Former pig farmer, Jim Fairchild, born 1936, has spent nearly his entire life in Tinamba and Maffra.

It’s been over a century since his father, also named Jim, began farming in Tinamba. And now, thanks to Mr Fairchild’s new book, that legacy can be told for 100 more years (read an excerpt at the bottom of this article).

Curly Tales from an old boar’s pen, released earlier in the year, is not intended to teach you how to be a pig farmer, and it’s not going to tell the full story of Jim or his father Jim Snr.

“This is not an autobiography about me, it’s not even a story about my dad, it’s about the things that happened along the way,” Mr Fairchild says.

The two Jims became very well-known for their pigs, exporting them all over the world. Jim Snr (born 1900) became the longest-established breeder of the Vaucluse Large White Pig Stud in the world, with 60 consecutive Melbourne Show exhibitions.

Curly Tales from an old boar’s pen.

They weren’t the only ones to own pigs – they were everywhere.

“Dairy farmers all had pigs around here. Because you could only supply cream to the factory,” Mr Fairchild said.

“So you have to separate the milk on your farm and we had all this skim milk.

“So pigs eat the skim milk after you take the cream off it.”

Mr Fairchild went to Europe on the Churchill Fellowship in 1970 to study the pig industry. He was surprised at the equipment they had for piggeries that they didn’t have in Australia, so he imported them once he returned home.

“I started a business in 1970 importing piggery equipment. I imported a particular drinker for piggeries.”

His business ventures were a success. When he wasn’t taking care of swine, Mr Fairchild enjoyed writing. He had done it for decades for farm magazines, including Pig World.

Most of these magazines are no longer around, but some of Mr Fairchild’s work from that time has now been immortalised in his book.

Together with the new content, it took him about three-to-four months to write Curly Tales from an old boar’s pen.

“I just worked on it when I had some spare time or a bit of enthusiasm,” he said.

After just a few months of release, he was surprised to learn that the Maffra Newsagency had shipped 70 copies of it.

“I’m amazed about that. I hadn’t made a big effort to sell it,” he said.

Mr Fairchild thinks the book will appeal to those who have lived in the local area for many years.

The most interesting response he’s had from this book comes from a friend he ran into at the Heyfield Vintage Machinery Rally.

“He said what really got to him most about the book was finding out how difficult life was for my mum, a city girl, when she came up to Tinamba,” Mr Fairchild said.

“It was difficult because there were three young boys who worked in the house, and she had to feed them seven days a week, three meals a day.”

After decades, Jim Fairchild is still exciting about writing as he works on his second book. Photos: Stefan Bradley.

“And Dad had a farming partner who also lived in the house, Cedric Clutterbuck … he was never married.”

Asked about his favourite part of the book, Mr Fairfield struggled to answer, but pointed to the front cover, which is a photo of him when he was five-and-a-half-years old on a horse.

“Today, people simply can’t believe that I rode a horse four miles each way to school everyday in Tinamba for four years,” he said.

“I used to catch a bus nearby to the Tinamba school, and I’d leave the horse in a friendly man’s paddock.”

His two sons have read Curly Tales from an old boar’s pen, but there’s more story to be told, so he’s working on his second book.

“The second book is very close to completion,” Mr Fairchild said.

“It’s not a continuation. It’s a more personal book. It’s stories about people who did something dramatic.

“It’s about local people.”

Mr Fairchild has sold off all his farming property in Tinamba, and he now lives in Maffra with his wife Lorrayne. He’s lived in Melbourne and abroad in Europe, but prefers Gippsland’s countryside and its people.

Being in his mid-to-late-80s, he acknowledges he may not have much time left, but says he feels a sense of fulfilment.

“It’s been a good life, a very good life.”

Curly Tales from an old boar’s pen is now available from the Maffra Newsagency and Collins Booksellers Sale.

A special cover of Jim Fairchild’s book made of kangaroo hide.

 

Curly Tales from an old boar’s pen by Jim Fairchild – An excerpt from Chapter 10 – ‘Vince’.

I remember very little of the 2nd World War, for I was only 8 when it ended – the end I do remember, because I was allowed to fire a Verey Pistol during the celebrations on Maffra’s Mafeking Hill (and, to this day, when I hear “Land of Hope and Glory” sung, I think of that night, when I first heard it!

I remember the blackout curtains on the windows, the foul homemade butter we ate during rationing, and I recall Dad telling me one day, as he rolled out a 44-gallon drum of high-octane petrol from under a hedge, that I was to tell nobody of the stash of fuel we had. When fuel rationing came in, he lost his nerve, and declared that we had 770 gallons on hand, stashed under Cypress trees, with convenient branches to the ground!!

I certainly do not remember, from the time, when my cousin, Sqdn Ldr Jimmy Catanach was captured and later, being in The Great Escape, was shot on Hitler’s orders – aged 22! He had been Australia’s youngest-ever Squadron Leader. There is a special memorial to him in the crypt of the Shrine in Melbourne.

I don’t actually remember it from then, but have heard the stories many times since – of when both Dad and Cedric Clutterbuck, his farming partner, joined the VDF; the ‘Dads’ Army’ of Australia. Cedric, quite incredibly because he had poor eyesight and absolutely no mechanical ability, went into Tinamba one evening a week and spent the night in a lookout tower, watching for Japanese aircraft. I do recall the silhouettes poster on his bedroom wall of the undersides of “their” planes and “ours”, so he could swot it up each night! Just what the enemy would be doing over Tinamba, a sleepy village of about 60 souls, is still beyond me!! Dad, on the other hand, spent many nights on “military manoeuvres” around Tinamba. Early on, there were no rifles for them – they drilled with brooms and garden rakes (one of the platoon still unable to get his ‘rifle’ onto the correct shoulder when ‘shouldering arms’, even at the end of hostilities).

Grenade practice was rather messier than squarebashing – no grenades, of course, so they used cowpats!! The Sergeant was not popular, so one night, as he led them with ‘Left – Right – Left’ down the road away from the village in pitch darkness, by pre-arrangement his platoon peeled off one by one into the dark, until he was marching alone! There was ‘trouble’ at the next meet!!

But something very clear in my memory is October 18, 1944, because that morning our new farm worker, Vincenzo Esposito, was delivered to us by the Army. Vince had been captured in North Africa, and was one of about 90 Italian placed on farms in our area. I recall clearly what work he did on that first day – helping lay some new concrete path outside the kitchen. Vince had just one word of English that I recall – “yes”. That soon changed, as he lived with the other farm workers, and at night Dad would go down to this room, armed with a large-print Children’s Book of mine, to teach Vince English: ‘BUZZYWING.’

‘Chapter One – Buzzywing’s Home. In a sunny corner of a large garden, stands the little wooden house in which I live. It is called a bee-hive. In it live thousands of bees like myself” etc.!’ (No, I don’t have a magic memory, but I do still have the book, more than 75 years later!!) Vince taught Dad some rudimentary Italian using the only book he had in his own language – a heavy book of Opera!

[Chapter 10 continues. Pick up the book for the full story!]