the scintillating conversation) please have a look at his blog. Some of his articles and his podcasts are really interesting. If you love gardening and being a bit more sustainable you will enjoy this site.

I do a lot of driving, so I listen to this podcast as well as another one he does about cheesemaking. Actually I listen to lots of different podcasts as well. It passes the time and can be quite educational. If you like podcasts, some others to have a look at are: The Good Doctors, That Paleo Show and the Wellness Guys.

Also, just to remind you all, that the next market date is the 6/7th June in Yeppoon and Rocky.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Backpackers as Helpers

We have been honoured over the last couple of years to have an endless stream of international visitors coming to our farm to help us out. These helpers come on a voluntary basis - we supply full board and keep and in return they give us about 6 hours work a day. You may have heard recent news items regarding exploited and abused workers working for very low pay and in same cases living in terrible conditions. The reason our helpers come and work for no pay is the same reason other travellers work in appalling conditions - to get paperwork to apply for a second year visa. If people on a working holiday visa spend 3 months working in rural Australia, they are eligible for another year working here.

In light of recent complaints about working conditions and pay, the Immigration Department's response was to stop the voluntary work eligibility. You can read more here if you like. We are quite devastated by this ruling, as it has some pretty dire consequences for us, as we may have to increase our prices if we have to start paying wages. Apart from the fact that we will miss the pleasure of getting to know such lovely young people!

This is a bit lengthy, but this is my response to the Immigration Departments Media Release and I thought that you might find it interesting and balance out some of the bad press about exploited workers.

"This letter is to respond to the suggestions in this media release and to hopefully get written confirmation of the date of the introduction of the new rules if in fact there is going to be some new rules and how these are formulated. This response will give an outline of our business and how we use the second year visa application in attracting helpers to our farm. It will suggest that there does need to be changes to protect young international visitors from unscrupulous employers, but that voluntary work should not be included. I would suggest that voluntary workers should still be able to use the time spent in regional areas as eligible for the second year visa. Volunteers are free to leave a work place when they wish, and they are not expected to accept substandard conditions at any farm. If they are not free to leave, then this would be considered a criminal act and should be dealt with as such. This is completely different to working for less than the minimum wage and the exploitation of workers.

We run a Free Range Pork business in Central Queensland. We have been in the build-up phase of our business for a few years and as it’s still growing, all our spare money goes into further development of the business. Unfortunately we would not be able to sell our product if we had to include the cost of wages. People have come to expect cheap food and we have to compete with large organisations that seem to be able to supply it. Over the last few years, we have used international visitors to assist us on the farm and most of these people have been engaged through a site called “Helpx”.  This is all volunteer labour and one of the attractions for people to come to our farm is the opportunity to count the time spent here towards their second year visa. We welcome these young people into our home and do try to treat them like we would treat our own children. We teach them about our way of farming, and we teach them about food and the benefits of growing your own. Most of the helpers are from the city and this is their first taste of country life. They learn a lot of skills as well as knowledge about food production here that they wouldn’t learn in most job situations. A lot of farm businesses use international visitors to help on their farms for similar reasons to ourselves and to my knowledge the helpers are treated fairly and there is no exploitation.

Most of them enjoy their time here so much that they spend the entire 88 days here. Even though they don’t earn any money, they get fed very well and their work hours are usually around 6 hours per day. We have had a lot come here after spending time in a working hostel. They don’t stay there very long, as the conditions and pay for the jobs they do is very bad. In fact we spoke to our local ABC radio about this subject last year, as we felt that something needed to be done about it. We never thought that “that something” would be to detrimentally affect us. This work is not volunteer work, it is underpaid work and the two concepts should not be confused. The very concept of Volunteer work is just that, its volunteer work. If people don’t like it they can leave. In fact we have had people come to our farm and leave within a few days because they get here and realise that it is not what they want to do. We take them to Rockhampton or arrange transport for them. There is never any ill feeling, as we don’t want people here unless they want to be here.

