“It's important to know the animal had a good life”

Jacqueline Yallop author of Big Pig, Little Pig, in her newly erected pigsty
Jacqueline Yallop, author of "Big Pig, Little Pig", in her newly erected pigsty

Jacqueline Yallop lived the French rural dream rearing pigs then wrote a book about it. The author told Jane Hanks about how her porcine passion changed the way she looked at both farming and food 

Many people dream of growing their own food when they come to rural France and some even raise their own meat. Author Jacqueline Yallop took the plunge with her husband, Ed, and bought two piglets and the book she wrote as a result, Big Pig, Little Pig, comes out in paperback this month.

It is a searingly honest account of what it is really like to look after pigs and come face to face with the reality of killing them for their meat.

Jacqueline Yallop is a writer with three novels to her name and she currently teaches creative writing at the University of Aberystwyth. She and her husband Ed bought a house near Drulhe in the Aveyron twelve years ago, which was at first a holiday home.

They mulled over the idea of raising pigs for a long time and when the opportunity arose for them both to work as freelance writers, something they could do away from the UK, they were able at last to go out and buy two piglets, just weaned, from a local man who farms an ancient, hardy breed of pig called the Gascon Noir, or Noir de Bigorre.

They had never had any experience of raising livestock, never lived on a farm, never kept animals other than their dog, Mo, and chickens, but, “we had done all the research and knew that if we didn’t do it then, we might never do it,” says Jacqueline.

Noir de Bigorre pig

“Our aim was not to become fully self-sufficient, because that would have been too ambitious, but we did want to explore what it is like to raise our own meat and what that changes in regard to our perception of eating meat.”

She says that practically ...

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