Swine and dine

Having sorted a babysitter for tomorrow for the Mini-Crofter, I will be heading to go collect Wilma, Julia and Marcia (complimentary jar of apple sauce to anyone who guesses the connection/reasoning in their names).

These three fine pigs spent their life basking in the sun, wallowing in mud and rooting up grass (and rocks, and weeds). They were placed on an area that has not had pigs before and thus minimises problems such as a build up of worms, etc. They required no medication and enjoyed getting scratched.

Now, they are available for all to enjoy, as the more we eat, the less risk of the older fashioned breeds becoming extinct (these three were not pedigree, they were Gloucester Old Spot cross Saddleback, two breeds on the rare breed watch list).

Although a full list will be available after I have sorted the meat tomorrow, it will be:

Sausages, burgers, belly: £7/kg

Roasts, chops, steaks: £9/kg

These prices are based on the cost of providing the correct environment, labour, slaughter and butchery costs. It’s not something we generally think about when buying food from a supermarket but it’s good to think of what work and money gets invested into our food.

The Drain Man

The Crofter has been busy. To improve the rough field he applied for a Crofting grant to put in field drains. After I had been on a land management course the potential of the ‘rough’ field has been envisioned and is a very current goal. Drainage was an issue so having sought advice, the grant was applied for. There use to be clay drains in the past in some parts but they have either been blocked or smashed. After a long, hot, dry summer giving a perfect opportunity to get the work done, the grant finally came through when the rains came.

Never mind, the tractor and/or trailer only got stuck a few times. The process is not quite half way but the satisfaction of seeing water coming out of the pipes already is something to be cheerful about.

Rolling Stones

Just because the pigs are gone doesn’t mean the work is done. In fact, it has now picked up (literally) in pace.

The area given to the pigs was over grown with rushes and hard to access with machinery. When they were wee, the area was a smaller patch, as they dug it up, the area was extended (leave pigs on ground too long and you have problems with soil compaction). Now that they have had five months of rooting, munching, and digging, it’s now time for the stones to be removed and the soil levelled to allow grass seed to be planted before winter.

Now, normally, picking a bucket of stones a day was a better way of tackling the issue rather than procrastinating and leaving it till the pigs are away. However, the pigs have coincided with the Micro-Crofter’s pregnancy. Which, regardless of how much I willed to be out working, I spent many a days flat on a sofa wishing the ground would swallow me whole. Yes, I will not lie, not everyone thinking pregnancy is blooming marvellous.

So, now that I am feeling better, the stone collecting has commenced. Nae worries, I’m not picking up the heavy ones, and there lies a problem in itself; no heavy lifting. What is ‘heavy’? Well, 25kg feed bags are difficult to heave short distances. 20kg bags (such as chicken feed) are usually fine (OK, not taking it up a munro or running a marathon but in the usual distance needed to move them around the croft). This is probably the point that I should ask all midwives to ignore this post and put a disclaimer on: you lift, your choice). Last pregnancy I lifted the cow’s ring feeder at 5 months, better keep up with this one.

The process is simple. Small stones are collected into the bucket before being tipped into wheelbarrows at the fence, ready to go back fill a drain pipe in the orchard. Hanging on to a lawn mower from going into a ditch is more straining than rock picking, honest. However, if anyone does do rock collecting, feel free to stop by, all stones are free for uplift.

Final Countdown

So long Wilma, Julia, and Marcia. You guys did an excellent job digging up a rush infested, hard to get to with the tractor area. You have enjoyed munching the grass, the rooting, the stone turning, the sun lounging, and now my girls, you are off to your forever home.

Which means, we’ll soon be back to having pork on the meat menu. After chatting to the lovely butcher we should have soon:

Roasts (shoulders, legs), sized for 4-6 people

Sausages (two options: Plain and Honey and Mustard)

Burgers (Pork and Apple)

Boneless loin steaks

Chops

Gluten free sausages

So, if anyone is wanting it fresh please get in touch ASAP so we can keep contact about the pick up date. Otherwise it will be frozen, pre-booking is welcome to reserve orders. Prices will be up soon once calculations on feed, labour, butchery costs have been calculated.

P.S., all three pigs are getting butchered together so you will not be able to specify which pig you want. Julia and Marcia were difficult anyway to identify with both being pure black. Spots and stripes really do help.

One man went to mow.

A long, long, time ago (aka June), the process of cutting grass for hay was started. It was a very hot time, great for making hay, not great when you are suffering the consequences of having a Micro-Crofter on board while still having to watch the Mini-Crofter. Yes, there lies the major reason why no blogs have gone up recently. Any chance of sleep had been sought, getting through a day felt like a marathon had been completed and sickness wasn’t helping either. So the Crofter ended up having to mow and bale the hay himself. I did try one day, however 20 mins in the hot sun (hot for us, it was high 20s) resulted in needing to lie flat on a sofa for nearly an hour afterwards. Decided that wasn’t such a good idea.

Crofting is so much better when the work is shared and having to admit that you can’t do all the work you would like to do isn’t easy. At least for me, it’s a stage that should pass (maybe not the day Micro Crofter is born, but hopefully soon after). Others can suffer health wise and have to give it up. It has been a struggle to watch people who have the ability to do work that I would like to be doing, but that they just don’t do it. Agriculture and pregnancy can really throw some curve balls at you.

Anyway, good weather (at the time, lack of rain since hasn’t been as good), along with the Crofter being home for a lengthy spell meant all the grass we wanted to cut for hay, was done. Having a neighbour who came to help collect it up was incredibly helpful so that I didn’t have to. So yes, I may be the main Crofter half the time, there are times I will take all the help I can get.

And for anyone asking, no, hay is not made in a day (at least not around here). Yes, it took multiple days of cutting, turning (to dry the grass out), baling, and collecting it in. It will not be enough bales for our livestock over winter so we still have to get some in. And the dry, hot weather has affected grass growth so hay is pricey. I’m sure the cows will enjoy it though.

P.S., If you are still singing the tune, we have no dog called Spot! Or any dog that goes ‘woof’ for that matter.

Silence is golden.

Well, unless you are around children, then it’s usually suspicious. Or, if you read blogs, you wonder if the blogger is still there or have they packed it in and gone else where.

Well, the croft has kept ticking since the last post. In fact, there are several things to cover, from making hay in June, dealing with pigs, sorting electric fencing for grass for the cows, to organising the road to paradise for the pigs (they are off soon). So, the next few should fill in for a few blanks, count them as buses, always come in threes.