Finally a project I began a few years ago is nearing completion. “I started so I will finish” springs to mind, except I probably wouldn’t have got around to finish this if poor old Honks hadn’t departed.
I made the awful decision to end her life on the 15th June past. I don’t think I will ever get over it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do but I did it for her. I don’t think a day as passed since, when a reminder hits me in the guts and winds me deeply. I feel as much guilt and remorse as I would have done for a beloved family member. Maybe that makes me odd or abnormal but I’m at the age now that I really don’t give a damn what people think.
Her leaving me made me decide once and for all to finish something I started in 2016. I had written a book and submitted it to a few publishers. It was rejected. I hadn’t a clue what I was at. It was awful but I knew the idea was a good one. I got professional advice and reworked it. Then I got more advice and decided to finish it and commit to it.
It’s gone to my editor now for a final edit and she’s been fantastic and really supportive. Then Helen Joy who I’d asked in the beginning to illustrate it was on board as well. We had got to know each other initially on Twitter. Then we met and have been in contact ever since. She even met the diva herself and had previously done some fabulous sketches.
Helen is a smallholder who also rears pigs at Swanbridge Porkers. She understands how we fall for these magnificent animals and grow to love their personalities, their quirkiness and their downright pigheadedness. They say you love someone with traits similar to your own. Well that applies to animals too.
So all going well Honky the book (final title to be decided) will be published before Christmas.
Honky makes friends with a young autistic boy, Hugo. Hugo is lonely, as she is because he finds it difficult to integrate in a noisy school. She can’t be reintegrated with her siblings after she was removed as a very sick piglet. They have a lot in common and start to explore the area where they live. They meet an abandoned donkey called Mikey. They discover an intensive pig farm and are horrified by it, so plan a daring rescue. But will they pull it off and what will be the outcome for hundreds of released pigs?
A lot of it is based on reality. I discovered the abandoned donkey in a derelict cottage and rescued him. I found him a home thanks to Twitter with the help of Lucinda O’Sullivan, food writer for the Sunday Independent. The setting for the book is based where I lived in north Meath. My experience of rearing pigs and farming ethically is the raison d’etre for the story.
I would love people to begin to connect how their food is reared is vital to their health. Animals ethically reared for meat, vegetables grown in healthy soils make good nutritious food. When we treat animals inhumanely, when we trash soils we produce low grade food. It’s really that simple.
And with everything we need to start with the children.
In memory of Honky (Her Royal Honkyness) born on my smallholding 24th August 2015 and died here 15th June 2001.
As an aside, I always knew this blog was finite and in the back of my mind I intended to turn it into a book. I mean if yer man who wrote A Year in Provence could do it, why couldn’t I? Maybe moving from one end of the country to the other with pigs isn’t as glamorous as moving to France but who’s to say it’s any less interesting?
So as they say “watch this space.”