All year leads to this one bloody day!

All year round pig farmers like us are thinking about one thing… Christmas!!!! This is our time to shine, and even though we like to eat pork as a staple from January through to December, there is something special about preparing a ham, stuffing a roast and getting that crackling just right for your Christmas guests, even if it’s just yourself who’s tucking in. Our Christmas lead up is hectic, all year we are thinking about supply for Christmas which actually begins at joint in February which is the hardest month to join pigs because of the heat and their eagerness to just wallow in mud instead of sweet hot sexy time with each other. So we safely store our legs for quite a few months to get the numbers we need to supply you, our awesome customers, and then in the first week of November (like now) we start cooking up our special brine recipe…and hand pickle and smoke around the clock for 3 weeks. We then individually pack them, grade them and then store them for picking when our orders start leaving in the first week of December. A smoke takes 13 hours give or take and we can only cook 15 at once. So it’s get to work, put hams on, pickle hams, take hams out, pack hams… repeat. Shipping them out is another story, they leave here, go to our partners in Melbourne and Sydney who then deliver them directly. Last year we had one stuff up with a pallet of hams getting lost amongst 300 other pallets and there was a few days delay so we’ll be sending everything out early and limiting deliveries to a cap everyday so it’s not so overwhelmabing. I feel for logistic companies at Christmas time, especially during Covid. It’s quite an epic few months and at the end of it, well, we are exhausted!!!!

But I can say it’s great to have the Barham butchery up and running and organised this year, we’ve had almost two years to settle in now. In between all of this we are managing the logistics, the farm, the pigs, piglets, butchering for our regular orders and restaurants and making charcuterie (and doing our best to be parents). This year the lovely Alex is helping me in the office to keep on top of incoming enquiries and early orders to ship, she’s like say, the Head Elf. We’re hoping for a smooth and joyful Christmas season this year, without any Covid interruptions and lots of family time and hoping that we don’t end up running around like old mate up there, spinning in a rotating door! 

What’s our Christmas morning look like? Well, its starts the night before. I’m pretty sure this is like a stock standard roll out of busy parents preparing for Christmas. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Christmas Eve: we dash down to the local shops after delivering our last customers ham who forgot to pick up theirs at 4.55pm. By this time I look like old mate up top there, but sticky tape holding my eye lids open. We fly around the toy/clothing/fishing/sporting shop TREND in Barham thoughtfully but efficiently stuffing desirable pieces of useful clothing and sporting and fishing gear in bags for our children, bless their cotton socks. Whilst they follow me around nagging me for whatever I’m not trying to hide from them in the bag, like noisy battery operated cars and useless plastic things. Then we try and catch Riley Paige, Shoosh shoe shop and Thule Trading also in Barham for the extra fillers…We fly through the Barham Hotel bottle shop, fill up the boot with the best booze we can find- which seriously this year is going to be challenging- did you know there’s going to be an aluminium shortage?! And if there’s another Covid outbreak the liquor mob ALM won’t be able to get their grog out the door which would be like cutting off Barham’s legs. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen again.

We get home, throw down a few beers, feed the pigs then eat something, usually with family that are around. Then we all gather around and relax, have some dinner and prepare for the night. Nightfalls, we get the carrots out, if we have any, or some fruit cake if we haven’t eaten it all already. A glass of milk and a brandy or beer just in case… and write the big guy a note. Then we try and get the kids distracted, one of us puts them to bed (paper, scissors, rock) and the other one starts wrapping. It’s always me, who am I kidding. Last year I got to the dreaded Santa Sack part and realised that Mrs Santa (Me) hadn’t got the things to go in the dreaded sack (note to self- get Alex to help with Santa sack items this year). At this stage, the wrapping is let down by no sticky tape, or vice versa, no wrapping paper and heaps of sticky tape. And I’m usually too tired to care about appearances by now. So we always carry newspaper, recycled bags, string and old preschool paintings (that we haven’t already started fires with- sorry kids). It’s about what’s inside and the thought that counts anyway. Eat carrots, spit some of them back out as crumbs, drop some rabbit poo around the carrots and some dirt with hoof-prints in them, made with our hands. Then get Lach’s boots and make big guy footprints. Drink the milk and the brandy.

Then bed… ahhhh. Carrots, milk and brandy breath, yummo.

Christmas morning: 6am get woken by screaming children. 6:10am. Check that Santa has been. Tick. Good job Mrs Santa. Start ripping open carefully wrapped presents. I set the oven, light the BBQ, stuff the turkey with my (not so) famous stuffing, skull a glass of french champagne and sit back and watch the paper fill up the lounge room. Then it’s our Christmas ham on toast, with butter and poached eggs and homemade hollandaise… soooo good. Some mornings we go up to Mum and Dad’s place or Lach’s parents to open more presents and drink more champagne. One year we were spoiled enough to nab some lobsters for breakfast- didn’t do much for our lunch appetite though. One year we watched Lucy on her first motorbike roar around the orchard and crash into the water tank because Lach forgot to tell her where the brakes are. I prepare salads, Mum or my sisters usually all help and it’s a festive, crazy, messy morning. We set the table and finally sit down at 2 or 3pm and the rest is a blur of champagne, wine, food, food comas, music, lots of loudness, snoozes, FaceTiming relatives, playing with or on the new whatever and then sago pudding, and more booze and more sleep. Sometimes we split lunch over two places like my parents and Lach’s, we went to the beach for few years in a row, the last time was 2019 pre-shit times and almost got stuck at Cape Conran in the bushfires. Sometimes we just have Christmas lunch at home then take our boat out on the river for the afternoon. There’s nothing better than the feeling of achievement and relief once Christmas lunch is served… all the stress from the past few months washed away with french champagne bubbles, and the reflection on the year passed can begin. It’s parallel to birthing a child. All that pain for all the gain. This year we’ll be at home, hopefully with family and hopefully with the comfort of knowing everyone has their hams and pork at home and no logistical problems arise and that everyone is joyful and jolly… and because all year leads to this one day and then snap- it’s over! Madness, absolutely total madness but we love it.

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