In the East Suffolk field in front of our house there are horses and sheep, but also two small, brownish grey pigs. They have been living there for a few months now. They are getting bigger, of course, as time progresses. They are always in each other’s company. Even if you see them among the sheep. Snout to the ground, just like everyone else. Sometimes you also see them together on the path. The first time this became evident was when a dog walker knocked on our door and told us there were two piglets loose on the path. I texted the farmer. He texted back he would send his wife ‘to turn them’. When they were spotted a few days later and I sent another text, he answered that they always seemed to find their way back. A few days ago oinking sounded from our garden and they had found their way there. Apparently this rhythmic low oinking is a sign of contentment. I started to get interested in the oinking as I had not noticed it when they were younger. I found out that lots of research has been done in the past twenty years about the vocalisations of pigs. They use it to express their emotions. Grunting, squealing and barking: it does mean something. I am glad this is taken seriously now.
I found the piglets a little bit more adorable when they were younger. They would sniff around and you could see their tails wagging in delight. I am trying to not to get too attached to these pigs. I quite like them, but not so much in our garden. They seem to excel at finding openings in the hedges to squeeze themselves through. It made me think of how sometimes not so welcome thoughts and feelings pop up in your mind. They are finding their way into your awareness and you do not know where they come from. Once they are there, they are frankly often unwanted. But it is wonderful to know they will always find a way out again. We tried to barricade one of the holes in the hedge with a garden bench, and with a wooden pallet. The pigs found other ways to come in. Perhaps it is useless to try to shield yourself against these unwanted appearances. Just allow them to come and go and recognised the oinking as a sign of contentment. I just need to get to know them, get familiar with their sounds and at the same time not get too attached to these wonderful creatures.
Here is an etching by Caspar Luyken, Emblem: two pigs, Rijksmuseum, 1695 – 1705,
h c.110mm × w c.124mm