Last night Tane disappeared into the dark. I was on the phone talking to the airlines looking out the window. And as I talked I watched the poor old hobbly pig walk out in the gathering dark – the wrong way. I had a flight booked to California next week but there are four days of snow predicted for next week so I decided to give myelf a break from the tension of wondering if I would even get out of here and up to the city and called to put the trip off a week. ( Knowing full well that if I change all my plans to suit the weather the weather will change all its plans again). Ah well.
However to even get to the airport I need to catch two trains (let alone drive up to the train station) and dragging my suitcase through frozen snowy streets to change trains aiming at an airport that may just close on me when I got there, was not a nice idea. Changing ticket ahead of time was easier all round.
As usual, it took some time on the phone and from the window I could see Tane hobbling about out in the field looking for corn but the nice lady in Arizona worked everything out for me so I could leave the following week (it is points travel so they are happy to help) I said thank you then proceeded with dressing for the outside, putting on all my outside clothes plus another layer as it was very cold and very windy. (It is 4F/-16C as I write).
My torch has long since disappeared so I turned my little cell phone light on and slid it into the top picket of my worn farm, pocket leaving me hands-free. Ton and I left Boo inside. This was a Search and rescue mission and Boo is a nuisance when we Search and Rescue.
So I closed the door on Boo, put on my boots then turned to direct Ton but he was gone. Of course, he knew who I was looking for and like a silent stealth arrow he had disappeared into the dark after the pig. Leaving me no clues as to direction. Gone dog. Gone pig.
Without my dog I looked in the wrong place. I searched the barn, his bed and the fence lines and favourite resting places but he was nowhere. Then I walked out into the frozen empty huge 100 acre field.
It was dark, the beautiful moon had not yet arisen but it was getting colder I did not have time to wait for said moon so I started to methodically search where he had been seen last.
This little crippled kunekune boar surely could not have got that far I reasoned. Up and down the East end of the field I walked calling both Tane and TonTon. The absence of Ton told me that he was with Tane so I knew at the very least he was not alone. Pigs do not have very good vision at all. They can see but do not focus as well as cats or dogs. Tane needed a guide dog.
Pigs do not have particularly good vision. Their sensitive hearing and good sense of smell makes up for their poor sight. Pigs have colour vision and a panoramic range of about 310 degrees and binocular vision of 35-50 degrees however it is thought that they have no accommodation, which means their ability to focus is limited.
My theory is that pigs have such a fine sense of smell and hearing that their vision came an evolutionary third.
Anyway, I was fairly sure Tane was lost. It was very dark. Both the other little pigs were long in bed by dusk. The pigs never stayed out in the night.
After searching and calling for some times – real worry and the cold were settling in. But they were out here somewhere so I continued my solo grid search. Ton suddenly appeared out of the dark on the edge of my own vision. Watching me closely and silently.
Thanks Gods, I said. He turned to run.
Wait! I called, He waited while I went to stand beside him.
Find Tane, I said, and off he shot out of his cannon, straight East, into the dark. Down, I called just before he was gone again and saw his shadow drop way up ahead. When I reached him his head was stretched straight out to where he knew Tane to be. TonTon’s version of ‘on point’.
Ton has a terrible habit of going to find the lost animal then sticking WITH IT. Not coming back for me. So I could not let him out of my sight again.
So we did this again: Find Tane, then Down. Again and Again. Soon he was just running ahead a fair way and then going down to wait even before my command. Looking from me back into the long darkness as he waited for me to arrive. Such a slow human.
Slowly but surely he led me in a straight line right back across the frozen rutted field of ploughed corn stalks. Right to the other side of the field. He took me to the edge of the field all the way West and almost to the ditch and there was Tane hobbling along, going very, very slowly in exactly the wrong direction.
After Ton had a good pat and a good boy, Tane got a good pat and a Go Home. I turned his body physically and pushed him in the correct direction.
My pathetic light casting a lit pathway back to the farm, we commenced our long walk home. Tane leading and Ton, holding a corn stalk, following him and me in the rear shining the light. At one point I looked at the screen of my phone, turning off the light to check something as we walked and immediately the pig stopped and called out. He could not see anymore. His confusion was obvious. Turning his big head back to me. I shone the light back in our direction and off he went like a little wind-up pig. He went at a reasonable speed too, dragging that back leg behind him.
He was so relieved that he was back on the march with his pack.
It took a long time to get back to the farm in the cold wind. But we were all warmed by success.
On the way into the barn, I smashed the top of his water bowl, it was already iced up hard, he sunk his big head and had a big drink. Once he was in his house I covered him up with his blankets and more straw and he settled into his bed munching on his hay. Grunting softly. His rooster clucked and his cat slid in over the gates and settled beside them. Tima said nothing at his arrival just snored a little softer and wriggled a little lower. Like all snorers she sleeps deeply.
I left the lot of them warm and happy and Ton the hero and I went back to the house. for a hot drink.
I bet Tane sleeps in this morning.
I hope you have a lovely day.