Monday, 21 November 2011

War on terriers

Last year, our pigs were attacked by two hunting dogs (cute little terriers the like of which you'd expect to see on an ageing grandparent's knee wearing a tartan collar). Fortunately, me and Her Outdoors were both on the land at the time and, in the 30 seconds it took for the dogs to jump over the pig fence, pin down our biggest pig and try and tear it apart by pulling it round a tree, we were both on the scene. Me screaming at the two beaters in robust Anglo Saxon, Her Outdoors shouting more politely in French.

The pig survived. The local Chasse president agreed to pay the vet's bill for the antibiotics, and said they would hunt further from our boundary in future.

Despite this assurance, one of us still runs down to the land when we hear gunshots and dogs nearby. Luckily, this only happens at weekends, on public holidays and any day in between, and usually only very early in the morning when we're just about to enjoy a nice hot mug of good coffee. Like last Saturday.

I went down to check on the pigs and stood around for a few minutes, listening like a human. Then I thought: 'This is bloody ridiculous, I could be here all morning' and came back for breakfast. When I went back on the animal food run, I heard yapping coming from the pig house, grabbed a stick and ran.

I chased off the dog - another lovely ickle terrier - and found all three pigs cowering in their house. I shut them in and went after the hunters. (It's amazing how quickly you get used to walking up to someone with a loaded gun and telling them they're not welcome - I've even learnt some robust French to drive my point home.) Sadly, I didn't find them.

The pigs are not doing so well this time. The biggest had the most bites, but he's walking around getting on with things. The smallest can't put any weight on one of her back legs, although she's more perky today than yesterday. The middle one was fine yesterday but wasn't looking at all good this morning.

And we're both a bit pissed off.

My first response is to want to shoot any dogs that come onto our land. But it's not their fault. They are apparently starved for a few days before being taken hunting and are only doing their job - quite well at that. They don't know the difference between a wild pig and a domestic one living in the wild, and probably can't read the signs banning hunting here. So we're going to catch future hunting dogs and call their owners instead. And make fencing an expensive priority.

Sure, we will probably get the vet's bill paid, and hopefully compensation if one or more pig dies. But where's the compensation for us being permanently on full alert? Jumping up at any dog barking (there's one barking up the road right now) and running off to defend our livestock? It's nerve-wracking - and not how we want to be spending our time.

I wanted to take some nice sunny pictures of the pigs on Saturday, to show you how well they're coming along, and how much they're enjoying their newly expanded pig area. Can't do that now, can I?


Archie said...

Sorry to hear about pigs animals are stress on four legs
Do u guys still have the horse very into horses this end we were wondering what it's like re horse vets and shoeing in your part of France ?

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex, Clare and the kids,
We stayed at your place in late August and I went behind the pigs enclosure all the way to the boundary. It is hard to imagine that any dog would get anywhere close to the pigs without any lead as there are no paths on the other side. I am truly shocked. I would be seriously pissed off too. We liked the pigs, saw them on TV last week when you got them (recorded) and took some pictures of them a few months later / ago.
We did however hear what sounded like wild boars above Pepito's field. All the best, P, K and J.

the devolutionary said...

Archie - We still have the horse - Pepito's a bit of a feature as P, K and J's comment suggests. He doesn't wear shoes, but we have a choice of barefoot farriers and vets nearby. That's the beauty of living in an area that's only recently modernised - all the traditional skills are still in use.

P, K and J - Thanks for keeping in touch! You'll be happy to hear all the pigs are getting better, which is a huge relief. (I'll post some pics soon.) If the dog responsible belongs to one of the hunters we spoke to the other day, I don't expect we'll be seeing it again. It would be better if they didn't come back. You, on the other hand, are welcome any time!