It's believed the pigs are an advance guard sent by Mr Neill to Tasmania, who is appearing on 18th May at this year's BOFA Film Festival in Launceston. 'We think he's sent them over the check out the region's Pinot Noir and sniff out interesting varietals,' said Ms Stocker, who is employed part time by the Tamar Valley Wine Route. 'Pigs have fine noses and are known to like a good drop. It could be industrial espionage of course. Can't say.' The pigs were also unable to comment.
Mr Neill famously owns the vineyard Two Paddocks in New Zealand's premium wine region of Central Otago, producing exceptionally fine Pinot Noir and also Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. The wines are similar to those of the Tamar, also one of the world's premium cool climate wine regions.
The Stockers have offered to host the pigs until Mr Neill visits Launceston in two weeks' time for BOFA and can be reunited with them. "We won't be putting them in our farm stay accommodation because that's usually for paying guests," said Ms Stocker. "But they're very comfortable in the paddocks and we'll certainly show them some of the sights of Launceston and northern Tasmania, and offer them a tour of the Tamar's great wines while they're here, for comparison to those of their own region."
Mr Neill could be assured there was no possibility of the pigs being used for bacon while on the farm, she added.
Persons who may be able to contact Mr Neill to advise him of his pigs' whereabouts should contact the farm. For further news of the pigs, please check back on the Langdale Farm Facebook page later in the week.
We're now able to bring you these further updates on Sam Neill's pigs, as they continue to be made welcome in Tasmania, taking in the sights in both town and country. 'These are well behaved pigs,' remarked farmer and author Fiona Stocker. 'Really, you'd hardly know they were there.'
We like to give visitors in our guest accommodation some insider tips on where to eat in the Tamar Valley. We know the places we like to eat, and we like to share. And since we're running a farm with farm stay and winery accommodation, we like to eat and drink!
Below are the places we go to ourselves, ranging from fine dining to something simpler but scrumptious. The Tamar Valley is semi-rural, and we recommend you plan ahead, check opening hours, and make bookings to avoid disappointment, especially for dinner. The following spots are our favourites, in strict order of preference. Yes, we've played favourites.
Very possibly the choicest cut, pork fillet is the leanest and most tender cut of all. It lends itself to dishes cooked quickly and simply as it doesn't need much in the way of cooking. Perfect for a weekday dinner, and it teams brilliantly with all manner of accompaniments, from mashed potato, pureed cauliflower or celeriac, sumptuous mushroom or garlicky sauces. Fiona likes to see it nestled alongside a selection of delicate seasonal vegetables such as green or yellow runner beans, buttery kale or leafy Brussels sprouts.
"This place and this farm is now part of our identity as a family. We've worked incredibly hard to build our herd and our business. It is nothing short of heartbreaking to think of it being gone overnight, and the farm falling silent."
It's been a turbulent week. On Tuesday we heard that JBS, the conglomerate that runs the abattoir we use at Devonport, would close on 15th November.
Just use another abattoir, you might think? Well, no. There is only one abattoir in the north of Tasmania which handles pigs. There is an abattoir at Cressy, which is a suitable distance away from our farm and well placed for the sector just south of Launceston, but it has Halal certification which is important part of its business, so it doesn't slaughter pigs.
This leaves us high and dry. There is really no viable alternative that we could use. To our knowledge there are a couple of small abattoirs in the south of the state, but that is far too great a distance to transport pigs. We could not afford the travel time it would take to get there and back once a fortnight. It would add a time and financial cost to our business that lessened its already parlous viability. And it would be a completely unacceptable practice to us - we choose to farm and keep our livestock as kindly and ethically as we can and we do not want to transport them long distances before slaughter.
For this reason we would not go for the alternative that some larger farms might, of shipping our pigs across the Bass Strait to be slaughtered on the mainland. What an appalling thought.