Human Daddy v. Mummy Pigs (384)
by Max Akroyd
Beware the bored pig. After many weeks of happily and methodically turning over a section of their field, the signs are that the mummy pigs are getting restless.
I don’t know if it’s the wild boar in their genetic mix, but I know them well enough now to spot that beady look in their eye. The grass is starting to look a lot better on the other side of the electric fence and an escape plan will be hatched soon enough.
I’ve noticed that, by contrast, our big pig – being more highly bred – is much more docile. And boring. If there’s something she doesn’t like she generally just grunts and goes off to sleep. I’ve occasionally found her snoring in the corner of her shed with the piglets standing on top of her.
With the mummy pigs it’s a whole different ball game. I reckon I have a week in which to expand their domain before chaos ensues. This dreadful event would, no doubt, entail them breaking out, visiting my French neighbour (they always do that), digging up one of my prize crops and – inevitably – calling in on the daddy pigs. A week may sound like a long lead-in time, but the difficulties of extending the electric fence while those two are inside it must be factored in … No paltry human gate can hold these girls for long and I don’t have any tranquiliser darts.
In fact, the only Achilles heel in their strategic armour-plating is a more-than-slight penchant for food. So incremental steps can be taken, things tweaked here and there, while their big heads are stuck in the troughs. I’ll be nervously fiddling with a section of wire awaiting the meal’s end: at this point they will come galloping and oinking down the field like small, deranged hippos to see what I’m up to…
That’s for later in the week. This morning I strimmed the outline of the new section and marked it out with spare fence posts. Time-consuming, but easy compared to trying to refit the wires to the new position before they spot their opportunity.
Despite their propensity for chaos, I’m very grateful to these ladies. Apart from providing us with lots of healthy piglets, they have tamed a lot of the field which seriously heavy machinery would have baulked at. The large area they’ve cleared so far will be put down to forage crops once the fence has been moved. Mangel-wurzels and lucerne being the first I’m going to attempt. Once the whole field has been turned over the pigs will be relocated – somehow – and the field put to grass. Ready for a nice, friendly, biddable cow.
This afternoon will be dedicated to those typical May things: hoeing, mowing and sowing. This will be attempted with my eyes shut so I don’t have to see the frost damage on my potatoes.
UPDATE: While the mummy pigs were enjoying their siesta, I seized the opportunity to extend the electric fence. A reckless act of cunning which I just about got away with, the pigs only detecting me as I fixed the uppermost wire. Here they are surveying the new territory: