Tuesday, May 30, 2017

TV stars

A busy month for all of us at Dawson Valley Free Range, as per usual! We have had a small taste of Autumn - cool nights and the sting has gone out of the days, although they still get pretty warm. As I write this post, it's cool and a little drizzly outside. Hopefully we may get a shower to settle the dust.

We had an interesting morning last week when ABC Capricornia came out to interview us for a segment to be aired on Landline. The main purpose was to discuss our thoughts on using backpackers to help us and their (voluntary) time being allowed to be put towards their second year visa application. Backpackers visit Australia on a working holiday visa and if they work on a farm for 88 days, they can then apply to stay for a second year in Australia. There were quite a few cases of mistreatment of foreign workers - usually by unscrupulous contractors in the fruit and vegetable picking industry. Because of this, farms like ours would attract people - we wouldn't pay full (or any, in our case) wages, but the backpackers would in most cases have an enjoyable cultural exchange. We made many long lasting friendships - which happens when you live in close proximity for 3 months.

This all came to an abrupt end in 2015. The rules changed and the workers had to show a payslip or group certificate proving that they had been paid a full wage for work preformed. We still get backpacker helpers, but they don't stay as long - two to three weeks is the norm these days.

There's a couple of reasons why we would like to see the volunteer labour still being acceptable to count towards the second year visa. Also I think it can be controlled and workers not getting abused. My thoughts below:

  1. All volunteers to be registered with Workaway, Helpx or Woof Australia - these are organisations already established to match helpers with hosts. They are monitored to ensure helpers don't get abused.
  2. It should be treated as a cultural exchange and work should be limited to what the helper is happy to do - e.g. crawling around on hands and knees picking zuchinis all day should not be something a volunteer should be doing day in day out. It's volunteering, so helpers can leave if they are not happy and they have the ability to lodge a complaint with the organisation.
  3.  Helpers should be fed well and have clean and suitable accomodation. 
  4. It's difficult to pay a full wage to a foreign worker that has not had any experience with farm life, or who may not have a good command of english. In fact many of them come to us to learn english so that they can get a job elsewhere. 

Anyway..... the filming was an interesting experience and several hours of filming will result in about 10 minutes on TV. I will let everyone know when it's going to be aired, but it will be a few months.

Some photos of the filming below.

Cat (our current backpacker) and Lucy talking about important stuff while being filmed

Lucy and Mick checking over the gilts as they feed

Farmer Mick fixing up the wallow for the sows

Farmer Mick trying to impress Amy from ABC Capricornia

Cat being interviewed whilst trying to keep Ruby the dog under control

Amy trying to take a selfie with Misty the pet lamb


Markets are this coming weekend in Yeppoon on Saturday and Rockhampton on Sunday. If you want me to put anything aside, please email me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May Market Update

We have had some lovely rain in the last little while and because it has stayed warm, the grass has continued to grow. We are expecting more rain this coming weekend, and I think it'll come in cold after that. I hope so, I'm looking forward to lighting the fire and just enjoying being cool rather than hot!

The way we farm is called Regenerative Farming. We believe that this term is better than being called sustainable farming. We want to leave the land in a better state than how we found it. In 2003 we put cells in (small paddocks) and starting moving our cattle around the paddocks, resting them for a couple of months to enable the grass to recover fully before grazing again. This has so many benefits, but the two major benefits are that our cattle are eating the grass at it's most nutritious AND we are doing our bit towards an environmental improvement through increasing soil carbon sequestration, encouraging plant diversity and improving the ecosystem for our native animals. I like to think of it as the ultimate ethical farming - looking after the environment as well as the welfare of animals.

In recent years we have focussed  on our core business of free range pigs and have allowed our children to take over the cattle side of the business. They own the cattle and sell them to us for the markets. They will be branding their beef - Bush Friendly Beef. Our property is certified organic and the cattle, goats and sheep are managed organically. The pigs are free range and it has been a challenge to manage their grazing as it's not as easy as the cattle.  Cattle are kept in one big mob, with different aged animals, a mix of steers and heifers, cows and calves. Pigs on the other hand are kept in mobs of 30-50 for the weavers to growers. The sows are usually in mob sizes of 12 to 20 until they farrow, when they are separated from the mob to have their babies, and then we need to keep the boars in separate paddocks where we take the sows when they need to have a visit! It takes quite a bit of planning and labour to keep everything operating the way it needs to be.

