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.