Our mini teacup pigs have made a mess of their much-planned holiday. I needed to rest our garden for a month or so, just to let the earth recover and possibly also sprout some grass shoots. Very kindly, Tom the smallholder offered to let them stay on his land down the lane. It’s a beautiful spot, flanked by bluebell woods on one side and overlooking a sunny field on the other.
So, on Friday we encouraged Butch and Roxi into the back of Tom’s horsebox, using food as a bribe, and transported them to their holiday hotspot. The whole procedure proved to be totally trouble-free, and the minipigs looked like they would be right at home. Afterwards, Emma drove back to pick up their feed bin, while I headed down to see Tom’s house to take a look at a problem he was having with his laptop (basically making the most of my skill set).
Five minutes later, Emma called to say that Butch and Roxi had escaped. She had been backing the car across the field, and in her rear view mirror the minipigs had basically jumped the fence into the woods. Tom and I took a few minutes before we left to investigate, mostly because it took that time to convince his wife that we weren’t winding her up. They really had made a break for it – from an enclosure where Tom had happily kept pigs for years without any problems at all.
I had been expecting to find Butch and Roxi close by. In fact, there was no sign of them whatsoever, which is when I began to panic a little bit. Roxi isn’t so mini any more. She’s a 13 stone, waist-height Hogzilla. In cohorts with Butch, I worried about the damage they could cause as much as the harm that might come to them.
Together with Tom and his family, along with Emma, two of our daughters and some neighbor volunteers, a search party fanned out through the woods. We found no sign of them whatsoever.
I searched with mixed feelings. It was sort of amusing, but also quite scary. On top of the possible destruction Butch and Roxi could cause, could our village become host to the legend of the mystery minipigs? Would I have to place a bounty on their heads in a bid to get them back? As the different scenarios ran through my mind, I had a grim feeling that it wouldn’t end well.
One hour later, over a mile from their holiday home, we spotted Butch, at some distance, in a copse on the far outskirts of the village. He bolted as soon as I called his name, but thanks to Tom’s son and his awesome tracking skills, we finally caught up with the runaway pair.
Our minipigs were exhausted, disorientated, and totally unwilling to just follow us home. To demonstrate this, Butch decided to wander off, taking Tom to keep an eye on his whereabouts. Roxi, meanwhile, burrowed her snout into lush, ancient woodland, and I began to question what kind of PR disaster lay ahead for me.
So, how do you move a stubborn minipig? My first thought was to call a vet with a tranquillizer gun – anything to get the situation back under control as fast as possible – but Emma had more faith than me. Using a board to blindside Roxi’s field of vision, and a stick to tap her hindquarters, she finally got her moving.
Just, ya know, out with the teacup pigs. Nothing to see here.
Despite several random turns left and right, we finally reunited Roxi with Butch, in brambles beside the village playing field. By now, everyone including the minipigs was exhausted. We decided our best move would be to walk them across the fields, and down to Tom’s back garden, which we could access through a rear gate. I don’t know if anyone saw a small band of people walking two minipigs around the local football pitch, but it was a walk of shame I don’t wish to repeat.
Whether Butch and Roxi learned to move with us or had just given up the fight, I’ll never know. Either way, when we finally closed the gate on them our cheer of relief was heartfelt.
Tom sprinted back to his smallholding to collect his jeep and horsebox, leaving Butch and Roxi to set about trashing his garden. We all knew it could’ve ended so much worse, and we’ll sort the damage in due course. Once we’d loaded them back on board, there was only one thing to do. Without discussion, Tom drove us up the hill to our place, where we steered our errant minipigs back into a garden that must’ve had about three hours in total to recover.
They won’t be going on holiday again. Butch and Roxi have totally blown that invitation.
The next day, exhausted from their spree, both teacup pigs flopped out in the sun and relished their return to the place they call home.