A new and exciting departure for us.. livestock! We’ve long raised the great majority of our own fruit and veg.. and have had surplus products to give away as gifts to friends/family/neighbours. Infact, last year we had such an overwhelming surplus of peaches at one point we were regularly taking bucketloads over to our neighbour for his pigs and one day they even had a wheelbarrow load. As evidenced by his new found charcuterie skills, Adrian is keen on experimentation, so as we have the unused land it seemed like a jolly good idea to raise our own weaners. All that surplus food is going to become… bacon (and salamis, chorizo, boudin noir, jambon cru, wiltshire cure hams etc. etc.).
Some backstory… in mid July we went to visit a local pig breeder.. he’s fairly close… only a couple of kilometers from us. He rears all his animals outdoors and had close on a hundred breeding sows and a couple of boars to service them. We had our choice out of a couple of litters and it was almost impossible to pick two out. We left having agreed on a couple of critters and a price for them.. to be delivered sometime in mid August.
We’d done some small amounts of prep to an area that was pretty much ideal.. it’s aboout 150M2, has good fencing and a large shed (the PiggyHilton) with plenty of shade provided by a Walnut tree and a small stand of hazlenuts.
Friday evening was the appointed delivery time and they were somewhat unceremoniously carted in by our pig breeder. We gave them a brief look around their paddock and let them have a little explore. They were distinctly unhappy at the whole being-moved and scary new surroundings experience but after a few minutes settled down and began exploring their new patch.
They immediately discovered a couple of small cobs of concrete that Adrian had kicked out of the PiggyHilton after doing a flooring repair in there a few weeks ago. It seemed such a shame to disturb them so we decided that.. if concrete was to be their first meal.. then so be it. Poor things.
Well, they have both settled in and seem to be at home in their new pig pen. Now they can come and go as they please in their pen. Their first morning they were very wary of us but after a few token tomatoes fed by hand, they seem to be more relaxed.
We were given half a bag of weaner nuts which we were told to give to the pigs mixed in with the food we are going to feed them with. So far they have tasted a concoction of maize, beetroot water, tomatoes, courgettes, cornichons, plums, grapes (Adrians Pinot!), grape vines and all manner of vegetation from the grounds of their pen. The balance of their diet will be a mixture of whole grains (corn, barley, wheat, oats) and a specific ‘farine de cochon’ all of which are mixed up to make an appetizing looking ‘Piggy Polenta’.
It is amazing how strong their snouts are – they have ploughed a little resting area in the shade of a stand of Hazlenuts where they have their morning and afternoon snoozes. They have been remarkably considerate and made a little toilet area in one corner which means it is easier for us to keep their pen clean. Pig husbandry seems fairly easy so far!
We have both resisted the temptation to name them, although I have been accused of trying to give them names when trying to describe them – so far the favourite descriptions are -“the turkish power lifter and the smaller spotty one” – easier to describe them as the splotchy one and the spotty one but then this is a little too close to actual names.
We don’t want to name them as we don’t want to get really attached to them – although I’m not the one hand feeding them tomatoes and slices of apple for breakfast in bed.
Piggypics, have a truffle around.
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I should mention that not everyone was as delighted as us with the arrival of the new grunting, squealing, running about like madmen porcine chums. Our cat surveyed the scene with the correct amount of feline disdain.