The not-so-great escape

One of our old brown hens clearly thought it was worth following the food, too
One of our old brown hens clearly thought it was worth following the food, too

I’m happy to say that poorly pig has made a full recovery – in fact, he’s in such fine fettle that he celebrated his return to health by breaking out of his run and heading all the way up the garden on Sunday night. Just as we were winding down that evening and getting ready for the week ahead, James sped indoors while I was washing up at the kitchen sink and coolly asked me to look out of the window towards our five-bar gate. There rootling around was our not-so-poorly pig, free-ranging like it’s never done before. The reason James hadn’t panicked as soon as he saw the porcine runaway is that, having experienced the same phenomenon with our Gloucestershire Old Spots last Boxing Day, we know full well that you can shake a little of their food in a container and they’ll follow you anywhere. Needless to say, however, we decided that the household chores could wait, and nipped outside to coax the little fella back to join the other two Oxford Sandy & Blacks who we’re watching with interest by the time we reached the run.

The two fellow OSBs enjoyed spectating as we walked their brother back

He more or less obliged, with a few diversions along the way, including a trot around the chicken run. Once he was back in the enclosure we set to work examining the boundaries for the area from which he broke out. It turned out that he’d dug under the lower strands of barbed wire near the feeder, where it is slightly higher than the rest, and seemingly miraculously slid out under the spikes and stock fencing to freedom. Surprisingly, his brothers didn’t attempt to do the same, but that could well be down to the fact he’s a fraction slimmer. James headed up to the barn to pick up the necessary tools to lower the barbed wire and stick metal pegs into the bottom of the stock fencing in a belt-and-braces approach. I returned to the kitchen and headed down with a mug of tea after around half an hour to yet again find the same cheeky porker at large in the garden. We figured that in the few minutes while James had collected the necessary paraphernalia, not-so-poorly pig had chanced his trotters again and made his escape. A lure of more pellets and he was back in through the gate. We watched as he tested out James’s handiwork and were satisfied to see him fail in his attempts to elude us and the fence. But since then he’s pulled out the pegs and is clearly still interested in breaking out, so we’re feeling a little anxious as next weekend we’re heading to Pembrokeshire for a week’s holiday and James’s sister has kindly agreed to small-hold the fort. We don’t want any escapee porcine characters causing her any undue stress – we’re hoping for pleasant weeks in the countryside for us all. So James and I are having a security summit on Sunday to guarantee there’ll be no gaps our miniature herd can wend their way through. Any tips for outwitting these clever creatures would be appreciated!

Meanwhile, Star Animal of the Week is lavender Araucana Margot, whose industrious nature continues to delight us. Not only has she not stopped laying (as so many of her breed do from September to February), but she is producing her stunning pale-blue eggs on a daily basis, brightening up the boxes we give friends and family no end. I think we’ll be recruiting more of her type into our flock – being a ‘cuckoo’ number, which describes her stripey plumage, she’s not considered to meet the breed standard, but we wonder whether that also means she hasn’t been overbred and can therefore knock out so many prettily-shelled beauties. Whatever the reason, we’re all for her in these lean-yield times!


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