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

MARKET REMINDER!

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.

dawsonvalleyfr@bigpond.com

Cheers,
Lucy

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.

Ingredients
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.

Accompaniments
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.

Ummmm....Bacon

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.




    Sunday, January 29, 2017

    Pork Osso Bucco/Shanks

    I know I go on about these cuts a bit on Facebook (on Lucy's Kitchen and Dawson Valley Free Range - but - they are yummy - and so few people will give them a go! I know it's hot weather and not really the kind of weather  for long cooking food, but.......either cook inside and eat outside or cook outside and eat inside. You can totally cook these in a BBQ!

    Pork Shank - what is it? It's the leg of the pork, so we get 4 on every pig. Osso Bucco is the same cut, but it has been sliced into "chops".  Most people know them smoked as Bacon Hocks - we usually only smoke them during the winter months, but if you would like them at other times, please ask and I'll get the butcher to smoke some.

    I will link to some recipes - on this blog and on my other blog and I'll post a few yummy photos. The main thing to remember is that you do need to kind of slow cook them for a bit, but at the end, whack the heat up and try and crisp up the rind - you are after a crispy rind (sometimes it can be a little chewy).  This makes a nice contrast, with the soft meat and crunchy rind. The recipes below can be used for either shanks or osso bucco - if cooking shanks, I usually cut the meat off to serve them - one shank should almost feed two people so you don't quite need 1 each. If cooking shanks, cook them on their side covered for a start, turning over after an hour, then towards the end when you increase the heat, stand them up - you have to lean them against each other, so that most of the find is facing up so that it will crisp better. If you still don't have crackling, you could try peeling off the rind and placing back in the oven for a bit.

    Pork Shanks Braised in Master Stock (scroll down a bit on this link).

    Sticky Pork Osso Bucco or Shanks (either work) (and sorry, I don't seem to have a photo! but they are delicious and a lot less effort than the above master stock ones.

    In a 500ml jug, place the following:
    100ml soy sauce/tamari
    1 tablespoon each of:
    coconut sugar
    apple cider vinegar
    chopped ginger
    chopped garlic
    then add:
    1 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp szechuan peppercorns, 2 whole cloves, 1 tsp each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds and coriander seeds.
    and then top up to 500ml with water or bone broth

    Pour over the shanks/osso bucco and bake in a moderately low oven for 1.5 hours then whack the heat up high and bake for another 1/2 hour. You may need to thicken the pan juices with a little arrowroot or cornflour.

    Osso Bucco with tomatoes Photo below (Baked Pork Osso Bucco recipe on this link and you can substitute other vegetables if you like. The link also has another one with olives.


    Place the veggies on the base of the pan.


    Drizzle with oil and dot with Butter (Osso bucco has very little fat)


    Honey Sesame Osso Bucco

    1kg pork osso bucco
    2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
    In a mortar and pestle, crush:
    3 cloves garlic
    1 inch piece of ginger
    1 chilli
    Then add half the toasted seeds and crush together. Add:
    1/4 cup soy sauce/tamari
    1 tablespoon each: fish sauce and sesame oil
    2 tablespoons honey
    1 cup rice wine.

    Pour over the osso bucco and bake for 2 hours - turning the heat up for the last 1/2 hour.
    ******
    You can also roast the shanks as a mini roast - simply rub the shank with some salt, preferably seasoned salt and sprinkle with some oil and place in the oven to roast for about two hours.

    We will have both Pork Shanks and Pork Osso Bucco on special at the markets this weekend - $10/kg so please give it a go, I'm sure you won't be disappointed!

    Wednesday, January 11, 2017

    First post for 2017

    Happy New Year to you all!!! Wow the two weeks off over Christmas went very fast! We've been back home now for nearly two weeks and have hardly stopped to draw breath! Mick has been great and worked over Christmas so that we could get away to Western Australia for a family (Kim's side) Christmas so we are eternally grateful to him. We've been here on our own for the first week, but Edmund and Maitland are back now so life is a fraction easier for me! Maitland is back from 14 months of travelling the world, so he will join the Dawson Valley Free Range team for a while (until he saves enough to clear out again!). Edmund is still around but once he's finished helping us with some pig development, I think he plans on doing some travel of his own. Mick will be back at work next week, thank goodness! We did get a little bit of rain while we were away, so it was nice to come back to some green grass, although around the pig paddocks it's pretty short.


    Now the bad news......we have made the difficult decision to cancel the January markets. There are a few reasons for this and I shall endeavour to explain some of them.

    1.  We have been really busy and would've had to take the animals to the butcher last week, and we really did not have the time to do it.

    2.  We are still a little short on pigs - and there are a few reasons for this. We were hammered just before Christmas by our butchers wanting quite a lot of pigs. The two weeks off over the Christmas break did allow our grower pigs to grow a bit more, so that was good but now we really only just have enough to supply the butchers. But one of the main issues we have is that to ensure we have enough pigs for Christmas this year, we need to mate about 20-30 extra sows by March/April. So we need to keep some gilts now so that they are old enough to mate by then. To make things even more difficult, we really need to get rid of some older sows that are no longer producing and so we need to keep replacements for these! While we may buy some replacements in, we won't be able to afford to buy all we need, so will have to keep some of our own.

    Butchers are our main source for sales. We make a lot better profit on the butcher pigs than we do on the market pigs, so while we enjoy going to the markets, if we look at it from a profitable standpoint, we need to look after our butchers first. And as I've said before, if we aren't profitable, we aren't able to stay in business! So I do apologise for the cancellation and believe me it hurts me as much as you.

    I also think that we may only be able to do once per month until after April. I am hoping to have enough stock that if you want to stock up on meat you should be able to.

    We greatly appreciate your support and your patience with our inability to supply the demand that we have.

    Markets will be on the first weekend of the month, so that means 4th and 5th of February for the first one.

    We will have Beef, Goat and all the Pork products (ham, bacon, fresh pork). 

    Future beef - a bit more grass on the cattle country.

    Please feel free to send me any special requests that you would like. We don't always do all cuts that are listed on our Pricelist Page so if you don't want to miss out, just let me know what you want. While saying that you can make special requests, I also need to remind customers that it's not easy for me to pack large orders. You can send me a list and I will try and put it together while I'm at the Yeppoon Markets or early Sunday morning at the Rocky Markets. I just can't guarantee that I'll have the time to do it.

    We will be visiting Gladstone and I'm not exactly sure which day yet that I'll do it, so Gladstone people please let me know if you want meat and I'll make sure I confirm closer to the day. It will most likely be Saturday afternoon but if I can convince Kim to have a day off on the Friday we might do it Friday afternoon.

    I am really looking forward to catching up with everyone and can't wait to get some local fruit and veggies for myself!

    And I just thought I'd share a photo of my family - we're all dressed up in our glad rags for Kim's mothers 90th birthday on Boxing Day. It was a pretty special time to have all my kids together!



    Cheers,
    Lucy