Our pig which arrived here in London, from sunny Hampshire, last month at just 8 weeks old. She’s getting bigger each week and we’ll be watching her grow, until…
After our last post, the bees have continued to keep us busy and, with this temperamental weather, we are having to feed some of them sugar syrup as they can’t collect enough nectar. Good job the chickens are doing well…
Right on the ends of their bottoms!
These two little Saddleback weaners arrived from their farm last month and are being cared for by our friend Jono in his Ealing back garden. We are really fortunate to have a half-share in one of them and are enjoying regular visits as we watch them enjoy their days; scratching their backs on a tree under its dappled shade and wait for the next meal. Until recently they were allowed to eat as much as they wanted but now they are on rations to ensure they grow evenly without layering on too much fat. Jono has this all under control as this isn’t the first time he has reared pigs, there were two other girls last year. We share one pig with Jono’s family and the second pig is being reared for local organic box scheme Edible Ealing who source and distribute local fruit and veg along with bread, cakes and Hen Corner eggs.
Our family friends already think we are crazy keeping chickens and bees, though several have come with us to visit the pigs, and Jono is happy to welcome us at any time. “I love showing people,” says Jono “It’s not something you see in everyday life in London. I think people are a bit shocked. They can’t really believe it’s in Ealing.”
I know some people will find it difficult to understand how our end plan is to have these pigs slaughtered and butchered at 7 months old, but I adhere to the River Cottage values when it comes to meat production. I believe that many of us in the Western World eat too much meat; too much for our own health and too much for the million of animals that are intensively reared to satisfy our appetite. There are many ethical issues surrounding almost every food that we choose to buy, so maybe rearing our own meat not only helps a couple of piggies have a very happy life but also helps us remember how precious meat is and to savour every mouthful. Over the next couple of months, as our apple trees heave under the weight of another good harvest, we shall be taking buckets of windfalls up to the pigs and watch them chomp through kilo after kilo, spraying juice and snuffling up every last mouthful. In preparation for October, a couple of us will be going on a Sausage Making Course with our good friend Katherine at Mustard Seed Cooking in Essex. I’m also hoping to make a ham from one of the legs, that’ll be lovely with this year’s cider!
This book is for dreamers and realists alike, it includes hundreds of ways for anyone to become a little bit more self-sufficient in their everyday life. I was thrilled to see, in the chapter on Livestock, that the list begins with Bees and Chickens then next on is pigs. I don’t think I’ll ever manage sheep here at Hen Corner, but I might be able to conspire up a goat with my friend Jono…
This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!
- We’ve signed up to Capital Growth and have pledged to help, alongside other Londoners, grow a Million Meals. We are recording everything we harvest from the garden and have already saved over £460
- The Jellied Eel sent a reporter on one of our Chicken Keeping Courses and hope to encourage others to produce some of their own food
- We’ve been talking to some local organisations who would like bees on their sites for very different reasons; Come on you Bees!
Jobs for next week:
- Practise collecting 30 live bees in a matchbox as part of my British Bee Keepers Basic Assessment (it’s like a driving test for Bee Keepers – to demonstrate competence)…
- Prepare for a local school who are bringing their reception class children to visit our urban small holding
- Keep feeding the bees and counting the queens
Join us on the Journey!