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A Gertie's Christmas Tale - Part 1 As told by Karen Corder

It's getting to that time of year when we sit down in front of a cosy fire with a hot chocolate or a glass of mulled wine and reflect on the year…usually through rose tinted glasses.

In my case I sit down in my piggy loft and remember the back story of each piggy as they snuggle in their C and C pens or graze happily on their delicious hay. I look at Madame Cholet, Flopsy and Patsy and smile as I watch Patsy doing zoomies of her pen and jumping onto her castle and then flinging herself off with gusto and landing with a thud. Flopsy likes to snuggle up peacefully in her fleece cosy…then I’ll hear her screech as Patsy thinks its funny to jump up and down on the cosy – knowing full well that Flopsy is in it! What a mischievous piggy – but amazing to see her full of life after the awful start they had, so I can’t tell her off….I just smile with pride!

In the next pen "Alexis' Pen" is Darwin and Drake – our stunning agouti and ginger boys, who have been in rescue the longest now. These terrified boys arrived in rescue and were difficult for me to handle – even with all my years of experience…terrified is an understatement! Now they appear from their hidey like two majestic lions and climb atop their stick tunnels to get a better view of the loft…especially MC and the girls. They are so handsome that my heart melts when I see them out and about.

Along from them in "Donna’s Den", is our gorgeous Vader. Vader and his brother came to us as two single boars, but they had originally been a pair and then fell out. Vader took a chunk out of my finger the night he arrived – and it bled so much and for so long that I thought I was going have to go to A and E and have a stitch put in it….I’m scared for life now – and can no longer be a hand model for the fairy commercials! Lesson learned - never thrust your hand into the pet carrier that has a terrified piggy in it! He only did what I would have done in his situation so I can’t be upset with him. Add to that how gorgeous he is and how he will sit for hours for cuddles and he is most definitely forgiven.

Then in "Nosey's Nest" we have Tilly and Ziggy who arrived early December on a Saturday teatime. The family who surrendered them shed buckets of tears as they gave them up. Sam and I have learned NOT to be surprised when people get upset, as they are clearly torn and often feel guilty for giving them up. We never judge and understand that it is harder to admit that you need help than it is just to ignore the problem. The two of them have settled in to the loft very quickly and love to have snuggles….Ziggy runs out for a head scratch whenever I enter the room!

King Arthur is back in rescue – residing in "Steph's pen", hopefully just for his Xmas holidays. Arthur was the stray piggy who was picked up by Clare and Steph in Killingworth. He got his fairy-tale ending a couple of weeks ago when he was adopted by Clare and her lone piggy Barney. A gorgeous pair who bonded well, but have had a little spat. Barney currently has an eye issue and Arthur thinks he should groom it for him….but this has led to a spat between then and a scratch on Barneys nose. So, Arthur is back until the New Year when hopefully Barney's gets a clean bill of health and we will bond the boys back together – fingers crossed all goes well for them.

Then finally we have Hugo and Chester – a pair of fuzzy rex boys who came into rescue 5 weeks ago now. The two of them were being evicted by a new landlord who would not allow them to stay. They came into rescue in a 1m cage and rumbled a lot with each other as well as chewing the bars non-stop. We upgraded them to a 120 to see if they settled better with a bit more space, but they still seemed nervy with each other….and Chester just continued to chew the bars – and could be heard doing so a floor below!

So, a C and C was built and they found themselves in a 3.5 x 2 (130 x 70) space with plenty of room to run about and play together. Their relationship still seemed uneasy, but as they weren’t actually fighting so we opted to keep a close eye and just assess each day. In the C and C Chester chewed at the grids less – so finally things seemed to settle down. Phew, I was starting to call him Goldilocks as he seemed to like to try out every bed in the place before he was finally happy….or at least I thought he was!

A week ago, I brought breakfast into the loft for everyone, and due to his noisy bar chewing for attention, I always fed Chester and Hugo first – or he just got wound up waiting. This morning I was not greeted at the front of the C and C pen by Chester. Hugo looked at me as if he was trying to tell me something, and it was then that I realised the usual chorus of wheeks around the room, were actually shrieks! OMG Chester must be dead I thought. A million scenarios played out in my head as I checked under each hidey….but I didn’t find Chester. OMG he must have gotten out of his pen I thought. God, he’ll be trapped under the settee of behind a cupboard I thought.

Then I turned around 180 degrees and saw my pen of 4 girls all standing up at the bars of their pen shrieking – and apparently I could be heard streets away shouting “Five?” “FIVE!”…”Chester I’m gonna kill you!!!!”. So, it appears he was not happy with his C and C with Hugo as a pal – and he wanted to be in the huge C and C across the other side of the room with my 4 girls! Never have I felt so sick and angry all at once.

Just weeks earlier Sam and I had spoke about the likelihood of piggies escaping from C and C pens – because Vader was desperate to get out of his pen at one stage, and could actually get his chin on top of the C and C grid when he stretched up as tall as he could. “Its not unheard of” Sam said “....but never had or known any of our friends or piggy pals speak of it.” Well, now you’ve heard of it! To make things worse (yes, they did get worse), when I put Chester back in his pen with Hugo, they had a huge fight and I have now had to split them up.

So…Chester now resides in a 4x2 C and C, on his own, and it has double heights sides, a lid AND 2 padlocks!! And…he still chews at the bars.

Merry Noisy Christmas to me and all the loft piggies – who seem to roll their eyes in my direction each time he starts chewing!

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