Pigs!

It is high time to introduce you formally to the two newest arrivals at park farm. They have been with us for a month now but we have been preparing for them for ages (well, since Novemberish). First we had to fence off a bit of the field – well done Mr B. I say we but it was all him and my brother helped a (tiny) bit. Learning curve number 3056 of being at Park Farm. Next was the pig ark. Toyed with many solutions which included cobbling it together from what we could find up here (there is so much stuff and rubbish lying around), buying flat pack or buying second hand (quite a high demand so not much cheaper than new). In the end we went with the getting-someone-who-knows-what-they-are-doing-to-build-it-for-us option. He was a local bloke who also made us a picnic table for the glampers in the shepherds hut. We like keeping things local and it saved us (Mr. B) a great deal of time that was spent fencing instead.

Moving the arc into place. It was very, very, very heavy (very).

One big job that was related to the borehole venture of previous blogs was getting water to the field. A mini digger, miles of blue pipe, several trips back and forth to town to get the right connectors, lots and lots and lots of mud later and the pigs have water! As does the shepherds hut and another random shed.

Trenches, mud and pipes.

We also needed a way to transport them to their new home. So Mr B picked up a second hand livestock trailer on his way back from Liverpool airport one weekend. Having a trailer feels like we mean business now, like we are almost real smallholders.

So off we went, trailer, kids and all, to get them from a farm in Wales. It was a glorious day and the kids kept us entertained with questions like ‘Where are the whales? I can’t see any’ (four year old), ‘do they speak our language?’ (six year old). And so home came two, pink, eight week old, Tamworth x British Lop female piggies (called ‘gilts’).

Off exploring

As well as being incredibly entertaining and a great talking point for visitors, these piggies are here for a reason (two actually):

  1. To clear some scrubby undergrowth and to rotavate and fertilise the area where we plan on establishing a proper veg plot.
  2. To fill our freezer.

So they are busy getting stuck in with job number 1 and thoroughly enjoying it, then in November(ish) we will be waving goodbye to them. Someone recently asked me ‘how can you eat something so cute?’ I had to go away and really think about it, firstly because they really are very cute, and because I realised that I needed to reaffirm to myself why we are raising our own animals for meat – could actually I do it? After a mental shake up, I realised that not eating our own cute pigs would not stop me from buying and cooking pork from the butchers. Supermarket pork is too cheap and welfare standards for pigs raised commercially are very low. Local pork from the local butchers is better but you cannot get closer to the source of your food than raising or growing it yourself. They are living their best life here, rooting in the undergrowth, eating the grass, rolling in their mud wallow they dug themselves, play fighting together just like dogs do. In the end they will provide us with good quality, home grown, basically zero food miles meat. We know exactly what has gone into them and how they have spent their lives. Much better than anonymous pork.

Saying all that, we have never actually done anything like this before – sending animals to slaughter. When it comes to it I have absolutely no doubt that it will be incredibly hard. And we have already broken the number one rule – they have names.

Pigs meet ponies.

We broke it on purpose as I don’t think we could have got away without naming them – the kids would have come up with some by themselves, so we preempted them and, keeping the end goal in mind, suggested Bacon and Sausage. After a brief protest from the six year old and a well reasoned argument we compromised and Sausage and Pinky are very happy in their new home, and getting noticeably bigger each week.

They are great fun, running over to say hello when they spy us in the garden, I just love the snorty snuffly slurpy noises they make. And they are very cute.