Musings of a pig lady: Linda McDonald-Brown

Last Saturday marked the end of the summer for me, when I spoke at the last event in my calendar, the Scottish Smallholder Show in Lanark.

It’s a show that I was first invited to speak at last year when it was held in Forfar. Organised by The Accidental Smallholder, it had been my job to inform prospective pig-keepers of the whys and wherefores of keeping a couple of pigs for the freezer.

Last year I had 200 people sit and listen to me. This year it was 17! Admittedly, I never really expected as large an audience as it was geared to more of a niche market, aimed at prospective pig-breeders rather than people who just wanted to raise pigs to eat, but I would have liked a few more to hear my words of wisdom. Hopefully, quality made up for quantity.

That aside, this is one of the better shows I have been to. The ethos of the show is built around the smallholder, so all the livestock classes, stalls and demonstrations are geared towards the smallholder and hobby farmer, and it was 
really nice to meet up with my old piggy friends.

Unlike many shows which have become commercialised to appeal to the masses, the Scottish Smallholder firmly believes that every part of the show should be of interest to the smallholder. Therefore, if you’re a producer or company whose market is the smallholder, you should do very well at this show.

It was at Lanark that I decided to launch our weekend pig-keeping and charcuterie courses, which I recently set up with Rachel Hammond, one of the country’s top charcutiers. Charcuterie is a growing business and it made sense to add on to pig courses that I occasionally took, a day in which you could learn all about curing meat.

So the previous evening was spent till one in the morning at Rachel’s house in Eye­mouth, downloading videos of her cutting up pigs for my laptop and printing off information. These, along with a beautiful old trug of cured meats, was taken along to the show the following morning.