PIG People in Grosmont

We are a group rearing Tamworth pigs, and have now concluded two years' successful activity, having raised over thirty piglets from our two sows. The general aim of the group is to produce free-range pork and charcuterie for its members, with feeding and husbandry duties shared among group members. It works as a co-operative: members contribute to the start-up costs and then cover the running costs by buying a share of the meat. It is very much a community-based project: we enjoy being part of a venture that is self-supporting and guarantees an alternative source of quality, hand-reared meat, whilst learning new skills along the way.

There is a Facebook node for the PIG group at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=85109790611

Joining this website - instructions

Feeding Rota
Pig Co-op Feeding Calendar

NEWS
Our Pig Roast and Ceilidh on 3 October was a great success, raising funds for PIG and GADMAG.
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22 March 2009
We now have two new litters of piglets, we think twenty piglets in all...
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20th April 2008
We now have thirteen piglets and two happy sows!
Next meeting is 11th May at 12:30 in the town hall.

28th February 2008
We will be continuing with the pig shelters this Sunday (2nd at 2pm) at Great Campston – adjacent to the stables.
If you have any corrugated tin sheeting - we need a half-dozen more sheets at 8feet plus in length. Call Alastair for collection 01981 241282.
Alastair will be feeding the pigs at 8am on both this Saturday and Sunday – if you would like a tour from him please turn up at those times.
BTW. There is a meeting concerning a Grosmont ‘Community Land Project’ at 11am on Saturday 1st in the Town Hall. I will also be presenting (broadly) on this theme to the Community Council on the 10th March – the council have had an encouraging contact from a community land organisation on this same topic so it would appear that the time may be about right.


22nd February 2008
Sylvia has suggested that we make an effort to get video of the farrowing for schools. In this vein it would also be useful if those who can take video please remember to take your camera and film any interesting activity for promotion/educational purposes.

20th February 2008
Early April for farrowing/piglets! The two gilts-in-pig have had a visit from our pig specialist vet Bob Stevenson of the Usk Vet Practice. He thinks they are generally very healthy. They had an innoculation against a bacterial form of arthritis that he diagnosed to be the cause of the lameness. He also assessed the pregnancy and believes that we are looking at early April for farrowing.

Preparation for farrowing: We have until the end of March at the latest to prepare for farrowing. The main preparation is the stables and arcs by the stables. Please contact Jeff Riley or Chantal Dunn for instructions. The work ought to begin this weekend (23/24 Feb)

Farrowing is likely to be the most demanding time for all of us. Therefore, please try to keep as much time free as you can in the first half of April.

Important points from the meeting on 17th February.
  • Our society is to be named the People in Grosmont (PIG) society. This will enable us to include other activities later and it puts the focus on people and community rather than just pork.
  • Chair, Chantal Dunn; Secretary, Alastair McGowan; Treasurer, Louise Minford.
  • Two new straw bale shelters to be built by March 17th
  • Robin and Lucy Gable are in the short-term coordinating the pig feeding rota via the calendar on this website.
  • Clarity concerning the relative values of members' inputs needs further consideration
  • In addition to the tasks arising so far - feeding/pig care, maintenance/construction, administration, school/community engagement - several members expressed an interest in looking at skills and knowledge involved in curing and making other products from meat.

