Posts Tagged ‘Pigs’

The Field

Once we decided to scale back on the number of pigs we keep, we wondered what to do with our ‘larger’ field.  It had been well ‘rotovated’ by the pigs over the years!

Our dream would be to have a beautiful meadow in there, but when we started researching the cost it was going to be astronomically high!  One guy suggested we use Round-up to clear the field first and then pay him thousands to come and spread meadow seed.  Now, here, we’ve been here almost 16 years and never used any chemicals and that was his best suggestion.  That is not going to happen.


Eventually we got to speak to a guy who made such wonderful sense!  Don’t you love when you meet someone who understands what you’re at?

His suggestion was to just let the field lie for a year, and to take photographs once a month, of what is growing there.  He believes that the pigs will have disturbed some dormant old seeds and plants, and the fact that we hadn’t used chemicals should mean there will be a lovely selection of wild herbs and flowers growing there.

I’ve decided to use the blog as my recording device, so here is a selection of the early May flowers.

Seems to be related to the ‘pea’ family?


Some of these I recognise…. others I don’t…. feel free to enlighten me!

We will do another tour during June, and keep you posted with what is growing in the field!

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As regular readers know we changed our business model last year.  It took us a lot of chatting and discussing with friends before going down the new route, but we decided to bite the bullet and go for it.

The major change was that we now ‘grow to order’.  Rather than selling meat piecemeal, customers can now book half a pig or a full pig, and come November or so they will have a freezer full of delicious free range pork and ham.  So how did it go?  It went very well so much so, we are now offering lamb in a similar way.  If you are new to the blog… we grow our animals completely free-range, using organic meal and use no herbicides or pesticides on the property.

The Pig Whisperer aka Day Dreaming Foodie

As you can imagine we stressed and worried about how smoothly it would all run.

  • In previous years, when we had pigs coming and going on a regular basis I never ‘obsessed’ about their weight.  However, I have to admit that I was convinced these guys were not growing at all.  I guess it was looking at them every day, knowing that they would all be going to slaughter around the same time…. they seriously seemed to just not grow!  Of course, they did, but as the saying goes ‘the watched pot….’
  • The system of growing to order, having a deposit, and issuing a balancing invoice prior to collection/delivery, is definitely less stressful than selling the meat ‘piecemeal’.
  • The major bonus for us, was that we got to meet pretty much all the customers.  Some came to collect and we sat around and had lunch.  Some even came and stayed over for a night.  So from that point of view it was wonderful to meet and spend time with like minded people.
  • And of course, the bonus to the customer was that they got to choose exactly how they wanted their meat butchered, AND they could spread the payments over the year.

This year (2018) we will be taking orders again.  We will grow your pig and/or lamb to order for you.

You can order a half pig or a full pig.  You can get together with friends or family, and share the cost/meat between you.  When the time comes we will send you a ‘cutting list’ so you can decide how you’d like your meat prepared.  Your meat will be ready for you at the end of November/early December….. just in time for your own Christmas ham!

Costings are the same as last year.  A deposit of €150 when booking.  A half pig will cost you €12.50 per kg.  A full pig €10 per kg.  In 2017 a full pig weighed out at around 50 kg.

Oh, and just so you know …. half a pig butchered will fit in 3 drawers of an under counter freezer.

To fill you in on the lamb we grow – we have been growing Zwartbles sheep for ourselves and family over the past few years.  The meat is totally delicious, and now we are offering the opportunity to a wider group.  Again you can decide on a half  (€85) or full lamb (€160) which will be butchered according to your instructions.  A full lamb weighs approx. 35 kg.

Zwartbles wether

So go on, have a chat with family and friends, and give us a call to order your pork or lamb.

Orders will be taken on a first come, first served basis.  Leave a comment below, or fill in the contact form here.

At this stage we cannot even guarantee that we will have enough pork/ham for everyone…. as the pigs haven’t even been born yet!

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Friday Photo

Who you looking at?

Who you looking at?

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This week I thought I’d share with you some interesting pig facts….. these are facts that we always share with our course participants.

Copy of magazine article

Copy of magazine article

Did you know that every part of the pig is a usable commodity?  Pigs contribute to the production of 185 products from cosmetics to icecream, soap to fabric softener, candles to paintbrushes, chemical weapons to dog treats ….. as I say an awful lot of uses, not a whole pile of waste really.

It is no wonder that it is said that ‘everything but the squeal’ is used from a pig.  Did you know that a pig can squeal at 115 decibels?  That’s louder than a jet engine!!!  I have often thought that squeal would make a great burglar alarm….. trust me it is so loud any burglar would just high tail it away from that noise.

Here at Oldfarm we do try to get every part of our pigs back, not always an easy task I can tell you.  We know that the abattoirs have a market for the blood, intestines, etc.  So unless you specify you want them back, you just won’t get them.  You won’t even get the head back unless you ask for it.

We use the pork liver, heart, etc. for pork terrines.  We use the crepinettes (lining of the intestines) for encasing other roasts – brilliant for covering your turkey at Christmas!  

We render the lard – it makes the best pastry in the world!  And isn’t half bad for giving you delicious roast potatoes either 🙂

Some other interesting facts about pigs….

  • Pigs will eat almost anything – although they all have preferred tastes
  • Pigs are naturally clean
  • Pigs are very curious
  • Pigs are listed at #4 in smartness
  • Pigs are escape artists…… with MEMORY
  • Pigs can run a 7 minute mile….. can you?

Pigs running

We have often said here that moving pigs would be an excellent training activity for any rugby team!  We’ve spent 3 hours on a wet, cold, muddy November Sunday trying to get one pig back into a pen.

