Houdini, the naughty pig
Houdini was a famous mother. Before she came to this farm she had raised four families of baby piglets who had all grown up to be sensible well-behaved pigs. There had been nearly fifty of them and she could remember all their names, Twiglet, Jemima, Fred, Harry, Ruth, Sid, Jack, Suzie, Mavis and Claud. And they were just the first litter.
Now, in her new home, she had another family to care for. At night she tucked them all up in a deep, straw bed in a special pig sty built on a lovely meadow. Once she had read them a story and they had settled down to sleep she would wander across the meadow to the gate that led to the back door of Famer Brown’s farmhouse. There she would stand and grunt, gently at first. Then, if there was no response, she would call out, more and more loudly until Mr Brown or his wife appeared with her supper.
Once she had finished her supper Houdini would wipe her mouth on a clump of rough grass for she had been brought up properly. Then she would make her way back to her family. Outside the sty she would pause and listen carefully to make sure that they were not awake and playing about. It was something she was very particular about for every piglet needs a good night’s sleep.
In the morning she would lead her family out into the meadow, once they had all had breakfast. She watched them as they hopped, one at a time, over the step in the door way. Then they would scamper around and Houdini would walk slowly among them as they played and searched for worms with their strong little snouts. Sometimes the naughty ones would nip each other’s tails and there would be tears and Houdini would have to push the naughtiest piglet back to the naughty step in the doorway of their home.
As the family grew up there were fewer tears and nipped tails and a deal more serious digging. In places brown patches appeared in the meadow where the strongest piglets had broken through beneath the grass and excavated holes that were so deep that the smallest piglets would disappear while they were busy with their snouts in the bottom. On one occasion, Houdini told them that if they weren’t careful they would find themselves in Australia and they would get sunburn.
Then one day there was a quiet moment and Houdini could look out, across the road at the bottom of the field, and into the fields on the other side. In some of the fields maize was growing. Houdini remembered something about corn on the cob growing on maize. Some people talked about sweet corn and Houdini licked her lips as she thought about this. Pigs rarely lick their lips so Houdini felt very drawn towards the maize. Soon her children would be grown up enough to manage without her and then, well.
No, thought Houdini, I’d better keep this to myself.
The trouble was, an electric fence guarded the field. There were two strands of wire, one just high enough to keep small pigs from getting out, and, above it, another one that annoyed Houdini enormously. She really wanted to cross that road. The traffic did not worry her for she knew that if she just went steadily across when the road was quiet, she’d be all right. She had done this before in her old home where there were no electric fences and where the farmer had chased her up and down for two hours. What fun it had been.
This was different. She had never challenged an electric fence before. George, the father of her first family, had boasted once that he had simply rushed at an electric fence and made it through to the other side. Don’t be put off, he had told her, if you sniff at the wire and it gives you a kick. Just step back and then charge forward.
At the time, Houdini had not believed him. Now she remembered the taste of some sweet corn that Mrs Brown had once thrown into the field. Despite the bits that had become stuck between her teeth, she had crunched up the corns and then spent ages snuffling about in case Mrs Brown had thrown any more pieces into her field. She turned and faced the fence.
It was easy to lift a forefoot over the bottom wire and then she was pushing against the top wire with her shoulder. Another wriggle and she was half-way through and nearly there. Then a sharp pain struck her across her bottom. It was unbelievable but before she had time to think about it she had jumped forward and she was free.
At the side of the road she paused, looked across at the field full of supper, and set off. If any of her piglets had bothered to look up they would have seen mother’s rear end wriggling, and her tail curling up with delight as she disappeared into the rows of tall sweet corn.
How did Houdini manage to escape?
Will her babies manage without her?