Swine and Cheese

A passion for Pigs and Food

Archive for the ‘Tamworth’ tag

D – DAY

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I can’t begin to tell you the sadness you feel when the culmination of the whole project has to come to its awful conclusion as far as the living creatures are concerned. After writing last weeks blog Neale announced on Monday that he had booked our three rare breed pigs in at the very reputable small abattoir in Leintwardine for the 7th July, today. So I delayed writing the blog until I had said my farewells. It is incredibly hard to not feel a huge twinge of sadness and betrayal when you send animals you personally cared for to their deaths. I know as soon as we receive the three carcases and heads I will be fascinated to follow the butchery which is being done by our wonderful Dukeshill butcher Glyn. But right now I’m not happy because I really will miss them. Just like the wonderful Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall I have fallen in love with all things pig. I was already a huge fan because of what we can do with a pig here at Dukeshill but the actual pig keeping was a whole new experience.

Awkward angle shot due to pushing & shoving by pigs

Awkward angle shot due to pushing & shoving by pigs

 

 

Loading them onto the immaculate trailer we had hired wasn’t too hard despite Lola making a getaway across the chickens’ field. After a circuit she was exhasted so thankfully resorted to a huge troughful of food cleverly placed at the back of the trailer. Oinky, the Gloucester Old Spot, true to his breeds nature was the first to get in and just calmly walked straight into the trailer, followed by the sprightly Lola. Tallulah, the Berkshire, true to form wasn’t having any of it and took ages to coax in however her greediness got the better of her and finally she just had to get to the trough.

Interestingly after Neale had confirmed the kill date with the abattoir he then estimated their weights by measuring their length and girth. He had been told that pigs kept for just three months from weaners i.e. 6 months old would weigh about 55-60 kilos. Imagine his surprise and mine when we discovered that Tallulah the Berkshire was a whopping 84 kilos, Lola the Tamworth about 75 kilos, and Oinky the Gloucester Old Spot 63 kilos. We await the unkind comments from the abattoir when they say they are possibly the fattiest pigs they have come across. I suspect it might have been something to do with all those treacle puddings!

At least our rare breed piggies had a wonderful short life. Yesterday I passed a lorry on the M6 going through spaghetti junction with pigs crammed inside and I can guarantee ours in their Rolls Royce style trailer had a far nicer end than those poor pigs. As sad as I am today I don’t regret the experience at all. R.I.P. Tallulah, Lola and Oinky.

From L to R: Tallulah, Lola and Oinky

From L to R: Tallulah, Lola and Oinky

 

 

Watch out for the Berkshire vs Tamworth vs Gloucester Old Spot pork taste tests.

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Written by Sarah

July 7th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Crisping up nicely!

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Where's the beach ball?

Where's the beach ball?

 

The last week has been boiling with that rare British phenomenon, a heatwave. We realise that the one little hawthorn shrubby tree is not really sufficient to provide adequate shade for our three rare  breed piggies. This autumn we will plant a small copse in one corner of their field and also several large fruit trees which for future generations of pigs will vastly improve the surroundings and provide interest for them. The Tamworth, Berkshire and Gloucester Old Spot have been coping as best they can by rolling in the sand and dirt and sleeping under their hawthorn for longer periods. To make it more comfortable for them we’ve taken to filling their water tub till overflowing and then continuiing to run the hose until a small piggie swimming pool develops. This project was helped along by Tallulah, the Berkshire who seemed particularly keen on digging a small hole just by where the water tub is. Needless to say the piggies were delighted with their new facility and have spent quite a lot of time during the day just sitting or lying in their muddy pool.