Final interesting fact about pigs……. they are EXTREMELY STUBBORN.



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Yes, it is a reality!

Pigs do get sunburnt.

Mind you, it has fascinated me that over the past few months ‘sunburnt pigs’ has been one of the major search engine terms used to land on my blog!  Not sure what country people were searching from, but it sure as anything wasn’t Ireland.

However, for those readers not living in Ireland, we’ve had Summer here!  Yes, sunshine for 10 whole days!  A record for sure!

We had bitterly cold winds all through May and then on 30th May the sun shone…. and did so up to yesterday.

The sunshine has meant that we’ve had to check on the pigs more often than usual to ensure that they have water to drink and water for a wallow (mud bath).

Clarence enjoying a bath and shower

Clarence enjoying a bath and shower

You know the way people say pigs are dirty because they cover themselves in mud? The reason for the mud?  Pigs don’t have sweat glands so have no natural way of cooling down.  Rolling in the mud cools them down, and the mud caking on them draws out the heat.  So it acts as a sunscreen.

I have often considered getting some sort of a spray on sunscreen for them – especially  for the little ones, who aren’t as proficient at rolling in the mud. Sunburnt ears can be quite uncomfortable and I’m sure itchy!  However, when you read about all the nasty chemicals in sunscreens, maybe we should consider the mud option 🙂

Gosh, they were all in such bad temper yesterday – heat was getting to them for sure.  Temperatures soared to 27 deg. C on Saturday and Sunday here.

It was cold showers all round.

Queuing for the Shower

So if you do keep pigs, remember they need even more attention and more water in hot weather.  And if you don’t keep pigs, don’t ever think they are being ‘dirty’, they are just looking after themselves 🙂



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I know, Auntie Laura, I know you are cross with me for not writing for so long.  To be honest there hasn’t been a whole lot to write about.

The weather has been dreadful.  I’ve had the two girls with me, and with them squabbling and jumping the fence and annoying the farmer that’s been about the highlight of life around here.

However….. the past couple of weeks have been so busy.

I’ve had more babies!  11 to be exact.  Just yesterday.  They’re very handsome and so so cute… but then with me as their Mum and their Dad – Polonius – is a bit ‘hot’ too.  So these guys are going to be very very handsome.  I will send you a photo soon.

Pinky & Polonius with family

Pinky & Polonius with family

Pinky had 8 babies last week….. all black and white, except for one girl who is just the image of her Mum.


I suppose the biggest news of all around here is that Perky is now on the twitter machine.  She is so bossy that one.  And she never stops gloating about being on twitter.  It’s easy for her to be tweeting.  Her brood are nearly all grown up now.  Sure she’s nothing to do all day!  She wouldn’t have been so free and easy with her tweets when her lot were younger.

I heard the farmer say that 3 of her brood were a bit small so he’s moved them into a shed on their own.  They’ve perked up a lot since the move.

Three Musketeers

Three Musketeers

The seven dwarfs (they’re Gloucester Oldspots like me) are still living with Perky… I am looking forward to them moving over to the wood to live with me.  (Could you imagine the beautiful babies we could have?)

Seven dwarfs

Seven dwarfs

So, Auntie Laura, we now have 44 pigs living here on the farm.  That’s keeping the farmer busy.

The babies are sleeping now, so I had a bit of time.  I’ll take some photos later and send them on to you.

All my love.




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Friday Foto

So do you reckon I was having premonitions?  I took this photo many, many, many years ago somewhere in Southern England!  At the time I was the ultimate city girl!

Was I seeing into the future?  Scary!!!!!

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School tour…

Firstly, my apologies…. I haven’t updated or written in days – I think about 2 weeks! I have been knocked for six with what started out as a sore throat, disappeared and then came back with a vengeance – head cold which developed into an almighty chest infection.  No energy or enthusiasm, so I am sure you are all glad that I didn’t feel the inclination to share my doom and gloom!

Anyway, I’m back on my feet and thought I’d share another of the highlights we’ve had in our time here… I was reminded of this yesterday, just before 4.30 p.m. as the match was about to start!

Farmer Alfie and I live here in a child-free zone must of the time! I am quite happy with life like that, but Farmer Alfie would much rather see kids about the place all the time. While I like children and love having nieces and nephews, etc. come visit, it is nice to know that a time will come when peace and quiet will be restored!

As I was getting myself sorted to sit down and watch the rugby match (why did I bother???) yesterday three of our neighbours (7/8 year old boys) arrived on their bikes to visit the pigs!

Our neighbourhood here in North Tipperary is quite rural – we have a gentleman living across the road from us, and our next nearest neighbour is the church and school which is half a mile away.  I reckon our local school must be the envy of every parent – there are just 14 pupils and two teachers.  It is just like a big family with all the kids growing up together.

When our pigs first arrived, one of the teachers, Mary, asked if she could bring the younger class of kids along for a ‘school tour’.  We were delighted of course.  So on the day we had 8 little kids come along with teacher and some of the Mums.  Not sure who was more excited the pigs or the kids – there was an awful lot of running around by both groups!

School Tour

Visitors have now become a regular part of the pigs lives!  Boys and girls arrive on bikes or foot, have a quick visit with the pigs and then spend some time playing with Buddy and on the swings.  When we had the hens, turkeys and goats there was even more excitement. One of the girls told us that if we got a donkey we’d have a proper animal farm!

Now that we are down to only pigs, the attraction isn’t quite as great, but hopefully in the next week or two we will have our own chicks again!

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