Welcome to Crissard, Hooves & Trotters

Our journey into sustainable living

Hi my name is Mark Roberts and with my partner Jan after many years of travelling globally, we had finally found a place we could call home and quickly set down our roots in Laois  Ireland.

We had always been originally city based, everything at hand where and when needed and suddenly the place we fell in love with was totally at the other end of the spectrum. Shops and amenities weren’t at all close by, so there was no just  ‘popping’ down to the shops when you forgot something.

In February 2018, we purchased our new home with acreage that we had never been used to before; so, we now had five acres of land to deal with, and little experience! Hardly coming from a farming background, I don’t mind admitting sometimes our comfort zone has been a tad stretched over the last couple of years.

Our first purchase was chickens, watching them scratching around on the garden was therapeutic and very amusing! And the idea of having our own free-range eggs for breakfast and for baking was a bonus.

We then allowed ourselves to be persuaded to have sheep to keep the grass down in the field…as they are natural mowers. We started off with five and as the addiction grew, we now have twelve, which are our breeding base.

So, now rearing our own sheep, we were able to have our own ethical and sustainable free-range lamb. Knowing where your lamb had come from and the way it was raised, certainly gave us peace of mind.

We probably had the sheep about a year before ideas of expansion were at hand. We had an area that wasn’t great land for the sheep they rarely grazed on it, but it was perfect for something else.

We hovered between turkeys and ducks; geese were even thrown into the equation. Then the idea of a pig cropped up. I’m sure blood drained from Jan’s face for all I heard for weeks was “yes we can have a pig, but this is your idea!” the expression “your idea” was said several times and emphasised so it was clear that had events gone awry with our pig journey we knew where blame was to be appointed.

Anyway, within weeks we were actively looking for a pig. I booked on to a pig keeping course and immediately realised as social animals one would never be enough. This one pig soon became two Gloucestershire Old Spots. Within weeks the two became 5. Obviously when you have five, they multiply all by themselves! Similarly, to our sheep journey our pig journey had begun in earnest. Project pig, had suddenly become project piglet!

So why the Gloucestershire Old Spot? Several reasons, I wanted something that was relatively rare and whatever breed I opted had to be hardy due to our location. Although probably that the Old Spot being quintessentially  English and spotty probably nailed it for me. I love spotty pigs.

Again, the bonus with rearing own very own pigs, is the ability of being has self-sufficient as possible. Growing all our own fruit and vegetables …with the excess, going to our very own chickens, sheep and pigs! On a positive note we do not use as much fuel as we travel less for less shopping, there is less waste to go into the recycling has there is no plastic waste that is wrapped over our fresh food produce and it is picked on the day that we need to use it! Life is good!