“The cottage is the thatched building on the right just before the corner as you go down the drive”, my friend said.
“Don’t you mean on the left just after the corner?”, I replied.
“No, it’s definitely that lovely long curved building on the right”, she responded.
I can understand why she thought it was the cottage, for it is truly beautiful, and very ‘twee’. But it is not the cottage; it is the pig sty and horse box! Such a gorgeous pig sty was crying out for a resident, and so when a local farmer had a spare weaner we couldn’t resist. He became known as ‘Mr Pygge’.
Mr Pygge has connected us non-farmers with the total commitment required if one is going to rear animals for food. He came at a good time of year; September, just as the cooking pears were dropping and littering the track in their hundreds (thousands?). They were soon followed by apple windfalls, and then we discovered just after Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s food waste programme that the shop was delighted to give us wilted vegetables. I once worried that Mr Pygge might be bored, but then someone commented, “on his diet of avocadoes, cauliflower, peppers and such he has enough food interest to keep him well-entertained!” The local brewery provided bags of spent brewers’ grains – barley that had been malted so had lost its carbs but is still rich in other nutrients and fibre. Meal made up mostly of grains grown on the farm augmented this, with slack periods being filled by pig nuts (a balanced pelletised feed).
Mr Pygge is now filling our freezer. He ended his days at C&S Meats near Sherborne, a lovely little abattoir much used by smallholders in the area. He was handed over to Dorset Charcuterie to butcher. Within days we had a bag containing 2 kidneys and a large liver, and the reality of the food chain hit home. The rest of Mr P has come home in dribs and drabs: first the joints and sausages, then pancetta and bacon. We are still waiting, several months on, for the deli type meats like coppa and it has hit home how time-consuming it is to make these semi-dried meat products….and helped us appreciate why they are so expensive!
He has been succeeded by ‘the pygges’- a male and a female weaner. I am assured that they will too have gone to Holnest by the time hormones begin flowing and adolescent passions are raised. They have picked up where Mr Pygge left off in turning windfalls into pork, and have done their bit (maybe) for international animal welfare by amazing a visiting Chinese postgrad student with their beauty and cleanliness!