Thursday, 12 September 2013


We bought two weaner pigs last week from a permaculturalist a few kilometres away. When the two were culled from the herd of a dozen or so, the squeal was deafening. The first couple of days they darted when I came near them and looked at me with what appeared to be resentment. Pigs are smart, sensitive animals, but not in the same ways that dogs are. They do not respond to a call and they don't show emotion. The pigs like to dig, eat, sleep and oink.  Their intelligence, in my experience, manifests in demonstrations of rebellion.

The third day we had them, we came home from a farm auction after having been gone a few hours and found the door to their pen wide open. They were nowhere in sight. The rain had started as I hurried around the perimeter of our property, looking and listening, treading through prickly brush at some points, exploring spots I didn't think I would ever bother exploring. I ended up back at the house where XB was waiting, having given up searching. We visited our neighbour, an older lady who was friendly and who said she hadn't seen any pigs, and hadn't noticed any unusual cars driving up (we thought they might have been stolen). In fact, bewildered by how the door could have been opened, we became so sure they had been swiped, that we called a friend for advice on what to do in cases of animal theft. He didn't pick up, nor did the staff at the feed store. We thought about reporting it to the police but decided to hold off, thank God.

While we stood in the kitchen with no appetite, chopping vegetables for lunch, XB noticed something odd. “That wasp nest that was on the back deck, it's gone.” We couldn't imagine that it would have blown away, given that it was a calm day, or that the wasps would have flown away with their next. Nor could we imagine that anyone would want to steal two pigs and a wasp nest. It was then that we saw two piglets dart across the path from one patch of woods to another.

These pigs can run, but they get distracted every few dozen feet with roots they can't resist digging up.  We scrambled out and XB went in on their left and I from behind, both of us a rake in hand. We found them quickly and began our effort to herd them back the several hundred metres to their pen, a task that would only work if the two of us worked out a strategy. When they walked towards me, I backed off a bit so they wouldn't dart past. Then XB would come behind them and steer them towards the edge of the forest and then our roles would switch. We carried on with this pattern until after a half hour they were back inside. Along the way, they would repeatedly run off into another patch of woods, delaying the inevitable capture.  Whenever they did this, they would first huddle together, as if to discuss their own footballesque play, and then would wander on but in a more skittish fashion.  Then they would dart in different directions, as if to fake us out.  Eventually they would find a safe spot in a patch of bramble and we would have to wait them out.  They are rebellious.  My assumption is they ate the wasp nest on their jaunt, just to be extra cheeky.

Since then we have been pasturing them at mealtime. They eat their hog mix and apples that fall from our tree and dig the earth while we watch. It's a bit like the supervised hour that inmates get outside. They remain unnamed and, as cute as they are, I have not become so attached to them that I won't be able to bear their being hauled away for slaughter. They don't have idiosyncrasies that I can detect that would endear me to them. But I hated the thought that they had been kidnapped or hit by a car or shot by a neighbor who saw them digging up their garden. Though they are just pigs that eat, sleep and escape when they can, they do bring out a protective impulse. Furthermore, they are our first attempt at raising farm animals, and I would be a boost of confidence to be able to raise them right and see two healthily fattened pigs a few months from now.


  1. Sooooooooo cute! What are their names?

    1. Hey! A comment! The cats keep the pigs company when they sleep and it is a very cute sight. They are all unnamed. I think it might be better to keep the pigs as generic in our minds as possible because they will be hauled off to slaughter eventually. The cats could use names. Right now they are just 'the girls' and the pigs are 'the boys'.