Thursday, 28 October 2010

That’s life……

Well the pigs have gone off to ‘meat’ their maker, and it was our first experience of seeing the animals we had cared for, taken to the abattoir to complete the food cycle. We were obviously a little apprehensive about this final chapter, but knowing that the pigs had had the best life possible, we were also keen to make the last two days as stress free as possible.

The butcher had kindly loaned us the use of his trailer, so we picked it up the day before so I could do some practicing of reversing. I had already done a dummy run to the abattoir which is a small family run unit with  a tight 90 degree reversing manoeuvre  needed to back the trailer into the unloading bay. After a couple of tries back at Banceithin, and with Phil waving me back, I thought I should be ok. We decided to load the pigs up in the trailer the night before so we weren’t having to mess around in the dark the next morning, as our time slot at the abattoir was 7.00am. We put a bed of straw down, and the girls happily trotted up the ramp into their bed for the night.

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(not sure about my facial expression)

We were ably assisted by my niece and nephew, Helena and James.

We then left them to get acquainted with their new surroundings for the night.

The alarm rang at 5.45 am (I used to get up at that time every day for my 2 hour commute into London!) and the team headed off into the night. It took around 40 minutes and we were the first to arrive. I managed to reverse first time into the slot, and 3 of the girls trotted out round the corner, one proved a bit stubborn but eventually made her way out to join the others. It was all getting vey real at this point, and we were all keen to get away. Phil had got the paperwork completed, including the ‘food chain’ form which I had forgot, and with a queue of farmers behind us we took a deep breath and drove back out into the Welsh hillside. Thinking our ordeal was over we talked about how the pigs had had a great life, especially when you compare it to the majority of animals whose meat fills the shelves at the local supermarket, and that made us feel slightly better. It was at this point we remembered that we didn’t retain our copy of the animal movement licence, as well as forgetting to pay the  slaughter man! Take a deep breath……..  9 point turn with trailer, we’re heading back to the abattoir. Due to the amount of farmers waiting, and the lack of space, I parked further down the lane while Phil and James jogged up the road to sort the paper work out. It was very busy at this point and Phil was drastically trying to get someone to take the cheque. Finally a friendly bloke went past with ‘paint’ splattered overalls and pushing a wheelbarrow, saying ‘Oh, I’ll take that me darling’, popped it in his mouth and trundled off….

It is quite strange not having the pigs to look after any more, but I am looking forward to trying some of the pork in a weeks time!

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