Autumn 2007 update
This is our third update of things as they develop on the farm, and if you are reading this you are now aware that our website is up and running! Like our farm (and me) it's a work in progress and will be continually updated and rearranged - hopefully improved. Forgive me if I sound off on a few topics on the site, but it will help all know what we believe, know, stand for and practise.
Darren our butcher is proving great to work with, nothings a problem and the cutting since the changeover has improved dramatically. We have had great difficulty sourcing 'organic' meal for the sausages due to the drought, and consequent lack of availability of organic grains (rice) for sausage meal. This issue means the best we can do at the moment is use a 'Coeliacs mix'. So our sausages are gluten and preservative free, with no added chemicals and in natrual casings.
Our new 'carbon neutral' delivery system is working well too, with the unexpected bonus that I get to meet our lovely clients. You really are nice people and you buy our good food!
Pork!I know quite a few of you have been waiting (more or less) patiently for our pork venture to begin. Well it appears that pork will be on the menu sooner than expected. We are in the process of purchasing some organic and some free-range pigs. These are all Wessex Saddleback pigs of varying ages and sexes. Some of the 'growers' are almost ready and these should be available late May. I'll be sorting out cuts and quantities with Darren in the next two weeks and I invite expressions of interest from you all. Sugar cured and smoked hams and bacon will take a little longer but will also be available.
Our pig enterprize has meant new quality assurance proceedures are being documented for external audits, primarily so that we can use export abattoirs. We will not be exporting pork, but it is a system requirement of our closest abattoir that does. Rest assured our pork will be chemical free, free range, low stress and properly aged. We were fortunate to be given some of this pork to try a month ago and the difference in quality and flavour was amazing.
Beef!Due to the drought and since our last update, we have sold more of the herd. We are down to a third the number of cattle when compared to before the drought. Inspite of the back to back poor seasons, the quality our beef is improving. I guess our holistic decision making is becoming more in tune the cattle's needs; particularly their nutritional needs, that and the reduced numbers.
In short, the quality is up and the quantity is down. In spite of this and the increased cost of inputs, you’ll be pleased to know we are not putting up our prices. However supply will be limited so please, and this is not a sales pitch, to avoid disappointment do not leave your order until the last minute.
Lamb!No I haven't launched a sheep project just yet, but I would value your comments on whether lamb is on your menu. We are contemplating a rare breed, low maintenance sheep, as they fill a vacant ecological niche in our grazing system. If we go down this ecological path, a by product will be lamb. I've had a few unsolicited requests for lamb already, so please let me know if clean, organic, pasture raised and finished lamb is of interest.
Rare Breeds.Belted Galloway cattle are not only cute but they are a breed classified 'at risk' by the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia. Wessex Saddleback pigs are classified as 'critical'. Our new acquisition of Aylsebury ducks are also critically endangered. The Aylsebury is considered the best eating duck (Epicure UK) and yet it faces extinction because like other rare breeds of animals, it is not easily reared in factory farms and isn't the highest yielding or most profitable.
Rare breeds fit well with our philosophies of slow, quality, pastured, free range and chemically free. Our principles and a desire to preserve genetic diversity, both in the wild and farm environments, means we will concentrate our efforts on rare breeds. The industrial farms worldwide have limited genetic selection to the most profitable animals at the expense of all other values and traits. The Angus cattle, a very successful commercial breed, in Canada a few years ago could be traced back to six elite bulls. Just imagine the entire population of Canberra being the progeny of our last six prime ministers!! Horrible thought isn't it, but that's the sort of numbers we are talking. When it comes to pigs and poultry the lack of genetic diversity is even worse!
"Worldwide, domestic animal breeds are disappearing at an annual rate of 5%, or 6 breeds per month". (FAO, 1995 from SLOW 2006). So, we've joined the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia and are doing our bit in the battle to maintain genetic diversity. It may seem a paradox, but you can do your bit by eating rare breeds. By eating these animals you will be creating a demand for them and this will ensure their survival. Simple isn't it? So please, eat more rare meat breeds.
I promised myself I wouldn't comment on the weather (what else do farmers talk about?) but it's overcast and threatening rain as I write and all indications are that a wet change is on the way at long last. This is great news as we've only had 2mm in the past month, so fingers crossed that the predictions of a coming La Nina will come true. The 23,000 trees we planted and our pastures stopped growing ages ago and desperately need a good drink.
And finally, to our friends old and new, a big THANK YOU. Without you we couldn't do it. We really do appreciate your spreading the word that there are farmers doing the right thing for the environment and the community. Minding the triple bottom line (environmental, social and financial) is made easier with your support. Please keep up the good work, refer any and everyone to this site, and enjoy the good food we produce.
Our very best,
Michael, Elizabeth, Katina and Briana Croft
© 2007 by Michael Croft and Mountain Creek Farm, All rights reserved.