Regular readers will know that, so far, we have not got involved in pigs. Never say never; it is an idea that flickers away in the back of our minds and we have the perfect place to 'do' them should we decide to. It is the escapist skills of pigs and the fact that they do not graze our nice free grass, but need actually 'feeding' which have put us off so far. The perfect place is the area known as the 'secret garden' which is already well wooded and actually has fencing to sheep proof standards down either side.
Meanwhile, as we dilly dally over deciding to keep a couple of our own (or even pregnant female with piglets due) we have gone into an informal partnership with our friend Carolyn down the lane (she of the miniature horses) who had decided to rear 2 Gloucester Old Spot pigs this year as we decided to 'do' 5 store lambs. The plan was to simply swap carcass for carcass after slaughter so that they could have a pig and a lamb, and we'd have 2 lambs and a pig. We actually have 5 lambs, but 2 of these are already spoken for by hungry in-laws.
Carolyn has done pigs in previous years and, as well as the frozen joints, belly pork and so on, has started to explore into making sausages, salting some of the pig for bacon and even got a bit into the dry cured foods like chorizo sausage and 'Parma' style ham. We may well try out some of these processes and have started to pick Carolyn's brains on such specialist subjects as 'covers' (skins) for the sausages and 'starter cultures' for the Lactobacillus that goes into chorizo.
Excellent, then to receive from UK friend Mazy a book on this very subject as an early Christmas present. This came to us via our excellent local couriers, wrapped in its Amazon packet, so we had to contact Mazy and see whether it was a Christmas gift and should not therefore be opened till the 25th Dec. Mazy, though, had been clued in on the fact that these pigs are due to be slaughtered on Monday next (25th Nov), so told us to open it early. Thank you very much, Mazy, you are a present buying Genius!
Our own contributions to this meat fest, the lambs are easily 'ready' now and possibly even over-fat, but we have had a slight hiccup in the proceedings, in that sheep mentor (and plasterer), Kenny O'C fractured his collar bone 5 weeks ago and has been out of the picture in terms of sheep wrangling. In theory we need him to come and check the sheep and clear us for booking them in for their final journey, and this needs to be soon, because our slaughterhouse and butcher, Ignatius G gets very busy come early December with Christmas meat. In the absence of Kenny we may need to blag a local neighbour with access to a stock trailer who doesn't mind doing a bit of haulage for us or, failing that, keep the sheep through Christmas and 'finish' them in January. Watch this space.
Talking of button-holing the locals and persuading them to work for us, we got a nice result with the local hedges and verges trimming contractor on his big red tractor. Alerted to his presence in the lane by the dogs barking, I sprinted out and found him stopped chatting to John Deere Bob. Asked to do our hedges for a small fee, he agreed that "Sure, I'll give them a lick for you!" Not only did he top and face our privet hedge along the front of the house, he also trimmed the hedge of the East Field and, swapping attachments on his hydraulic arm, mowed the verges on both sides of the lane all along out frontage. It's very tidy we look now, out front, as well as being able to see cars coming as we nose out of the gate.
In terms of food, we are definitely going over to autumnal veg. We love that we change our vegs round the seasons rather than just going with Supermarket style, everything-all-round-the-year produce. Tonight I cut the penultimate Romanesco cauliflower head (all be it, very tiny!), pulled another red beet and cut a few more of our nice fat sprouts. We are currently in egg glut mode after spending spring and early summer scrounging around for eggs. One of our adult female geese is, amazingly, still in lay, giving us an egg every other day and this morning we had half a dozen goose eggs and over a dozen chicken eggs in the kitchen. Liz's response to an egg glut is usually to start baking, but today she has gone all adventurous with a chocolate mousse dessert, and a salmon kedgeree with hard-boiled goose eggs. Life's tough in austerity Ireland, but we'll manage!
For its first six years, this blog was "written" by my Westie Pup, Deefer but now on reaching its 30,000th page-view she has passed the keyboard to me. It remains a light hearted look at the lives of our family, human and animals first in Faversham, Kent, then through our recent 'up sticks' move to County Roscommon, Republic of Ireland where we have gutted and rebuilt a farmhouse and are now starting a small holding.