Our current helpers are surprised about this ruling. They have intentionally come here because they want to stay in one spot and be comfortable, learn about the Australian country culture and learn about farming and healthy food. They are fully aware that they could leave if they are unhappy. We appreciate their help and they feel that they have some ownership in our business because they know that we value them and their help.

The recent report on Four Corners on ABC TV, highlighted a very real problem with the abuse of workers in working hostels and other factory work. There were several issues highlighted in this program – underpaid workers and illegal workers. Voluntary workers were not discussed. We are aware of the problem associated with underpaid workers and have been very concerned for some time about this, as some of our helpers have been treated badly. This is the issue that needs to be dealt with by the Government.  The supply of a pay slip may help, although a payslip can be fabricated in a false business name, leaving no trail. We have heard that there are people that will sign paperwork for the 2nd year visa application for a fee. The same can be done with a fabricated payslip. The abuse of illegal workers will continue as long as people come here and are not on a working visa. Neither of these issues is being addressed through preventing voluntary work from being eligible.

The working hostels and contractors that are engaged by farmers need a lot more scrutiny. This is the where the real problem is, not with voluntary workers. Our business does rely on voluntary workers and so we are very concerned about the changes that are being suggested. However, we believe that stopping the eligibility for voluntary work to count towards the 2nd year visa will not address the very real problem of abuse. We believe that the immigration department needs to address the abuse of workers that is happening through working hostels and contractor labour hire firms.

To conclude, I would like to ask the question: How is stopping the eligibility of voluntary work being used towards the second year visa, going to prevent the abuse of workers and the abuse of the 2nd year visa application, or the use of illegal labour? I have attached some references that some of our previous helpers have posted on the Helpx site about time spent at our farm. If we have to pay full wages we will no longer be able to have these great people come to our farm and enrich our lives and theirs. Please re-consider the eligibility of voluntary work. If the decision is not to be re-considered, please give me a cut-off date so that our current helpers can be assured that they will still be accepted."

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Markets this weekend and for the future

I'll be in Yeppoon and Rockhampton this weekend, selling Pork, Bacon, Ham, Goat, Lamb and Beef. Wow, that sounds like a lot of confusion in the coldroom!

The beef proved very popular last market and we only have a few limited lines this weekend.

However next month it will be back on and we will have all cuts available. I just hope it's as good as the last one! I was very impressed, even if I do say so myself! The goat is always predictable and yummy, but this will be the first lot of lamb. The butcher informs me that its a bit fat, which is a bit of a problem with the excellent season that we are having! Hopefully it'll be okay and still taste good!

Now the sad news......we are very low on pigs! This weekend we should have our normal amount of bacon and meat, however going forward, we may run low on some cuts! I keep telling myself that it's a good thing that demand has outstripped supply, but that doesn't make me feel terribly good telling you guys that we don't have enough pork! So from now on, we will only be running the one market per month and it will be on the first weekend of the month.

So please bare with us and hopefully we'll be back to normal in a few months. Thankyou for your ongoing support and I hope that you enjoy the other meats that we will have on offer over this piggy drought!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Beef at last!

I am so looking forward to this weekends markets in Yeppoon and Rockhampton! Apart from the fact that I get to catch up with our customers (I really do enjoy some of the great conversations I have and the friendships that I've made!), and the fact that I have been going into local vegetable withdrawal, I'm looking forward to selling our first lot of beef. And believe me, you won't be disappointed! We tried the sirloin steak last night and it may not be the best beef I've tasted (the best came from Western Australia), but it's certainly the best beef we have EVER produced! I just hope that we can continue to supply such quality. Grass fed beef is a little tricky to get right, which is why so much of it is grain fed/assisted. It is very important to get the breed right to get consistency. At the moment we are still working on getting the breed right, so it's been a bit of trial and error. We only want to sell a tasty and tender product, so if it's not good enough, we won't sell it and will keep it for ourselves. So I was very pleased to taste test this and it passed with flying colours!

As most of you are aware, we do not buy meat, because we grow our own. One of the problems with only doing the markets once per month this last 4 months, is that we aren't getting our usual top up of meat (left over pork from the markets). And coupled with this, we haven't had a cold room since the cyclone (didn't come back on when the power came on) so we haven't killed a cow for ages! We have now hit the bottom of our freezers! For the last couple of weeks I've been getting very creative with the cuts that don't get used - osso bucco, pork shanks, bacon hocks etc! We have had a bit of goat and some chickens to space these out with!

