Archive for September, 2012
‘Julia Gillard is stupid.’
With those four words my heart sank.
I’m not saying I entirely disagree with the sentiment, but it saddens me that they come out of the mouth of my son. He’s seven.
Too young to fully comprehend what he was saying. Old enough to repeat, verbatim, everything he hears.
It should come as no surprise that in the house of a country born-and-bred farmer and businessman, the political convo here is somewhat right of centre.
And I must confess that at times, during some of the Government’s more dopey episodes – I’m thinking pink bats, school halls, carbon tax and live cattle export crisis – the political analysis in Chez Bean hasn’t always been tame.
But we’re not living in a cult. I don’t want my kids to agree with, and repeat, what their parents think, just because we share a house.
I want them to be free-thinking, intelligent, thoughtful men who know how to be independent thinkers.
It’s very expensive being me.
Seriously, it costs big bucks to keep me looking this good.
I’m no Elle MacPherson but even the most modest of mothers has to invest in her appearance.
There’s hair colour – to be applied monthly if the battle over the greys is to be won.
Cost: $150 ++
Add a haircut and you’ll need to re-mortgage your house if you’re to afford an appointment at one of those swanky salons.
Waxing is next. It’s a cruel joke that something so painful costs so much. By the time you’ve denuded your legs, your nether regions, your eyebrows and upper lip don’t expect any change from $100.
Some friends swear by laser hair removal but I can see the residual pain in their eyes … I’d rather have leg hair than endure a torture that some say is worse than childbirth.
Next we focus on wrinkle removal. I’m a wuss and won’t try injectables (can’t they come up with a ‘softer’ name for them, a name with more appeal to needle-phobes like me)
Botox love? Umm, thanks but I’ll pass on the botulism if you don’t mind.
So there’s little choice but to invest in a course of facials, skin peels and oxygen treatments … I will conquer the black bags and the ‘laugh lines’.
The irony is that 15 years ago when I was happily unencumbered I considered my weekly personal treatment sessions to be a happy indulgence.
These days hair appointments are a necessity, not a luxury, an assault on the greys, which seem to break overnight. Where do they come from and why do they insist on parking themselves in large numbers at the front of my head? I blame my house of men.
Big and small, my boys cause me no end of worry and that, I’m convinced, leads to grey hairs.
Here in the Fassifern Valley the potatoes are being harvested. Last night we sat down to some beautiful roasted tatties, grown by Farmer Rob for Kalfresh, dressed with herbs from my veggie patch.
I drew on a simple recipe I learned while studying at the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food. Jamie recommends par-boiling the potatoes before roasting and then shaking them up a bit to mash up the edges. Then when you go to roast them – make sure they’re covered in salt, pepper, olive oil and herbs first – they really crisp up.
I steamed these potatoes last night before putting them in the oven. They tasted amazing. Possibly not technically in line with our protein-only diet … but hey one night off is allowed. Isn’t it?
I’m one of those people who can’t think about what she’s eating as she eats it. If someone starts talking about little baby cows as I’m tucking into veal saltimbocca, well that’s the end of dinner. Just can’t eat another mouthful.
It’s a good thing I married a vegetable farmer and not a beef or sheep farmer because we’d be very broke if I had. All those little cows and sheep would have names and I’d be barricading the truck so they couldn’t go off to market.
Stupid I know, but that’s just how I am.
So when I interviewed pig farmer Belinda Marriage from Tillari Trotters I felt I’d met a kindred spirit. Which is kind of funny given that her financial survival relies on selling her pigs for meat.
Belinda admits she sees herself as ‘mum’ to the pigs. She breeds Tamworth Pigs … or Tammies. They’re a rare breed which is distinct because they have dark hair and dark meat. She describes her operation as whole-of-life free-range. That means her pigs are free to roam outside in the paddocks for their entire life, from birth until Belinda drives them off to the abattoir. It’s a drive she admits still fills her with guilt, but it’s also an essential part of the process.
Belinda told me that she feels good knowing that while alive her pigs have a very good life. They run, they play in the mud, they do what pigs should do.
She described the paddock to plate process for me for the Ask a Farmer feature I wrote for last Saturday’s Courier Mail.
Mating: All our matings are natural. Gestation is three months, three weeks and three days, give or take. We breed around the year but we’re trying not to farrow so much in winter because it’s cold.
Farrowing: Our girls farrow out in the paddock. They have some shelter in there but some just have their piglets under a tree. It’s not the best scenario. Our pigs have litters between four and 14 piglets, but the average is 8 to 10. Tamworth Pigs have fairly small litters compared to other breeds.
Instincts: Tamworth pigs have incredible mothering instincts. She will build a nest to have a baby in. If there’s a predator nearby all the pigs come running.
Weaning: Generally we let the other wean her own babies around three months. If the mum gets skinny we take the babies out. Some of the mums quickly go and find a boar and mate again, others we rest.
Fattening: Our pigs are free to roam their paddocks for their entire life. We like to get our bacons up to about 70 to 80kg before we take them to the abattoir. Because they are running around it does take them longer to fatten up.
Eating: The quality of our pork is really good. I put it down to the breed and the genetics, as well as the stress-free life. What they eat also has a part to play.
Belinda sells her meat through online sales and through Farmer’s Markets. Find out more at www.tamworthpigs.com.au
Gerard Puglisi and his wife Terese are shareholders in Daintree Estates, a relatively new company that produces the world’s first Australian single-origin cocoa beans and chocolate.
The company has farmers as shareholders and was formed after a five-year trial by the DPI and Cadburys to try growing cocoa in Australia.
The trial selected sites that were within 18degrees of the equator. Two fo the five sites were deemed to be suitable – Port Douglas was one of them.
That’s where Gerard grows his cocoa, which looks like big rugby balls when it’s growing on the tree. The process to get it from raw product to chocolate is pretty involved and labour intensive which is probably why Cadbury decided not to proceed beyond the trial.
Cocoa has historically been grown in West Africa, but World Vision says the industry relies on forced child and trafficked labour. So next time there’s a choice between cheap imported chocolate and the Aussie-made stuff … the decision should be more than about price. To be sure you’re not supporting these unethical practices you should look for chocolate that has been independently certified to have been ethically grown and harvested.
I wrote about Daintree Estates last week for the Courier Mail’s Ask a Farmer page (see it every Saturday in the LIFE section).
This is a recap of the paddock to plate process that takes cocoa from the tree and into a block of delicious chocolate.