Yesterday was a sad day for us on the farm, we said goodbye to our lovely Large Black pigs. They’ve been with us since the spring and, to us, represented a move into ‘real’ farming. Their presence has been a joy from the beginning (ok the first day was a bit rough around the edges) and their absence is notable. While I am overjoyed at the thought of the food they will provide for our family, certainly enough to keep us through the winter, a silence seems to have descended over the farm in their absence.
Truth is, even if we wanted to, we could no longer afford to feed our big girls. They’ve grown so much over the last months and could probably have gone to slaughter a few weeks ago; I’m glad they didn’t. Sharing our land with them, watching them chomp on the pasture and treats we gave them, giving them regular showers and scratches, has been the high point for all of us. I’m not ashamed to say I shed quite a few tears at their departure, I still feel pretty gloomy.
So in an attempt to cheer ourselves up we headed of to a local apple orchard for an afternoon of picking. The boys loved the play area (equipped with a little red tractor!) and thoroughly enjoyed a good dose of apple picking. We chose a mix of Lobo and McIntosh which will be processed into apple sauce and (hopefully) the beginnings of an apple vinegar stash.
This morning the farm chores seemed extremely light, a noticeable quiet in the ‘livestock’ field; then the clouds rolled in and the rain began to fall. Gone was the blue sky of our apple picking adventure, the weather has pushed us inside to cosy up by the first fire of the season, enjoying an excuse for rest.
The weekend will bring a freezer full of meat and the distributing of meat to the friends who’ve bought from us, the labour of the year is now on our plates and we will rejoice in the delicious flavour, the wonderful nutrition, the feeling of self sufficiency that we are begin to accomplish. As we cosy up to our fire and our full plates we will plan next year and look forward, with delight, to the return of the pigs.