The Great Escape

I’ve always been very fond of pigs.

My grandmother was to blame. No opportunity for a porcine encounter was allowed to pass her by. Ergo, I spent a significant part of my formative years in or near a pig pen. So when, a few years ago, we were renting the cottage on the farm, it was a very great day indeed when the shepherd announced that he had acquired a pair of Gloucester Old Spot sows. There was much debate over names. The shepherd liked to keep things simple and easy to remember. One of the sows was slightly larger than the other… so BigUn and Littl’Un it was.

They were housed in an old stone barn on the far side of the farm. Mike and I walked up to see them each evening. He was still working then and found it the ultimate de-stressor. First, he would run the gauntlet of the geese. Then within a very few minutes the business suit was off, the wellies were on, and we were on our way.


It became so much of a habit that after a while we were given responsibility for evening feeds.

BigUn and Littl’Un simply adored their pig nuts. The challenge was to get the nuts spread onto the ground before both the bucket and the handler could be upended in the mud. Our technique was finely honed. It worked best if we’d managed to catch the pigs snoozing.. which happened pretty often to be fair. Pigs have a largely laid back attitude to life.

The approach to the barn had to be silent. The tricky bit was loading up the nuts. The misplacement of even a single pig nut onto the ground would be enough to wake them up. One of us would then climb, carefully, over their electric fence and leg it up the field. There was just enough time to empty the bucket before the pigs caught up.


Then came the memorable evening when it was raining very hard. We’d debated whether to go at all: two large fields to traverse, there and back. But what if the shepherd came home very late and the pigs didn’t get fed? The obligation could not be set aside lightly. In the gateway to the first field the earth had become very soft. “Mike, what do you think made these tracks?”

He peered out from under his umbrella. “Bigger than sheep…”

As we made our way up the field we kept seeing more. Definitely not sheep. Or deer. Wider. And heavier.

At the stone barn it was obvious. The pig pen was empty. Mike put his hand cautiously on the electric fence. No jolt. The battery that supplied it was flat. Worse was to come. They had found their way into the food store. The dustbin that held the entire stock of pig nuts was lying on its side on the floor.

But that wasn’t the biggest problem, oh no.. Just where were the pigs?


The Great Escape

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2017-11-09T20:28:43+00:00February 17th, 2013|Tags: |


  1. Denise February 17, 2013 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Aah…escapee pigs. The worst kind! One of my uncles had an enormous pink sow by the name of Josephine who was a regular escapee. Terrifying to catch, too.

    I wait with baited breath to hear the next instalment…

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      Certainly difficult to move.. a pig can be extremely stubborn.

  2. Sue February 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    When we first moved our herd of Large Blacks to the paddock for their Summer grazing we had to get them used to electric fencing for the first time and being new then in the world of pigs had never done this before. Of course no one had told us to be on the other side of the fencing to wave the pigs back when they touched it for the first time and we were behind them congratulating ourselves on how well the move had gone, of course one touch, one jolt and they all paniced and legged it through the fence and off in the direction of the M40.

    Now THAT made us panic!!

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      Oh no! I hope they came back.. great story though 🙂

  3. 1gus1 February 17, 2013 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Two very contented, bloated pigs sleeping it off somewhere?

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      After they’d had a bit more fun..

  4. John February 17, 2013 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Been there
    Lost the pigs

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      If there is even the remotest possibility of escape, a pig will find it.

  5. Annie @ knitsofacto February 17, 2013 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Talk about a cliff hanger! I’m guessing the where depends on just how many of those pig nuts they’d eaten!

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      Quite a few!!

  6. BadPenny February 17, 2013 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Gone for a run to work off those calories ?

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 6:42 pm - Reply

      They certainly travelled, but probably not at a run..

  7. domesticali February 17, 2013 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    You can’t leave us hanging! Piggies, where aaaaare yooooou?

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 6:43 pm - Reply

      It started off as one post, but got a bit long!

  8. Rosie February 17, 2013 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Full of pig nuts and probably drowsy I wonder how far away they strayed? I’m looking forward to the next part of your piggie (or is it piggy?) tale.

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 6:47 pm - Reply

      According to the spellchecker, piggy or piggies.

  9. Vera February 17, 2013 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    We made sure that we had sturdy perimeter fencing in place before we got our pig paddocks going, so that if the pigs did get out they would stay on the farm. So far so good, but there is always a first time, but hopefully it would be the sows who escaped and not the boar – he would be an absolute nightmare to handle, but then we would probably be legging it in the opposite direction anyway!

