Goats are such adorable creatures. I remember having a couple of goats while I was growing up. The barren Blanchet, who we were forever waiting on having to have a kid that she never had, and the mischievous Billy, who was given to me (as a 10 year old) by some ‘well meaning’ neighbours who ultimately spent most of his life carrying a piece of 4×2 around his neck because it was the only way we could keep him out of the veggie garden and off the road. I loved Billy. My dad did not…
Billy had Houdini like qualities and even the 4×2 was little obstacle. Somewhere along the line a trade was made, dad, keen to save his veggie garden and Billy’s adoptee keen to make sausages. Realistically I guess this was probably the only real way that Billy was going to be kept out of any veggie garden. So goat meat is not new to me – it has always had a place in my food chain, even if it was by default.
Goats are said to be the first animal ever domesticated, and goat meat has been consumed since this time. It is still the most widely eaten meat, so contrary to what many people might think, goat meat is not at all a new meat. I guess Australia is fortunate in that we have so many choices of meat.
Goat meat is often called ‘chevon’, I think this is a marketing attempt to make it sound more palatable than ‘goat meat’, but the meat itself is particularly low in fat and cholesterol, easier to digest and much lower in calories than its red meat counterparts. The meat is much gamier, and because it is lean, these days, it is considered a healthier alternative meat to other red meats.
That was how Dean Quick came to be farming goats. Having issues with traditional meats like beef and lamb, he looked to goat meat and didn’t have the digestive problems that came with other red meats, and Southern Cross Smallgoods was born.
Dean then went on to breeding goats specifically for the purpose of meat, which he sells at various markets on the Sunshine Coast and Mary Valley as meat cuts, sausages and some FABULOUS salami.
I decided a road trip was in order, so I enlisted the company of Matt Golinski, who is currently doing some great work as the Gympie Gold Food and Culinary Tourism Ambassador raising awareness of producers in the Mary Valley and surrounding area through his blog, Matt Eats Gympie.
Matt, as a chef, has always taken a keen interest in regional produce so I knew it wasn’t going to be a hard sell to get him to come along.
Southern Cross Smallgoods is located in Sexton on Devil’s Mountain Road – apparently the road sign frequently ‘disappears’ so it was going to be hit or miss whether we actually found the place, but all good, we teamed up our navigation skills (GPS) and we did.
Dean is a generational farmer and grew up in the region, so it was great hearing the history of the area and his farm. Beautiful spot. Rolling hills, pastures rolling out beyond the dam… and then there were the goats.
You would think we were long lost friends by the way the kids (as in baby goats) greeted us upon our arrival. At first, just one or two, but then another three almost tumbled over to see us – there were kids everywhere! I had no misgivings as to why… although they had just been bottle-fed. It would seem they are insatiable as it was only in the hope of more food that they followed at our heels as we followed Dean to meet the others.
It doesn’t really need saying… but I will say it anyway… they are soooooo cute. Little buttons, every one of them. Snuck a few cuddles in… struggled with the urge to take them (as in all of them) home… several times… ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’, and eventually got back on topic… and that was goat salami…
Dean is passionate about what he does. You can see that in how he interacts with the goats. Many of his goats were in-kid, or had just had kids, a few of them even had twins. As this burdens the nannies and they can lose on condition, Dean takes on the responsible parent role and bottle-feeds the extra kids, hence, all of the bottle-fed kids. This allows the goats retain their condition, which inturn allows them to nurture themselves and their remaining offspring. It is a lot of extra work but it pays off.
Dean mainly has Boer goats, they are reputably much better mothers and more suitable for meat. There are 140 or so, 40 of them his breeding stock, and the rest… well, they become the ‘smallgoods’.
Dean is all about ethical farming. You can see by the way the goats gather around him and have no fear, that there is great reciprocal love. Love of farming and of the animals. These goats are treated very well.
I ask if any of them have names. He explains that he tries to avoid naming them, for obvious reasons… this is the same reason why his own children try to name some of the adopted kids. I remember trying the same thing with my dad… it rarely worked and usually ended in tears – it’s called ‘farming’.
The goats are ‘processed’ at a local abattoir and Dean has an onsite facility where he then processes the goat meat further. He has a fabulous smoker, which I was quite envious of, and where he smokes the salami and other goodies.
As it stands, Dean can barely keep up with demand, selling his meat at many of the local markets. Matt recently incorporated some of Dean’s goat meat in a long table lunch so was all too happy to vouch for how good the meat actually is.
Amongst Dean’s range is salami (pepper & garlic, pepper & whole peppercorns and pepper, garlic & chilli), gourmet sausages (apple, sage & rosemary, sweet chilli plum, Kashmir curry & coconut, honey macadamia and spicy Spanish chorizo – all gluten free) and a range of meat cuts (cutlets, chops, rack roast, leg roast, mince and more).
So we stocked up on salami – mine only just lasted the drive home… I restrained myself from biting into it in the car on the way home… only because I didn’t want to share (sorry Matt).
Southern Cross Smallgoods, can be found at various markets on the coast. To avoid disappointment, give Dean a call and find out where he is going to be if you are planning on visiting a market specifically to stock up, as supply is in hot demand.
Visit the Southern Cross Smallgoods profile on:
This story was written by Petra Frieser – Pebbles + Pomegranate Seeds