This is why free range pork is so much more expensive than commercial pork. It's also why it tastes so much better! So not only are you supporting a local farmer by purchasing our products, but you are helping to improve the environment for all Australians, you are improving your health by eating products that are more nutrient dense and because they are ethically farmed, you are doing your bit to ensure animals are better cared for.  A win/win for everyone!

This post is also a reminder that we have markets in Yeppoon and Rockhampton this weekend coming - 20/21 May. We will also deliver to Gladstone on Saturday afternoon. Please email me if you would like more information or would like me to put something aside for you to collect.



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Changing Seasons

We have had a pretty good summer season this year. We've managed to get under some pretty useful rain falls and so our pastures are looking pretty! Hopefully the grass we have now will get us through the winter, as we are unlikely to get much more useful rain now. When I say useful, I mean that our pastures are predominantly summer grasses and don't respond very well to winter rain. If we get rain now and have a few more weeks of warm weather, we will continue to grow grass. By early May it can start to really cool off. Our winters are usually reasonably mild, although we can get frosts in the morning, the evenings are often really cold, but the days warm up so that you don't need a coat by about 9am (or earlier). I have planted most of my winter garden, although have a little room left to buy some more seedlings this weekend and I have also got to plant some garlic in the next few weeks (waiting for it to get a little cooler). So bring on the winter and some coolness!

Markets are on this weekend. This is out of the ordinary, as we don't normally do a 5th weekend. However, we will be away on our usual first weekend of the month (first weekend in May) because our oldest son is getting married. I am getting a little excited about that!

Yeppoon Markets - 6am to about 10am at the Yeppoon Showgrounds - 29th April

Rockhampton Markets - 6am to 12 midday at the Kern Arcade Carpark Markets - 30th April

PLEASE NOTE:    We will not be in our usual spot at Kern Arcade markets! 

We will be way over in the opposite corner, near were the Asian Vegetables stall is - not far from the other mobile butcher. (Please don't get us confused). IF you can't find me, please send me a text message - 0456109161. We will have a bit of trouble parking there, so the trailer might not be overly obvious!

We have sold a side of beef already, so will only have the one side for sale, which means we won't have as much as usual. We won't have much fresh mince, but I will bring in some frozen mince from last time. This will be on special - 30% off.

Why not make some meatballs with our on sale Mince?

Just a reminder that as well as our usual Beef, Goat, Pork, Ham and Bacon, we will also have
Bone Broth, Lard, Salami and Soap.

I look forward to seeing you on the weekend - don't forget that we are local farmers so by supporting us, you support your local economy. We will also be bringing in fresh supplies for Dingles Cafe, so please support them too, as they support local farmers wherever they can. They are using our Sausages, Bacon and Pork Collars.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bone Broth

Bone Broth - is it stock or broth? From what I can gather it is probably a stock, but the generally accepted term is Bone Broth. So what is it? It's the product of a long cooked stock using bones, preferably a mix of gelatinous bones and marrow bones. By long cooking, I mean at least 24 hours on a very slow simmer. This is to ensure that you get as much goodness out of the bones as possible. There's lots of information on the web, so I won't go into all that in this post.

We sell both broth and the bones to make your own. The broth I make usually has a combination of bones - chicken, pork and beef. I use a chicken carcass and chicken feet, pork trotters, pork back bones and beef back and leg (marrow) bones. I usually do this for 24 to 36 hours. I don't add any vegetables to my broth, just the bones - soaked in the water with added apple cider vinegar first, then some bay leaf, salt and pepper. Sometimes I throw in a teaspoon full of dulse flakes. The pork trotter and chicken feet are excellent to use to make your broth gel. Pork makes a very bland flavoured broth so is excellent to use where you want to add other flavours in the final dish.

