Lurch’s easy progress from shed to table

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Two weeks into the new year, and the great turkey massacre of December 22 already seems a dim and distant memory. We were surprised at how easily we said goodbye to a live turkey, and hello to the perfectly cooked one nestling beside the roast potatoes and pigs-in-blankets on our plates on Christmas Day.

I must admit it was delicious, probably the best turkey I’ve ever tasted. The Kelly bronze turkeys we (picture, top of page) had are renowned for their gamey taste and succulence, and didn’t disappoint.

The sad news (for the kids) was that the only turkey with a name (Lurch, the huge stag) who was supposed to be a keeper, had to make the trip to turkey heaven, and we kept the other stag, with no name. Poor Lurch was so big by Christmas that he picked up an injury and went off his legs. After the “he’s had a good life, he won’t get any better and this will be the kindest thing” speech to the kids, he was despatched to have a starring role in our Christmas Day feast.

And at a dressed weight of almost 25lb, he had more comebacks than Frank Sinatra. We finally said goodbye to him just before Hogmanay.

So – Happy New Year, happy new project. Pigs, to be precise. Two chunky weaners from Yearle Tamworths in Northumberland came last week, hitching a ride up with a very kind neighbour who was fetching his new batch of weaners. Scratch and Sniff, as they have been named, have taken up residence in our stone shed, usurping the turkeys who are currently in a palatial new shed from B&Q.

Until the ice thaws a little and we can manage to get the stakes for their fence into the ground, they are keeping cosy indoors. Their favourite pastime so far seems to be tipping over the water container and re-arranging their bedding.

It was touch-and-go whether we would get our county parish holding (CPH) number in time for the neighbour’s trip. We did, and we are now registered as a smallholding, as pigs are one of the animals officials need to know about in case disease breaks out.

Somehow our application was lost in the mail craziness caused by the bad weather, and the Christmas post. But thanks to an extremely helpful Evan Wylie at the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspectorate Directorate in Tweedbank, and new technology, we had our CPH number within 48 hours.

After the initial euphoria of the pigs’ arrival, we broached the subject of their projected short – but happy – lives with the kids. Perhaps remembering Christmas lunch, the answer was a chorused: “Yum”.

We’ll see if they feel the same way in about four months...