Monday, 24 January 2011

The pigs had lulled me into a false sense of security, and after a day or two of lolling around in the stable came out like a couple of raging bulls when we were hoping to lead them quietly into the trailer. The plan was to make the whole thing as stress free as possible so as not to send them off agitated. Actually the pigs were fine - but decided they would rather root around in earth again than stick their heads in a bucket.
After a lot of pushing and coaxing and in Neils case, rodeo grabbing and being dragged across the concrete yard (thats Neil not the pig) we finally got them in. I think we were all far more stressed than the pigs, who had a lovely bed of straw and buckets of feed to munch on before the last journey.

Later I went to work and Neil and Keith headed off to the abbatoire. The pigs were duly dropped off and a few days later the boys drove back to the butcher to pick up the meat.
Apparently the butcher pulled a large trolley into the reception, like the ones shelf stackers use in the supermarket. There were seven massive boxes full of meat on the trolley. Keith and Neil were amazed at the amount of meat, but then the butcher headed back to get a second trolley, once again loaded with pork. We ended up with 228 kilos of meat.

Although the meat was all chopped up, it was still in unrecognisable cuts of meat as far as we were concerned. Neil, Keith and Margaret chopped it into portions and joints and bagged them all up and yesterday we all got back together to sample our first piece of home raised piggy. I am glad (and a tad relieved) to report that it was absolutely delicious, which is just as well as we could be eating it for some time.

Would we do it again? Well I think it would be more economical if we bred them and / or grew our on foodstuffs for them, or at least sourced some cheaper feed. I'm not sure. I think this year we are going to concentrate of raising some ducks and geese and not have any more large beasts for a while. But never say never!!

Oh and by the way, although we had requested that the butcher left the skin on the joints, we were quite suprised to find almost a box full of the skin. Has anyone any ideas as to what to do with it or how to treat it? We want to use every part of the pig if we can. Just a thought.

Some pics of Keith, Margaret, Neil and myself making 'pigs' of ourselves on our first tasting of the meat!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

It all went very well considering. Just shows what a bit of forward planning can do. The black pig Rasher, was very compliant and just meandered up the hill and into the stable. The other pig was slightly less agreable and got right up to the stable before bolting off back towards the apple tree. A full bucket of feed, dragged a foot at a time got him back again though, and they are now basking in a thick bed of straw scoffing hay and feed. Its a bit sad but got to be done.

And this little piggy.......

I'm waiting for Keith and Margaret (co pig owners) to come over to help move the pigs from their riverside (ok tiny stream) paddock up into one of the stables so that it will hopefully be easier to get them in a trailer and off to the abbatoire on Tuesday.
Neil and I have come up with a plan and have devised a walkway of electric fencing with buckets en-route to put food in to entice them up the hill. I've also put headcollars on the horses so that I can tie them up to stop them coming over and mucking up the plan. I have no idea how it's going to go but I know they are hungry as we have not given them any breakfast. Watch this space for the next thrilling installment!!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Hot stuff

We have two young stallions at work. The younger one is two years old and currently being a bit of a sod to handle. A local man has told us that an old french trick is to heat up a jacket spud to boiling point and when the horse lunges for you with teeth bared - ram it in his mouth.
As previously our only form of protection was our voice and occasionally a whip we did consider this but were having a hard time coming to terms with the possibility of causing physical damage.
The other stallion who is three now is a nicer character, but still has his moments. His favourite trick is to grab the lead rope or lunge line so that your control is considerably lessened. Opening the fridge yesterday I noticed a tube of harrisa (chilli) paste sitting on the shelf and this bought a wicked smile to my face.
I went back to work and smothered the lunge line (a long rope used when you exercise a horse) with the paste. As usual he grabbed the line briefly before spitting it out and pulling a variety of odd faces.
Every so often he obviously forgot and went to grab the line before remembering and dropping it (like a hot potato?!!!)
I did feel marginally guilty when he got back in his box and started drinking like he had had a vindaloo.......

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Pin Pon off!!!

We finally got a visit from the local pompiers with their calender for 2011 the other night. They turn up, normally early evening and fleece you for a calender that is never very exciting. Adding insult to injury it is never the more 'easy on the eye' members of the local group that call, but a retired guy with a mop of wild looking grey hair and a slightly younger one who would obviously rather be doing something else.

They came into our freezing hallway and looked up towards our practically non existant first floor whilst huddling up together to try to keep warm. It never ceases to amaze me how it can actually be colder inside our house than it seems to be outside it sometimes. I guess they must be pretty used to us stoic Brits living in half renovated hovels around this area but they still seemed pretty shocked at the house. "It's warm in the other room!" I tried to explain but really they just wanted some dosh for their calender (that will go in a drawer until it gets chucked out next january)and to escape back to base.

I did flick through the calender though, and there were some cartoons of a fire engine racing along with the words "Pin Pon Pin Pon" to signify the sirens I am guessing. Pin Pon? What happened to Nee Nah? Are our languages so very different? Look at any french cartoon and a dog doesn't go 'woof' it goes 'ouah', and a cockerel doesn't cock a doodle do - it goes cocorico. I don't think it does though, I've listened. But then I don't think it goes cock a doodle do either. Bizzare. I'll never get this language!!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Happy New Year to You!!

I'm not sure where that festive season went but I did enjoy it. After my trip back to the UK I was straight back to work and had hardly any time to think about Christmas, let alone prepare for it... apologies to those that sent us cards and didn't get one in return - Neil has agreed to write a long letter about our goings on and post it to people in a happy new year card, which we hope will make up in some way for our lack of organisation.

Christmas Eve was slightly bizzare. One of the fresian horses here was taking santa up to the local bar to hand out presents to the local children. So I was outside the front of the house helping to dress up the cart when Santa turned up in an estate car. He turned out to be a drummer so he had a go on Neils drum kit whilst we got the horse ready to go. Needless to say it all ended up in a bit of a session which made us feel a little bit more part of the village.

On Christmas day the three of us that work at the stud all went in so that we could get the stables done quickly, wearing santa hats, reindeer horns and singing along to Christmas songs. Then we were joined by our respective other halves for a mince pie and mulled wine session with our bosses, followed by a dog walk around the fields. Snow had fallen on Christmas Eve, so it felt lovely and Christmassy.

We then went round to Margaret and Keiths where we enjoyed several bucks fizzes before sitting down to a fantastic Christmas spread. Keith as you can see fully got into the spirit of the day

So now we are into the New Year - Once again our aim for this year is to push on with our house, hopefully before too long we will have a garage/workshop and so will free our barn up to be the lounge at last. Watch this space!!