And then the pig escaped.
Whilst doing the final rounds of the winter quarters and wishing the animals a last goodnight, with a jug of cider in my hand in readiness for the fine curry Sue had done for dinner, I looked at the pig enclosure, and just did not see porkers in her usual place in the shelter. Having enjoyed her dinner, she usually retires early to digest her food and generally relax for bed. I walked on, said goodnight to the sheep... and the full horror of the situation dawned on me. THE PIG WAS NOT THERE. Not really at this point knowing what to do, I went into the house put the jug on the table and then realized that Porkers could really only have gone in one direction; through the back fence and into the neighbour's garden, and thus out into the little close of houses at the back.
Quick as my wellies would carry me I ran round the road to the close, and there quietly demolishing the council rubbish bin, was Porkers. Having now found one hundred and thirty kilos of very mobile pork, the sheer enormity of the task of returning her to the pig enclosure dawned. I decided to return to the house via the field and fetch a rope and some help. Sue got some bread and Libby ran back with me armed with two of the loaves.
Well at first all went well we lured Porkers into the edge of the field and started to head back along the side of the field towards home and safety, then Porkers decided she really was not ready to go home yet and ambled off into one of the gardens.
We had by now attracted some unwanted attention from the owners of the gardens Porkers was now happily rotovating the lawns of. To counter this, and reassure our long suffering French neighbours, I decided to shout (in my best French) "it's okay she is not dangerous" (C'est bon; elle n'est pas mechant!"). Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight it was more a matter of concern for them what their mad English neighbour was doing taking his pig for a walk, than concern for their safety at the hands of a perfectly content pig happily scattering their compost heaps, however I like to feel that I have somehow reassured them of my sanity and fine grasp of animal husbandry.
Eventually we persuaded Porkers to walk at a sedate pace along the the side of the field and back home, at which point we encountered Vince, our long suffering friend and neighbour, who simply enquired if it was normal in England to walk your pig and would it not be better to take the dogs? And as though this came as no suprise to him, he asked if we could go and fetch wood together in the morning, but, bless his heart, he did lend a very useful pair of hands to finally getting Porkers back in the enclosure.
My thanks really go out to Libby and, as always, Sue for keeping calm and thinking in what had slowly become from my point of view a very difficult situation. And as is her usual wont, she deftly rescued dinner and just had a slight laugh at what must seem at times the complete lunacy of her other half.
As I am in the eyes of our neighbours what could at best be described as the eccentric English man, it has probably not really affected my community standing any worse than some of my previous exploits, so all's well that ends well as they say. I blocked the up the gaps in the fence as best as I could for tonight and tomorrow... well. let's just say I am keeping my fingers crossed...