Sunday, 21 July 2013

Winner winner, bacon dinner!

Since my appointment disaster, we have been “pissed in paradise” and trying to get as much done in North Queensland as we could both to tidy up old loose ends and prepare for our new life in Tasmania.
Oh, and Cor has been baking too!
However while out doing some shopping Coreen and I were intrigued to see some frozen rare breed pork and goat being sold in a local fish shop.  It seemed like an odd product choice for a fish shop until we talked to Dominic, the owner.  To our amazement it transpired that we have a couple producing free-range rare-breed pork and Boer goats right here in Ingham!  I asked around and no one had heard much about it, apart from some gossip about the couple possibly being involved in the re-opening the old Taylor’s Beach abattoir.
So Cor and I got their phone number, and after some phone tag got in touch with Jules of Backfatters to go out and find out what was fact and what was fiction.

And what we found out was that not only were Jules and her partner Shane raising rare Large Black and Berkshire pigs, they were driving the development of a whole new form of agribusiness in an area traditionally dominated by sugar cane production.  On arrival at their farm we were met by some beautiful Maremma dogs, and I thought “here we go, we are in the right place”.  Maremmas are traditionally used to protect stock from predators (dingos, wild dogs etc) and if properly socialised are also excellent with people.

Jules told us the story of how they became “accidental pig farmers” when their boar got out one Christmas and mated all their sows, giving them (3 months 3 weeks and 3 days later) a massive number of piglets to get rid of.  She shared their experiences trying to get their animals humanely dealt with, and the sheer frustration and tyranny of distance that led to them to try to reopen the Taylor’s Beach abattoir.  She explained how government bureaucracy initially made it impossible, and how it was only a message on Facebook to all their market customers in Townsville saying that they were “going out of business” that galvanised a team of savvy loyal customers to help them fill in forms, prepare reports, document procedures and secure the necessary permissions to reopen the abattoir.
Backfatters also have these cute little guys!
She was open about the challenges they face, and proud of their achievements (try getting your new farm to survive Yasi, a Category 5 cyclone – yikes!).  Their produce is so good, they were finalists in the Delicious magazine produce awards and attended the finals in Sydney last week.  And they now have people from all over north Queensland sending them their animals for slaughter and processing.  If you can get your hands on pork or goat from Backfatters, do it, you won’t regret it.

Cor and I were overwhelmed.  To find yet another couple of people, 20 minutes from where I grew up, following their dream (or at least that of their boar), was absolutely brilliant.  The road beckons tomorrow as we start our long drive south, but the information that Jules and Shane were prepared to share with us made us feel like this thing we are planning may not be such a lonely road to travel after all.

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