Friday, 30 January 2009

And then there was one

Listening to: Rocket to Russia (Ramones)

I took four of the porkers to the slaughterhouse in Kirkwall yesterday. Everything was, by our standards, straightforward.

Marcus turned up at 8am to help me get the lads loaded up into the trailer and without his expert help I might have struggled. DeeDee Ramone was the only porker not making the trip and, typically, he was the keenest to clamber aboard the tumbril.

We tempted, pushed, prodded and cajoled the four lads and eventually they decided they like the look of the trailer and waddled in, leaving DeeDee (easily the smallest of the batch) looking a little forlorn until he noticed I'd put his breakfast down.

A 'lively' hour-and-a-half crossing to Orkney Mainland and the usual battle with Kirkwall's seemingly endless roadworks led us to the slaughterhouse.

If you saw some of upsetting scenes on Jamie Oliver's pig programme last night, you'll be pleased that Orkney Meat is a very professional and - as far as it's possible - humane abattoir. The lads trotted out of the trailer and into a large, light, very clean, very spacious shed where there was a pen ready for them with plenty of clean straw. They were as good as gold, Johnny Ramone holding things up a little by stopping to check out every other pig in the place.

It was almost peaceful. I've been in rowdier libraries. The animals are kept quiet and calm before being killed so quickly they don't know what's happening to them.

I drove away, trying not to let the lump in my throat turn into the burning sensation in my eyes, but happy that the lads were well treated right to the end.

Incidentally, if you did see the Jamie Oliver show (if you didn't I recommend you do watch it on Channel 4 OD) and you're not happy about the pork you buy in the supermarkets then I'd be only too happy to sell you some. We have one pig's worth of pork left.

If you're not on Orkney then I recommend you have a look at the
British Saddleback Breeders' Club website (I've fixed the link now).

There are breeders all over the place and most will either have pork of their own to sell (if you buy half or a whole pig you will get a very good deal) or they will be able to point you in the right direction.


The Birdwatcher said...

I admire your fortitude. They are lucky pigs. I didn't watch JO's programme. I know I ought to.

I, Like The View said...



tears are pricking in my eyes too now

whenever I see Jamie or HFW, I think waout what an amazing thing you are doing

courage! (French accent)

(we only eat sausages here. . . on the pork front. . . how's that shiny new machine doing?)

I, Like The View said...


Homo Escapeons said...

You gave the lads a wonderful kick at the can and for that you should be proud. We too shall one day enter the food chain..we just take a lot longer to properly fatten up for our microbial consumers.

I'm sure that it was a lot tougher than you have let on.

Dave said...

If only you could tow the Orkneys four or five hundred miles south. I'd love to pop round to you for my sausages.

Daphne said...

I saw Jamie Oliver's programme and it was excellent. I have seen round a French pig farm, a few years ago, and thought it was incredibly inhumane - though the farmer was very proud of the hygiene, how well fed the pigs were etc! I love pork and have no problem with a properly run farm and properly run slaughterhouse. I would never buy pork or bacon from one of these mass-production places. It made me cheer all the more for what you're doing.

Richard said...

Have you got more on the way?

Yorkshire Pudding said...

"Oink! Oink! Grunt! Oink! Snuffle! Oink! Grunt!" = Daddy why have you brought us to Kirkwall? Is there something you are not telling us Daddy?

Anonymous said...


The reality.

Malc said...


Lucky? That's what I keep telling them, but will they listen?


It's easy to criticise HFW and Jamie Oliver as celebs jumping on the bandwagon, but they've done more to open up the debate on farming standards than anyone else in the last 50 years. I count myself very fortunate to have the chance to make a tiny little difference.

We'll be getting the Fleischwolf out this weekend.


The toughest bit is the last couple of days beforehand when the temptation to give them a big hug and say "OK, you can stay" is almost overwhelming. The day itself is busy enough to stifle the emotions.


The link to the Saddleback breeders (which I cocked up first time) is now fixed and I really recommend you have a look. There are three or four breeders in Norfolk.


I think there is a different mind-set on the Continent. Our livestock farming is far from perfect, but at least here there seems to be some willingness to consider change.


There's one lad left who will be a home kill for our freezer, then Molly is expecting a litter at the end of March.


Don't. . . it really did feel like that.


Yes indeed, but I promise they had happier lives than the vast majority of pigs.

Anonymous said...

Yes I can see that. My father-in-law runs a few sheep on a very small farm and, like your pigs, they are some of the happiest and well cared for animals I've ever come across.

What you're doing is excellent.

I, Like The View said...

(wasn't critising them, hope that was clear - just think, by comparison, of the celebrity chefs of my youth - The Galloping Gourmet! *shudders*)

Malc said...


No, I didn't think you were criticising them at all, but a lot of people do and assume just because they are celebs they don't have a serious point to make.