by Helen Martin
George Cook has plenty of butchering experience. Growing up in Drury, South Auckland, he hated school and from the age of 12 began working for the local butcher in his school holidays. Leaving school the day he turned 15 went to work for a butcher in Papakura and loved the work right from the start, graduating to full pay in just two years.
After butchering for nine years George pursued other interests, owning several enterprises including commercial cleaning, bulldozer and lawn mowing businesses. He also owned a pub in Northland, an occupation that had its benefits but was really tough.
Whatever work he’s pursued, George tells me, he’s always loved pigs. “I worked for a time at a pig farm in Ramarama, then I got involved with one in Whangarei and from there I’ve always seemed to be involved with pigs. They’re a really great animal to work with. They make terrific pets. But killing them is a job to me so I’m not sentimental about them.”
George and his wife Judith were last on a pig farm at Ahuroa, where they ran 90 sows. A year ago, looking for better access to customers, they re-located to 17 acres on Kaipara Coast Highway and set up their home-kill pork and bacon business, Makin Bacon.
The business processes all cuts of pork, cold smoked bacon and ham. In line with registered home-kill requirements they sell their pigs live and butcher them when the new owners bring them back after at least 28 days.
Currently George and Judith have 30 sows. The pigs are free range, both because they have a happier life running free in the paddocks and also, George assures me, because when they eat grass and minerals from the soil they taste better. “All our slaughtering is very humane and everything is up to the required hygiene standards. It’s hard to get really good bacon but it’s something we’ve got right. Our philosophy is to make perfect bacon.”
by Helen Martin