Saturday, 28 March 2009


It was always going to be a difficult meal.

Our lovely pigs went off on Monday: a journey we always knew they were destined for but tough to deal with nonetheless. They looked rather bewildered in the trailer but not upset and they left together, unparted since birth.

The pigs when they first arrived

These pigs had the best life we could give them: a varied seasonal diet - apples, acorns, garden cuttings, grass and vegetable stalks and roots supplemented with pig nuts; ample room - their enclosure is about 60 square metres with a lovely sty, plenty of straw, logs to rub against and lots of tree roots to snuffle around; and company - it was the boys' job to feed them after school in the afternoon and they would hang around with them, scratching their backs and chatting to them (the pigs probably found out more about their school day than I did). The only thing the pigs didn't like was the electric fence, but they learned to respect it, particularly after the Great Escape when we put it on a higher setting.

Look how tiny they were!

It was only once they had gone that I realised how often during the day I watched them from the window: opening my curtains in the morning, getting the boys' breakfast, while talking on the phone or sewing. And I really miss them. It's only been a week, but they had become an important part of our lives. I grew up with pets (a donkey, hens, cats and goldfish) but we've never wanted pets here. I don't have time for a dog and we have too much lovely birdlife to risk a cat. And now, given the choice of any pet, I'd choose the pigs.

The Piggies three weeks ago

We never lost sight of the reason for keeping them. From the start we decided not to name them. They were simply known as "Piggies". We explained to the boys early on what would happen to the pigs and they have been fine about it. It's been interesting exploring our feelings about animals and food and the ethics of meat-eating while keeping the pigs. The other aspect we're really proud of is the food miles of these pigs: they were born 3 miles away, went to an abbatoir 5 miles away and then to the butcher 1/2 a mile up the road from us. So in total they have travelled less than 10 miles.

This morning at 7am my husband spent two hours in the role of butcher's boy and arrived home with boxes and boxes of pork. Half is now in our fridge and freezer and the other half is currently being delivered to friends and family. We have been staggered by the demand for our pork. It just shows that, given the opportunity, people do want to buy fresh, local meat from animals that have led a happy life.

So, back to lunch. Sausages. While my husband and I were still gearing ourselves up to eating a bit of "our piggies" our 8 year old just tucked in. He loved the pigs. He looked after them. He was sad when they went. But they were the best sausages he has ever eaten.


  1. good for you - not a lot of people would have the guts to follow that through.

    that said i did get a little lump in my throat - and i come from a farming family!

  2. Wow. I'm working in Crowborough tomorrow - can I pop by for some bacon?

  3. like the warning on your folksy post. Not sure i could do it!Good for you, glad they turned out to be tastey!

  4. I read this with my partner and we laughed and cried together, honestly! We've talked about having a couple of pigs one day and it had us engrossed. Loved your story