The Wilsons “Pannage” Pigs…

Pannage is the practice of releasing Domestic Pigs to eat wild, fallen acorns.  This is an historic event, which was a right or a privilage for local people to let their pigs feed on the common.  Customarily a pig was given to the Lord of the manor depending on the number of pigs loosed de herbagio, as the right of pannage was entered.

Pannage is still done today, in the New Forest, where the pigs are released for 60 days to eat the fallen acorns, which could be harmful to ponies and cattle that also graze on the land.  The duration of the “pannage” is decided each year, by the court of Verderers, and varies from season to season.  Prior to the pigs been released they have nose rings fitted to prevent them from creating too much damage and rooting in the grounds.

The practice of “pannage” is ancient and has been practised in Spain (as here) for centuries, where they are known for creating the worlds’ finest Ham.  The Jamon iberico de bellota are Black Iberico pigs (the original swine of Spain) which immediately after weaning, the piglets are fattened on barley and maize for several weeks. They are then allowed to roam in pasture and oak groves to feed naturally on grass, herbs, acorns, and roots. At the time of slaughter, the diet may be limited to olives or acorns for the best quality jamón ibérico.  The hams will then go through a very long curing process, from 12 – 48 months to produce a prized ham with a smooth texture and rich and savoury taste.  This ham sells for an average of £42/kg.

So bearing all of the above in mind….. We have let our saddleback pigs out into the woodlands for the last month or two and now, as Autumn is here and the acorns are falling, our Annie and her not-so-little-piglets are having a feast!  While we are not going down the road of curing and producing a fine ham, we are going to be preparing our pigs for a Hog Roast (or two).

We have a stand at the Ulverston Dickensian weekend at the end of November, where we aim to serve our Pigs, which will be slow roasted, and served with hot slices in a large soft roll, with spoonful’s of homemade stuffing, lashings of apple sauce and crackling!  Its guaranteed to warm you up – a must for hungry shoppers and passers’ by.

The Wilsons Hog Roast

Last weekend we hosted our first Hog Roast!  It is our latest venture to cater for events and large groups.    It went down very well and we were scraping the last remnants of pork off the bones (after serving 130 portions).  The pork was absolutely delicious!  The roast was switched on at 5am, and it cooked slowly all day, which resulted in a perfect round of crackling, melt in your mouth slices of pork, served in a large white roll, topped with a spoon of stuffing and a big dollop of apple sauce.   Perfect with a pint of local Ale.

Hog roasts have been cooked for centuries and are performed around the world as celebratory events and traditional occasions.

A Spit/Rotisserie is a method of cooking slowly, over hot coals or a flame over a long period of time.  The meat is skewered on a long solid rod and is supported at each end.  This is then turned slowly, to ensure an even cooking.  In the medieval times, this was done manually, usually a boy, known as a “spit boy” or “spit jack”.  Methods of turning the animal on the spit have improved over the years.  Dog treadmills, steam power and mechanical clockwork are some of the methods that have been used.  Ours is very modern and uses Gas!

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Summer at The Wilsons

Well, it is safe to say Summer is here!  The temperatures have been soaring and we have been kept busy with visitors and guests alike.  Andrew has been keeping the bar well stocked to help quench the thirst of our weary travelers,while Kirsty and her team have been cooking up a storm, ensuring everyone gets a good plateful of Wilson’s Food and keeping the Torver Deli stocked up.

With the weather being so kind to us the back field is in more use than ever.  Annie and her piglets have settled down well and are enjoying their new home.  The Pygmy goat and her Kid (named Jack) have arrived to join Annie and the Herdwick Lambs.  The bouncy castle is up and the new tables and benches have been assembled. So we look forward to the start of the summer holidays and welcoming you all here: whether its for a plate of Wilsons food, a cold drink, or a room for the night  we will be ready and happy to see you.010

The Wilsons Saddlebacks

The Wilsons has been busy gearing up for the Summer holidays!   We have a lot of new benches and umbrellas (for those hot summer days to come) and the back field has been mowed, the Lamb pens are built and we have also built a couple of Pig Arks, for Annie and her piglets.

Annie is a Saddleback pig.  The saddlebacks which came about when Lord Western was travelling in Italy and decided that the Neapolitan pigs would be ideal  to improve the breed of Essex pigs.  He crossed the Neapolitan with the Essex Sows to create the Neapolitan-Essex.  Overtime one of his tenants, used the Neapolitan-Essex boars, belonging to Lord Western, and crossed them with his coarse Essex sows and therefore established the Improved Essex.  The Essex pig originally had a black head and neck, as well as a clearly defined belt of white  over the shoulders and continuing over the forelegs. The rest of the body was black with the tip of the tail and feet being white.

