Guess who’s coming to the plot…

Can you guess who’s arriving next week…?

Then I'll huff and I'll puff...

Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff…

As far as I know, big bad wolves no longer roam Suffolk, so hopefully this nice metal pig-ark, borrowed from kind farming friends, will keep two piglets safe and cosy.

Yes, next week we are due to get two weaned piglets as a ‘pig share’ – one for us, and one for the friends who lent us the ark. The idea is to grow the pigs on over six months or so, and then eat them. (Apologies to any vegetarian readers). This is a first for me – I’ve never raised an animal to eat before. H has – as a child his family kept geese destined for the freezer. And we’ve eaten a few of the rabbits H has caught in the fields. But this is different, and it’s rather a strange thing. We’re all excited about the arrival of the pigs, and had a happy afternoon putting together the ark and fencing the pig paddock. Yet I know that the two critters who’ll live in it are destined for the table. I have mixed feelings about it – and I think that’s as it should be.

So, why raise animals for meat, and why pigs? Well, we have the space, and I like the idea of being able to raise well-cared for, free-range animals. It makes me happy that my chickens spend their days roaming free over three acres. I can’t give the pigs that much room (the fencing costs would be astronomical), but I hope they will still have a good life, certainly compared with some of the intense farming systems these little piggies may otherwise have ended up in. I also love the idea of reducing our ‘food miles’ as much as possible – and the pigs will be living about 40 metres from the kitchen table. We can already buy well-cared for, local lamb from nearby. And we all love sausages. So – pigs it was.

We’ve talked things through with the kids. They know why the pigs are coming, and that they won’t be here for long. But – how will we all feel when the trailer comes to take the pigs away in the Autumn? I don’t yet know. Maybe we’ll end up with a giant pet pig.

24 responses to “Guess who’s coming to the plot…

  1. I started reading your post and thought.. Awwwww! How exciting!! Then I read further down and thought ….. Nooooo, you mustn’t! Haha! My late granddad (a butcher) would be ashamed of my sentimentality!!
    This is by far the best way to produce and eat meat, but I can totally understand your mixed feelings.
    Good luck with it!
    Sophie

    • Thank you – I think we’ll need it! It’s funny isn’t it – it sounds so obvious – pigs = lovely home-reared meat. But the actual doing of it – looking after something every day, then sending it off to be dispatched – well, that feels like a big deal, somehow. And I kind of think it’s right that it should!

  2. I think it is good to know where your food comes from and I am sure that your pig will be more delicious than any you can buy at the grocery store.

    • Hope so! Though I’ve read that fattening up a pig to be ‘just right’ (not too overweight and fatty) takes some skill – which I lack! So this will a steep learning curve…

  3. My brother takes part in a scheme where they raise the pigs on a shared allotment. I think its a really good idea, good luck with your new additions.

    • Sounds like a great scheme…There are a couple of ‘pig share’ projects near me, it’s great to see enthusiasm for knowing where your food comes from…

  4. We kept geese and pigs after the war when meat was scarce. As far as I know we kept half and the butcher took the other half as we certainly weren’t up to doing our own slaughtering. I hope that your pigs thrive.

    • Yep I think slaughtering might be a step too far!! We are lucky to have a very local, small abbatoir with a good reputation for doing their job well and treating the livestock decently (as much as they can, in the circumstances). But if there was a way the pigs could be dispatched in their own paddock, without that stressful journey at the end, that would be even better….

  5. I think it is a great idea. Growing and raising your own food and knowing where it comes from is a great way to stay healthy. But I imagine it is difficult to do once you get to know your pigs and find that they both have their own personalities. I suppose the trick is not to give them names. But still I will be interested to hear if you will be able to do it.

    • The pigs do definitely have personalities…and we have named them (gulp!) We did think about not naming them, but it just seemed too tricky not to call them something (Pig 1 and Pig 2?). The kids seem to have taken it all on board, they love being around the pigs and helping look after them, but they have also talked about the fact that Curly is bigger and so will make more sausages…the children seem to hold these two realities in their heads better then me, to be honest!

  6. They might be cute little piglets when they arrive, but by the time they’re fattened they’ll have reached the stroppy teenage stage and goodbye won’t be so hard. Don’t keep them too long or they’ll mature into gentle pigs and then it will be difficult.

  7. This is the point when you become vegetarian or not! We kept lambs last year just to see if we could go through with it, thankfully we did. As you say as long as you give them a good life whilst they are in your care then you have prevented a far worse alternative that many animals suffer. The meat of your own also tastes fantastic and takes on the taste of the food that you feed them, well at least it did with our lambs who dined in the orchard and ate plumbs all day 🙂

    • Thank you for the encouragement, great to hear from one who’s been there, done that. I’d love to have lambs one year, but we’d have to put up masses of stock fencing. Plus we can buy lovely, local lamb that is well cared for. But another year, perhaps (I have hopes!!)

    • I agree. I know that most people can’t raise their own meat for space/budget/time reasons, but I feel as we’ve got the chance to do so, it’s good to be taking some responsibility. It’s also made me think harder about the other meat that we eat – where it comes from and how it’s reared…

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