i must be getting old

a pig cut lengthways in two

salt, white pepper, knives and a chopper, allsorts of spices and herbs



an array of plastic freezer bags of different sizes, jane grigson and hfw books and half a kilometre of sheep gut

the ingredients for a great night in

every silver lining...

oh

my wifes just informed me that on this sundays radio 4 gardeners question time someone asked the assembled expertise about the potential for olives in england

they all agreed it impossible at least for now...i think the estimate they came to for viability was 'maybe by 2080'.....

an italian lunch

some of the days are doing a passable impersonation of spring, and although im kidding myself that it wont descend into winter again, im happy in the self deception...i get optimistic in the sunny cold...it feels like the end of the year, the real year, where things come to a close, where for a month or two the animals tred back a step and plantlife shuffles in sidestage



the boar in with the sows, the ram been and gone, the animals all moved around one on the farm rotation, the young frisky boar gone to the abattoir...i get back from the journey to find compost delivered, and as i put it away the seed trays arrive, the first seed packets, and im in a rush because we have visitors coming

almonds, artichokes, pecans, walnuts, sharon fruit, apricots, all a punt on the sun...and this afternoon may take it a step further

one thing common to every local food enterprise seems to be the understandable get-out of having to source unavoidables from overseas...we simply arent going to undiscover olive oil, wine or bananas

but like everything on the farm, the idea is to bring food either nearer in history (like the forgotten mulberry) or in mileage...and this lunchtime weve got italian company, and the first investigation into the possibility of olives

pigs in particular

i like the sheep well enough, but theyre not overly bright, only a few stand out as individuals and their enthusiasm for acquiring any passing ailment does make it slightly easier to accept their fate...the pigs are entirely the opposite

lively, characterful and very individual in personality, theyre low maintenance, high fun creatures, who, given the space, diet and nosing room they like make the holding something quite different



with the 7 month old boar booked into the abattoir this week, i started wondering whether he couldnt go another while, live a little longer, put on a few pounds more...but just as i was weakening i saw the confirmation i needed...no doubt about it, he was trying to get it on with his sisters

they werent having any of it, but he had to go...a happy, outdoor life reaching its conclusion

getting back from the abattoir this morning, still early, i cant help but feel flat...unlike our first pig, he'd squealed the place down as he strolled out of the trailer into the unloading area, and unlikely as it is, i imagine hes sensing the end, smelling the blood, anticipating the bolt

i walk down past the enclosure and, feeling guilty, i think about apologising to his mother as i throw the sows their breakfast...ludicrous and wrongheadedly sentimental, but this sense of wanting to find another way, or making everything alright when i get back to the farm doesnt seem to lessen no matter that this is the third time ive made that journey

some friends wonder why i dont avoid getting attached to them, or think that i should depersonalise them in some way, make them all 'pigs' in general rather than individuals in particular, but thats missing the point i think...it should be tough, i should be grateful for his life and death, and to dodge that is to deny the deal we have struck, and it feels a fraud to go that way

good news/bad news

new growth on the almonds...in england...in early february, last years leaves not dropped, and only some damaged by frost...this is a deciduous tree, the nearest other orchards are in spain...it really shouldnt do that well here, and i was hoping that it might do ok and maybe shift on in vigour as the weather warms in coming years but leafing ahead of all the native trees but a few ash is ridiculous



the climate is on the move, and perhaps i was right about the almonds working out, but its not all good news

sunday afternoon stroll

for no particular reason the pigs just followed me to their new patch rather than run off in random search for imagined nuggets...the limping sheep seems to have recovered having not responded to any treatment for a week...the water pipes have thawed...small groups of snowdrops in the hedgebanks



today i feel on top of it all for a change

things i have learnt today - an occasional series: no 1 - tickling the tackle

it is, apparently, a perfectly reasonable strategy to tickle the backwheels of a boar in an attempt to promote a mood more amenable to taking the last few steps into a trailor



i have observed this particular tactic and it is highly effective...

me? i think i'll make do with a shove and a handful of food

Go to Otter Farm | by Mark D