"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.
Now, we have been gifted a pheasant. The benefactor is a customer, a man who likes Oliver’s bacon so much he buys a whole side at a time. He takes it on holiday with him to far flung islands and invites friends along for epicurean feasts. This man went on a pheasant shoot in Victoria and shot more than his own tastes required, so gave us a bird.
I collected it from the drop-off point, a Launceston providore where the girls were a little freaked out by the sight of a fully feathered dead pheasant, and had popped it on the floor of the cool room in a corner, with its head tucked under a cabinet.