Pig tale

17:00, Apr 08 2011
Island life: Jeanette Aplin writes about her life on D'Urville Island in her latest book, The Price of Bacon

A three-week book launch around New Zealand is an adventure for D'Urville Island author Jeanette Aplin.

She and husband Pip were in Blenheim this week during the start of their nationwide tour to promote her latest book, The Price of Bacon.

Visiting towns and cities on the mainland is a bit like walking around a film set, Jeanette confides, sipping a flat white in a Blenheim cafe.

Her eyes sparkle with a laughter.

"I always get a buzz when I visit a town," she explains, and cites some of the wonders enjoyed this time: autumn-gold leaves from deciduous trees after the year-round green at D'Urville; seeing what town folk grow in their gardens; the book shops; the clothing shops; the department stores; the hair salons....

Jeanette visited a salon yesterday and is sporting a stylish trim.


Island life has a wonder of its own, though, and she and Pip are not planning to abandon it any time soon.

A glimpse of the life at D'Urville is offered in the new book, outlining how Jeanette took up their daughter's request to adopt two kunekune pigs.

The older woman did a little research, and discovered the numbers of kunekune – a breed of pigs whose arrival in New Zealand has never been properly traced – were getting dangerously low.

"I was going to breed them and sell them and save this rare breed from extinction," Jeanette says.

That worthy deed was actually done by the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch and now kunekune pigs are bred overseas and enthusiasts can join Kunekune Societies.

Has she joined? Jeanette nods: of course.

Six kunekune pigs currently live on the 15-hectare property she and Pip have at Iron Pot Bay on D'Urville.

The book shows photographs of a kunekune sunning on the porch, a few joining Jeanette for a walk along the beach, and a group in the living room, nibbling some apples stored in a large basket.

"When I got the pigs, I fell in love with them," she explains.

As suggested by the book title, however, love does not necessarily save her friends from the ultimate fate of most pigs, becoming a Christmas ham.

She outlines the dilemma in the preface of the book:

"Some people, committed vegetarians and Muslims among them, might find something unpalatable in this book ... I've tried to speak up for the animals – their right to happy, trouble-free life and a painless death – which is more than most of us can hope for."

She turns 68 and Pip will be 70 this year, and both hope they can avoid being forced to leave the island – their home since 1982 – in their senior years.

The lack of luxuries in the little bach by the beach is not an issue.

For nine years they lived on wind-swept Stephens Island where Pip was a lighthouse keeper, then for seven years they lived at Arthurs Park, where he was a National Park ranger.

"I don't want to sound tough, but I am," Jeanette says.

By raising animals on their farm and growing their own vegetables and fruit, they only need to purchase a few basic food supplies from the mainland.

Pip, a builder by trade, was often away on construction jobs, and while Jeanette was writing The Price of Bacon she was often "a woman alone".

She doesn't mind.

"I have always known I'm a writer. I like the feeling of getting up in the morning and knowing what I am to write that day."

The Marlborough Express