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      I hope his fence is especially strong Vera!

  10. Em February 17, 2013 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    They’re terrible escapees….some friends have three who have reduced their small paddock to what resembles The Somme and are frequently found in their orchard. What will happen next…..?

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      I can relate to The Somme.. Big’Un and Litt’Un lived in a very similar place. They loved apples too.

  11. Josephine February 17, 2013 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    I should be flattered that Denise’s uncle’s pig was my namesake, we have much in common especially the pink, enormous sow !
    I feared you would say the pigs had gone to market, I wouldn’t make a very good farmer, since I couldn’t bring myself to feeding and caring for an animal everyday and then dining on it…
    The spotted pigs are fine specimens .

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      Jo, I don’t believe a word of it!!
      Living on a farm did expose me to some hard truths. I never really got used to it.

  12. julie thompson February 17, 2013 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    I love pigs. My parents had two, which would stand on their hind legs, almost smiling, at the gate to greet me when I visited. Sadly one day when I went to see them they had been moved to the freezer. People wonder why I am vegetarian?! Looking forward to the next instalment of the piggy tale. Julie x

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      They do smile don’t they? And love a tummy tickle..

  13. CherryPie February 17, 2013 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    I can’t wait to find out where they got to and what happened next!!

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 11:24 pm - Reply

      A proper piggy day out Cherie..

  14. steph February 17, 2013 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    wait, wait, wait!! this story isn’t over…………??????????

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 11:37 pm - Reply

      Not quite..

      Looked like a great weekend with the birthday girl!

  15. Anne February 18, 2013 at 8:34 am - Reply

    Looking forward to the next instalment! I love pigs (but not as much as sheep) – but not so much that I would stop eating pork!!

    • Jessica February 18, 2013 at 9:26 am - Reply

      Those Jacob lambs near you are absolutely gorgeous!

  16. starproms February 18, 2013 at 9:07 am - Reply

    The pigs look so lovely. I like the way their ears hang down. I’ve never had much to do with pigs, but I do like them. Lovely story Jessica.

    • Jessica February 18, 2013 at 9:27 am - Reply

      Thanks, Oma!

  17. Wendy February 18, 2013 at 10:35 am - Reply

    I’m really looking forward to hearing what happened next! Surely they’re on some adventure. I remember when our sheep got out and I had that feeling of horror when I saw lots of tracks and no sheep – and a trail leading off across the fields. I don’t know anything about pigs; but it seems they are great escape artists, too.

    • Jessica February 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm - Reply

      Oh no… I hope you got them all back! Pigs, if anything, are probably even worse!

  18. Anne February 18, 2013 at 10:36 am - Reply

    Our pigs were always fairly content to stay put, except for the day one of the children looked up from lunch and casually asked why twelve piglets had just run by the window. Cue mass exodus from the kitchen followed by a lot of arm waving and rattling of pig nuts in a bucket. As ever, eleven were compliant but one decided it was just too big an adventure to cut short though he did eventually give in to the lure of some apples.

    • Jessica February 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      Now that sounds fun… especially as you did get them all back!!

  19. Ann February 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    That was a fun and good read.
    I enjoyed your story,
    lost cute pigs on the run…

    • Jessica February 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      I’m glad you enjoyed it Ann.. pigs are cute until they escape!

  20. Julie February 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    Hello from another pig lover, it’s a dream of mine to one day have a garden big enough to house a couple of pigs. I hope the story has a happy ending!

    • Jessica February 18, 2013 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      I’d love some too. They would certainly help us to clear out the undergrowth in the wood, but our fencing is not very good. I fear I would spend more time chasing them around the village than digging out the brambles myself!

  21. Simone February 18, 2013 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    Greedy piggies! Please tell more Jessica!!!

    • Jessica February 18, 2013 at 10:57 pm - Reply

      They certainly were. 😉

  22. elaine February 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    I used to love pigs till I had seven of my own.

    • Jessica February 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      You are a brave woman Elaine.

  23. ropcorn February 21, 2013 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    I think pigs are a lot smarter than we think. Having said that, I do hope the pigs were found in the end. It is not a safe world out there for pigs on the run. 😮

    • Jessica February 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm - Reply

      You’re right, pigs are surprisingly smart.

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