The Essex pig was then crossed with the Wessex (a cross between two indigenous old English bacon pigs which was black all over, with a continuous belt of white hair over the forelegs and shoulder),    to  “make a feature of the chief colouration marking?…”.  So the respective breed societies amalgamated in 1918, in 1967 the British Saddleback breed was established.

British Saddlebacks are hardy breed and are noted for their mothering ability. The breed is known for its grazing ability and has secured a place in organic production.

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The Wilsons CAMRA Award!

The Wilsons has won the Furness CAMRA Pub of The Season Spring 2013!  We are very proud of our award and appreciate all the hard work Andrew puts into choosing the Ales and looking after them so well, ensuring you all get the perfect Pint.

CAMRA campaigns for real ale, real pubs and consumer rights. It is a independent and voluntary organisation  and has been described as the most successful consumer group in Europe. CAMRA promotes good-quality real ale and pubs.  Their aim is to:

Protect and improve consumer rights

Promote quality, choice and value for money

Support the public house as a focus of community life

Campaign for greater appreciation of traditional beers, ciders and perries as part of our national heritage and culture

Seek improvements in all licensed premises and throughout the brewing industry

The Furness Branch covers the area of Lancashire, North of the Sands,  plus a bit of South Cumberland, as far north as Bootle,

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The Wilsons New Ale

We tried a new beer on Friday 26th, from Barngates Brewery, called Tenacious Ted – and we will be ordering more for the coming Bank Holiday weekend, as it sold out in 4 hours!  It is a 3.8% copper coloured bitter, a nice mix of malt and hops leading to a thoroughly thirst quenching pint.  Tenacious Ted is named after a very lively Jack Russell from the Langdale Valley.

Barngates Brewery first started brewing their own beer in 1997 in the cellar of the Drunken Duck Inn, Barngates, near Ambleside.  They use their own water supply, fresh from the fells with no additives to assist in the brewing process.

tenacious ted                               barngates brewery

A New Locally Crafted Bitter Arrives In The Wilsons Cellar.

As well as our normal range of fantastic, local ales, such as Stringers (from Ulverston Brewery), this week at the Wilsons we are trying a new beer from Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery.  The Radical is a 4.2% rich, hoppy and malty Bitter – perfect with our line caught Whole Trout, oven baked and served with new potatoes and salad.

The Radical has arrived in the cellar and has begun its “settling” process, ready to be served on Wednesday. The barrels are left undisturbed for a minimum of 24 hours to let the sediment settle and to allow the perfect, clear pint to be served.

Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery Co Ltd was established February 2009 by four “local lads”.  A father and son team, who already run a local freehouse in Kirkby Lonsdale, decided to join forces with Roger and Alan, another couple of “local lads”.  All of whom share a passion for “real ale” and a keen interest in establishing a local brewery.  After many months of planning and preparation the brewery was finally installed and is situated at the Old Station Yard, Kirkby Lonsdale.

Coniston Pubs. Radical. Local Bitter.

Radical. Coniston Pubs.

 

The Wilsons Well Uncovered..

Matthew and his Team have uncovered the original Well at the front of the pub (still in excellent condition), which we can only date to 1838 when the Wilsons Cottages were built. The Well was still in use when the Mayvers Family bought The Wilsons Arms over 40 years ago.

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”Birthday”

We stayed at this lovely Inn for a 2 day trip to celebrate my birthday 12th January. Very warm welcome, refurbished room beautiful, staff friendly and very hardworking. Lovely food on both nights and my husband appreciated the real ale choices. We had to cut our 3 day visit one day short due to severe weather warning but would certainly book again.
Log fire and papers great treat..
Well done all of you..

The Wilsons now have their very own Herdwick Lambs!

The Wilsons now have their very own flock of Herdwick lamb. 99% of all Herdwick sheep are commercially farmed in the central and western Lake District

Herdwick meat is renowned for its distinctive taste and eating quality – this is a natural result of the lambs maturing slowly on the heather and grasses of the Lake District fells.

The meat is succulent, tender and exceptionally tasty with a more gamey flavour than conventional lamb. A scientific study by Bristol University found that the taste and texture of Herdwick lamb was superior to lamb from lowland breeds and that the meat contained beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids. Source

The name “Herdwick” is derived from the Old Norse herdvyck, meaning sheep pasture, a particularly hardy breed they have been known to survive under a blanket of snow for three days while eating their own wool.

In the latter half of her life, the children’s author Beatrix Potter bred Herdwicks and acted as president of the breed association for a time.

Our Herdwick Lambs; seen here in front of the Old Man of Coniston.

Coniston Hotels. Our flock of Herdwick Lamb.

Matthew feeding up our flock while the snow lies on the fells.

Feeding time in front of the Old Man of Coniston.