The rain was coming down in stair rods.

We’d left the pig house and the raided feed store behind us and started to follow the trail of hoof prints back down the hill. Sudden movement in my peripheral vision, from the far side of the field. There they were. Mike had gathered together enough of the spilt pig nuts to half fill a bucket and so, suitably equipped, we set off in pursuit.

A pig will simply not move if it doesn’t want to go. Shoving is futile. An indignant grunt. Trotters into ground firmly dug. Mike rattled the bucket of nuts out front, I did my best to guide and cajole. An occasional bit of assistance from the pointy end of the umbrella, to help things on their way. Step by tortuous step we got them back into their pen. For now.

But the feed store was in an open bay barn. With the electric fence out of action, there was nothing to stop Big’Un and Littl’Un from getting into it again. A barricade was needed. Mike thought he knew what to do: the tubular metal barriers that formed the sides of the lambing pens, we’d seen a large stack of them in the main barn. Two fields away from where we now stood.


If I’d thought the rain couldn’t get any harder I would have been wrong.

We carried the metal barriers across the fields between us. Two at a time, three journeys in all. No hand free to carry the umbrella. There comes a point when you get so thoroughly wet that it really doesn’t matter anymore. Water poured off our backs and dripped down from my hair.

We lashed the barricade together with plastic ties and drove wooden stakes into the ground to prevent the whole lot from moving. Just as the last post was hammered into place, the rain abruptly stopped. The sows emerged from under their cover to examine our efforts, peering across the non-electric fence.


Descending the hill we had time to look around. The pigs had been on quite an adventure. Their hoof prints criss-crossed both of the fields. In several places they had been rooting: long strips of turf lifted clean off the ground. The gate to the farmyard stood open. Mike shut it firmly now, but the tracks had carried on through.

The farm was part of a country estate. At its heart a large manor house with gardens to die for. Our landlord was particularly fond of his immaculate front lawn. From my desk in the cottage I’d often watched the gardener in his constant devotion to mowing, raking and rolling. It had been a close run thing. If they had continued round just one more corner Big’Un and Littl’Un would have had only 75 yards to go. A rooting opportunity made in heaven.

Sausages all round.



pin it?


2017-11-09T20:29:52+00:00February 19th, 2013|Tags: |


  1. Denise February 19, 2013 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    It’s a crazy idea, just occurred, but have you thought of training your crazy pheasant to herd pigs? Catch a fim of that and I reckon you’d have a viral internet sensation!

    Do you think Big ‘Un and Little ‘Un were chanelling the spirits of the Tamworth Two?

    Denise (MMM)

    • Jessica February 19, 2013 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      Ha! Now, if I did that we wouldn’t need to fence the place and I could get some pigs to clear out the wood.. The thing is, would the pheasant co-operate..

      • Denise February 20, 2013 at 8:56 am - Reply

        I believe pheasants can be reasoned with provided part of the reasoning takes the form of a bucket of meal worms, a stick and a hoop.

        However, if he brings his lawyer to the bargaining table (especially if the lawyer is a grouse) then I’d back off and hide behind the dustbins lids again.

        • Jessica February 20, 2013 at 10:12 am - Reply

          Ironically, the pheasant Command Centre is located in a clearing under the bushes behind the dustbins..

          • Denise February 20, 2013 at 10:57 am

            That’s not irony…that’s FATE!! You know the programme ‘One Man and his Dog?’ It’ll ‘One Woman and her Pheasant’ soon. You mark my words…for they are the words of piggy doom on the herding-with-a-pheasant innovation.

          • Jessica February 20, 2013 at 5:28 pm

            He says he’ll think about it. For extra corn.

  2. elaine February 19, 2013 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Whew! I’m exhausted after reading that – little buggers – but I expect they loved their little bid for freedom.

    • Jessica February 19, 2013 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      They did. Until the shepherd returned with a fully charged battery and they discovered the price to be paid..

  3. Jacqueline February 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Good grief Jessica ……. what a performance. Still, it must keep you both fit !!!! haha.
    I have to say that I love a nice piece of crackling !!!! ….although, seeing how sweet they look, I think I’ll keep to all of the fish that we eat for a while !! XXXX

    • Jessica February 19, 2013 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      Just think of all that Omega 3.

