Life at the end of the road

December 12, 2018

More nduja :-)

Filed under: daily doings, food, pigs — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 5:06 pm

Well, that’s it for another year, the annual ‘pig fest’ is by with and Christmas just around the corner, by the time I finish this two week shift the days will be getting longer. Can’t wait for that right enough, it barely got light today and my 4.75kW of solar PV has been generating precious little of late. Not that that is a problem, our all electric ‘off grid’ house is still kept toasty with the wind and hydro.


So, whilst solar PV has averaged less than 1kWh per day in December and solar hot water has been zilch, we have still averaged over 38kWh of energy per day, more than enough to heat and run our super insulated house. Still, a little more sunshine would be good for the soul, not to mention vitamin D and SAD (seasonally affected disorder), I’m sure the most effervescent of people even get a touch of that.

The main task for this fortnight off, apart from Groove Armada, digger tracks, VW alternator conversion, dumper fixing, Christmas shopping and the course in Glasgow was the pigs. The two darlings would be getting turned into hams, sausages, cotechino, black pudding, brawn, salami, pate and my all time favourite, nduja . So the cast iron bath, 100lt boiler came out of storage, the floor of the shed got scrubbed and the knives sharpened.

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We’d grown particularly fond of these two so I wasn’t as enthusiastic as usual Sad smile I don’t think I’m going soft in my old age, just we’d had these for much longer than usual and they were a particularly friendly pair. Still, if you are going to eat meat then you gotta accept it comes from something with a face. At least these two had a full and happy life right up until they got the .243 Winchester in the head. I normally just use the .22 rimfire but this pair were close on 100kg apiece so I was taking no chances. Sure their heads wouldn’t be in great shape after for making brawn but the ‘wee darlings’ deserved a quick and painless end.

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The pair had been brought onto the croft earlier and the first one lead to a nice soft spot where the bullet would not ricochet, some food was put on the ground for her and then whilst she was munching away it was all over. A squeeze on the trigger, a strop around the leg and then I hoisted her up with Calum whilst the experts drained her blood for the black puddings, adding some salt and constantly stirring it to prevent clotting. At least I think that’s what they were doing, me I was concentrating on my job in hand which was operating the digger. It is far, far easier doing this with a digger than a block and tackle.

Don’t click on these images below if you are vegetarian or hypocritical

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Every year we get a little quicker and slicker at this and this year was no exception, instead of placing the pig in the preheated cast iron bath we placed it on a ladder above it. This put the pig at a better height and meant that it wasn’t cooking in the very hot water required for de-hairing. Getting the thick bristles off the pig is by far the hardest job in a ‘home kill’ as the water temperature has to be just right (around 82 degrees Celsius) and you need lots of it. However, lying the pig in the bath means you are in danger of cooking it or at least burning your hands. Having the pig on the ladder makes it easier to lift on and off the bath and pouring the hot water over the carcass is just as effective as soaking it if it’s hot enough.

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The first few years we did this the hot water was always a problem and we never had enough of it. A large cast iron boiler purchased from Germany by the Swiss surgeon a few years ago makes short work of heating the water now.


All four halves were left to hang overnight and after what had been a very busy afternoon and evening we all settled down to some wine and offal Smile I kid you not, there is nothing quite so nice brain, liver and kidney after killing and dehairing two large pigs Smile

Diedre arrives

That was all on Thursday which was a ‘pure peach’ of a day, Friday was not so nice, in fact storm Diedre arrived on Friday along with lashing rain from the west. Normally we do the butchery out the front of the schoolhouse as it’s too warm inside.

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This year we ‘set up shop’ around the back in the relative shelter, just as well, it got pretty wild with many of the ferries (including Hallaig) getting cancelled later in the day. There was a whole day’s work in boning the shoulders, ribs and removing fat plus skin and at 17:00 I left them to it. I had a chicken curry waiting and don’t think I could have handled another evening’s feasting with the rest of the team Smile

Saturday was a far better day and the ‘cutting table’ returned to its regular ‘room with a view’

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where it stayed for the rest of the day for cubing the acres of fat for the salamis Smile Me, ‘I abandoned ship’ around 14:00 to go Christmas shopping at The Silver Grasshopper’ and return the ‘Bug’ to the distillery

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Suitably laden with gifts from Fiona’s excellent wee shop we returned home.

On Sunday it was a morning spent vacuum packing all the goodies, some 72 salamis, 11 cotechino,  

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a box of my favourite nduja a gazillion sausages,


pot loads of brawn and some fine legs for turning into hams.

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Most of this headed sowf in the fully laden hire cars but I managed to come away with a few choice tubs, sausages, nduja and half a dozen salamis.

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The salamis and leg got hung in the bunker at home where the salamis would cure nicely, the ham I dealt with on Monday night after a trip to Inverness for all the brine ingredients.


