So we’ve had a ringside view of some skilled but vicious fighting over the past week. And I have spent almost as much time off work in the role of umpire as I have spent in the preceding three weeks, nursing Snout and keeping Crackling company. The fights are to establish dominance over the territory. Originally Snout was the dominant of the two brothers but in his absence, Crackling has taken on ownership of the garden and is now challenging Snout’s right to roam. Over the past few weeks, Snout has lost a lot of weight and is also much weaker as a result of his operation. Crackling, on the other hand is in the peak of health and is weighing in at least ten kilos more than his twin. And he is the instigator of every fight. Like blokes outside a pub at closing time the world over, Crackling is the pissed aggressive one, who is all mouth and Snout is the happy drunk who can still handle himself.
You can feel the fight coming: like boxers in a ring they sidle up to each other, keeping their flanks parallel and on the diagonal and then Crackling bites down hard on Snout’s ear, tail or attacks his flanks, which are of course, devoid of any protective fur because of having been shaved for the ultrasounds. And Snout, although he is lighter and weaker, roundly defends himself. In the first few days, I stand by with a pig board and a power hose and when I get too alarmed at the intensity of the fighting, weigh in with board, water cannon and feet. I knew all my kickboxing training would come in handy one day and that day has arrived. Snowy and I are both appalled by the ferocity of each engagement. Both pigs rear up on the hind legs, engage with their front legs and bite and bite and bite. When the struggle reaches its zenith the baying starts and I have to hold onto myself not to intervene too immediately but rather let Nature take her course.
Snowy seeks advice from the Kune Kune Society’s forum and I follow my instinct. We keep Snout and Crackling on separate sides of the garden and although they still fight wildly though the fencing, the damage to each of them is reduced by the pig wire that divides the two areas. I feed them separately but then allow them onto neutral territory at least three times a day to work out their differences. Advice varies as to how long this will go on but it is clear that we must allow them to smell one another and to get used to each other’s scent once more. I rotate them from one side to the other twice a day so that they are constantly smelling each other on the ground and in the straw. I have blocked off one end of the pig ark so that only one pig can use it at any one time with the other having a large mound of straw to bed down in on the other side. Apparently, it may take up to three weeks of fighting for one pig to prove his dominance and the other to take on the subservient role. Three weeks! The stress levels after just forty-eight hours are severely high. For Snout and Cracking as well as me and Snowy. Our blissful thoughts of once more sitting in the evening sun with our creatures nestling up to us have been shattered. We keep the children and the dog out of the garden and hunker down to weather the storm.