My Last Weekend

It’s my last weekend as a drone worker, come Friday I’ll be free, self-employed once more and busting a gut to put cash in my own pocket. I will definitely miss my weekends, no more popping out for cooked breakfasts with a copy of the Guardian, having a wander round farmers markets and junk shops or day-long drinking on rugby weekends. Ok, now that I’ve just typed that I’m starting to wonder why I’m packing it all in! So, the pressure really hits next week, when I’ll have to start stretching a months pay packet over three.

However, business is going well – feedback is filtering back from little tasters that I’ve sent out, and there’s very little fine tuning needed to get everything sorted. I made contact with some excellent stockists this week so hopefully I’ll have a load of new casings and cultures for my next batch of test salami in July.

Wednesday and Thursday was spent on a Meat Training Council accredited pork butchery course at the Food Centre Wales. Awesome two days, learnt a lot, especially as one of my fellow students was the son of a slaughterman. It was great hearing his anecdotes and stories about how things were done in his fathers day – butchering the carcass as it hung. It was very interesting discussing how our family methods differed in salting country hams, even though as the crow-flies we probably only live some ten miles apart.

The actual leap into business feels a lot more real now – not only did I look at refrigerated vans this week but I also had a look at a butchery unit too. It may well be the answer to my short term processing area issues. I’m desperately scouring ebay at the moment for any kind of catering equipment, if anyone hears of an auction locally or of someone wanting to shift some stainless steel tables, please let me know. I will be eternally grateful, and there’s some bacon in it for you too.

Off to put my feet up in front on tv, it may be my last chance!



Round up.

Yet another busy week in the life of Charcutier Ltd. Our planning application went in for the new processing facility, we’re keeping everything crossed that it’s a smooth run. We’ve been lucky with the last two planning applications on the farm, so fingers crossed we dotted the i’s and crossed all the t’s in the right place again this time.

We’ve plans to build a tractor and implement shed next year too, I think four planning applications in just over six years is more than enough for one lifetime.

Some good news on the business planning front, I was successful in my application a few weeks back for former Dragon Doug Richards’ School for Startups. It’s an intensive one day bootcamp for businesses who want to grow their online presence quickly. Writing the application is what actually made me get my arse in gear to start this blog, open a twitter account and generate a Facebook page. Really looking forward to this, I’ve always had a keen interest in computers and the t’internet (we had it at home in the early 90’s and Dad was forever playing with all manner of modem bits throughout the 80’s) but I’ve never quite made that leap of geekdom and fully immersed myself in the culture.

As for product testing; another good week. I spent Wednesday morning slicing ten different varieties of bacon and the afternoon taste testing. I actually feel a little queasy when I think about bacon at the moment. A mixture of results – I’ve changed cure supplier so I wanted to do a run of various recipes and methods to get  a handle on the product. With the free box of sample cures I managed to have a go at some ham brining too and boiled/roasted/steamed and sous vide’d a variety of muscles. Some major successes there, but the curing times need a hint of tinkering and sugar levels could do with a little push. Good, but not quite there yet.

We baked some bread yesterday, so our tea was ‘test ham sandwiches’.

I hope you’ve stuck with the post all the way to the end as I’ve got a little treat. I’ve been following a handful of charcuterie blogs for quite some time and one of my favourites is Wrightfood. His latest post is awesome, I absolutely love the little butchery he’s photographed. Be sure to check out his other posts about his own homemade product, guaranteed to make you hungry!


Gosh, some pressure!

Setting up a handful of social media sites seemed quite straightforward. However, the realisation has hit me that I might actually have to keep on updating these things and filling them with text and information that people might want to read. So, as Dylan Thomas wrote “To begin at the beginning” – I’m currently a civil servant, but not for long. I have ten full working days until I take the mammoth leap and leave work with my voluntary redundancy package in hand. In a time of economic hardship I’m probably doing the very worst thing anyone can do. But, I’ve always wanted to ‘do something for myself’ and this leap into the unknown is my opportunity to have a crack at the big bad world of ‘business’. I’m no aspiring apprentice, I just fancy having a go at something I love. And that thing? Well, in it’s simplest form – moldy pig bits.

For as long as my family have been farming (and that’s pretty long now) we’ve kept a ‘family pig’. Come winter there’d be the frantic few days of slaughtering, butchering, salting and processing. Well, I caught the bug and for the past few years in addition to making the traditional faggots, brawn, salted bacon and country hams I branched out into sausage making, black pudding making and even tried my hand at some crude air dried hams. Results have been hit and miss, but along the way I’ve learnt a lot and gained an immense amount of experience. So, where are we now? Well, real product development started back in November 2010 and we probably won’t have our ideal processing area on farm until spring of next year. However, we’re hoping to get to market by October of this year. and our first few products? Beer cured bacon, traditional dry cured bacon, cider cured ham, black pudding and rillettes. And from 2012, we’re hoping to have some pancetta, salami and coppa ready for you too. Sound good to you?