The leg weighed almost 10kg and I used my own variation of one of HFW’s brines off his ‘Pig in a day’ DVD though I got mine free and signed by himself and Ray Smile Anyway, it’s basically 1.5kg of salt for 3.5lt of liquid and this is what I used.


3lt water, 4lt flat cider, 4lt apple juice, 1lt pineapple juice, 750ml white wine 2kg demerara sugar, 2kg soft brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and star anise.


I left it to cool outside over night then in the morning put the leg in a dustbin after power washing the bin and hacking a bit off the leg to make it fit inside.

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The ham was then sunk in the brine and kept there with a bucket full of diving weights, the hacked off bit went into a soup Smile I’ll keep it in there for a few weeks then hang it to dry in the bunker. The bunker whilst normally pretty warm is kept cool and dry at this time of year by the ASHP (air source heat pump) that helps heat our thermal store.

I’ve used this recipe before so know it works well.


October 29, 2018

A green light :-)

Filed under: daily doings, food, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:19 am

Well, that’s me body clock ‘topsy turvy’ for a few weeks now the clocks have changed, 5:30 now and the kettle is on but I’ve been lying awake for hours. Must confess though, part of that is the excitement of today’s big pour, there’s a lot of money getting poured into the sea today so I’m a little apprehensive to say the least. Having said that the portents are good, better than forecast or expected and everything has gone like clockwork really. Tide is good, weather is perfect, temperature just right, area prepared and the tools all ready. The only thing I haven’t done is consult my horoscope Smile but as soon as I’ve finished me cup of tea I’ll go down there and have a looksee.


The tide should be around the same height just now as when the batcher arrives, 2.85m @ 6:04 and the same at 13:13.

After everything going so well yesterday we’ve moved the pour forward an hour and a half so I’d better shift the booking of Ross’ batcher from 13:00 to 11:25 as soon as the office opens. Say an hour and a half from leaving Sconser and Eyre Plant’s batcher should be here just after 13:00.

Sure enough, all is peachy down at the shore,

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the incoming tide is just lapping the stone ‘shuttering’ that will be the foot of the pour and my ‘forest’ of galvanised M12 bolts bonded into Scotland have not been covered by loose stones.

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The turning area I made for the dumper is still there despite having been ‘washed’ and Calum is sat on a pile of rubble held in reserve Smile

Could not have asked for better

Clock movements aside, Sunday was a ‘perfect day’ and despite having much to do I was chilled enough to take the dugs out for a long walk before breakfast. Instead of the usual wander down to the hydro turbine to check for blockages or slipway to look at progress, we went to Torran Schoolhouse  for coffee.

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The Storr had lost its cold white covering, Loch Arnish and Manish Point looked magnificent with porpoises in the loch and no white ‘fluffy’ breakers on the shore. The corrugated iron look of Saturday gone and a billiard table in its place. It was a truly awesome start to winter, at least my definition of winter which is when the CalMac timetable changes and the clocks go wonky Smile Yup, it was a ‘good to alive’ day and the prospect of the best cup of coffee beckoned. My Italian heritage has had me drinking STRONG black coffee on and off for over fifty years I guess and outside my Father’s homeland I’ve only ever had a decent cup twice. When I say ‘decent’ I mean in, as I had in Italy and that is so strong that you have to put three sugars in a tiny cup to make it palatable Smile I had a cup in Cafesia in Broadford a couple of years ago that ‘hit the spot’ and I always get one at my Mate’s house over in Torran. I am talking cups you can stand a spoon in and leave you rattling right enough. Well after two of those with Andrew and family I was ready for anything Smile

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Once home I assisted Wifey in moving furniture for more of her unusual painting,


seriously, it grows on you Smile


especially when you find your son’s ‘stash’ Smile My oh my, my boy has good taste Smile

Slow roast pork belly

Still a little early for slip work I started prepping dinner, a slow roast pork belly.

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Sure I did do some Googling but in the end just used my initiative with the home grown pork and veggies from the Raasay walled garden. Just rubbed salt, pepper olive oil into the pork, laid it on a bed of carrots and celery, sliced garlic, apples, spuds and garlic on top but forgot the onions!! Then bunged it in the oven for 30 mins at 9 before turning down to S for 4 or 5 hours.

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That done it was off ‘diggin and dumpin’ again with not a breath of wind and both turbines having a well earned rest Smile

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When the tide did ebb it was a relief to see all my stone shuttering still in place and a pure joy to be walking back along Calum’s road to collect me dumper.


Even the hens got let out for a wander in the garden Smile


And yes, dinner was awesome with extra roast Rooster potatoes and gravy.

Anyway, better go, it’s 7:15 which to the pigs is 8:15 cos their clocks do not change Smile

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