I've now got quite a collection of osso bucco recipes which I must type up and post on the blog, as they have all been very good! Shanks are good roasted or braised or even turned into a curry (long slow cooking and then pull the meat off the bones - YUM!)

I've also discovered my favourite way of doing bacon hocks. I like to boil them up as I would cornbeef or pickled pork. Then put whole potatoes and chunks of pumpkin in the same pot. Serve with white onion sauce and green vegetables. The meat just falls off the bone and is totally delicious! One hock easily feeds two people. The stock I then keep for bone broth - add the bones back into the pot,  with some chicken, beef or pork bones and then simmer for 24 hours. Lovely ham flavoured broth.

All these cuts of meat are slow cooked, so I have to plan ahead - no last minute coming in from the paddock and taking some steaks out to defrost! It's where menu planning is essential. I saw that Natural New Age Mum did a post on menu planning last month and I find that when I don't do it, I get totally disorganised. Do you menu plan? Do you like to slow cook food?

So this weekend we will have beef and pork for sale. Then in May we'll have pork, goat and lamb. Yes that's right I said lamb - we now have some dorper sheep. These have been bred by a friend (chemical free, grass fed) and they are now living with us to grow out. We will take them to the markets over the coming months, starting the first weekend in May. We will taste test them before hand - we have good quality control standards here!

Beef Prices - if you want me to keep something aside, especially Rocky customers, let me know.

Cut $/kg
Rump Steak $22.00
Rib Fillet Steak $26.00
Porter House Steak $20.00
Eye Fillet Steak $35.00
Roast $13.50
BBQ Ribs $13.50
Mince $12.00
Sausages (gluten & preservative free)   $12.00
Sausages (paleo style)   $16.00
Stewing Beef - Diced $12.00
Stewing Beef - Steaks   $12.00
Osso Bucco $15.95
Beef Strips $14.50
BBQ Steaks $14.50
Neck Bones $8.00
Other Bones for soup/stock/bone broth/dog $5.00
Ox Tail $8.00
Beef Cheeks $12.00
Corn Beef Nitrate Free and Conventional $13.50

Look forward to seeing you soon.........

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Happy Easter!

I can't wait until Easter!!! Kim and I are going to be taking a few days off. I can hear you thinking, "oh they are going to have a lovely holiday at the beach....." Well, you would be wrong - we are going out to Aramac! Kim's brother has a property out there, so we are going to leave the tropical heat where it's lovely and green and go to the arid, dry and hot environment of central western Queensland. We both love it out there so are really looking forward to taking it a bit easier. Life is just so much more relaxed once you go past the Great Dividing Range.

Easter weekend is the first weekend of the month and as such, would normally be a Market weekend for Yeppoon and Kern Arcade so I do apologise that we are going to be missing it! We've certainly been quiet on the market front lately and some of that has been due to other things being on, but another factor has been our lack of pigs! I think I've mentioned before that demand has out stripped supply, which is great from a business growth perspective, but just a little stressful on us trying to keep everyone happily porked up. The good news is that numbers are slowly building and we should hopefully be going back to two markets a month in May.

Goat sales went very well last market and we should have more goat by the first weekend in May. The next market is 18th/19th April and we are hoping to have beef and lamb/hogget available as well as the usual pork. The lamb has been grown by a friend and has been grass fed and absolutely no chemicals used. The beef is ours and the same - no chemicals, no vaccines and grass fed only. I will confirm closer to the date what we will have available.

I hope that you all get to take some time off over Easter and I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March Markets

We'll be at the markets in Yeppoon and Rockampton the weekend of the 14th and 15th March. This will be our only market in March. We will then have only one market in April (weekend of the 18th/19th). If you want to stock up after Marcia, that would be a good time to do it. I'm offering 10% off all orders received by the 8th March. This applies regardless of size of order and you can order online, via email, text or facebook.

