A shrieking, wriggling present

2013-03-18 00:00

I WAS sitting at home one afternoon when I received a phone call from my fiancé Sean. He said: “Meet me at the gate in five minutes. I have a present for you.” Like most women, the word “present” had me up off my bum and at that gate in record time. He drove in, stopped in front of me and jumped out empty-handed.

I walked closer to the Land Cruiser and was told that my present was on the back. My immediate thought was: it must be big!

On closer observation, I spotted a small black shape, which Sean picked up. There was a massive blood-curdling shriek and lots of squirming.

In his arms was a black piglet. It was blind, stank like nothing I have ever smelt and with the ear-splitting noise that emanated from this tiny object, I’m sure the neighbours thought there was a serial killer running loose in our house.

Sean and his father had seen the piglet running around on the side of the N3. They stopped and with much difficulty managed to catch him and load him on the back of the bakkie.

His first experience in our home was a bath, and if you think that lifting him out of the vehicle was a noisy affair, bath time was blood curdling.

We have a young Collie cross Australian cattle dog named Bandit, and his reaction to this small wriggling racket was pure horror. He was terrified at first, backing off cautiously and then, with a little more courage, decided to sniff the wet bundle. This only brought on more noise and it was difficult to see who was the more frightened of the two.

Christened Georgie by me and Ngotshotsie by Sean, we had a new addition to the family. He appeared to be about six days old, and now that he smelt a little more acceptable, we made him a bed, wrapped him up to keep him warm and made some phone calls to the vets to find out what to feed him.

As with any pig, the administering of food is never a problem. We bottle-fed him a healthy combination and he guzzled it down. The next trick was to fix his eyes. We applied drops in the one that looked completely blind and tried to unglue and open the eyelid of the other. Over a few days, we managed to get the infected eye open.

Georgie settled in slowly and Bandit’s fear turned into fascination. He was by no means a healthy piglet. Coughing and wheezing, he had what looked like pneumonia. We did not know how long he had been on the side of the road in the cold and rain. But he went from strength to strength, roaming the garden during the day with his dog keeper close on his trotters, and sleeping in a box in the kitchen at night. We had heard how clever pigs were and what great pets they made, and it certainly unrolled into what has been a wonderful experience.

I used to make his milk mixture in a bottle and then warm it for a few seconds in the microwave. It was not long before he realised that the beeping noise of the microwave meant food time and he would rush through to the kitchen and stand on his back legs looking for his dinner.

Once his tummy was full, he would follow us into the lounge for the evening while we relaxed and watched television. Bandit always lay at our feet and slept, and a well-fed little pig looking for some love and warmth would head straight to Bandit and lie on top of his head. This did not go down well. Bandit is a dog with long hair and feels the heat terribly.

Some nights this cuddling would last an hour or so, but as time went by, Bandit grew more and more irritable and we realised his new little brother was really annoying him. I had what I thought was a brilliant idea and went scratching for one of my old teddy bears. This little brown bear was placed near the dog to offer Georgie another cuddly body to lie on and then slowly moved further and further away to entice the pig to give Bandit some space. It worked. He loves his teddy and most evenings you will find him lying right on top of it.

Sean and I got married recently, and before our wedding, Georgie was a major hit with all the overseas guests staying on the farm, especially my niece and nephew from Australia. He was the source of so much joy that the flower girls even considered tying a blue bow around his neck and walking down the aisle with him. That was when the practical and fairly stressed bride decided to put her foot down.

Now five times the size he was when he arrived, he spends his evenings inside and you can barely see poor squashed teddy. He still attempts to lie on Bandit’s head and this is met with loud nipping protests that result in a sulking pig. Thank goodness he has learnt how to let himself out of the swinging gauze kitchen door. It is easy to tell if he has the grumps with us as the sound of the banging door reverberates through the house.

It is true what they say about a pig being an intelligent pet. Our yard provides great entertainment, with a black and white dog, a black and white piglet and a big old black rooster called Ralf. Tomorrow I am collecting two little brown sausage dogs, I wonder what they will think of all of this?

PS. The two new additions to the family have arrived safely — welcome to the madhouse.

HE STILL ATTEMPTS TO LIE ON BANDIT’S HEAD AND THIS IS MET WITH LOUD NIPPING PROTESTS THAT RESULT IN A SULKING PIG.

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