Sunday, 5 June 2011

Fastest pig in the West

I’m sure you’re heard of “Babe”, a rather successful kids film about a small pink pig with a talent for sheep herding. I think we may have the reverse situation on our hands. Teri is a Welsh border collie. She’s supposed to have an instinct for sheep herding. She prefers pig herding.

For the past few weeks the sheep on the neighbouring land have been helping themselves to our tasty pasture. Each morning there can be up to 30 sheep and lambs grazing around the pig pens. This is of no consequence to Teri who, without so much as a cursory glance in their direction, makes a beeline for the pig pens, leaving me, in dressing gown and wellies combo, to corral the sheep without canine assistance and shepherd them back where they belong. Meanwhile, Slater and his girls rush to the fence line to meet Teri, there follows a short stand off, nose to snout through the wire. Teri leans forward bum in the air, nose to the ground, poised to run. The pigs stand their ground, beady eyes fixed on Teri. Who will make the first move? The pigs turn tail and make a mad dash across the mud to the other side of the pen. Teri takes the perimeter route. Who will get to the other side first? This performance continues, with the pigs zigzagging the length and breadth of their pen pinball fashion. This happens every day, two, three, four times a day.

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At first I thought Teri was the ringleader, with the pigs simply reacting to her, but the more I watch this routine, the more convinced I am that it’s the pigs who are in control. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the pigs positively revel in this ritual, and quite deliberately rev Teri up. There’s a knowing smile on Slater’s face as he leads his girls in a race to the other side, ears flapping in the wind, four trotters leaving the ground as Rosie leaps the food trough like a championship hurdler, mud flying up as Honey takes the corner at a cracking pace, Blanket at the back trying to keep up. All very amusing, but not ideal when you’re trying to fatten your pigs not break the porcine land speed record!


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