We will also have Goat meat available, so come along and pick up some to try.

We are planning at this stage to have beef at the Markets in April. What other types of meat would you like to see us stock?

Edmund (our son) and I went to listen to Joel Salatin last weekend, so we are really keen to expand our market and supply other meats. Beef, Chicken, Goat, Lamb......what else would you like to see? It will be grassfed and chemical free - the chickens will have grain, but it will be similar to what we feed the pigs, so no GMO's or other nasties. We are in the process of certifying the land for Organic status, so leading up to certification, we will be as good as organic! Exciting times ahead for us.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Too much of a good thing

Well, I never thought that too much green grass would be a problem, but we have come to the realisation recently that green grass makes pigs fat! I thought that it should be like a salad bar and that pigs would be lean and sexy if they ate lots of delicious salad! It turns out that grass is quite high in sugar and therefore is too high in energy, which is not something you want too much of in a pig diet.

For those customers that bought pork off us last fortnight at the markets, you will have noticed that it was a bit fattier. Especially on the bacon, shoulder roasts and the loin chops. I’m really sorry, but there’s not a lot we can do about it, except take them off the grass! That’s a pretty radical move, because after all, we are all about free range, pastured pigs. What’s a pastured pig without the pasture?

Lucky for us, most of our customers are happy enough with the fat and I've been recommending to everyone that they save the fat off the bacon and use it for cooking potatoes or other vegies. Some of our butchers aren't quite so happy! It does make it hard for them to sell the bacon when it has 2cm of fat on it! So, if you are one of our customers or one of the butchers that we sell to customers, please bear with us while we work out what we have to do about reducing the fat.

One of the reasons that we chose the country that we have chosen to run our pigs on, was that it was quite deficient soil. The pig manure and the absolutely fabulous wet season that we are having has started to turn that around. The grass that we are now growing is very lush and green, which equals healthy and full of energy! Over the last few weeks, the grass has really matured and is probably at it’s peak in terms of nutrition. We did cut back the grain ration as we could see that the pigs were eating a lot of grass and they've been gradually getting fatter and fatter. Interestingly enough, they don’t seem to be getting fat from the grain, but the grass. Seems to be the exact opposite with us humans – grains make us fat and salads make us slim!

What are your thoughts on fat? Are you willing to put up with the fat so that the pigs can be predominantly pasture fed, or would you prefer us to reduce the pasture to reduce the fat? We need to meet somewhere in the middle, so it may mean slashing the grass or (preferably) running cattle, sheep or goats ahead of the pigs. All options will mean more work for us!! But hopefully things will settle down as the season moves into winter and the grass is not so green.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Happy New Year!

Well, the month is half over already - time flies when you are having fun (or are very busy). Kim and I are currently enjoying a two week break, which is over the half way point! We are doing market research into the food trends on the Sunshine Coast. So far we have found out that there is very little free range or grassfed product. I thought that the trend was changing, but alas no..... Looks like we will have to increase production so that we can start supplying restaurants. We have had quite a few restaurants down this way make enquiries for our product, however they all want bellies and bacon - we can't supply these as it would mean that we would have none for our loyal market customers.

I have just updated the Markets and Delivery page to show the dates for markets over the coming months, so check that out. The first market for 2015 will be the 31st January and 1st February in Yeppoon and Rocky.

The South East Qld Delivery has been scheduled for March (sorry guys, we can't come sooner) and Agnes Waters and 1770 markets will not be on our schedule this year. To be completely honest with you all, we have spent the last year desperately trying to sell pigs before they got to big. We had very little interests from Butchers in the early part of the year, and there were only so many markets that I could attend, so our pig numbers got a little out of hand. Coming up to the end of 2014, we had a major turn-around and the demand for our pork outstripped supply. We are currently in a build up phase again with the pigs, with an increased focus on production to increase the numbers as quick as we can.

So the exciting thing for us this year is that we have a product that is in high demand and Kim and I, after our little time of to refresh, will be ready and raring to go to meet that demand!

A big thankyou must go to our beautiful children who have so bravely taken over the reigns of the Pig Farm to give us this break.