5th February 2008
  • URGENT: we need to fill the feeding rota for at least the coming month Pig Co-op Feeding Calendar
  • A feeding planner is now on the wall of the feed room. Please use this as the definitive version. This is problematic given the distance to Campston from the village. But the online version is also problematic since not everyone can use it (we have only 4 subscribers to it) and this will inevitably lead to confusion and wasted trips to Campston / pigs not being fed. A topic for further discussion.
  • Any families interested in 'outreaching' the project to Cross Ash or other schools please contact Mary Bartlett.
  • Sub-groups are beginning to manage: Administration; Feed collection / New sources; Maintenance
  • A meeting is to be arranged for later in February in the Town Hall. TBN. In the meantime lets use the discussion forum
  • Who are the members so far? A full contact list will be compiled (not for the web) and distributed among members once we have all your permissions to do so. In the meantime the following families are involved so far: Bartlett, Beal, Beiler, Delahooke Smith, Dunn, Gable, Hounsome, Huntsman, James, Mason, McGowan, Meyrick, Minford, Mintowt-czyz, Moggridge, Pile, Potter, Thompson, Timmerman, Riley, Boyd/Morris, Gill, Jones.
  • Meeting at Campston 26th January. Members were shown the two pregnant gilts, their winter accomodation in the woods, feeding basics, the farrowing accomodation / stables, and the area where the two litters are expected to remain until weaning before returning to the woods.
  • People involved in the administration of the co-op will be in touch shortly in order to check that everyone is up to speed and to help coordinate you with others doing the same tasks.
  • A veg co-op idea for Grosmont has been floated. A meeting to discuss the possibilities TBN.
  • It would be best if anyone who hasn’t been shown the farm layout, the locations and feed amount, warning on the fence and other safety, etc - would you please go first time with someone who does know, we can then be assured that the important points have been conveyed to all.
  • Evening feed time: As the evenings become lighter you can feed the pigs from 4-7PM or so.

Two Tamworth expectant mums have arrived

January 08

Feeding Rota
Pig Co-op Feeding Calendar

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Winter Quarters

See **How It Works** for the concept.

A public website for the project is at http://www.ecovillage.co.uk/grosmontpig/index.htm

One key point. This scheme is cooperative – it is up to each of us to take as much responsibility as we can. The potential for the concept to take hold and spread locally is significant. The benefits for the community will be well worth our efforts.

OLDER NEWS
14th January

The two pregnant sows are now at Great Campston. Pop in and say hello. Children are invited to suggest names for them, to be discussed on Saturday 26th January, meet 2pm at Great Campston. I haven’t got to know them myself so I don’t know if they can be described as either pinky or perky. Ginger and rotund may be more appropriate.

Feeding
We need to begin a feeding rota ASAP. Could you let me know your preferred availability for this (e.g. if you are travelling past Great Campston NP7 8EE at certain times of the day/week) so we can produce a preliminary rota. The required times are early in the day and later in the day. If you are keen to get up there straight away and begin a relationship with the pigs please let me know so we can take the load off Chantal quickly.

Feedstuff
We need volunteers to help organise the collection of feed. A trailer or van is required that can bring one half-tonne bag from Lock’s Garage HR2 9AS on about 5 occasions during the year. Please ask around if you can regarding free sources of supplementary feed for the pigs because the whey source won’t be available again until Spring. Human food processing by-product is needed – non-meat. If you know of a source of something call me on 01981 241282 and I’ll find out if it can be used.

Virtual office
We need two/three people to volunteer to be a central contact point – a ‘virtual office’ - to hold and manage up to date information on what’s happening day-to-day in order to spread the load from myself, Chantal, Christina Huntsman and Pixie Mason. The latter two have worked very hard at this until now bringing in members and collecting fees but we need to spread the load from them also. Please contact me and I’ll put you in touch with whoever else volunteers.

There is an online forum - discussion (n) above - which could be very useful as our central information point. I know this is far from ideal for everyone but it would allow us to keep a central focus while not necessarily being in the village. I moderate it (I am ‘ecovillage’) and will make sure any useful information gets posted there, but it is a collaborative resource for all to use and contribute to as the scheme develops. Please sign up in order to post to the discussion and even edit this page as you see fit. It may take me 24 hours to ‘approve’ you, I would rather it had been open but I can’t switch that function off. You can then register (see 'notify' above) to receive an email when anything is posted.

DIY skills
Finally, yes finally, there are some small mending jobs to be done at Great Campston – strengthening stable doors and gates in order to hold the sows/litters if and when they need to be brought in. Please contact Chantal and she will be able to show you what needs fixing.

