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Lots of comings and goings at Heatherhurst Grange

May 30, 2010

It’s been a busy time during the last three weeks since my last blog and we’ve seen lots of comings and goings. During the first week in May our main bee colony swarmed, just as I was about to conduct a hive inspection. Seeing around 20,000 bees flying around your head is enough to send you into a panic, however having waited for them to settle on a nearby branch we were able to gather the swarm and re-hive them into a new home. Added to the swarm collected in April from Tongham, we now have three hives full of bees to inspect every week.

On the pork front, our three Oxford Sandy and Black / Mangalitza cross breeds went to slaughter on the 20th May at Laverstoke Park. Slaughter day is always one of mixed emotions, sadness that our pigs have come to the end of what has been a happy life for them, tempered with the excitement of the return of some fantastically tasty pork and sensational sausages. These three were no exception. Having been chilled, hung and professionally butchered, we collected from Laverstoke on Thursday and made deliveries to customers the same day. This time we keep a whole pig back for our pork tasting day on Saturday, which was a roaring success.

Around 30 local people including neighbours, friends and people we met at the Surrey Heath Show attended and despite what could have been a couple of serious challenges, the day was a great success. Firstly the weather turned really bad at around 11am and despite having our Marquee it looked for a while as if we’d have to bring the whole thing into the kitchen which would have made it very cramped indeed…. Then at around 1.30pm just as we were about to start cooking, we lost all power due to an electrical fault on the national grid, and were told it was an expected 2 – 3 hour fix time !! Luckily we were able to run our fridge (packed full of samples) and oven from a generator until full power was restored at around 3pm, almost exactly the time it stopped raining, phew….

Our guests arrived at 4pm and went out to meet the pigs, followed by our tasting session in the Marque. By 5.15pm everyone had tasted some samples of what we consider to be outstanding pork. When that first tray of Sausages emerged from the oven, an excited throng rushed back from the paddock to start sampling. Having sampled a leg joint, shoulder joint, belly and some sausages we had a bit of a Q&A about what we feed our pigs and characteristics of different breeds and a few people took some sample joints, chops and sausages away to cook at home. Apart from the shoulder joint we’ll be having for dinner tonight that saw the end of the remaining pork.

However as one chapter comes to an end, another one begins as our three newest arrivals came to stay on Saturday, having been bred and weaned from the  OSB Sow at Wildcroft Rare Breeds by our friends Graham and Tracey, three new weaners arrived in time to meet our excited guests.

These are Oxford Sandy & Black pure bred piglets, to compliment our current holding of Middle Whites and Kune-Kune’s. This week I’ll be sterilising the home brew kit getting ready for the Elderflower bloom and production of some Elderflower champagne…

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