If you are feeling poorly - getting a cold, tummy upset or just feeling off, a cup of warmed up broth with some added garlic, ginger, turmeric and chilli can really help! Other wise, I just use my bone broth in things - if a recipe calls for stock OR water I use bone broth instead. 

Some options are below, but please put any more in the comments:
  • Any Soup
  • My Asian Style Pork Meatballs (just scroll down a little way after clicking on this link)
  • Cook Rice in broth
  • Curries and Stews, instead of water
  • Baked Beans
  • Congee - Rice Porridge, but it's so much nicer than how that sounds. 
Congee with Egg and herbs

I use brown rice usually, but it's traditionally done with white. I use a slow cooker so that I can put it on at night and all I need to do in the morning is chop up my herbs and make the accompaniments, plus fry or poach an egg. It's a good way to feed a few people, because it does make a fair bit of rice porridge.

1 cup of brown rice
4 cups bone broth
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dulse flakes
some dried sliced shitake mushrooms - about a handful and crush them roughly in your hands before adding.

Put all ingredients into the crockpot, on low and cook overnight. OR place all ingredients in a pot and cook on very low on the stove for several hours. If using white rice, it will take about 1 1/2 hours, brown a fair bit longer. You want a very well cooked rice and the broth will be quite thick.

chopped coriander
chopped shallots
chopped ginger
chopped chilli
soy sauce
fish sauce
Kimchi is also good with it.

I make up a sauce of soy and fish sauce, chopped chilli and garlic - this way if you want a little chilli, you can just spoon the sauce without the chilli but it will still have the chilli flavour. My brother does white vinegar, which some chilli and coriander chopped into it.

Serve in a bowl with the egg on top and then add your accompaniments. 

We will have bones and bone broth at the coming markets this weekend - 18th and 19th March, Yeppoon and Rockhampton. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Pork Packs and Beef too!!!

Well our quarter pig packs seemed to generate a bit of interest and we sold a few last weekend. This does take some planning, as we need to make sure that we send enough pigs to the butcher to supply the market customers, as well as the potential quarter pack customers.

We currently have enough pigs to do a few packs for the next market (18th and 19th March) so if you are in Yeppoon or Rockhampton and would like a pack, please email me to order one. The pack in this photo had loin chops and belly roast as their selection.

This pack was 10kg's and had two decent sized roasts - one leg and one shoulder, both bone out. About 6 loin chops, a bag of collar steaks, a bag of diced pork, a good sized belly roast, a pack of bones and a trotter. This is really good value and I don't think you'll find true free range pork any where any cheaper, at $13/kg packed weight. If you were one of the customers to get a pack, please let me know what you thought of it and whether it's worth it. If you email to order one, please let me know whether you would prefer loin chops or loin rack roast, and either belly roast or spare ribs. You will get bone out leg and shoulder roasts, collar steaks and diced as a standard.

The photo below was an example of our Sow Butterfly Steak.  Sows have an end date - we have some that have regular farrowings, and then we have some that don't. These lazy girls get very fat and are usually still quite young so we thought we'd turn a few into a budget range of pork cuts. Any feedback on the sow meat will be gratefully received - good or bad! I enjoyed our collar steak and have a roast to cook one night this week. We won't be doing these every time, but will have bacon to try next week, and hopefully we'll also have some fresh salami made out of the rest of the sow. I don't think you'll easily find free range, ethically farmed salami, so if you enjoyed the ones I was handing out last weekend, how about adding some of them in your selection for next market.

Now that we are back to regular twice a month markets, you can place an order any time for a pork pack and we will deliver it at the next opportunity. Please keep an eye on Facebook or here though, because we will have to play with dates a little bit in April/May because our son Benjamin is getting married the first weekend in May so we won't be able to do the markets that weekend.

While we are talking quarter packs. Would anyone be interested in a quarter beef pack.  We would do this similar to a 1/4 pig pack - 1/2 the hindquarter and 1/2 the forequarter. This will give you a mix of steak, mince, sausages, roasts, diced. Price will be $15/kg based on the packed weight - this is roughly equivalent to $10/kg on the dressed weight. For those that are confused, a lot of places sell 1/2s and 1/4s based on the dressed weight, which is the weight after the animal is killed, so includes all the bone etc that then gets thrown away. We've worked out our price based on packed weight so that you only pay for what you get. A 1/4 pack will be around 40-45kgs. I may be able to do 1/8 shares, but will need to confirm this with the butcher. 

