Dom Joly: I got those pig-farming blues

Dom Joly's pig, Wilbur

Dom Joly's pig, Wilbur - Credit: Archant

I read an article about an unfortunate family who thought they had bought a miniature pig that then turned into a 220-pound monster

When I moved onto a farm, it was on the clear understanding that it was now closed and that I would never have to drive a tractor save for causing traffic jams when I was bored.

Little did I know that less than two years later, I would be running a veritable menagerie up here in the hills high above Cheltenham. The latest four-trottered addition to our family is Wilbur, a New Zealand Kunekune. The name means ‘fat and round’ in Maori (Kunekune… not Wilbur). Wilbur is a small pig with a huge attitude. We rescued him from a family in Cheltenham who loved him very much but weren’t keeping the mini All Black in the style to which he has rapidly become accustomed.

Wilbur is a very sociable pig – some might say too sociable. He wanders around the place grunting and moaning to whoever will listen like some sweet, grumpy old man. He has his own quarters but clearly feels that he should be living in the house itself. I regularly answer an insistent knock at the front door only for Wilbur to barge past me and make a beeline for the rug in front of the Aga. After a couple of hours someone will politely suggest that he might want to return to his area? He studiously ignores us, lies on his back and awaits another tummy rub.

Much to the disgust of our last Cheltenham rescue – my ‘gangsta’ cat Roo – I’ve rather fallen in love with Wilbur. Roo shows his disapproval by lying in wait for the swine and then jumping on him from a great height, like a feline Cato to his porcine Clouseau. Unlike our cowardly dogs however, Wilbur is one tough nut and unless Roo actually arms himself, he appears to have finally met his match. There is a theory circulating in the family that this is because Wilbur is not a Kunekune at all. There is some talk of him being a wild boar. Stacey claims to see the beginnings of alarming-looking tusks and he does have a habit of charging at one in quite an impressive manner. I read an article about an unfortunate family who thought they had bought a miniature pig that then turned into a 220-pound monster that was eating them out of house and home. Wilbur doesn’t seem to have grown too much but he has bulked out a bit. I did a surprise inspection of his quarters to see if I could find any signs of steroids or bodybuilding equipment, but he was clean.

Stacey is a little nervous of him. He tends to wiggle his (straight) tail a lot when she is around and likes to follow her making the sort of noises that builders on scaffolding are wont to do when anything female wanders past. I’ve told her that she should take this as a compliment, but she tends to try and avoid being alone in a room with him as he can get over-amorous.

I’m afraid that it is true that Wilbur appears to be in a sexually experimental phase at the moment. He spends a lot of one-on-one time mounting a cushion that happens to have a photo of Roo on it. This unsurprisingly freaks poor Roo out. He has made threats to go back to Cheltenham and return to his life of crime unless Wilbur goes. Unfortunately Roo has always had issues with pigs.

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Even my Uggs are a source of much loving attention from the hairy Kiwi. I’ll be sitting at my desk, writing… a bit like now… then I’ll feel Wilbur’s head butting the boots. As a writing professional I carry on regardless, but Wilbur is insistent and my Uggs are soon locked in a vice-like grip as he has his wicked way with them. The aftermath is unpleasant and difficult to remove. I’m slightly unsure as to what to do? Should the Uggs write Wilbur a firm but clear letter expressing their disinterest in a relationship? Should Roo get a shotgun licence? Should Stacey take any attention that she can get at her ripe old age? These are all questions facing the modern small pig owner… n