Getting to know my neighbourhood Co. Limerick is on my list of to-do-things now that I live here. I dragged the kids off the sofa yesterday, where they were watching Cartoon Network upside down, for what seemed to be days. I wedged them into the car and we set out the dock raod towards Curragh Chase forest park. The sun was shining, the dragon flies were in love and all was wonderful, save for the incessant moaning of Son No.2 that I had "forced him" to come on a "horrible nature walk", which he hates, of course. As he kicked up the dirt and sulked till him lower lip dragged along the ground I could feel my blood boiling slowly to the surface. Don't ya just love your kids, and sometimes don't ya just wish there was an off switch. Next time, I vow to wear ear plugs. When the hell of a beautiful walk in stunning surroundings came to an end and we headed back towards town I scpoed a sign saying FREE RANGE PORK. I screeched the car to a halt, turned left and headed up the bothareen (little road, in Irish) in search of said porky promise.
I've declared my love of pork in the past and It is now my favourite meat. When cooked properly pork offers more variety of texture and flavours and can be cured in so many ways, it is a very versatile meat. The homes in Kilcornan are enviably huge, getting bigger and bigger as we scaled the picturesque hill. The sign pointed to a red painted pretty house with a small building that was the shop. It's only open on Sundays so Ii couldn't believe my luck. The fridge was packed with pork products, streaky bacon of the deepest red, white pudding, lardons, crubeens (that's pig's feet people!), ham and bacon pieces and other goodies. I noticed a Bridgestone Guide Plaque present and I introduced myself to Caroline Rigney, the woman behind the pigs. Caroline and her husband Joe bought a couple of pigs for their own use eight years ago. Caroline learned the art of sausage making and meat curing and began to give her produce to family and friends who all agreed she had a talent and might expand. The pigs are all rare breeds, the stripey ones in the photo with Caroline are Saddleback and the another rare breed they have is the Tamworth, a breed rated as the most excellent tasting for pork and bacon, as well as reproducing very well. The couple now have sixty pigs including five sows. The main difference between commercial pork production and producing at this level is that the sows breed once to twice a year or sometimes not at all. They won't be culled if they don't reproduce and Caroline has never lost a pig to sickness is seven years. Their diet is a special non GM pig nut mix containing wheat and barley and is supplemented with windfalls brought to Caroline by locals with their own orchards.
As well as making the great pork products Caroline and Joe also run a B&B in their farmhouse where the breakfast menu is all home produced, right down to the tomato! It was great for the kids to be there too as all the pigs are there to be seen having their lunch. The boys got to see chickens and a rooster wandering around and watch Joe feeding the boar. No more watery bacon from the shops for me.