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Alexandra's Animals: The Wisdom of Pigs

PUBLISHED: 00:16 20 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:56 20 February 2013

Alexandra's Animals: The Wisdom of Pigs

Alexandra's Animals: The Wisdom of Pigs

Alexandra Bastedo, actress and custodian of the ABC Animal Sanctuary near Pulborough, rehomes some of her youngest charges and prepares to welcome some new ones

Sometimes things dont turn out quite as you planned. Mindful of one of the things they say about pigs: You cannot catch a pig, and the fact that it had taken five men two hours to catch the two Vietnamese potbellied piglets I rescued 20 years ago, I determined to be a little bit more ingenious when it came to rehoming our eight micropiglets.

We determined to make a sturdy small enclosure with a piglet-sized hole that the sow, their mother, would not be able to penetrate, and to throw food inside so that the little pigs would enter and be trapped, leaving their aggressive, protective mother the other side. This would mean that we could remove them without getting bitten or hurt in the process. The plan worked well for two days with the piglets entering and feeding while Purdey, their mother, ate her food on the other side.

Finally the prospective owners arrived to pick up their new charges and six of the volunteers were on standby. We thought it would be a doddle. We threw the food into the small pen and this time mother pig went through and got stuck, leaving the piglets in the large enclosure. This is where the cautionary saying about catching a pig came into its own as the, by now, wise piglets avoided all our attempts to catch them, running around like dervishes and leaping over the boards we tried to pen them in with.

The bystanders were hysterical with laughter and regretted the absence of a camera. Finally we caught the black one the first couple wanted but the other one they wanted a cute pink one with black spots proved to be the most elusive of all and finally when we did catch him and put him in the cat basket he broke it and we had to start all over again. Eventually Andy, our volunteer, trapped him in the sty and bravely climbed in after him. Eight piglets, in pairs, went off to four new owners over two weekends. So far the reports are good and they are settling in well. We have left mama pig with one remaining piglet so that she is not too traumatised. Lovely as they are, they were a lot of extra work and vets bills. Six of the nine had to be castrated so I sincerely hope that not too many other animals give us surprises.

Having said that, it is highly possible that the sheep we took in recently will be pregnant too. We are told they could lamb any time from December to March. We have already moved them from the field they were in to get them away from the resident foxes and are preparing a safe area for them. We should have an interesting and ultimately rewarding New Year. We will be rehoming the sheep and their offspring in pairs as well. They make excellent lawnmowers and are very good for the land, and with all the attention from the volunteers they are already very tame.

If you can help with the rehoming of any of the pigs, sheep, cats and ponies please call or contact us on www.abcanimalsanctuary.co.uk or P.O. Box 2195, Pulborough, West Sussex RH20 2XB.

A big thank you to everyone who has helped with donations and volunteering, and attended the ABC Christmas Fayre. Thank you also to all those kind supporters who sent Christmas gifts for the animals. I am sure that if they could, they would wish you a happy and healthy 2012.

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