I went to a farm today. Not a big sprawling farm of a thousand hectares, but a small working farm attached to a secondary school. The school is actually quite close to the city and from the road, you would hardly know it is there.
There is nothing quite like stepping out of a car as a warm winter sun spreads its dappled orange light on the mud and grass of a track to remind you just how much nicer it is to be somewhere other than an office. I had not realised quite what the range of farming activities they had there, but after about thirty seconds of hard interrogation, I discovered there was not only a baby cow (which they referred to by its technical name: a calf) but also lambs and piglets.
I have to admit, I was immediately and disproportionately excited by the piglets. Where I gre up in the UK, our back garden, which was actually a field, butted up against a farm and I met a lot of cows in my youth. I like cows, but I have seen a lot of them. I don’t remember ever having seen piglets, though.
I follow a pig on Twitter. Esther the Wonder Pig has an account and there are daily postings of her napping and snacking. The couple that own her, acquired her as a ‘mini’ pig that a friend of theirs needed a good home for. It was only after a trip to the vet, and after they had bonded with the tiny squealing pink strip of fun, that the news was broken to them that she was not a mini pig at all and she was going to very quickly outgrow their flat. I think she currently weighs in at about 650 gorgeous pounds and her adoptive family have since moved to a larger property, which they run as an animal sanctuary.
We approached the pig pen after we had paid our respects to the baby cow. Mumma pig was standing up in the pen, and a few feet away from her on the ground was a bright pink pool of sunshine on the ground. It was a patch of piglets, sleeping in the warmth of the morning’s rays all tucked up together like a giant soft tulip.
As we approached they jumped up and ran squealing around the pen seeking protection from their mother, who obliged them by head buttting the fence to warn us that she was going to protect her brood. She actually had little to worry about technically from me as I have not eaten meat for decades, but at least on one level she was dead right.
‘Eight piglets,’ I said to the group.
The farm manager, who was giving us the tour, frowned for a second.
‘Err, No,’ he said, ‘there are ten piglets.’
‘I am pretty sure there are eight,’ I said.
‘Ten!’ said my colleague.
I scowled, but that was pretty much as far as my plan to nick two piglets, hide them in my jacket and give one to my clueless colleague for her part in driving the getaway vehicle got. It was probably for the best. I have heard that pigs are smarter than dogs and I am not sure how a bright new pink house guest would have gone down with Archie not to mention that of course the only piglet that really counts is Lucy Piglet. Still, worth a try.