Penny Pig the Renegade PigFrom the Oxford English Dictionary: renegade: a pig who behaves in a rebelliously unconventional manner:she was a renegade and social malcontent
It has been a long and bitterly cold winter. It has been snowing (at my place) all weekend and the ground is alternately tundra like or worthy of an Irish peat bog. Talking to Thomas, our cow milk supplier, we both moan on behalf of our animals just how awful the weather has been for pretty much a year now, including the continual rain of last year and the non existent summer. There is still no sign of any grass growing and it is still bitterly cold.
This is not good for animals, many of whom have to be kept inside, incurring more feed and energy costs; expect the price of lamb to go up this year. Along with sheep and cows, pigs like to eat grass or if there is no grass, then the underneath in case there are any tasty budding grass shoots.
Last Sunday, we had one rare day of sunshine. Ok, it was only 5 oC, but that seems to be a benchmark for summer
here. As an aside, I find it hard to be sympathetic towards my father’s complaints that it is ‘cold’ at his place, for he has lived in Lisbon with my lovely Portuguese mother, Manuela for nigh on 21 years and cold to them is summer here.
Getting back to the renegade piglet: as it was warm enough to venture out without army issue Arctic survival wear last Sunday, I was pottering in the wilderness that may once have been a garden, talking to the pigs, though Snouter didn’t say much, other than he was going back to bed as his trotters hurt. I had forgotten that a local farmer who farms to the side of me had been muck spreading and had left the gate that is accessed from my drive, open.
I had also left the gate to the paddock open and was faffing around doing something probably quite irrelevant, when I noticed that Penny Pig was no longer in residence. Starting to panic, I checked the top and bottom paddock – no sign of a Penny Pig, when the penny literally dropped: she had slipped past me and into, let’s call him, Jeremiah’s field.
Oh. My. God. Without glasses, I am as blind as a bat after 3 metres or so, so finding her was going to take time. This was new territory for Penny Pig, but more excitingly, new and forbidden territory.
The last time the pigs escaped, they jointly dug up several areas the size of Wimbledon tennis courts. As I wandered through Jeremiah’s field, sure enough, a large area, the size of a small swimming pool – all dug up. I desperately scanned the distance for sight of this very naughty piglet and couldn’t see her, so I followed the dug up patches, through into the next field where the gate had also been left open. There, in the distance was a Penny Pig, snouting.
I had had the foresight to bring with me a half filled jug of piggie pellets and started to rattle them furiously. She ignored me in only the way that escaped pigs who are having a great and forbidden time know how.
Penny Pig is not known for her athletic prowess, but then, nor am I. I figured she wouldn’t run away because the last time I saw her run away was when the roof of Jeremiah’s derelict barn caved and fell in with such force, the ground shook. (Pigs do not like loud noises or change, they like things to be just so.)
I will describe the two hour adventure in brief. Once I caught up with Penny Pig who was two fields away from my
place, I tried to tempt her with a handful of piggie pellets. This always works with Snoutychops, but Penny Pig is far more wiley and had already weighed up piggie pellets vs freedom to dig up new territory half an hour before hand when she first saw me: piggie pellets don’t come anywhere near pastures new.
Once I had reached her, I got behind Penny Pig and shoved her rump with my knees, urging her to go forwards. This worked for a while and she started to run, squealing like a porcine banshee, with me running after her with my hand on her back. Then she would veer to the left, so I had to run slightly ahead and get to her left side and shove her again with my knees against her not insignificant shoulder. She squealed louder and continued very uncharacteristically to run, with me trying to direct her. She then stopped abruptly, panting, trying to catch her breath whilst I had ricocheted forward with the motion, past her and ended up sprawled face down on the newly muck-spread grass. I hauled myself up, sat down in the muck, also panting and swearing. This whole malarky continued in fits and starts until I had got her out of the first field and half way through the second when she decided to veer left again which took us in the direction of my bottom paddock where there is a firmly secured gate.
This was tricky: how to let go of her, climb over the gate and take out all the bars that prevented it from being opened – by Penny Pig, for she is devious and cunning and has cultivated excellent gate opening skills (I think she teaches gate opening classes to local creatures) – then clamber back over, open it and direct her in. Snouter meanwhile had come out, despite his poorly trotters and was watching this hellish squealing commotion from the middle of my paddock, with his head cocked, I think, out of curiosity.
Seeing Penny Pig pausing and panting, I was also wheezing like a 60 a day full strength Capstan addict, I struggled over the gate, legs like jelly, hurriedly unlatched it, wobbled back over, swung it open and just caught a reversing Penny Pig as she attempted her last bid for freedom.
She did not speak to me until Wednesday, growling and snarling at me, but we seem to have achieved a truce now.
Poor old Snouter had hurt his front right trotter. I looked at it and realised that the pad that joins the hoof had split, maybe he had cut it on stone or it had got dry, I don’t know, but he had a split in his hoof and had started to limp, but in a good natured way as he is a very easy going piglet – or so I thought. But he wasn’t off his food and he was still going out, but I thought I should get him checked out.