How we came to have Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs on the farm - Again.

Or

What’s time to a Pig?

Fifteen years or so ago we were into Heritage Everything.  Some of you might remember.  Bourbon Red Turkeys,  Ossabaw, Large Black and Old Spot pigs, Milking Devon cows and more.  Well when we started milking cows and making cheese we got way too busy and sold off the breeding stock of pigs.  One of the folks we sold the Old Spots to was Teddy Gentry in Fort Payne Alabama. Teddy is not only one of the leading country music musicians he is also a leader in breeding cows here in the south east.  He even developed his own breed of cows called the South Poll http://southpoll.com/

In 2004 we entered an Old Spot pig into a Southern Foodways BBQ event in Birmingham, AL. It was to determine which breed of pigs was the most delicious when barbequed.  Our Old Spot pork’s immense taste from the slowly smoked and heated fat overwhelmed the pallets of the judge.  Teddy and John T. Edge being 2 of the judges.  Teddy soon thereafter bought some breeding stock which he has kept going to the present day.  He has been breeding and selecting these pigs now for 12 years to thrive on pasture and in the woods. He subsequently has sold off some of the sows to a group of farmers in the north Alabama area and we get our piglets from these farmers and raise them up for you. So another amazing benefit of eating this delicious pork is that it is not only helping to keep the breed growing, it is helping farmers stay on the land and helping to keep land in agricultural production - It is a much better value than any land trust or state park - just eat more pork and the countryside stays green, profitable and prolific. And another great thing is that because of diet and exercise the tenderizing fat of this pork is not only delicious and mouth watering by some counts it is also as healthy for you as olive oil.

I have eaten and enjoyed pork all my life and this pork is the best by far - it just melts in one’s mouth and the flavor is stupendous.  As a young boy I was first seduced by cured country hams in Dillard Georgia.  We had been rafting with family and friends on the Chattooga River and went to the Dillard house for lunch.  This was still a time when a country restaurant like that really did still raise their own food.  The fresh tomatoes and the smoky, salty funky mix of flavors in the cured ham still resonate on my palate. While there, eating food they had raised and cured the whole world of fresh delicious food took on many new layers of meaning.  My father knew Earl Dillard and he took us to the family smoke house down the hill.  It was a small old smoky wooden log cabin building with a sweet musty odor and a low ceiling with hams hanging in the darkness. I have been hooked every since.

Part of dream is not just to have our swine live outside eating hickory and walnuts and acorns and persimmons, and grazing grass and plants of all sort - in short living a life on the fat of the land - it is also to capture these flavors and textures and keep them alive for this and the next generation.

Gloucestershire Old Spot

Origin : England

Status : Threatened, Fewer than 1,000 registered in the US

Temperament : Docile, Lazy

Known for : Sweet, Creamy Fat and Bacon

Flavor Profile : Creamy, Buttery, Complex, Fruity, Marshmallow, Stone Fruit, Sweet.

Gloucestershire Old Spot : Developed in England, the Gloucestershire Old Spot is a threatened British breed. Nicknamed “orchard pig”, these white pigs with big black spots were developed on fruit orchards, where they gorged themselves on fallen fruit and other treats. Their backyard grazing lifestyles led to the development of their oversized floppy ears, which protect their eyes during foraging and enhance their sense of smell. While this makes the Old Spot excellent foragers the negative impact on their peripheral vision causes the breed to be especially dependent on humans for protection from predators.

Old Spots became rare after World War II, when the shift to intensive pig production reduced interest in outdoor pigs. The breed almost became extinct in the 1960s but is experiencing a renaissance. Their lazy and gluttonous lifestyle yields pork that is fatty, delicious and succulent.