Posts Tagged ‘free range pork’

It has been a difficult few weeks here in Redwood.

As you know Alfie was in hospital for a couple of weeks, followed by more weeks on medication.  Then to compound it all I got struck by some bug…. nothing serious just days of discomfort and total exhaustion.

All of this forced us to think about what we are doing here.  Owing to human illness our ‘production’ has dropped dramatically this year which naturally means no sales.  You can’t sell what you don’t have!

Keeping pigs is not difficult, but it is physical.

While Alfie was in hospital he worried about me out feeding the pigs on my own.  I don’t mind feeding them, it is jsut heavy work carrying meal and water to them.  However, there are other aspects that I just can’t manage on my own…. like loading them onto a trailer!  And, in fact, while I can drive forward with a trailer on the car, do NOT ever ask me to reverse the car with a trailer on.  Co-ordination goes out the window!

So this past couple of weeks, we’ve had to seriously consider whether to continue on with what we are doing.  Can we afford to keep going?  No sales, means a serious drop in income and there are still many mouths to feed.

The decision, after much tossing and turning of sleepless nights, and churning out different ideas and plans, is that we will fight back.

It is going to take time.  We have, we hope, come up with a scheme that will kick into place should illness strike again.

So we are back working on getting pork to people.  Four pigs loaded into the trailer this evening for their final journey tomorrow!

Perky has had her new litter.

The Gloucester Old Spots are growing nicely.

And just when we had made the decision to continue, look what arrived in the post!

McKenna's Guides Best in Ireland 2013

Thank you so so much to John and Sally McKenna – you have no idea how timely this was!  For non-locals John and Sally produce the best guides to food and places to eat and stay in Ireland – don’t travel without their guide.  To have our pork included as a ‘Best in Ireland’, well that is such an honour.

So we’re back, and we’d be delighted to take your orders!

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Tis a much maligned piece of meat, pork belly!  However, cooked properly it is the most delicious meat.

Pork belly with cabbage

Perfect Irish Pork Belly

Of course, you need to start with a good piece of meat to get the perfect roast too!  So do put some thought into sourcing your joint first.

As we keep saying here…. you need to know what the animal is fed!  It does effect the final outcome!  If the pig is fed ‘bad stuff’, the meat will not be good.  Simple!

We don’t often get to keep pork belly for ourselves… but there was a small piece in the freezer at the weekend…. just perfect for two.  I grabbed it quickly before a customer came and took it away! 🙂


  • 1 kg. free-range pork belly
  • Salt


Heat oven to 150 deg. C

Score the skin well.  Dry with kitchen paper getting down into the score marks too.  Sprinkle liberally with salt….. don’t be afraid…. you cannot overdue the salt at this stage.

Place meat on shallow oven tray lined with foil.

Roast at 150 deg. C for 2 hours.

Raise the temperature up to as high as your oven can go!  Mine goes to 240 deg. C and finish off pork for half an hour.

You will end up with delicious succulent meat and the crispiest, to die for, crackling!

Irish Pork Belly with roast potatoes.

We served ours with roast potatoes – cooked in with the meat.  And the first of our cabbage from the garden, just sauteed in some butter!





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Now there’s a title for a blog post!

So what am I going to say about ‘sausages’…. well lots actually!

Here in Redwood, and I think like most Irish people, we kind of like our sausages.  Up to a few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to say ‘our sausages’ and really, really mean ‘our’ sausages.

When we lived in Dublin our favourite sausages of all were Superquinn sausages.  Then we moved to Redwood and tried lots of different local butchers – the sausages were nice but not as nice as those far away Superquinn ones – you know what you can’t have, etc.  So when visitors came from Dublin and asked what could they bring?  The answer was always Superquinn sausages!

Now we have our own sausages…. and we, of course, love them. It is many, many years since I’ve had a Superquinn sausage.

two types of sausages on a white plate

So what do you reckon goes into those white things???

Thank you to Lily at A Mexican Cook in Ireland for this photo

We can be quite obsessive here looking at sausages in supermarkets.  Have you ever read the labels on sausages?  The colour of the sausages is a dead giveaway to us….. there is virtually no meat in them!

And what is even more wonderful, we have had two customers who have recently told us that our sausages have replaced Superquinn sausages on their shopping lists!  One lady just stocks up her freezer with kilos of our sausages every few weeks!  We have definitely arrived!

So what makes our sausages so good?

Our sausages are made with pork!  Good quality, gmo-free, free-range pork.  So the breakdown of what goes into the sausages is :

  • 80% pork meat
  • 10% pork fat
  • 10% herbs, spices and rusks

What doesn’t go into our sausages – gmo’s, additives or E numbers.  So when they are made we deliver or freeze them immediately.

We love them just fried for breakfast.

Irish free range sausagesThank you to Paula at Paula’s Sweet Treats for this photo

With pasta for dinner.

Or with beans for another mid-week dinner.

So how do you like your sausages?


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We are still in recovery mode from a great day out at Tullamore Show on Sunday last!

Since we moved from Dublin, I have had some involvement with the show in one way or the other almost every year.

Alfie & Claire at Tullamore Show

I have attended as a spectator, I have been an organiser and now this year I was an exhibitor.

The Tullamore Show (fondly known as the ‘show’) is the biggest one-day agricultural show in the country – and I’ve even heard it said that it is the biggest such event in Europe!  I am not sure about that but last Sunday 60,000 people attend – all in just one day!  That is some amount of people.

