Coffee at Cafe Nero? A morning at the Gym? Or ‘Help me take my pigs to the slaughter house’!
Most mums might expect to hit the gym on a Monday morning or have a revitalising coffee with friends. When she heard that I had double booked and had to be in London instead of taking the pigs to the slaughter house, Ros had to enrol the moral and physical help of two friends.
Frankie (an expert on reversing a trailer thanks to a recent caravan driving course) and Sophie (a good knowledge of animal and country things) were happy to help Ros while I went to work!
One of the things that is apparent from trying planet positive, sustainable living (and we are mere beginners) is that people are only too willing to help. Where in the past I might have notionally talked about community, now I really feel it (and part of it).
Community works and it is rewarding - whether you are giving or receiving. Early this week, on Britain’s most depressing Monday (according to the press, this was statistically the most depressing day of the year), Ros found cheer and support from friends and strangers.
With the porkers (not weaners as Steve described in the previous blog – they are weaners when you collect them. He told a bit of a porker…) loaded into the trailer, we set off to the local slaughter house. We became aware that we were following a queue of cars pulling trailers of animals. We had found the slaughter house.
I have always considered myself a practical person but my hands were shaking like a leaf. I jumped from the car and ran to the one in front. “It’s my first time,” I blurted out. The kind couple in the car guided me through the process. You reverse your trailer into a holding pen where Pork and Crackling were guided out of the trailer and along a corridor. With a heavy heart I gave them a final pat and they were gone…
I kept repeating to myself that that was their purpose and we would not have had the enjoyment of keeping pigs if we weren’t going to use them for meat. As a meat eater all my life, I have taken this for granted. Completing the circle has given me respect for the animal and the process. The support of my friends was wonderful and much needed when I was feeling so sad. I recommend that, if this is your first time, don’t do it alone.
After a cup of tea, I went to the local butcher to run through the different cuts of meat. I had researched these using the River Cottage Meat book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (www.rivercottage.net and Perfect Pigs by Clare and Robin Wilson (www.oaklandspigs.co.uk
The decisions on the cuts are based around using the using the legs for hams or joints, the loins for chops or bacon, how many sausages, ribs, shoulder joints and so on. We will try cure and hang one back leg for Parma ham, cure one of the loins for bacon and one of the bellies for streaky bacon. These will need to be cured before being sliced.
The pigs will come from the slaughter house over the next few days so they can be hung by the butcher. He will make the cuts and we’ll collect on Jan 30. The butcher mentioned that ‘first-timers’ can overfeed pigs which can result in the outer fat being too thick (an inch or more where it should be ½ - 3/4” thick. He’ll let us know so we can make sure we get it right next time.
We are now researching where to get the next weaners. We’ve ordered 2 Oxford Sandy/Gloucester Old Spots (ginger with black spots!) but are also interested in Berkshires but there don’t seem to be many around.
So the cycle continues.