Chestnut and three Bulls and a quick recipe

   
  A quick post for today, let the boys out to graze the back half and bucked the fallen chestnut into a usable log. It should be collected for milling this week. 

Tonight’s recipe is BBQ beef short ribs, 

Take Beef short ribs, cut into 2 bone pieces, marinate in Baharat garlic olive oil and orange juice for 6 hours. 

BBQ and serve with jacket potatoes and salad.

 

Howling Wind and Horizontal Rain

As many of you would be aware it has been very dry down in South Gippsland, “as dry as 1967” according to one old family friend. Well yesterday was anything but dry, in fact it resembled something of the apocalypse. 

The wind started around 2am and the rain from 6am onwards. The day started getting brighter, then all of a sudden seemed to give up. Everything went dark, and an almighty squall hit cutting the power out. 

Amazingly we had no trees down in the morning, though the afternoon was a different story. We returned from town to find the ring lock on our driveway decorated by bracken that had been ripped from the ground and the track further down blocked by a large fallen pine that had split.

  
Then when we went to get the chainsaw this was seen: one of our five chestnuts was sadly no longer standing.

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The track had to be cleared as it is our only access route in and out of the property, so it was out with the chainsaw.

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A solid hour of work and the drive was cleared and we could make it back to the house. 

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Hamish and Ciad-ghin weren’t too fussed by the events.

  
Today we will head out to see if there are any other trees down over the property. An on foot job as the ground will be too wet to drive on (yay!).

Here’s hoping the grass will grow!

Paddock to Plate: Pulled Beef

It is long overdue but we finally have a new paddock to plate recipe! 

This weekend we proudly supplied some of our first purebred dry-aged beef for a big function – a celebratory barbecue with family and friends. The numbers were around 70 and so we decided on making Pulled Beef, a popular and trendy dish. 

This had the advantage of being easy to prepare and that it makes use of cuts of beef which benefit from slow cooking. For ours we used 12kg of round steak, blade and chuck.

We kept the accompaniments simple with homemade tomato sauce, coleslaw (including homemade mayonnaise!) and some soft bread rolls, opting to make sliders. It was a winner and too good not to share the recipe!

  
Step 1: Beef Stock

We started out with 6.5kg of beef bones, which were roasted and once the fat had been poured off and the marrow and tasty bits picked over by the audience, they were put in a large stock pot with 15l of water.

The stock was then simmered over night. About 4 hours prior to finishing we added chopped onions carrots and celery to the pot alongside pepper and star anise. This was then simmered further until it was a suitable thickness and taste.

Step 2: Beef Rub

  

Whilst the stock was being made we made up a rub for the beef. This used the following ingredients:

1/2 cup of Chilli

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup of freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup of salt

1/4 cup of mustard powder

1/4 cup of cumin

1/4 cup of dried oregano

This was rubbed this all over the beef and left to rest in the fridge overnight.

Step 3: The Slow Cook

In the morning the beef was browned  then combined with the stock and placed into a very large (15 litre) casserole dish and covered. It was then cooked for 10 hours at 110°c. Periodically the meat was turned to ensure all of it was cooked in the stock.

Step 4: Time to Pull

  

Any remaining liquid was drained off and concentrated. The Beef was pulled using two forks across the grain, practically falling apart.

Step 5: Serve it Up

The pulled beef was then reincorporated into the concentrated stock and served on soft rolls with sauce coleslaw.

Yum! 

The evening turned out to be a big success and we received lots of compliments on our beef. Looks like we will be making it again.

New Yards (Finally)!!!

So after a few months of blood, sweat, tears, blisters, two excavators, two tractors, a bobcat, a crane, LOTS more gravel, having to build the race section three times and a whole list of expletives, I can now finally say that we have a brand new set of cattle yards installed on the farm. Hurrah!
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So Shiny!

It took a while to get to this stage. Previously this same site was occupied by an old set of yards that came with the property. These were a mish-mash of old, broken, rusty sheep/cattle yards that really weren’t practical to use. We ran the cattle through them a few times out of pure necessity, but are really glad they have gone.
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The old yards, on their last legs.

We debated where the best site for our yards was going to be and chose the same area as it was the ‘flattest’ spot on the property, with access for a small cattle truck. Now I say flat very loosely because, frankly, nowhere is. We ended up having to do some ground works to level the site to a gentle 4% slope. You can see just how far off level was in the picture below when we got the fancy laser level out..
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Level is where the lump near the top of the stick is…

The yards have been designed with animal welfare in mind. They are as curved as possible to give the cattle the sense that they are moving back to where they came from. Research suggests that this helps to calm stock and they will move more quietly through a yard system. We also incorporated a few nifty things into the set-up, like a 90 degree rotary force, a three-way drafter and yard panels with wider bars to prevent/reduce bruising if the cattle bash against them.
Our crush was selected with a parallel squeeze, semen collection and needle gates, a chin bar and load bars to weigh the cattle.  A parallel squeeze will be particularly effective at immobilising young stock and preventing them from turning around in the crush. This should minimise any damage to horn buds and prevent wonky horn growths in the future.
There is still some work left to do – fencing around the yards and painting all the panels in order to preserve them for longer. We are currently debating what shade of green is best.
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Proof that I do work and don’t just take photos! That’s an 8″ post by the way.

Looking forward to putting the stock through for the first time!
– Rachael

Purebred, Grass fed, Dry Aged Beef

Yesterday we sent our first purebred Highland steer to the abattoirs. He was three and half years old and one of three black Highlands we purchased as part of our foundation herd. It’s satisfying to see him a few years on helping us progress into the next stage of the business and selling our beef. The meat will be sent on to Wuk Wuk beef for 28 days of dry ageing. Next week we have been invited for a tour of the facilities and to organise the paperwork for what cuts we want. Come March we will have some beautifully aged meat to supply a wedding and our first meat to sell from the business…yum!