  4. Vintage jane February 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Just catching up on your recent posts. I love the tales of your rural life. Hope the sun’s shining on you today – it’s beautiful here …

    • Jessica February 19, 2013 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks! It has been a gorgeous day down here, I only wish it could continue..

  5. Rosie February 19, 2013 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    I’m glad you found them safe and sound, naughty piggies! You certainly worked hard to keep them from straying again:)

    • Jessica February 19, 2013 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      Only a temporary fix until the cavalry arrived!

  6. BumbleVee February 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    hahahha….I knew there would be fun at the end….. like Elaine mentioned…a couple of little buggers….. but fun looking back and in the telling….

    I’ve been that wet a couple times…golfing… everybody else was nice and dry and still able to hold umbrellas (except on one particularly windy day and then they all just quit and walked off the course) … …me… soaked to the dripping.. mascara running down my face … but,,,I was still having fun, playing great and eventually, ad one of my best ever games in the pelting rain…. I’m known now as the “Mudder”..

    • Jessica February 19, 2013 at 9:37 pm - Reply

      Since the pig adventure I’ve had a few days working in the garden in the pouring rain. Needs must in the South West of England. For a short while, until the ground turns to absolute slush, I rather enjoy it too!

  7. Anne February 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    A wonderful tale! Some time sgo when I was out for a walk I met a farmer who was trying to round up some runaway ewes and lambs. Despite my best efforts, they got past me …….. he jumped back into his Mercedes and chased after them!!

    • Jessica February 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      They are not easy to catch, some of those did get through to our landlord’s front lawn. They all run in different directions!

  8. Josephine February 19, 2013 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    I had to laugh, it brought back memories of chasing my uncle’s pigs, loose from the allotment, and who said pigs can’t run fast !
    I once had to retrieve a pig who had left the stables, and headed up the village. He had attempted to board the Crosville bus, all the paasengers where hysterical, other than the school children, who thought it to be the most hilarious sight they had ever seen 🙂
    Well done, getting the piggies back in their pen !

    • Jessica February 19, 2013 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      Oh Jo, I’d have loved to have seen that!!!

  9. John February 19, 2013 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    I still remember the heartache and frustration at trying to move 2 pigs 50 yards.
    They can drive you bananas

    • Jessica February 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      They are often infuriating but beautiful John. Like geese.

  10. CherryPie February 20, 2013 at 12:25 am - Reply

    I am impressed by your determination to round them up and keep them safe despite the adverse condtions…

    • Jessica February 20, 2013 at 10:09 am - Reply

      The nice hot bath made it worth it!

  11. BadPenny February 20, 2013 at 9:00 am - Reply

    I had to smile at you poking them with your umbrella !
    I bet they had a good snooze after that. Thank goodness they didn’t get to the lawns… my mother had her front garden turned up by some wayward cows once !

    • Jessica February 20, 2013 at 10:17 am - Reply

      The gardener may not have recovered from the shock!

  12. Sue February 20, 2013 at 9:12 am - Reply

    I know all those feelings so well 🙂

    The weirdest thing is the brilliant sense of satisfaction afterwards …… once you are warm and dry again and can relay the story. At the time it’s all bad language and the urge to shoot the little bu**ers in the a*se.

    • Jessica February 20, 2013 at 10:19 am - Reply

      So true!

  13. 1gus1 February 20, 2013 at 10:29 am - Reply

    ‘All’s well’ and all that;-)

    • Jessica February 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm - Reply


  14. steph February 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    I laughed til i nearly cried…..what a great story. you may need a little time still, but it’s definitely a memory builder!!!

    ever read The Pig Did It (Joseph Caldwell)? (Your story is better!!!)

    • Jessica February 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks Steph. It’s a story I’ll look up..

  15. Wendy February 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    I can’t quite see their faces in your photograph, but I wonder what their expressions are. Are they defeated, or are they plotting another adventure? Lovely story!

    • Jessica February 20, 2013 at 7:33 pm - Reply

      Plotting. Undoubtedly. That gate had to be strong. They would both get their snouts under it and try to lift it off its hinges.

  16. ropcorn February 21, 2013 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    Pigs sound a lot harder to handle than dogs. Lol! 😉

    • Jessica February 21, 2013 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      They are just so heavy, it’s not easy to move one! And they’re stubborn with it.

  17. Simone February 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    I am glad that all’s well that ends well!!!

    • Jessica February 22, 2013 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      Yes! Litt’Un went on to have piglets, but that’s another story!

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