Deer. Christmas Hills couple Darrell and Jennifer Kay say they live in the perfect place to rear Santa’s merry sleigh-pullers.
The fitting name aside, Mr Kay said Circular Head has the world’s freshest air and cleanest water, and he hopes to use this to market his venison in the new year.
“You don’t get it much better than this,” he said on Thursday.
The couple sold their Togari dairy farm a few years ago and have since moved into the Christmas Hills property, to be on-site with the deer they started to farm four years earlier.
“There’s a bit of money to be made, but to make a living you’d probably need three times this size.”
Mr Kay, a keen hunter, said he hopes to use a local abattoir to process the meat. He then wants to find a local outlet to sell the meat to, having already had interest from buyers from along the coast.
Mr Kay described the meat as naturally lean, with a stronger flavour than your typical beef steak. “We had backstrap, cut into strips and marinated. It was better than the steaks we had.”
Though they keep their 260 deer plus fawns “mainly for meat”, there are pet-like qualities about some of them. In particular, Dotty, who will reach up for a ‘treat’ of bread, and Snow Flake who will eat the family’s left over dessert off a spoon.
To be precise, “strawberries and cream,” according to Mrs Kay.
But it’s not all strawberries and cream. As is the nature of the animal, there can be fighting among stags. Mr Kay said when antlers are shed and re-grown, the antlers are only soft velvet and the fighting is generally a push and a shove. However, once antlers are fully grown, more serious fights can happen. Some have even resulted in death.
Many friends and passers-by have suggested the Kays open a coffee shop, where tourists and locals can have a cuppa and a scone, and see the deer.
While the couple doesn’t think they will go down that road, they admit it is a good idea, with tourists often stopping at the Bass Highway property.