By Anne Sturby – Edmonton, Alta.
Every time I watch the movie Babe, I am reminded of the predicament my father found himself in with a pig he purchased from a local farmer for the purpose of upgrading his stock.
At that time, the 1930s, he had about 100 pigs. They were the Yorkshire variety, all white, with floppy ears and long snouts. Rumour had it that Mr. Regher, a local breeder, had a brood superior over the rest of the local stock.
Dad bought a male pig from him about two to three months of age and brought it home in a crate in the back of his truck. Dad unloaded it into the pig sty (which was about an acre in size) among all his other pigs, and that was that.
A few days later, dad met up with Mr. Regher in town. “Your pig came back,” Mr. Regher informed him.
Dad was surprised. He hadn’t even realized it was gone. Before he went to retrieve his pig, he checked the perimeter of his pen to see where it could have gotten out. He found no gaps where a pig could have squeeze out. None of them were getting out.
Equally bothering to dad was how this young pig could have found his way back to his litter. Did he go by road or cross-country? To go to Mr. Regher’s place, dad drove one mile south, three miles west, and then one mile north. It was five miles by road and three miles cross-country. Which way did the pig go and how did he make it?
The next morning dad checked the pen and sure enough, the pig was gone. He was there at suppertime but wasn’t there for breakfast.
Again, dad met Mr. Regher in town, only to be informed the pig had come back. The mystery intensified. Again dad brought the pig home and again the next morning, the pig was gone!
This time, dad went directly to Mr. Regher’s place to reclaim his pig. By then, Mr. Regher was not at all amused by dad’s inability to keep his pig in the pen. Words were exchanged between them and Mr. Regher’s last words to dad were, “so sue me.”
Challenged, my dad indeed sue him!
He sued him with the local magistrate in our small town. By the time the trial date arrived, the affair was a community joke and everyone from far and wide arrived in town to see the outcome of the fiasco. The town hall was a very small room, so only the members involved could be present. Everyone else remained outside in small groups to await the decision of the court.
The trial was short-lived. The magistrate heard dad’s story and asked only one question: could dad identify his pig? Dad had to admit that he couldn’t identify his pig, but Mr. Regher could. Mr. Regher, however, wasn’t required to testify in his defense. The trial was over.
As they came out of the court room Mr. Regher was laughing. He slapped my dad on his shoulder saying: “I told you that you couldn’t win Sam.”
Vanished in the night
Dad came home looking like a thundercloud. His opinion of Canada’s justice system was a bit diminished and so was his friendship with Mr. Regher, but not for long. He was a forgiving man and soon enough, they were friends again.
To this day, some 80 years later, we have been unable to solve the mystery of how that little piglet got out of a solidly built fence and somehow managed to find its way back home. It always arrived in a crate on the back of a truck in the day and always disappeared in the night. Had it been a horse or a dog, anyone and everyone would have understood. But a pig?!
The only conclusion was that not only was the pig a superior product, it was of superior intelligence… much like ‘Babe’!