Chalknewton in Dorset

Around 10 years ago, when we moved into our dream house in the heart of Dorset, I had the bright idea of keeping a couple of pigs to fatten for our family in our 2 acre field.  Jane my wife, was not convinced.  I knew nothing about keeping pigs, although I thought I was very knowledgeable because I had read a couple of books.  Well the time came that our first “Oxford Sandy and Black” piglets arrived.  Our farmer friend delivered them to us, along with a small pigs’ house that we bought from him, and the pigs and house went into their newly constructed run in the corner of the field.

The months passed and the pigs where ready for eating.  I borrowed a friend’s small livestock trailer, and I took them off to the slaughter house.  Not an easy thing to do for the first time, I don’t mind telling you.  But what came back was a taste sensation! This pork tasted like real meat, not the kind of meat you buy, full of flavour, very moist and tender.  We had agreed to sell some of our pork to friends and family, in order to help cover the cost of feed.  Well after they tasted it, and their friends had tested it, we had orders for more. So, on the following occasion we bought 3 little pigs to fatten up, and so on. The numbers grew bigger as the demand grew higher.

The next chapter of our porcine story, a few years later, was the purchase of our first sow, or mother pig.  Soon after, our first little baby piglets were born, and they were so beautiful. We then started to sell baby pigs to other smallholders, we began meeting people who had never kept pigs before and they reminded us of ourselves, a few years’ earlier, when we were novices too.  Demand quickly outstretched supply so we bought 2 more sows, and each sow gave birth, on average, twice a year if all went well. At this moment we have 4 sows and a boar, and are growing on 2 more sows to join our breeding stock, and other stock on another smallholding being brought on for us. It is the cycle of life, and it just keeps going in the smallholder’s world.

This particular breed of pig is extremely good with children, and the mothers are very friendly and good nurturers. During all this time, we bought 2 more acres of land next door to our existing field, and we also started exhibiting our pigs in the show ring.

Ten years on from our first little pigs, we are now running our own “Beginners’ Pig Keeping Courses”,  we have done sausage making

demonstrations at The Wild Garlic, Matt Folas’s restaurant and we are very proud to be donating two of our pigs to a big charity event being held in aid of Christchurch NZ earthquake victims.  I have been asked to go into the studios of BBC Radio Solent, to talk about our brand new project called “Sponsor a Pig”. Many of our customers have said to us “We love the pork and we would ideally like to keep our own pigs, but we just don’t have the room or the time”.  Well, we can do all the work for you, and you can enjoy the fruits of our labours at the end, without having any of the worry.

Sponsor a Chalknewton Pig – How it works

We e-mail our customer list when we have a litter of piglets, and you tell us if you want to sponsor one of them.  In around 7 months from then we will send you a “Menu” and you will get the most delicious, fresh half, raw pig delivered to you, professionally butchered and ready for your freezer in wax paper lined boxes.  The other half of the pig goes to a Charcuterie expert and Fine Food Smoke House. From the menu you can choose whichever cured, smoked and air dried hams, bacons, Chorizo, and other charcuterie you would like to receive. Charcuterie pork products take a little while longer to make, but the flavour is truly outstanding.

If you would like some more information on our Sponsor a Pig scheme, or are interested in coming on our course, please visit our website and click into “Contact us”.

We really look forward to hearing from you,

David Thomas

Chalknewton smallholding

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