It’s a love story. Picture the scene. Farmer’s son James is running an outdoor clothing business in Ripon and decides to sell. Farmer’s daughter Lucy drives up from Lincoln to take a look and it’s love at first sight. Well in James’s case anyway. He thinks ‘my goodness. What an attractive young lady, I must do all I can to keep her in Yorkshire’. I paraphrase.
Long story short, they marry and buy a ruin of a farm near Malton and James rolls his sleeves up and gets to work, discovering as he goes that he’s a bit handy, not just in matters of the heart but with plumbing, wiring, building, carpentry and for all I know, quilting. A couple of years down the road and Habton House Farm is re-born, and what a wonderful job they’ve made of it. The Grade 11 Listed building, complete with ha-ha, walled garden, 7 acres and stabling is home not just to the loved-up Haxtons – they share it with 25 rare breed Oxford Sandy and Black pigs, Rylands sheep, a borrowed herd of Aberdeen Angus and various liveried horses.
Their ‘Adopt a pig’ scheme is gathering a head of steam; we love the idea of identifying a porker and ultimately finding him on your dinner table. Choose pig. Name pig. Visit pig. Eat pig. Talk about knowing where your meat comes from. No less a fan than Antonio Carlucci adopted and christened one on a visit to Yorkshire Meats. Sophia Loren, since you ask. I bet she was tasty.
On a bright, sharp early January day James and Lucy walk me round the farm, and the pigs seem happy as Larry poking around their field, grunting benignly and trotting up for a scratch. When the time comes, off they go to the local abattoir and come back as sausages, bacon and chops – with your name on them. They’ve had a happy, healthy, normal life and your satisfaction is having had a hand in that and eating free range, honest meat. What’s not to like? Certainly not the sausages, which are some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to accompany mash with. Just the right amount of fat. No water. Properly seasoned with a gutsy, robust texture. The bacon is equally good: we had a couple of fantastic sarnies plus I diced some pancetta-style into a creamy pasta dish. Delicious.
It’s great to see a young couple working hard with their hearts in the right place, producing a great product with such vim. Good luck to the both of you!