Jun 28, 2016 by


Just over 10 months ago I acquired an unusual pet. It wasn’t intentional but now I can’t imagine life without her. Honky Tonk a cross breed pet pig so named because when she was tiny she “honked” loudly. She is usually referred to as Honky or lately as HRH (Her Royal Honkyness).

She has brought so much into my life. She has given me a much better understanding of pigs. I have always been fascinated by them but didn’t have any experience of them. In fact few have, even pig farmers. Pigs are raised intensively in unnatural conditions so there would be very little interaction between them and the farmer or person looking after them.

A few years ago I finally (after years procrastinating) made the plunge to keep pigs. I wanted them to have a good life before they were killed. I had hated that I could only buy pork or bacon from animals raised intensively in concrete sheds. I got to know my pigs individually and interacted with them on a daily basis. From when they were tiny I touched or stroked them so they got used to me and began to enjoy a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears. They were relaxed with me and I was with them. I thought I knew a lot about pigs. In reality I knew little.

What’s for tea?

Honky has changed all that.

For example all the pig sayings are true. I suppose it makes sense. They must have come from close observation. As greedy as a pig – HRH is always hungry. She can tell feeding time to the exact minute. The photo above was taken when I heard a thump at the door. I opened it to see this vision. Luckily I had my phone in my back pocket. She knocks something over intentionally if she thinks I’m not coming out fast enough because she has realised that if she makes noise I will come charging out to see what she has done.

I used to think this place was huge

Pig ignorant – Once she gets something into her head, hell and high water won’t get it out. If she decides she wants to come into the house she won’t give up. Distracting her with food works but then she will keep trying to get in because she knows I’m going to give her food to get her out. You can’t win. She stands looking in the patio doors with the saddest expression on her face. She can’t understand why she’s not let in any more to where, let’s face it was her first home. I have let her in a few times and she just sniffs about (leaving lots of mucky snout prints), then she toddles off happy.

Snoring and blissfully unaware I’m taking photo

Pigs in clover – passed out in the shade of the yew tree sheltered from the sun. She always manages to make herself so comfortable but you always knows where she is even if she’s not visible. She gives a series of intermittent grunts just to let me know that she’s not too far away.

Affection is very much on her terms. She is as moody as a hormonal teenager. She suffers from PMT. When she first came into season she was so confused. She wanted to be near me but she also wanted to kill me. She couldn’t settle and was out of her bed at night wandering around the garden in the dark. I ended up giving her a couple of paracetamol and a small can of lager to get her to sleep whereupon I found her drunk wandering around the garden in the dark! Now she seems to be able to handle it better apart from the time she got out and was found down the road at a turkey farm. I had tried to settle her with the usual can of lager. But it didn’t work.  I ended up with a drunk love lorn pig a quarter of a mile down a busy road. We had to get a trailer to bring her back.

Sunbathing selfie

If I lie down in the garden she appears almost immediately and flops down beside me. This is fine except she’s now well over a 100 kg and she could squash me to death. I’m not convinced she realises this either.

She can demonstrate extreme happiness. She gets so happy she spins around and falls down looking sheepish. She is nearly always in a good mood when the weather is good. But there are times when there is no sound from her and a bit like when you don’t hear anything from a child you get suspicious. In the picture below I found her having a great root in a part of the garden she rarely goes into. This is because it’s away from the house and she usually prefers to be closer.

Pooching in the haggart

She can be very vindictive. If she doesn’t get what she wants or if I have shouted at her for something she will skulk off and a few minutes later you will hear a thump. She will have intentionally upended something, usually a big concrete flower pot.

She understands more commands than the dogs. She’s able to nudge open a door left ajar. She can do this with doors the dogs haven’t managed to. Leave a door open and turn your back and she is in. She knows where her food is kept and she is able to get the lids off the bins, push them over to something solid and pull them down with her two front feet and finish the job by snout.

Hello, can I help you?

She looks you in the eye. She treats me and other humans she knows as an equal. She tries to establish a pecking order when people come to visit. She will shove them, head butt and pretend nip. It is pointless trying to stop her. She doesn’t see herself as a lesser species so it’s safer all round to contain her but she protests loudly.

She will stand her ground and argue loudly and vociferously if she thinks she should be allowed do something. If you touch her and she’s not in the mood she will squeal like a stuck pig. Yes another really accurate saying. She is able to make a bed I have often been tempted to get into. She always has something under her and depending on the prevailing wind or draught she will build up sides.

But even though she appears to be very happy with her life and has never made any effort to go back out with her peers, I feel she could do with some company of her own sort. I ultimately want to get her out into the fields. My garden has suffered from her temper tantrums and her inclination to root and manoeuvre massive rocks that body builders could not. So I have got hold of a neutered male Kune Kune who has been in a pet farm and is now surplus to requirements. She may take to him, she may not. It’s a gamble.

He is called Parker – great name and he’s a confident, friendly little chap.


Having such an up close and personal relationship with a pig has further increased my convictions that we are doing a huge disservice raising such intelligent animals intensively. I have not quite reached the point of becoming a vegetarian – but the thought has been in the back of my mind. It’s wrong to treat any sentient being cruelly but it’s abominable to treat an animal as intelligent as a pig the way we do. However, I feel becoming vegetarian is a bit of a cop out. It is far better to remain on the inside, fighting for better treatment than to abdicate responsibility, throw your hands up in the air and say “well I don’t eat meat”….! You will never make the world vegetarian but you have some chance of convincing people to raise animals with consideration for their natural behaviours, giving them a natural life and a quick and painless death.

I love Honky. I love having her in my life. I love looking out the window at her grazing in the garden with her tail swishing happily. I have learned so much from her. But what I have learned most is that we are no great shakes as a species and we need to stop thinking we are.

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  1. What a gloriously lovely write up. It made me chuckle.

  2. A lovely article!

  3. Thank you. She is a joy.

  4. Thank you 😉

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