Collecting Pig Food
Collecting Pig Food
At some time in the 1950s, my dad and at least two of our neighbours decided to buy a young pig which they could feed up then have it slaughtered when it was fat enough. The meat would then be shared between everyone involved.
They built a sty and an enclosing pen, using bricks and timber, in one of the gardens opposite our home. They also built a container – known as a ‘set pot’ – which would be used to cook food for the pig to eat. One of the men owned a pony and a small cart and he intended to collect potato peelings, vegetable waste, stale bread, etc. from neighbours and acquaintances in nearby streets. Once a week he took the pony, ’Dolly’, and cart to collect the food and return it to the garden with the pig where it would be prepared and fed to the pig.
I remember an occasion when the pony’s owner couldn’t, because of work commitments, do the collection so my dad agreed to do it. He asked me if I’d like to go with him and I said that I would. My dad had been shown how to hitch up the pony to the cart and how to get Dolly to move on when necessary. So we set off!
Dolly was so used to doing the ‘run’ that she knew the route and where to stop to collect the food. People usually left the food in bags just inside the gate to their back yards so things were fairly straightforward. All Dolly needed was an occasional “clack clack” tongue and mouth sound from my dad as he twitched the reins lightly to get the pony going.
However, at one house, after we’d collected the food, Dolly refused to move. No amount of ‘clacking’ , rein twitching or encouragement would get her to move. Eventually, a lady came out of the yard carrying a crust of bread which she fed to Dolly whilst stroking the pony’s head. She explained that she always gave the pony a treat of some kind so Dolly would not move on until she’d received it. Whether or not the pony’s owner had forgotten to tell my dad about the ritual or whether he’d deliberately said nothing, in order to get my dad flummoxed, I’ll never know.
John Suggett 2021