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Making A Right Pigs Ear Of It

There are times when a local and seemingly simple business story captures the imagination and makes it onto the local and national radio and tv bulletins and in the papers the next day. This can of course be very positive for the company concerned and give them plenty of PR mileage with which they can promote their products or services across the country.

And so you would think. For a nation of so called animal lovers, a story about local firefighters saving mummy pig and her piglets from a barn fire on a family farm (Lawn Farm near Pewsey in Wiltshire) would be heartwarming, touching and altogether a combination of the Darling Buds of May and Beatrix Potter.

Unfortunately this wasn’t the whole story as ‘grateful farmer Rachel Rivers’ wanted to thank the fire crew for their magnificent work in saving her beloved porkers. Instead of making a donation to a fireman’s fund or even giving them some of the farm’s organic products at the time, instead she made her sincere thanks six months later by sending them organic sausages made from the very same piglets they had saved.

Apparently at the time when they saved the darling little piggies she had promised them some sausages. She clearly hadn’t considered that a gift of the pigs they had saved might be a little, er, unusual. She was also quoted in the papers by saying ‘this is what we do – we are not an animal sanctuary. We give the pigs the best opportunity and the best life they could have for six months.’

Now Rachel love, I appreciate that you run an organic meat farm business and obviously that means you breed animals for slaughter to be turned into meat products. Well done you for making your farm organic and treating your pigs to a decent half life (6 months, not that long is it?). However, you did make a right pigs ear of the whole business and managed to turn what could have been a positive story for Lawn Farm into a total media firestorm.

The firemen are okay, they saved the pigs and anyway, everyone loves firemen, who do a great job in the most challenging of circumstances. True, it didn’t help that they posted a thank you message for the sausages on Facebook but we probably feel that firemen should be meat eaters and if they are eating organic, all the better for them.

What Rachel should have done is shown a little sensitivity in her response to the outrage that ensued over the apparent heartless slaughter of the saved piglets. It’s all a matter of metaphorical taste. While her sausages might be delicious (firemen said so, must be true) she should not have defended her actions by choosing unfortunate wording. The message people received was firemens saved piglets end up as sausages, not that they were on a farm where animals are organically bred for slaughter.

She should have been just a little apologetic and even used the opportunity to show how much she cares for her animals which is why they don’t live imprisoned in a barn for their short lives and get fed only organic food. When you are caught on the hop it might not be easy but you have to read the runes and know that the media will make a meal(!) of it and subsequently the animal loving public (yes, the same people who might eat sausages all the time).

Rachel could have extolled the virtues of the wonderful firemen who saved the terrified animals in an heroic display of firemanship. She would have been distraught if the mum and her piglets had been burned alive.

Instead they were saved to roam the farm, eat well and live a lovely life until their time had come. She understands that many people are sensitive about where their food comes from and it would be great for schools to teach youngsters that meat in the supermarket actually comes from real animals who were once alive.

Rachel could have attacked factory farming, countries from whom we import meat that have less strict regulations on animal husbandry and why she chose to go organic. She could have said and done anything except promise the firemen that they would be eating those chubby little piglets in six months time.