Of course the weather wasn’t going to last. This morning while I was out feeding the pigs and picking up dung, I considered the blood red sky and reckoned that today was the day the weather would break.
I left work early so that I could collect the baby and head on home. Now that it’s light later in the evening, I can sometimes fit in a stroll with the pigs after Resa has gone to sleep and before Snowy and I eat. This evening, Snowy was wonderful and fed Resa and put her to bed so that I could head straight to the park in the light. As we were driving home, I commented on the thunderous looking sky but no, it was not going to rain, my husband assured me and as I wanted to believe him, I hurried inside to get my pig walking rucksack and their harnesses.
Whenever I take Snout and Crackling for a walk I have to carry my pig walking licence and so I have a special rucksack in which I keep the licence and masses of plastic bags for picking up pig poo. I ran into the garden to be greeted with huge enthusiasm by my piggies who allowed themselves to be harnessed very quickly this evening. Sometimes there is much dancing around as an avoidance technique but I think they are beginning to understand that harnesses mean walking, walking means a visit to the park and a visit to the park means a lot of very good grass.
Certainly we moved down the road at speed this evening but before we had gone even ten metres beyond our front gate, the rain started down. And before we were another five metres on, the hail joined in. I could’ve gone back. In fact, that’s rubbish. Both pigs were firmly focused forwards and I would have struggled to turn back. So on we went into the storm, water pouring through my hair and down my face while the hailstones lodged in between the fur of the piggies.
Wendell Park was deserted in the downpour. Funny, that. And so Snout and Crackling had the entire place to themselves. They pottered, they ambled, they snorted around in the pouring rain, happily eating all the green grass. The noise of the grass being ripped up by porcine molars is a very satisfying one and their tails wagged with happiness. I stood under the densest tree I could find and considered the rain dripping down the back of my neck. At least it was warmish. Flocks of green parakeets flew overhead and the blossom on the trees floated down onto the wet grass and all was silent save for the sound of grass being ripped up.
We stayed like that for a long time. Pigs will graze indefinitely but I will not stand still in the pouring rain for ever and so after about forty minutes, I decided that it was time to return home. I gently guided both of them towards the exit of the park, hoping that they wouldn’t notice they were being herded away from their green field. But as we neared the gate, both pigs wised up fast and dug their front legs in. Although Snout is the bigger of the two, he is actually slightly easier to make move than Crackling. When Crackle decides that he doesn’t wish to move, he puts his head down, screws up his eyes, wrinkles up his nose and looks like Gordon Brown preparing for a fight. In his Gordon Brown pose, he is absolutely impossible to shift. Any attempt to yank on the harness, elicits a scream of indignation that is resonant of a harrier jump jet in terms of decibels and he fights against the pull of the lead.
Snout is more amenable to a quick yank of the lead and will generally come with me rather than fight like his brother. I managed to get them both out of the park and onto the pavement outside, Crackling shouting like he was possessed. All around me, the streets were deserted but any possibility of calm was shattered by the fury of my ginger and black pig. I tried crouching down to Crackling’s eye level which, when he’s in his Gordon Brown pose, is even lower than normal, so I was practically lying on the wet pavement. I spoke to him quietly. He reversed away. I spoke to him more loudly and in the practical, no-nonsense way I talk to my children when they are being aggravating. Like that was going to have any effect at all. And so there I was, stuck on the pavement, at eight o’clock on a wet evening with a pig who refused to come home.
Perhaps I could have engaged in a stand-off with Crackling and just waited patiently until he decided that he was bored and would come with me? This can work with both pigs and one just has to pause until they are ready to walk forward. Of course there are times when they cannot be indulged, like when crossing the Goldhawk Road. If they decide to stop in the middle of the pedestrian crossing with traffic waiting on both sides, there is a certain amount of swearing and dragging that has to go on. However, generally I take the view that it is their walk and they can set the pace.
However this is, of course, if both Snout and Crackling are moving as one. But this evening, Crackling wanted to stay whilst Snout was already moving off in the direction of home. With my arms outstretched in different directions and Snout already half way across the road, I pulled Crackling hard to make him shift. And he did. But my god, what a noise and what a parlaver! However, once we had put the road between us and the park, both pigs trotted along reasonably fast. Unfortunately for Crackling, Snouty has longer legs and is faster, so Crack was towed along a bit to keep up and he shouted loudly the entire journey home.
I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all the residents of W12 who live around Wendell Park for the extraordinary amount of noise pollution that they may have experienced this evening.
Back in the garden, both pigs are happy to have their supper. You could be forgiven for thinking that they hadn’t eaten for days, the speed with which they eat. I walk around their area, clearing dung and checking that their straw is dry after all the rain. In the dusk, there are tiny frogs bouncing around all over the place. They like to lurk in the pigs’ water trough and I am forever turfing them out. We have a perfectly good pond in the middle of our garden for them to live in and I get cross when I see them sitting at the bottom of the trough, mating wildly or swimming around with gay abandon. I don’t wish Snout and Crackling to be put off from drinking by the sight of all these frogs. I realise that I am being ridiculous and that it is exceptionally unlikely that either pig will give two hoots about frogs in their water but I am neurotic about them drinking enough and I know that I would not wish to slurp from a bowl containing frogs.
Anyway, both pigs have their additional cider vinegar water beside them as they eat and once I have seen them drink, eat and pee, I am happy that they are happy and go inside to eat yesterday’s moussaka.