Comment on this post if you have any questions or orders, or email me direct at dawsonvalleyfr@bigpond.com

Thanks for your support.........you are supporting a local farmer when you support us........

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March Markets

A reminder to all that we have the markets in Yeppoon and Rockhampton this coming weekend - 4th and 5th March respectively.


We will have our incredibly tasty pastured pork and our tender and delicious grassfed/finished beef. We won't have goat for this weekend, however we will have it next market, which will be on the 18th and 19th of March.

We had quite a lot of interest in the pork packs and I'll post some photos over the weekend on Facebook to give an example of what you will get in your pack. However, if you would like to order one for the next market, I will need to know by SUNDAY night. Please talk to me about it at the markets this weekend!!! It's very good value at $13/kg for the pack and this price will hold for any orders RECEIVED before the end of March (first weekend in April delivery).

For all those people that ordered a pack, please collect from the market closest to you!

Our butcher informs me that we have some salami in his freezer, so we will bring them along this weekend. For all purchases over $50 you will receive a free salami. One of our customers (a chef with a German wife) says that its some of the nicest salami he's had in Australia. I think it's nicer now than it was before it was frozen! It will also be on sale separately.

Some other exciting news!!!!! Dingles Cafe and Bar will be featuring our pork, bacon and sausages on their menu when they open in the next couple of weeks. Have you heard about them? They'll be in the old Restoration House building at 116 William Street. Check them out on facebook.

Something new we are going to trial this month is Sow Meat. We will have a selection of fresh and smoked products utilising sows. The sow this month is a younger one that had one litter and is probably about 3 years old. We will be selling this considerably cheaper than our usual pork so who's game to give it a go???

Hope to see you this weekend!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hot Hot Hot

This weather is beyond ridiculous! If this heat wave is due to global warming and it's here to stay, I don't know whether we can! The pigs are finding it hot and we are constantly putting out water to keep their wallows wet and muddy. But I suppose, the longer it goes on, the closer it will get to rain coming! We had a thunder storm yesterday afternoon, but alas we got nothing(and it didn't even cool things down)!

The other Hot Topic, is exciting..............we are going back to twice a month markets starting in March. First and Third weekends we will be in Rocky and Yeppoon. Gladstone will stay at once per month and at this stage, it will be the first weekend of each month. I am going to look at what market I could do on another weekend, either in Gladstone or somewhere else, so if anyone has any ideas, please let me know. Basically if you know of a market and think that it would be a good one for us to go to, please tell me and I'll look into it to see if it might work.

I've been getting asked about bulk packs of meat. At this stage we can only offer bulk pork and we have decided to offer 1/4 pig packs. A quarter of a pig will be made up of half a half, and the final weight will be between 10 and 15kgs. I'm not completely sure of the exact amount of each cut, but the following is an approximate idea.

  • 1.5kg Shoulder Roast - bone out and rolled OR Diced OR Mince
  • 1kg collar steaks
  • 1-2kgs loin chops/loin rack roast
  • 1kg belly roast or spare ribs
  • 2 shanks/osso bucco
  • Leg Roast - either 1/2 leg bone in (maybe 2-3kgs) or 2 x bone out roast 

The best part is the price - for a limited time (for all orders received before the end of March) we will be selling these packs for $13/kg - based on the packed weight of the meat, not the dressed weight.  This is probably the cheapest free range pork you will get in Rocky - no delivery fee either! This will mean that you will pay between $130 and $170.

    If you are interested in getting a 1/4 pig pack, please email me at dawsonvalleyfr@bigpond.com and I will follow up with how you would like it cut up or pack sizes.

    I will need to have orders by this coming weekend (Saturday, 18 February) for delivery at the markets 4/5 March, or two weeks before the next market. I will get at least one made up, so that I can take a photo of what you will get, so that you can order for the next market.