The diary note from last November was clear: don’t dilly dally over sending the pigs to the abbatoir. There are many reasons for this but let’s just say we are still suffering the humiliation of being told we could have fed another whole pig based on the amount we overfed them last time.
We are lucky to have a local, smallholder-friendly abbatoir and they are busier than ever at this time of year so I have to ask very nicely to get a slot. Completing the online documentation is straightforward as we’re doing the haulage ourselves. This is just the start however, and it will be a while before they are safely stashed in the freezer.
October 26 – Tattoo Time
Slap stamp the pigs with our herd mark. This basically tattoos the pigs with a number so that we can be 100% sure that we get the right carcass back from the abbatoir. We do it a couple of days before taking them just to keep stress levels down (ours as much as theirs.) It’s a job I happily delegate, as I worry I won’t get the right level of whack on, and will either puncture the pigs horribly, or fail to make a mark at all. He obviously has the knack – they are soon looking nicely inked and scoffing apples.
October 28 – The last supper
In preparation for the big day, we feed the pigs their last (light) supper and entice them into a deep straw bed in the trailer. It’s going to be a cold & frosty night so we park them in our garage for a cosy final night.
October 29 – A one-way journey for the pigs
We do feel sad to say goodbye to the pigs after all the fun we’ve had together over the past six months. However we’re always mindful of why we’re keeping livestock and we’ve missed having home-grown sausages in the freezer, so that softens the blow.
Brother-in-law joins us for the 20minute journey to Broomhalls of Eastington, our friendly local abbatoir, and all seems to be going well until we spot an unwelcome sight in the rear-view mirror.
Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted our less than solid trailer roof (a new, properly roofed trailer is on order). Previously we’ve tied various bits of wooden fencing on but for some reason this time we thought a tarpaulin and net cover would suffice. Pigs are not stupid so it should have come as no surprise that a snout poked through the tarp and attempted a break for freedom. We stopped, re-“secured” the plastic and continued nervously to our destination. Further outbreaks were contained and the delivery took place smoothly.
Mission completed, we headed for home. After a pause to reflect on what is taking place behind us, we start to think ahead to the logistics of butchery.
October 31 – Time for the offal jokes
Eating the whole pig feels like the respectful thing to do, and it’s no hardship because it tastes offally good. First step on the day of slaughter is to collect the hearts and livers, along with some beef caul, and rustle up some faggots.
November 2 – Roasted pig’s head
It might not be everyone’s idea of the perfect post-pub snack, but when friend and co-conspirator Craig joins us for a birthday celebration, it seems like a good idea. Not least because he’s willing to give the head a final shave to clear up any stray bristles. Then it’s a quick spice rub, garlic cloves up the nostrils and into a low oven for eight hours. The result is meltingly soft cheek meat and crunchy skin – perfect sandwiched in a slice of fresh bread and butter. Guests from all points along the squeamish scale, not to mention the sobriety scale, were won over and ate the lot.