George Orwell knew what he was doing when he wrote Animal Farm, as pigs are far and away the smartest animals. They lull you to sleep by lying around all day, but given an opportunity, they can do some serious damage. God help you if pigs get out of the pig pen. They can destroy your yard in an hour. The upside of raising pigs is that they will eat anything (see Twinkie post). I will typically put the pig pen next to my garden so I can throw any weeds and rotten vegetables over the fence. I was careful what I fed the pigs as this was the time of mad cow disease. I usually kept away from table scraps containing meat. It turns out that the pigs had other ideas.
On hot summer days, the pigs would lounge in the shade of a wooden lean-to that I built for that purpose inside their cage. They wouldn’t move for hours on end unless there was some food thrown in. During these days, the chickens would also nap, usually roosting in trees or on fence posts. A handy place was the pig pen fence. The chicken would fly up and perch there, slowly falling to sleep in the midday heat. This was the time for the pigs to act. One would stealthily rise from the shelter and tip-toe across the pen. About three feet from the fence, it would charge headlong into the fence. The chicken would start awake, then one of two things would happen:
- The chicken would fall to the ground outside the pen
- The chicken would fall to the ground inside the pen
If scenario one happened, the chicken would squawk and run away, the pig would resume it’s activities (or lack of) and return to the lean-to.
If scenario two happened, then things got interesting. The chicken would squawk, and see an angry pig bearing down on her. A chicken can easily out-run a pig, and can fly short distances when needed. However, they are not aerodynamic, and need a good bit of runway to get off the ground and over the 5 ft fence. The pen was not that long, so the chicken would run and run just ahead of the pig’s snapping jaws. Now, I could’ve stopped this at any time by using a hockey stick to keep the pig at bay and allow the chicken to fly out, but I wanted to see how things would play out. After all, who knew if I might now write a blog post about it one day. So I watched in fascination as the pig and the chicken slowly ran out of gas and the chase slowed down.
It was about this time that the other pig started to slowly rise to his feet. He came out into the pen like a WWE tag-team wrestling partner, and was on the chicken immediately. The other pig slowly got a drink of water from the trough, then slowly walked back to the lean-to to watch the end of the drama play out. It didn’t take long. The chicken was gassed and got cornered. The pig’s jaws snapped and, voila, chicken dinner. The other pig quickly jumped up to join in. Feathers, bones, everything was soon gone. One less free range hen.
Years later I became a fan of the TV show Deadwood which is about the Black Hills of South Dakota during the gold rush there. There was no law there, and lots of people wound up dead. There was a Chinese gentleman named Wu who kept pigs. For a price, inconvenient bodies could disappear about as fast as that chicken did. My wife asked me, “Do you think pigs would do that?”