Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pigs R Us

The pig dream

As I mentioned part of our plans for life at Kebourg is to keep pigs. Of course we are crazy but neither of us will ever really retire and we want to continue to have projects that interest us and keep us busy. Pigs fit the bill on both counts!

I searched the internet looking for venues for getting some experience about pigs before we actually took the plunge and was thinking that we would have to go back to the UK to find someone. I was delighted to find that Lorraine and David at Le Logis in the Deux Sèvres do pig experience days and Lorraine couldn't have been more helpful when I contacted her. So for Kevin's birthday in November the children clubbed together to buy him a pig experience day.

Le Logis pigs
 The big day arrives 

We finally set off for our pig day towards the end of January. We were lucky because Becky, a Berkshire sow , was in labour and by the time we arrived late on Friday afternoon she had given birth to 2 piglets. We went off to our lovely bedroom and large luxurious bed after we had eaten our supper in front of a lovely log fire, leaving Lorraine and David to play midwife until 2 in the morning. Nine more piglets were born and by the time we saw them they were all feeding happily while mum too her well earned rest.

Becky and piglets

The next morning dawned cold but sunny and after a delicious breakfast in the cosy kitchen we donned our outdoor gear and with Chris, the other subscriber to the 'experience' we ventured forth. Lorraine took us around all the pens for morning feed time and we were warmly welcomed by the pigs. She explained about the different breeds, how much to feed, housing requirements and indeed everything about pig husbandry and was willing to answer all our L plate questions.

Kevin and Chris take straw to the pig arks
Lorraine explains everything in detail

Here's a Berkshire and a Tamworth

A break for coffee and lots of pig books for us to browse and then a session on health and general care of the pigs. Again Lorraine and David were happy to answer all of our questions Then outside again to do some pig measuring - a formula to help us gauge the weight. The first thing Chris noticed as we got outside was a large Tamworth roaming outside the enclosures - Lily was exploring! She was led home with a bucket of food and didn't seem too upset to be back where she belonged.

Lily following Lorraine back to where she belongs

Lorraine and Chris measuring a Berkshire

We loved all the pigs but our favourite were the Gloucester old spots. They reminded me of the pigs in children's story books and they were very gentle - and on a  more sensible note would be great for the kind of charcuterie we want to do.

Kevin did some measuring while I did some falling in love!

After all that hands on experience it was time to taste some of the results and Dave had prepared a delicious meal with pork, of course, as the star turn.

 After the event

The pig experience had been great and had answered a lot of our questions and had given us a lot to think about. We have to decide what kind of pig we want and do some research perhpas into French rare breeds. Lorraine gave us lots of thing to look out for when buying weaners e.g. have they had teeth taken out by the breeder which would make it very difficult to forage outdoors.We have a lot to digest and need to weigh up all our options before jumping in so watch this space for what we decide to do next.

You can find all the photos of our pig experience here.