It’s been a busy 24 hours for cranes. They’ve been migrating past in numerous skeins, always a fabulous sight even though it presages the start of winter with a vengeance.

Whilst popping in and out yesterday evening to listen out for the next approaching wave of grues cendrées (grey European cranes), I spotted Oberon, our Berkshire boar, with a mouthful of hay. He’d pulled it from the bale of hay in his field and I assumed he was about to eat it. So imagine my amazement when he carefully carried his cargo into his trailer where he dropped it and shoved it around with his snout to make his existing hay bedding more comfortable.

This is Obie’s handiwork – the interior of the trailer, I mean, not the paintwork!

obie trailer inside

I watched as he did it again, my jaw on the floor. Now I know pigs are intelligent animals – fourth after dogs, dolphins and elephants – but this was frankly stunning. Obie is a very handsome and good natured animal but I hadn’t reckoned on him being a brain box as well.

I did a bit of snouting around on the net and pigs are reckoned by some to be as capable of thinking things through as a  three-year-old child. They’re known to learn off each other and to deceive each other too, when food is involved. Pigs will apparently pretend food is in one spot in order to fool their buddies, then dash off to the real location and snaffle it all. They quickly become depressed in environments with no stimulation for them.

So I have even more respect for porcines than before and should probably start teaching Obie some tricks, now that we know how bright he is. Some of his fellows have mastered using a joystick with their noses to play a very simple video game. At the moment the computer would sink in the mud in his field if we tried that, but I’m sure we can think of something he can do. A spot of housework or baking maybe?

oberon stroke house behind