Rain, dust and the long weekend
After a gruelling January, a spot of rain and a long weekend feasting with friends is definitely what the Doctor ordered.
The extreme weather continues and just makes us even more determined to support regenerative farming. This week, despite the conditions, our farms have delivered a romping party of rich, genetic diversity, robust health and quality. Hampshire Down lambs, Berkshire, Wessex Saddleback and English Large Black pigs, organic Wagyu and Belted Galloway beef, sweet, fresh buffalo cheeses and more. Blessed are we who tuck in to such goodness!
But before we launch into all that, there's something we need to talk about first.
Sift Produce and the closure of Living Earth Farm
Georgie Neal of Sift Produce is our talented plant hunter equivalent, dear friend and ally. But right now she's facing perhaps her biggest challenge yet. Yesterday she announced that the ongoing drought has forced the closure of her main supplier, Living Earth Farm. If you've bought a Sift Produce box or shopped from Georgie on a Saturday at Feather and Bone, then you will have experienced the extraordinary vitality, diversity and flavour of Living Earth's produce. It literally glows with life and vigour. We are very sad to see Living Earth go and wish them the very best for their next chapter (we fervently hope that it's another farm nearby).
Georgie's work to promote farmers like Living Earth is important in so many ways, not least of which is the wonderful community of enthusiastic and supportive customers that she's built up over the last few years. If you value her work and you love what she does, please show your support.
Right, on with the show...
Frogs and raindrops at Near River farm. Photo by Near River.
Most of the farmers we work with have had rain - some only a tantalising sprinkle and some huge downpours. At Allyn River, near Barrington Tops, the river started flowing again. Further north, closer to the coast, Near River measured a life-changing 200 ml (over half the 2019 total in five days), soaking into grateful ground and generating new life everywhere, including one gorgeous frog - see above. Just West of Goulburn at Moorlands, Biodynamic sheep farmer, Vince Heffernan, got 24 ml - enough to wet the whistle but much more will be needed to make a difference. Down the road at Crookwell, they only got 4 ml. Cruel.
Michael Hicks, Extraordinary Pork pig farmer, just outside Dubbo yesterday as the dirt clouds roll into town. Photos by Alex Hicks
Meanwhile, further West, things remain grim. Wind generated by thunderstorms has whipped up the drought-desiccated topsoil, laid bare by excessive grazing and cultivation, sending huge plumes of fine dirt rolling across Central NSW and engulfing farms like The Gourmet Goat Lady at Collie and Extraordinary Pork out of Dubbo. Fortunately for Alex and Michael Hicks, although the farm is as dry as a chip and nothing is growing, their topsoil is protected and anchored in place with the roots of grasses and prescient farm planning means they still have sufficient dam water so their pigs remain fed, watered and healthy. As Rob Lennon, Gundooee Organic Wagyu farmer, always says, 'I may be in drought, but my cattle are never in drought.'
Which is a perfect segue into the forthcoming long weekend feasting and the delicious, dry-aged Gundooee Organic Wagyu beef hanging in our cool room.
Gundooee Organic Wagyu ribeye. Photo by Nick, our lovely customer.
The long weekend
As you know, particularly if you read our last newsletter, An Impossible Bind, we think that buying their produce is the best thing we can do to support regenerative farmers and the work they're doing to mitigate climate change. The fact that the quality of the produce is head and shoulders above everything else just makes the job easier and more joyful.
So, without further ado, here are some suggestions for nutritious and delicious feasting over the coming long weekend. Tuck in and enjoy!
Lambs this week are Hampshire Downs from Jarrod Bennett's Glenburnie Farm in East Gippsland (we've had to cross borders due to the drought in NSW) and they're in beautiful condition. Butterflied and marinated legs (Mediterranean or Moroccan) for the bbq or a pancetta-wrapped leg for a gorgeous roast. We love lamb ribs which make the best,meltingly delicious tacos (try a barbacoa version) and flavoursomechump chops (rump on the bone). Order your lovely lamb now.
Snags and burgers Fresh sausages this week:
Pork, Fennel & Chilli, Pork & Leek, Lamb & Oregano, Beef & Stout. Also Beef & Bacon burgers and Lamb Long Things (kofta). Plenty of other gear in the freezer including:
Lamb & Caramelised Onion Burgers and Moroccan Lamb Burgers. Order your snags and burgers now.
Pasture-raised NSW pork
Pork this week: English Large Blacks raised at Spring Grove Farm, near Casino in Northern NSW and Berkshire/Wessex Saddle Backs raised at Near River Farm inland from Port Macquarie.
There's something for everyone, from porchetta and pork pals (rolled loin roast) to barbecue cuts galore - loin chops, cutlets and racks. Order your pasture-raised pork now.
Better in a box - 10% cheaper!
Sometimes it's easier to let someone else put it all together for you, so we offer a range of boxes that take the stress out of ordering.
We have Bruce and Sheila who are ready to party, Mrs Feather and Mr Bone for a sensible range of meal options, the BBQ Box for, er, the bbq, and the Paleo Box that includes bones for broth. Order your box now.
Buffalo farmhouse dairy produce
There are few things more delicious than super-fresh buffalo mozzarella with ripe tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and lashings of good olive oil. There are lots of factors that make Burraduc Buffalo cheeses, milk and yoghurt so good but one of them is simple proximity. Burraduc is a farmhouse dairy - a closed loop - which means that everything is made onsite and is much fresher than dairy produce made from milk that has been transported from a farm to the factory. Order your buffalo dairy now.
Join Friends of Feather and Bone
We moderate it but the rest is up to you.
We've been thinking a lot lately about how food is a wonderful way of binding and strengthening communities, large and small, the more diverse the better. The more we reclaim knowledge and share ideas, the stronger, more tolerant and open-minded we become. The way we see it, we're no different from the networked communities of microbes, fungi, plants, insects and animals on the farms we work with - the more closely we're connected, the more healthy and resilient we are.
We'd love you to post photos of the food you cook, your recipes for eating the whole animal, your successes, your failures, your concerns and anything that you think will improve our collective understanding and make the rest of us weep with laughter (that bit's important). Any useful tips on taming feral children, preferably food-related, are also welcome.
CHEW THE FAT Read our blog for stories from the farms, produce and event news, ruminations on value and trust, a few dodgy jokes and the occasional rant about food labelling. Sometimes we talk about our pets - chickens, children, dog.
BUTCHERY HOURS Tuesday to Friday: 10.00 am ~ 5.00 pm
Saturday: 8.00 am ~ 4.00 pm Parking
If you're planning to come by car, please park in front of Feather and Bone, Unit 8. If there's no room in front of our place, please park on the street just outside the front gate. We and our neighbours thank you for your consideration.