I recently had the pleasure of having the house full of my family! My parents came from Sweden and my son and his sweet girlfriend arrived from Colorado. We had a lovely time with dinners and friends and of course some very unexpected events.
Having already seen the pigs in their pasture from the deck of the house, my parents soon wanted to walk down to see them close up. We took our time walking the path down the hill as it’s rather steep at a few places. My 21 year old son Gus went ahead, but then came bounding up the hill, shouting “Mom, the pigs are GONE”. I quickly joined him assuring him that they most likely just had nestled deep into the straw for a morning nap. These little darlings nap long and often, but usually stick their heads up once they hear my voice since that is equivalent to treats treats and they have taken to protest loudly if I’m too slow in handing out the goodies. Alas, there were no little faces, no happy squeals, and definitely no pigs coming galloping towards us. The pen was empty and very quiet. I looked around the field, up the hill and down towards the pond- not a pig in site.
Just two weeks prior, my daughter had yelled to us that “the pigs are out” but at that time they were on the path steps away from the pen just munching away on fresh grass and were easily lured back into their pen by tempting them with a few apples. After that incident I told my softhearted husband that electric fencing was a must. He had been against it thinking the fence was enough and was quite insistent over the fact that there were no signs of attempted porcine jailbreak. My reply had been that the sign of them “trying to get out” would be that they WERE out. However, I still yielded to his wishes and instead got boards to screw in all around the bottom of the fence line. Their last escape had proved that if their snouts got under the fence while rooting and they noticed that they could lift it up they would be out in a blink! Pigs are said to be as intelligent as dogs. Dogs figure things out, and I’m now wondering if pigs actually are smarter than dogs…. hmmm.
Gus and I split up searching and after 10 very long minutes he called me- he had found the pigs WAY back on our property heading up a hill. He said that he called to them, and Otto, our boar, had turned to look at him but decided to ignore him and instead turned back in the direction he was heading until he heard my voice. Luckily my voice and the sound of a food bucket filled with treats made the difference and all of the sudden he was trotting downhill with the 2 little girls in tow. Otto, being older and BIGGER most definitely is the ringleader. He was immediately rewarded by a piece of apple and then all three of them trotted along the path with me all the way back home, where they got the rest of the apples. They in fact stayed closer to me than our three dogs do when we are out walking.
With the pigs safely returned to their pen we turned our attention to figuring out how they had gotten out. We, that is Scott, was in the process of building them a shelter, or as he called it, the Shig Shack. You see, the shelter would be shared by both sheep and pigs for the winter months until the pigs were bigger and needed more room and we had gotten the sheep shelter in order. He had temporarily sectioned off that part of their enclosure, with emphasis on the word temporarily, and had also removed a fence post behind the structure to be able to get more room to work. He had worked on their shelter long after dark, and then forgotten about how the fence had been compromised at those spots. The pigs must have been thrilled when they the following morning discovered that they were able to go exploring.
When he heard about the escape, Scott stated that an electric fence sounded better and better. I have since read that pigs are every bit as good at getting out of their fenced-in areas as are goats, which are quite notorious escape artists! I guess the difference would be that where goats jump, pigs simply use their weight and snouts to push through!
I am still amazed about how they just followed me back home. I had no idea that pigs were that tame, or that sweet. But I have to admit that I have never looked deeply into a pigs’ eyes before, and never really realized how mindful they are of you. Now that I have, I can tell you that there is a LOT of thinking going on.
I can at this time not decide what I enjoy the most: seeing my pigs come running towards me when they see me or hearing the sheep baaing as I approach while sticking their noses out through fence to sniff me and give me kisses- well that’s what I tell myself- most likely they are looking for treats! I did not know that the pigs play as much as they do. Otto and my little Cockapoo enjoy running back and forth on each side of the fence, chasing each other back and forth, with short stops of coming nose to nose. The two little girls, who I think are growing quickly for being a slow-growing breed, often play with each other as well, pushing and nuzzling each other, running around in circles and throwing themselves down. When rubbed, they all lean into my hand and slowly sink down, laying on their side with their eyes closed. And if you really want to see a pig smile, provide them with a hole filled with water for them to roll around and splash in!!
How fun. Makes me think of my childhood and playing with all the animals we had. And yes goats are notorious escape artists!