The amazing thing about the Show is that it is organised entirely by a band of volunteers in Tullamore.  People give of their time and of themselves year, after year.  Many have been on the committee for more years than they care to remember .

When I worked with Offaly Enterprise Board I was part of the organising team for the Artisan Food and the Arts & Craft marquees that they sponsor.  This year, however, I was on the other side of the fence.

Stand at Tullamore Show

We took a stand in the Artisan Food tent.  Our first time to venture into this type of promotion for our free-range pork.  It was different being on a stand, rather than involved in the organisation. But then there were advantages because I knew the organisers too!

We had a great day.



Aching feet!

Aching back!

Fuddled brain!

But a good day!

Over 10 kgs of sausages were cooked up by Sarah (thank you, Sarah!)

It was wonderful to meet so many people who are passionate about food – both others who were exhibiting, and those who were attending.  We met some wonderful people.  We met people who keep their own pigs.  We met people who haven’t eaten pork in years  – we converted them!  We even met people that we had only known via Facebook… so it was wonderful to meet in person.

There was a great camaraderie among the exhibitors – lots of exchanging of tastings!  We got to taste lovely breads from Coolfin Bakery in Banagher, marvelous cheese from Mossfield Organic Cheese, gorgeous cakes from Sweet Creations, and then there were the major ‘pick me ups’ from The Hot Irishman!

If we met you at the show…. we look forward to hearing from you again!

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New arrivals…

This week has been a really busy week for us here at Oldfarm.

We have had 25 new arrivals!

Perky and her litter

Perky and Floppy, two of our Saddleback sows had litters this week.  The Daddy was a Landrace/Saddleback cross, so the litters are a mix of black and white and pink and black pigs.  All for the sake of variety!

Perky was first to produce…. and it was really only luck that we spotted her and realised how close she was to having them!

For the uninitiated, the pregnancy time for pigs is 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days! All very well if you know when they’ve been busy????  However, Farmer Alfie has a theory that the sows also get very cross when their time is due, so he had noticed that Perky (normally quite a placid pig) was very cross last week.  Then on Tuesday afternoon we happened to be in the garden, and I glanced over to see her pulling dry grass from everywhere she could.

It is quite fascinating to watch the sows when they are ready to have their litter. They literally build a nest!  They scout about for their preferred spot and then start nest building.

Last year Lucy (our oldest sow) went to a lot of bother with her nest building.  She managed to find some plastic put that on the ground first, and then piled straw and dry grass on top!  They really are quite clever.

Back to Tuesday and Perky’s nest building… to help her along we gave her an extra bale of straw which of course made her task easier.

And then on Wednesday morning when we checked there she was with 12 new babies.  Four days later, they are thriving and if the sun is out and there is any warmth at all they are out and about with Mammy.  Once again nature is terrific to watch, even at this tiny stage (they are the size of pups) their instinct is to route!

Having fun outdoors!

All of this, of course, does make you feel really bad about pigs that are born in those factory-style schemes.  Born on concrete, mother not able to move, never getting to route about in the earth.  Definitely not a good life.

Our pigs, do end up on the table, but they live a healthy outdoor life before then.

On Thursday, Floppy had her litter…. she had 13 babies…. she always has the biggest litter.

Cuddling up together...group hug piggy style!

Look at these little guys – just hours old!

Now the task ahead is pork sales, suckling pig, bonham sales or even how about ‘adopt a pig’??  More later!

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So here we are at the end of January which is tagged as the bleakest month of the year. What could be nicer then than sitting down to a nice piece of roast pork with crackling? Well nothing really!

So with this in mind, Farmer Alfie, has decided it is time for another pig to go to the Happy Hunting Ground in the Sky!

Seriously though, we have had some great feedback from customers who had some of our pork and bacon prior to Christmas….

I remember you asked for feedback on the pork and I am happy to say we were
delighted with it.  We had the shoulder roast the other day and it was

I had one of the chops on Friday night, and I can safely tell you that is the best tasting pork I have tasted since I was in Spain last year, where I had some Iberico pork (and those pigs are fed on acorns)!  My 11 year old was also very impressed with the sausages!

Those of you following my blogs will know that our pork is much darker than that which you buy in the supermarket (probably akin to dark turkey meat).  It is also much much tastier, as the comments above verify.

When we started out selling our pork we opted for the ‘box’ system.  We chose this route as otherwise we found everyone wanted to have pork steak!  Guys there are only 2 pork steaks per pig!  So that wasn’t going to work!  We offer customers a choice of 5 kg, 10 kg or 15 kg ‘box’ or, of course, you can opt to buy a half or a whole pig.

So if you would like to taste our truly yummy pork… contact us and we will send you on the details.

Or follow our progress on our Facebook page.

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One of my favourite foods is roast pork… especially the crackling.  Now, if you are like me and like roast pork and crackling, try buying pork anywhere with the skin still on.  I have to ask my butcher to cut a piece specially for me and to leave the skin on.  So having got fed up of having to do that, we decided to keep pigs for ourselves, and you’ve read some of the episodes of live with our pigs.

In recent months we’ve taken 3 pigs to the abattoir, and in fact, have been extremely pleased with the response from customers as to the meat.  Our little artisan business has grown and developed organically through sending out emails to family and friends, spreading the word about our pork.

One of the comments we have had from some people is that the meat is often quite fatty.  It is, that is the nature of free-range and rare breed.  It was interesting to see the comments on Ear To The Ground, RTE’s farming programme last week where they discussed the Irish Pork industry.  Take a look…. it is towards the end of the programme, but it is worth watching the conversion!  http://short.ie/6eheh6

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