Farming communities are generally incredibly generous, helping each other out whenever the need arises. They can however also be very secretive.
At Wickedfood Earth we are continually looking for indigenous breeds of animals to farm with, as we believe these animals can survive best in the natural environment. We heard a rumour that there were some European wild boar in the area, the granddaddy of all domestic pigs. The first time we heard the rumour was via the local security expert, but he could not or would not give us any further information apart from saying that he had tasted it and it was delicious.
A few weeks later, while dealing with some rather bothersome municipal matters related to the incompetence of the local municipal officials I came across charming Elsabé, who at that time was our local ratepayers association representative. In passing we started talking about my favourite subject, food, and she mentioned that she was a chef and butcher, and that a large proportion of their diet consisted of animals that lived freely on their property.
As she was in contact with many of the ratepayers in the area I asked her if she knew anybody who had wild boar. To my great surprise I discovered that was in fact on their farm that this sounders(group) of wild boar lived. I mentioned to her that I would be looking for breeding stock to start my own sounder, and left it at that.
A few weeks later out of the blue, I received a phone call from Louis, Elsabé’s husband, asking if I would like a pig – of course. We made an appointment for the next morning to meet and have a look at the pigs.
Patrick, the Wickedfood Earth site manager, dressed up in his nines for the outing. When we arrived, we started looking for the pigs, remember that they are free range and have the run of the 20 hectare property. After an hour of zigzagging the property, we found them in a rather dense gully.
As I wanted to get a photograph, Louis suggested that I go to the end of the gully and they would herd them down. I positioned myself, eye glued to the viewfinder, oblivious of everything around me, waiting for that perfect shot. The next minute an almighty shot rang out.
I looked up in surprise, and I’m sure also fear.
“There’s your pig” said Louis, matter of fact. So much for my breeding stock.
After a stress-free natural life the 9 month, 24kg pig had been dispatched in the most humane way feasible, with a single bullet through the brain.
Shock over, the pig was skinned and disembowelled – poor Patrick managing to puncture the bladder as he removed the intestines and getting sprayed with urine – it took me three days to get used to the smell!
Patrick claimed the head and lungs, while I took home the heart, liver and kidneys. The rest of the carcass all 12kg got hung in the cold room.
The following day Elsabé kindly gave myself and Bradley, my chef son, a lesson in breaking up a carcass with only a knife and hand saw.