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Written by Sarah

June 28th, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Pig noise

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Ball in distance

Ball in distance

One of the main things I’ve really noticed with our pigs is how much noise they make and how often. The volume and pitch varies enormously from completely hysterical, Lola the Tamworth at feeding time, to a gentle grunt when they are just snuffling around. The only time they seem to be quiet is when they’re asleep but even then they snort if they move. I think the noises is one of the most endearing aspects of pigs. In the same way I can happily sit amongst our flock of chickens whilst they gently cluck and scrape the ground looking for insects and worms I could equally sit for hours, although sadly I never have enough time, with our pigs.

 

The pigs hearing and sight is not great. In fact it is very easy to walk right up to them when asleep or sunbathing and then rattle the bucket of food. The pandemonium that then ensues is extremely funny to watch but it is always Lola that screams the loudest and for the longest, typical woman! Oinky, the Gloucester Old Spot is the most placid of the three and is the quietest. Incidentally I meant to say the other week that Neale donated an old netball to the pigs for them to play with. He had been told that they liked to play with a ball. Either they can’t see it or he’s been given duff information. They’ve tried eating it but apart from that there’s been absolutely no interest. Ronaldo’s safe for a while!!

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Written by Sarah

June 21st, 2009 at 10:54 am

Tamworth bully

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Oinky

Oinky

I have found it fascinating to watch our three rare breed pigs develop their very individual characters. When I used to work in the pig lairage at the Malton Bacon factory we would receive up to 1400 pigs a day, where they were housed for up to 24 hours prior to slaughter. They were a Landrace commercial breed and so all looked the same, hence I never really noticed or had time to notice their characters. The only thing I do remember is they had a rather nasty habit of turning on an injured pig which would have to be despatched immediately with a captive bolt gun to put it out of its misery. This shadier side of a pigs character is never really seen by the public, we all have cute images of pigs thrust in front of us from birth. Having said that I absolutely love pigs, they’re certainly no worse than humans. They get excited, bored, hungry, vocal, seek the company of others and have spats. However they never seem to hold grudges. This has been so evident from Lola’s, our Tamworth, repeated bullying of Oinky, the boy Gloucester Old Spot. It mainly happens when there’s food about but also occasionally she just bites his ear anyway. Poor Oinky squeals each time but later on you see him nuzzled up against Lola and Tallulah, the Berkshire. Yes, after three months I have fallen deeply in love with our pigs.

The impending execution day is drawing nearer for all three and even though I have worked in abattoirs and on the killing line it is very difficult to come to terms with when it is an animal you have personally cared for. Even when I was hardened to it all, I did and still maintain that it is a horrible process despite all the best abattoir procedures and designs to ease the animals stress. Twenty four years ago when I was working in the abattoir we had water sprays to cool the pigs down, fed them reject chocolates and other foods, played classical music to soothe them. However when the machinery was turned on every morning and the noise spooked the pigs they spent the rest of their short lives squealing, stressed and smelling the blood just round the corner. Oh yes, it’s going to be unbelievably hard in a few weeks time.

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Written by Sarah

June 14th, 2009 at 10:37 am

Full frontals!

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Tallulah the Berkshire

Tallulah the Berkshire

I realise that I have yet to post really good front face shots of our three rare breed pigs, Tallulah, Lola and Oinky. It’s actually quite difficult to manage to get a good shot because they’re so inquisitive. Anyway here’s my best efforts so far. 

It’s been really interesting watching their characters emerge. Neale is enamoured with the Berkshire, Tallulah. She certainly seems to be the boldest now and is very endearing with her efforts to dominate the small group. I would describe Tallulah as the “Mae West” of the group, with Lola being more like a “Grace Kelly” in temperament and general gracefulness. I’m not sure how I’d describe Oinky yet but he is sweet natured and concentrates all his efforts on eating.

Lola the Tamworth

Lola the Tamworth

Berkshire’s are meant to be lively but good natured pigs, Tamworths to have a good disposition and to like the company of humans and Gloucester Old Spots to be calm, placid pigs. So far ours seem to be following the breed traits to the letter!The Gloucester Old Spot

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Written by Sarah

May 25th, 2009 at 7:48 am