Pig tales from Rhodavale
STARTING a farming operation is often fraught with problems.
Some of these are bureaucratic, some are climatic and others just happen, mostly at the wrong time.
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Melinda and Brad Murnane of Lower Wonga run Rhodavale Pork as a free range production unit.
Mrs Murnane was a speaker at a Women in Agriculture field day held at Kilkivan.
"I have to say that when your husband buys a farm the view or the house is not high on the priority list,” she said. "So we found ourselves living in a 'shed'.
"Around this time, mid-2009, and when I was pregnant, Brad took me to see a litter of pigs and I heard myself say - could we have more of those?”
The Murnanes started applying for the necessary permits and approvals, and doing some sums.
"The reply from the government was approval for a quarter the number of pigs that we thought was economic,” Mrs Murnane said.
"That was not going to be worth going ahead with so we sold the pigs and looked around for what else to do.”
At about this time there was an election and the government changed, and a bit later a phone call from DAF said that they had looked at our previous application and that it would be approved.
"We bought more pigs,” Mrs Murnane said.
"Got free range-accredited and started to sell a few carcasses to Sunshine Coast butchers.”
She said that just as they were starting to get things going pretty well, the herd was struck by an outbreak of disease.
"Getting over that was huge,” Mrs Murnane said. "It is not the problem but how you deal with it that is important.”
"We dealt with it, and applied for increased pig numbers as we were close to the approved limit.”
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The final stage of a long planned complete paddock-to-plate operation has now come about with an on-farm butcher shop and their Rhodavale brand on the product.
Mrs Murnane said that a big issue with the shop is finding outlets for the complete carcass, not just the best or favourite cuts.
During all the business development the Murnanes have raised four children who as soon as they could walk have been given jobs to do.
"We try to find time for non-farm things,” Mrs Murnane said.
"Weekends are basically catch-up for farm and family.”