Monday:

We woke late the next morning, and lounged about in bed for a while, Nick prodding me to rise, while I was stretching and enjoying the warm blankets and the sound of the wind and rain out our window. My cell phone rang: a rather unnerving occurrence for an introvert in the morning. I answered.

“Mom?”

Our escaped pigs debut on facebook.
Our escaped pigs debut on facebook.

As it turned out, I had missed a few calls already. All of the neighbors were anxious to inform us that there was a new porky fellow strutting about our surrounding country roads. One neighbor in particular had called to query as to whether or not we had any missing livestock, seeing as they had a pig surplus of one, in their front yard. Well, of course, we did have a pig missing. I was horrified. Our previous two pigs had escaped on a few occasions in the past year, and we found it extremely difficult and frustrating to finagle them back into the pasture, but NEVER had they left the property. After the ordeal of the previous afternoon I had no idea how we were going to get our new boar back down the road and behind our fences again.  I was envisioning a second hog-tying incident, a second trip to borrow the trailer, a second trauma for ‘Stitch’ on day two of life on our farm. I was tense and panicky, and talking a mile-a-minute about running to get ropes or calling our friend Greyson to help us wrangle the boar, or any other means of trapping the animal that I could think of.  Thankfully, Nick could plainly see the anxiety painted across my face, and he talked me down. He reminded me of our discussion on the drive home the day before, of how a calm demeanor is far more effective, and asked me to gather the goodies to butter up the pig.

I ran for a bucket of grain, and threw in a few really nasty slimy parsnips that made the ride home with the pig in the trailer the day before. I met Nick at the neighbor’s property, where we found the boar wandering about aimlessly. He seemed much calmer there, in their long forested driveway, than in our wide open pasture, full of strange and inquisitive farm critters. I approached him, singing sweetly “Heeeere pig pig pig,” and tossing him bits of parsnip which I broke off piece by piece. With each bite he took I backed a few long steps away from him, helping him to gain confidence and approach each ensuing chunk more courageously. I was ecstatic at how quickly he caught on, seeming to trust me just enough to follow me down the drive. We finally made it to the road, when Nick tried to shut the gate behind him. Being that pigs are of a suspicious nature, there is a universally understood law in farming regarding them that states: If one attempts to shut a gate near a pig, the animal will invariably think that the man at the gate is attempting to trap it, and do all in its power to get on the other side. ‘Stitch’ rushed through the shutting gate and ran all the way back to the start. We joked about the universally understood law of pigs, playfully suggesting that we try to shut the pig inside the property, and then he’d be sure to go out. Really the boar probably associated Nicholas and his big hat with the scary move the day previous and, understandably, panicked when he saw him come up behind.

As I began the process again, I realized that I couldn’t break apart the last two large parsnips with my bare hands, and Lord-knows-why, I didn’t have a knife on me. I started biting off pieces of the nasty, filthy parsnips, and tossing them to the pig. It was disgusting. By the time we were done, my teeth were full of parsnip fiber, dirt, and my own hair. I eventually got him far enough past the gate to allow Nick to sneak it shut when I ran out of parsnip, and all that I was left with was the bucket of grain. The grain was much less useful since wherever I poured some out, he would stay there until he had cleaned up every last bit. So I dropped little crumbles here and there, and asked Nicholas to run home and bring me back some carrots and spoilt potatoes. Just as he disappeared down the road, a big pickup pulled up behind the pig and stopped, shoring up the rear, while also preventing any future traffic from speeding past. I waved my thanks with an embarrassed smile. The rumbling truck also provided a motivator to drive the boar down the road toward our farm. From there I half lead, half jogged after ‘Stitch’ for some distance, and the truck slowly followed. I thought that all was going quite swimmingly, until he dodged into an adjacent open field. For a moment I was sure I would lose the pig to the brushy expanse, but by God’s grace I somehow cut him off and herded him back to the road. All was going well, we reached the corner of our property, which coincidentally also happened to be the truck’s turn off, and again I waved an embarrassed and sincere thank you. Little did I know that the home-stretch would be the most stressful.

The property across from ours is home to four large German Shepherds, who’s sole purpose in life is to bark loudly and without ceasing at passersby. When we got close to them, the boar made a turn around and tried to go back to the quiet forested driveway that he liked so much. I blocked him as he darted back and forth and started to feel that panic rising up in my chest, as I saw the smooth calm retrieval of the pig slipping away. Nicholas stepped out of our driveway down the road from me returning with the carrots and spoilt potatoes he’d promised. I called desperately for help, but there wasn’t really anything Nick could do for me, on the other side of the panicked pig, but shouted back that he couldn’t do anything and to stay calm. I kept the pig at bay, and pushed him back to towards our place, when ‘stitch’ finally jumped through the fence where he had escaped the night before, and shocked himself on the way in. Based on the slack electric line, we figured that he had gotten himself stuck between the brambles and the hot wire and panicked in the dark. In the week following he is beginning to warm up to us again, to get treats and such, but unfortunately he’s still the bottom of the pecking order in the pasture. It just goes to show, you can catch more pigs with honey than vinegar.

 

 

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