Archive for October 19th, 2008

Pigs for pork? Or pigs as pets?

It surprises me that, given all the interest other people have displayed about my pigs, the one question I’m rarely asked is how I can bear to put my beloved pigs in the freezer. I don’t know if this is because they see inescapable link between pig and sausages etc or because they’re too, I don’t know, tactful to ask. Either way, they don’t. And so I rarely think about it. No, that’s not true. I think about it a lot. We’re still enjoying the meat from Victoria and Albert and yet I miss them. Especially Albie.

Albert and Victoria - 17 March 2008

Albert and Victoria - 17 March 2008

And yet missing them doesn’t make me regret putting them in the freezer, or even buying them in the first place.

We bought them for meat and in March, they duly became large roasting joints (4kg legs!!), chops the size of the dinner plate (more like steaks) and 47kg of sausages.

And I’ve never tasted pork like it. B isn’t a huge fan of pork and even she raves about how good it tastes. The chops are divine and the sausages are just out of this world.

Almost as good as the taste is the knowledge that we reared them and we know exactly what they ate and how they were treated. Those pigs were happy pigs, no doubt about it. And that, my friends, is part of the reason why they taste so good.

We let them grow at their own pace; if it took a bit longer, so be it. They were lean and in great health because of it. Obviously, the quicker you can fatten your pig, the less it costs you, but unless you prioritise the welfare of the pig, if they grow too fast, they develop fat, not muscle. Cheap cuts of meat are fatty because they’ve been produced cheaply. Lean cuts costs more because the producer took their time over their pig. Chances are, the person who takes their time also allows their pig to live a more natural life, so the pig’s happier all round.

And when you can do it yourself and produce your own pigs for the freezer, the pig’s even happier. Smallholders do this best because we don’t have huge herds so we can give each sow, boar, weaner and piglet individual attention. I sat in the rain this morning on an upturned feed bucket, giving Harold a cuddle because he looked a bit down in the dumps about the bad weather. Soppy? Totally. Foolish? Probably. Happy pig because he got a belly rub and a chin tickle? You bet!

I shall miss Harold very much when he takes his final journey but if it wasn’t for my love of sausages, I wouldn’t have him or any of the other pigs. This isn’t a post about vegetarianism because I think that’s a separate issue, one whose focus shouldn’t be on smallholders like myself who treat our livestock with all the dignity and love and attention they need, plus a whole lot more. No, the focus should be on the intensive (not large scale, there’s a difference) farmers who only care about the profit per head, who battery farm their pigs and obey the laws regarding the space each pig allowed by mere fractions of millimetres. But, as I said, that’s not today’s topic of choice.

Yes, my piglets have been bred for the freezer. That’s why I introduced Tia and Scrumpy to Bob. One day, I’d like to have a go at producing Kune Kunes for breeding purposes, but that’s a long way off. For now, they’re strictly meat or pets. Or both. Mine are!