Using pigs to till the soil has been an experiment with mixed results. There is no doubt pigs do a great job of turning the soil and eating the roots of the unwanted weeds and grasses. But once they reached about 70kg, P1 & P2 (who remained un-named so that apparently it would make it easier to truck them off to the abattoir at 6 months old…), actually damaged the soil, especially once it became wet after rain.
Saying good bye to P2
I had been hoping that raising the pigs, and selling them for meat would help with funding my market garden setup, but the project was lucky to just break even. This wasn’t helped by my choosing to pay a premium for transport to abattoir, to ensure they were shipped as comfortably and quickly as possible. I thought I was pretty cool and tough about the whole process, until P2 (above) wandered over and sat beside me as I filled his water dish for the last time, and then crooned while I scratched behind his ears.
Was there really any chance they would walk quietly with a collar and lead?!
So, would I do it again? It has been nice to hear the favourable feedback from those who have eaten our tasty pork, and to know that it is being enjoyed all over the place by friends and family, but Andrew and I won’t eat it. We do have two new pigs, shown here (above) with Harriet lifting them into their enclosure. But these miniature variety are not destined for the plate, and more than that, they have been rescued as they were surplus to requirements of a children’s nursery animal business. I am hoping their smaller size will be gentler to the soil whilst still tilling the weeds, and they have names – Calvin and Hobbs. Now that feels better.
We have been running our Jamberoo Pub Feast Markets for a couple of months now, and some weeks Tass from Jamberoo Valley Farm brings down an assortment of her gorgeous heirloom variety seedlings. She has loads of beautiful varieties of salad greens, some very unusual such as delicate ‘bucks horn’ and ‘lamb’s lettuce’. Interesting tomato varieties too; and ‘casper eggplant’!
Tass and the Jamberoo Valley Farm seedlings
I have of course been unable to resist purchasing many of them, and they have been planted in Warwick Park’s garden. Interested in having a look, P1 escaped from his comfortable enclosure last night, and when I arrived in the garden this morning he was having a lovely time taste testing the fresh garden offerings!
Ham and salad…
They say ‘happy as a pig in mud’, but let me tell you, a pig in a veggie garden is pretty chuffed too! He is led by his stomach though, and when offered his very favourite treat of creamy South Coast Dairy milk, he trotted happily back into his enclosure.
We celebrated all things unique and special this week, with Deb’s Birthday, heirloom veggies and the wonderful job our heritage pigs are doing preparing the ground for spring. Not sure if Deb would like to be considered ‘heirloom’, but seeing she now has grand-nieces and nephews, I don’t think she’d be too offended by the dictionary definition of, “A valued possession passed down in a family through succeeding generations.”
Deb & Steve – enjoying Ran’s heirloom cherry tomatoes at the Pavilion on Tuesday night.
Heirloom veggies are described as old, open-pollinated and mostly non-hybrid with some suggesting they needed to exist as they are today before 1951 (which Deb certainly didn’t!), or even before the Second World War. Popular not just because they often look interesting and beautiful, but often taste better and are sometimes more pest and disease hardy.
Gorgeous heirloom eggplants ran out the door at last week’s Feast Markets, and will make an appearance again this week.
The exact lineage of Feast Farm’s pair of pigs is somewhat doubtful, but they look like Berkshires to me, which is Britain’s oldest pig breed, originating from Berkshire county (now Oxfordshire). I’m just thrilled with the job our pair are doing moving the grass at Warwick Park. As well as preparing the ground, we planted over 40 trees along the Southern fence line line here last Sunday to help create a wind break and bring small birds to the new garden. Bring on spring!
Pigs at Foxground doing a great job of moving the grass
The dream is a tractor. A red one. And a trailer with all the custom tools and bed forming attachments. A motor that hums along perfectly aligned rows of rich, black soil. Effortlessly nurturing and manicuring my productive, organic Feast Farm. There’s going to have to be a lot of veggies sold before that day though, and in the meantime, these guys are going to give me a hand.
What a bit of fun! The little sounds these 7 week old boys make are sooooo cute! They seem to love their new, cosy little home, which will be moved across the paddock as they finish digging under the grass and snuffling through the surface of the soil. Piggy tractors. I could stand and watch them for hours. Like a pig in mud.