Situated in Suffolk near Ipswich, the farm is idyllic, and piggy heaven. I wonder if Jimmy had The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band’s Jollity Farm in mind as an inspiration?
The day started with a welcome mug of coffee in the restaurant, then we started the tour of the farm with Jimmy.
Jimmy started by telling us about how the pig has been man’s best friend, and a very frugal animal to farm as every part of the animal is edible (apart from the squeak) and the term “piggy bank” is thought to come from the way all of the animal can be used.
The farm is laid out with radial paddocks, which are cartwheel shaped, consisting of wedges around a central core. Fences are electric, which makes them easy to move. There is lots of clover growing, which apparently, pigs like and is also good for them.
Jimmy concentrates on rearing rare breeds, with the Essex pig, Gloucester Old Spot and Tamworth all on the farm. Did you know that the Gloucester Old Spot was traditionally thought to have got its spot from an apple falling from a tree and bruising its back?
Many of the rare breeds are actually being far better to farm, they are good mothers and look after their litters and lose most of their body fat as they nurse their piglets. Mothers and piglets are raised outside in mixed litters.
A piggy pregnancy is for 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. Jimmy’s pigs will have 2 litters of around 8 – 10 piglets per year. Commercially the numbers are higher.
The pigs are sent for slaughter at around 6 months, when they weigh around to 65 – 70kg, bacon pigs are heavier.
We then had a butchery demonstration from master butcher Joe Collier, who guided us around the cuts of a pig, and explained that by selecting the cheaper cuts quality meat can be very affordable.
Some of Joe’s suggestions were to
- Roast a leg of pork, rather than the more popular and expensive shoulder.
- Roast the belly flat – it makes great crackling
- Cook the ribs (which some butchers may even give you) with honey and brown sugar
- The flare fat is fantastic for frying with. With grass fed pigs flare fat will have the same level of saturated fat as olive oil!
- The chump end will make good crackling, and is good for both slow cooking and for roasting.
- The blade bone is an old-fashioned cut, perfect for slow roasting.
Other useful cooking tips and piggy facts were
- Outdoor reared pork is generally darker, with the outside meat being even more so. This is because it is older and has the muscles that work the hardest.
- Pork stock is great as a substitute for chicken stock.
- There are two layers of fat on a pig. The amount of fat is determined by genetics and the environment.
- You can eat pork pink. Wild pigs can have worms, domestic pigs do not.
After all that hard work it was time for lunch, most of the group chose the pork burger, which was delicious.
I loved the piggy salt and pepper pots in the restaurant too.
I think that Jimmy has been very savvy in diversifying the farm, which these days is an economic necessity, as well as the pigs, shop and restaurant there is also a butterfly house, guinea pig village, woodland walks, rare breed chickens and an adventure playground, making it the perfect destination for a family day out.
This coming weekend is One Pig Weekend, so why not enjoy some top quality British pork which need not be expensive.
It was lovely to see existing friends and to meet new faces. Other accounts of the day can be found from:
Fuss Free Flavours was a guest of Jimmy’s Farm. Thank you for a lovely day.