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Around Britain with a fork

I went to see a man about a pig. Several pigs, in fact, and not just any old pigs – these were Tamworth pigs, longish, leanish pigs with pricking-up ears and fine, ginger coats. You may not know this, but during the 18th and 19th centuries, most of our native breeds of pig were crossbred with Chinese pigs or continental varieties to improve them. But the Tamworth was spared and so, aside from wild boar, it is our purest native pig, the “pig of the woods” as it was known. In any other part of our culture, the Tamworth would have had a preservation order slapped on it. Alas, that is not the Best Prada Outlet In Florence way with our agriculture and until a few years ago its very survival was in doubt. According to the latest figures from the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, the Tamworth has moved from “Endangered” to “Vulnerable” (ie, there are about 300 of them left).

As its name suggests, the Tamworth is a Midlands pig. Indeed, I think it may be the only pig named after a town. Naturally, I wanted to find a Tamworth pig close to Tamworth. According to the website of the Tamworth Breeders’ Club, there was Ash End Farm, a children’s farm at Middleton, but I settled for a Bicester Village London Prada breeder of champion Tamworths, Bill Howes at Burton Green, just outside Kenilworth. When I say just outside, I mean in the suburbs, for Howes’ champion Tamworths live on three acres at the back of his red-brick and red-wood bungalow in a quiet street of Agata Ruiz De La Prada Shop On Line quiet All Prada Nylon Bags neighbours.

“They’re very good about my pigs,” Bill said as he led me down his garden to the pigpens. In summer, the pigs roam free in a field on the Authentic Prada Handbags Canada edge of a large wood behind his property, but in winter, when every exposed patch of earth seems to exude water like a sponge, they come inside to warm pens and snug straw. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?

And there they were: two boars, six sows, 60 or so young boars, gilts, weeners and piglets, several of them between two and six weeks old and snuggling around two of the sows and looking for all the world like brandy snaps with legs, snouts, ears and curly tails. The gestation period for a pig is three months, three weeks and three days, and they give birth to two litters a year.

What does Bill look for in a champion? “A long pig, with a straight back and good hams and feet.”

Does he eat them? “You can’t keep them and not eat them. Famous for flavour, is Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Online Store the Tamworth. And they’re great for bacon.”

If you feel this shows a less than Authentic Prada Handbags For Cheap passionate attachment to his pigs, you’d be wrong. Bill is passionate, but not sentimental. He makes sure his pigs have good lives, live in comfort, get the best food (it costs him ¬£700 a month) and have no stress, even when he takes them to the abattoir, by which time they’re about a year old and weigh about 60kg.

And he’s proud as punch about the rosettes they’ve won. Bill doesn’t come from farming stock, but always wanted to be one, so he became a herdsman “until the jobs dried up”. And then he did a bit of this and a Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Online About Prada Products Shopping bit of that until he started breeding and showing (not to mention eating) Tamworths 12 years ago. Bill and Shirley, his wife, wax warm about the camaraderie of their piggy peers. “They’re lovely people, piggy people,” Shirley says. “Really warm and ready to help out.”

Bill will sell you a piglet or two to raise at home, but if you want to try the pork from one of his pigs, you could do worse than visit Berkswell Traditional Farmstead Meats a couple of miles away, where Phil Tuckey specialises Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Messenger Bag in meat from rare breeds (Berkshire and Gloucester Old Spot pigs, as well as Tamworths; Hebridean and North Ronaldsay lamb; Aberdeen Angus and Hereford beef). He’s an old-fashioned butcher with an old-fashioned respect for beef combined with new-fashioned commercial nous.

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by: Annuity Advice on Tuesday 28/08/12

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