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Well Appointed

NEWS 7th January

One key point. This scheme is entirely cooperative – it is up to each of us to take as much responsibility as we can. The potential for the concept to take hold and spread locally is significant. The benefits for the community will be well worth our efforts.

12th – 19th January
The pig breeder Ray Harris is expecting to deliver the two pregnant Tamworths to Great Campston.

Saturday 26th January
An opportunity to meet each other and the pigs at Great Campston, and discuss responsibilities. Bring wellies since the pigs will certainly have created some mud. Children are especially welcome for this, no doubt they will make even more mud. If you cannot make this introductory get together: The group will continue online (below). If you can please logon and make your presence known to everyone else.

The outcome of discussions, any agreement of responsibilities, etc, will be posted on the discussion page (tab at top of this page). It is expected that this forum will save us all time in much of the decision-making and communication. You will need to subscribe to this site in order to post this discussion forum and I'll have to approve it. If you would rather not do so please inform Alastair on 241282 so we can keep you in the loop by telephone instead.

Subscriptions
The joining fee of £50 is due. If you have not already paid please make cheques payable to EcoVillage CIC, c/o Christina Huntsman, Myrtle Cottage, Grosmont, NP7 8EP (01981 240793). EcoVillage is a non-profit sustainability company (Community Interest Company) that is covering the scheme until it can run as a separate entity.

Payment for meat will be due before the piglets are born (farrowing) in April/May. The precise cost will be up to us to decide collectively – depending on many variables. However, if you are able to make a part payment before that date (i.e. now) then it will enable the scheme to stand on its own feet without the initial organisers having to lend any further. Some of the equipment has already been bought by Chantal and Charles Dunn. The costing includes the refunding of relevant parts of this contribution in due course.

Uncooked vegetable scraps for the pigs
We will be able to reduce the cost of the pigs’ feed and improve our recycling habits by saving vegetable waste for the pigs. Please plan to collect what you can later in January. It may be a useful contributory task for some members to collect such feed supplement from us all on a weekly basis.

However, due to hygiene and health concerns the only scraps we can give them are those from uncooked vegetable matter, including:

  • Root vegetables
  • Greens
  • Allium (onion, leek)
  • Fruit
  • Cereals (not raw grains)
  • Nuts

Only non-meat waste that has not been cooked or put onto the table.

Avoid anything that may include mildew - it can kill them.

If you can contribute please ensure that someone in your household takes responsibility for maintaining the purity of this pig feed supplement – although disease risk is very low we need to be seen rigorously to be taking the correct precautions. Try to keep it fresh and dry so that it does not begin to rot. E.g. don’t dump it all in a plastic bucket, keep it separate and aired.

If you have ideas for using other kinds of food waste or know of free sources of such (even industrial scale) then lets discuss it. We already have a source of free milk whey from a local diary and the pigs love it, but the more diverse sources we can find the less dependent we will be on cereal pig ‘nut’, the price of which is rapidly increasing.

Forum

All your questions will be answered on the discussion (see the tab above)

DIARY

The following is a draft plan, and as with everything else in the co-op it is up for adjustment by consensus - or nature, weather, feed costs, etc.

December '07
Members joining
Gilts coming to Great Campston from the boar
Construction of arcs and containment by early members

January '08
Members/pigs introduction and meeting
Members to begin working
Look after two mums
This is the straw bale pig ark that the two sows will inhabit until farrowing:

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'Hay, you're hogging my corner'

April/May '08
Gilts expected to farrow 15-20 piglets

June-September
Contain and nurture them until

October/November
October/November pigs become pork, work/fun day, hog roast etc
Potentially a hog roast event for the village
Pork will return from abattoir and butcher in butchered packs of half and whole pig
Guilts have now become sows – go to boar again for next litter
Possibly some will be kept over until 12-15 months for bacon
...Possibly bacon preserving workshop from this
Cycle continues and expands-