As part of our continued destocking we have also parted ways with Surprise (our Highland-Hereford cross) along with the two remaining Belted Galloway steers. They went to a fat cattle sale today and I am currently waiting to hear what weights they came in at.

– Rachael

 

A Moment of Reflection

This is a photo of Sophie I took yesterday during my stock check. I came out the house to find all the cattle sat in the paddock close by chewing the cud, so I grabbed my camera and went for a walk amongst them. I like the picture because not only is it a nice portrait, but it marks a sort of milestone for me in my farming career.

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I am about a meter and a half away, zoom out on the camera when this was taken. You can see Sophie is watching me, but she is calm; no wide, afraid eyes and she is not poised to get up. There was no head shaking or mooing and she was not looking around for an escape route. To my right was Jessica, same position and behind me the rest of the fold dotted around, similarly at ease.

Amongst the quiet I had a moment of reflection: a year ago I would have been about 50+ meters away trying to get a decent shot, two years and I probably wouldn’t have left the car I was that afraid of the cattle. Gradually I am overcoming my fears and now feel a lot more comfortable working with the stock. To be fair to them the cattle have changed too. They now know who I am and no longer stare at me wide-eyed or gallop off as soon as I emerge over the brow of a hill. How far we have come!

-Rachael

 

Playful Highlands

  
See that log on the road? It has been moved, recently, by the cattle. It used to be located 50m or so up on the bank. 

Now I have a few theories on why they would go to the trouble;

1. The cattle were unhappy with their paddock decoration and felt the need to move stuff around.

2. They were practising for the Highland games. The log roll (like cheese rolling!)? Tossing the caber?

3. Cattle get bored too and need to spice up their lives by doing something other than grazing, sleeping, mooing and working out their pecking order. I’m not really sure how exciting the log would have been though…

Who knows? I just have to figure out how to move a big log off the road to allow trucks past.

Thanks coos!

– Rachael

Grazing the Last Corner

Yay, after an intensive week of fencing, part of it up one of the steeper slopes of the property, I have lost weight, added to my farmers tan, nearly been sprayed on by a helicopter, found muscles I didn’t even know I had and finally been able to move the stock into the last, ungrazed corner of the property – phew!
 

Look at all that feed!

 
We have left this corner of the property untouched since we took the sheep off a year ago. It’s relatively small and wouldn’t have housed the entire fold for long. Now we have de-stocked and have poor pasture growth over the rest of the farm, it comes as a handy little extra that will see us over for a couple of weeks so the rest of the property can recover some more. I am determined to keep the rotational system in place as long as I can to promote more growth. Hopefully the rain that’s due later this week will be enough to help too!

The corner has three boundaries; two neighbours and the driveway. One neighbouring boundary is in really good shape, but the other not so much. In light of this I have spent time over the last week installing an electric offset along the two neighbours lines. Our stock respect a live wire, which helps discourage them from scratching and damaging the fence or jumping into the neighbours and potentially harming themselves. 

 

Setting up fiberglass offsets.

 
I love my stock. They are, most of the time, easily moved, but my word they make some noise when they do. They even had cattle from the surrounding properties joining in their chorus as I walked them up the slope and through the pine forest. Perhaps a more apt name would be ‘MOOved’! 

   

Rupert wonders what all the noise is about.

 

Being easy to move doesn’t always mean they will take the most obvious route!

 
Once they saw where I was taking them the noise was soon replaced by steady munching. If a cow could look happy then this was it. 

The only foreseeable downside to this plan is that I haven’t fenced off the driveway completely, which means unless I want poo driven into the gravel I will have to do some shovelling. I see it as a small price for giving them extra feed. Happy munching cattle!

– Rachael

New Year Farming Resolutions

Well hello 2016 and a happy moo (new) year to our family, friends and followers! 

  
2015 was a big year for Scorrybreck farm: the move to the new place, new home, getting to grips with the daunting task of what we need to achieve in order to turn the land back into a productive block, reclaiming it from the weeds!

Along the way we have met some amazing people, settled into our new township and made some great friends. A few people who know the block have said we are doing a good job with it and that’s so encouraging to hear. Now we need to look ahead to 2016, what our major focuses will be and to set ourselves some farming resolutions.

  
The first thing we are looking forward to is a new set of yards. These are due in a couple of weeks time and I cannot tell you just how excited we are!

In terms of the work we have to do, increasing our water storage is going to be a priority. It’s very dry at the moment, so this will be a perfect opportunity to get some plant in to do much needed maintenance on existing dams. Some need sealing and others a few repairs so that they will be able to hold water all year round. This will help with the rotational grazing system we have begun to set up and will allow us to eventually fence off the creeks completely.

Continuing from last year will be our battle against the weeds. There is another  dose of aerial spraying scheduled to tackle flat weeds at the front of the property as well as another pass for bracken and blackberries. After this most of the weed work will be on foot in areas inaccessible to the helicopter. 

  
Potentially we would also like to look at pasture improvement. Fertiliser application and possible reseeding. 

For our personal resolutions we would like to tighten up on our record keeping. From recording daily rainfall (or lack of) to the dates the Bulls were in for breeding and checking and rechecking stock numbers in their respective herds. We do this to a degree anyway, but you just never know when this information written down might be useful. 

It would be nice to set up a weather station this year. Looking back at seasonal trends will help us plan farm maintenance, rotations and activities in the future. Not to mention it’s interesting to know!

So those are our new year farming resolutions. What are yours?

– Rachael