“This little piggy went to market,
this little piggy stayed at home, …
… the other little piggy was sold for an obscenely low price that didn’t even cover the cost of petrol to get piggy to market, let alone all the feed that piggy had eaten.”
The closer the day came for our first visit to the monthly Carmarthen pig market, the more apprehensive we became. I’m not entirely sure why. Fear of the unknown perhaps. Would we be ridiculed and exposed as the ex-townie newcomers with not a drop of agricultural blood between us? Would a careless flick of the wrist or sideways glance at the auctioneer land us with a £300 prize boar? Would row upon row of unhappy squealing pigs in filthy cages leave me running from the shed in tears? In reality, nobody laughed at us, all I bought was a Welsh cake, and the pigs snuffled straw in their clean roomy pens seemingly unfazed by proceedings.
All of which somehow made the lack of buyers and the low prices being commanded by these perfectly healthy pigs seem all the more tragic. I left the market with a heavy heart. Just £4 for a 3 month old porker. How can that be right? This is the British pork industry being hammered by cheap lower welfare imports from continental Europe. I rarely blog from atop a metaphorical soap box but let me just say this, please, please, please support British pig farmers. There’s a reason why some imported bacon is so cheap - I’ve seen the photos and they don’t make for happy viewing.
Meanwhile, back at base, we decided to stick with our principle of buying weaners direct from small local breeders. Meeting the farmer and the sow can tell you a lot about what you’re buying (and buying into). What we hadn’t bargained for was just how eventful the trip to collect our three new weaners would be.
“For want of a nail, the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost, …
… for want of four tight screws the trailer wheel was lost”.
Halfway down the drive, clunk, crash, brake hard, lop-sided one-wheeled trailer. Screws picked out of the grass. Wheel re-attached. Off we go again.
“The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round, …
… the wheels on the trailer go flying off, overtake you on the inside and heads off down the hill”.
This was not a happy day. Not once but twice the wheel fell off the trailer, leaving a smashed rear light, a bent wheel arch , a trailer up on bricks abandoned in a lay-by for the night and a very grumpy Dave.
“Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,
Humpty Dumpty also sat on his sunglasses and flattened them”.
And believe me, this did nothing to improve his mood. Thankfully all this happened on the way there as otherwise we would have been either dodging traffic herding three frightened weaners all the way home or strapping them in the back seat of the trailer like a trio of toddlers on a family day out.
I’m not entirely sure how happy they are about their new home as since arriving they have been very vocal. Actually, that’s playing it down. They’re screamers. They are so not enjoying the weather. And who can blame them when there’s nothing but a scant covering of pale blond hair to protect that pink piggy skin from the east wind that brings the Russian winter to West Wales. The wind howls through the trees, one pig screams, all three bolt out of their shelter, race around the pen, scream, then back in the shelter. And repeat. I’d give them a blanket, but I suspect it would end up being a woolly snack. That’s not the kind of fibre a growing pig needs. So we pile more straw into the ark and feed them energy boosting milk, yoghurt and banana smoothies.
I bet the Danish pigs don’t get that for tea!