As part of his vision for Virtue Cider, founder Gregory Hall is recreating a traditional working farm in a setting just like cider was made in for generations. In old England, Gloucester Old Spot pigs were so integral to every cider farm they were nicknamed "Orchard Pigs." The pigs are thrifty, able to make a living from pasture and agricultural by products, such as windfall apples in orchards and the pomace left over from cider pressing. In fact, British folklore holds that their large black spots are bruises caused by the apples falling onto them as they foraged the orchard floor.
Gloucester Old Spots are a breed on the Slow Food Ark of Taste. They are extremely endangered, with only 200 registered in the United States today (with our pigs, we know the number is 207!) From the Slow Food site, the breed originated in the Severn Valley, a traditional cheese and cider region in England. Developed in the 1800s when farmers needed a "hardy animal that would flourish on a varied diet."
Over the summer, Virtue "adopted" two pregnant Gloucester Old Spots for the farm. They gave birth to a passel of piglets in late August on Faith's Farm in Bonfield, IL. Kim Snyder, owner of Faith’s Farm, has a veritable Noah’s Ark of heritage breeds chickens, turkeys, guinea, rabbits, sheep, cows, pigs, ducks, donkeys. Her special furrowing huts are custom designed for her heritage pigs, so we feel ours were extra lucky to be able to give birth under her care and compassion.
Our piglets arrived at the farm at just 19 days old. Here they are moving into their new digs at Virtue Farm. Stop by the farm and meet them!