I have been outside pottering about, seeing what’s growing and pulling up nettles, docks and dandelions that are cheekily pushing their way through between my flowers and veggies. These pesky weeds get tossed across to the three pigs who snort with excitement. Every now and again Tiger or Mog emerge from the Nepeta (catmint) to sit on my newly planted leeks. There’s work to be done and bills to be paid inside but it’s dry and I couldn’t resist staying out longer than intended. A regular evening for me. Except it doesn’t feel quite right tonight.
Tomorrow evening the pigs are loaded onto the trailer to be fed, have a sleep and be driven to the abattoir (very local) first thing Thursday morning – so they will be first in the queue, no waiting around getting anxious.
This has always been the plan of course and we’ve thought about it logically lots. They’ve been reared slowly, had good food and plenty of space, been well looked after. As far as a pig’s life goes, surely these have been as happy as it gets – trees to rub themselves against, shade when they need it, great wallows which they’ve been enjoying only this morning. Ground that hadn’t been touched for years for plenty of piggy rooting around. If I’m going to buy meat I would rather know that it’s been well looked after and slowly reared both from a health point of view for my family and because I care about the animal welfare side of things. What better way to ensure this than to do it myself?
And although we’ve enjoyed having pigs in the back garden, children have loved seeing them and they’re definitely intelligent beasts, they still feel like beasts. Definitely not pets. You only have to look at the way their jaws work on a huge raw butternut squash and spend some time around them with bare legs on show in between your skirt and willies to have an awareness of this.
Of course I’ve spent many an evening in the garden thinking about how well homemade little chorizo meatballs or slithers of air dried ham will go with my broad beans too. I’m the person who’s already frozen surplus broad beans and has 20 yards of Hog Casing in the fridge in readiness for goodness sake.
But still, I was definitely thinking of giving the piggies their favourite treats tonight. Any slightly slug damaged lettuce and chard was going their way. I actually pulled up and threw over some purple orache that was perfectly healthy, looked splendid against the orange calendula and was doing nobody any harm.
After these evening snacks had been thrown in, the best thing for it this evening seemed to be some severe cutting back with my secateurs. Flowering perennials that should flower again after their harsh treatment. The cuttings were destined for the compost heap, not the piggies. The piggies weren’t even in sight. And for once I was trying not to think about future meals while gardening, a rare occurrence for me.