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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Pigs

Our life on the farm would have been boring, hadn't it been for the pigs. Something was always going on with these animals.
One day I was engrossed in a phone conversation at the kitchen window when I noticed movement outside on the lawn. At a closer look it turned out to be a group of half-grown hogs enjoying to root up the lawn and finding delicatessens in Bea's flower garden. I had to cut short my conversation and get focused on the task at hand.
I was alone at home and there was nobody to help me with driving the hogs back into the stable. When I finally had them inside I noticed that the gate was open. To me it was another proof that SOME animals have a certain degree of intelligence. 


It wasn't all that rare that we had escapees on the farm. 
One time I was welding in the garage when I noticed a few little piglets watching me intently. After THEY had manged to open their pen, they had also removed a floor hatch and gotten below the floor, from where freedom was only a few steps away. When counting heads I noticed one was missing. So in order to find tracks I started to run circles around the barn. We had a relatively steep slope below the barn which at the bottom would end at the river. On that slope, the grass was standing high and I could detect a faint track where the grass was trampled down. Following that track I ended up at the river. From there I followed it downstream and heard a happy little grunt in the bushes in front of me. 
When chasing the bugger uphills again, it got tired and simply lay down for a snore.


One summer I saw a sales ad for wild boars, and decided to give it a try with breeding.


We purchased two small wild females and put them together in a pen. These were furious little hissing creatures. The first morning after putting them into the pen one of them had jumped 3ft. high and was roaming the hallway.  They grew up to be nice animals though, and when time came to breed them I  saw another sales ad for a grown-up male wild boar.  
The farmer lived about 5 hrs away from us why I had to arrange for transport. So I rented a cargo van from a local automotive company. 
Underway to the farmer I stopped to pick up a friend who was also interested in seeing the animal. 


The farm turned out to be down by the fjord and we had to drive down a very steep and narrow road to the buildings.
I backed the van close to the barn door and the farmer put together a fence of pallets to close the gap. When he came out with a bucket of feed he was followed by a monstrous dark animal. Being out in broad daylight the boar looked around and decided he did not want to go inside the van just yet but instead try the fence. With his snout between two pallet boards he easily lifted them up and elegantly threw them to the side. With freedom right ahead of him he sprang away, and started for a sprint across the farm yard.
Full of joy he jumped into a heap of black compost and rolled.


A wild boar in full speed  
With the bucket of feed the farmer managed to get him back into the stable. Now we had to fortify the fence construction. The farmer brought his farm tractor over and the pallets were securely fastened to the front loader.
At the 2. attempt we actually got the boar inside the van and slammed the rear doors. 


After paying the farmer we got on the way back. Remember the steep road? While we were ascending to the top, our passenger in the back was not a Happy Camper. He rummaged around, banging the walls with his head.


As we had made for the main highway I glanced through the little window behind my seat and just captured the moment when the pig had figured out how to open the sliding side door!!. I let out a scream to my friend, instructing him to jump out while I was breaking down to a full stop. Before we had come to a full halt, my friend was standing on the curb, almost colliding with a little old lady who was staring (and screaming) into the open hold of the cargo van. My friend grabbed the door handle and slammed the door shut. While we tried to figure out how the pig had managed to open the door, he gave a free performance of doing it again. A little locking pin was sticking out at the door window, and pushing his snout against the pin, the door would slide open. We tried to secure the pin with a wire and tie it to the outside handle, but our passenger just shoved the wire off the pin and re-applied what he had learned.


It was then, that the only solution came to me. In a hurry we both jumped back into the cab and pushing the accelerator to the floor we got to a screaming start. That caused the pig to loose its foothold and gave us time to normalize our speed.
Every time the boar would approach the door again I either braked to a screeching stop or accelerated like Michael Schumacher. It still amazes me that no cop car ever stopped us. 




Read more tomorrow: With my life on the line

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