What Happens When a Slaughterhouse-Bound Hog Jumps from a Truck That’s Speeding Along an Interstate Highway? Surprise, Surprise.

The Crate Escape

The Crate Escape

 

Pigs will do the darnedest things. Just ask Peter Burmeister is co-owner of Burelli Farm, an operation in north-central Vermont known primarily for its organic meat chickens, though it also produces beef and a small amount of pork. To lay in a supply of the latter commodity, Burmeister was delivering a pair of hogs to the processing plant in his pickup truck along Interstate 89. Pigs are nothing if not wily, so perhaps he shouldn’t have been surprised when one of his charges—perhaps sensing what lay ahead—jimmied the latch on its crate, hopped out of the speeding truck, and, apparently none the worse for the wear after a 60-mile-per-hour tumble, bolted for freedom into the thick, wintery forest.

The condemned pig, up until then the life-long resident of a snug, straw-filled stable, remained at large for 19 days. Nighttime temperatures in the teens and a  Nor’easter that dropped more than a foot of heavy snow weren’t enough to convince the fugitive to come in from the cold.

Who knows what would have happened had 15-year-old Brittany White and her father not decided to get in one more deer hunt before Thanksgiving. They heard a commotion in the bush behind them and wheeled to confront, not the trophy buck of Brittany’s dreams, but a plump, pink, barnyard pig trotting toward them in the tracks they had trampled in the snow.

Knowing a snug, comfortable retreat when it saw one, the creature ambled into a cage the hunters lined with old sofa cushions scavenged from their camp. Brittany claimed naming rights, and, inspired by teenage sibling rivalry, christened the porker Bethany, after her sister.

A local television station covered the unusual results of the father-daughter hunt.

See the WCAX television footage here.

Recognizing the porcine TV personality as the hog that had bolted from the bed of his truck, Burmeister reclaimed the animal, who had been an incorrigible escape artist from the moment it set hooves on Burelli Farm as an eight-week-old piglet. Bethany, it turned out, was actually a male named Howdy. His surviving pen mate back at Burelli Farm was, of course, Doody.

See footage of the reunion here.

For his efforts, Howdy was granted temporary clemency and will be allowed to continue fattening with Doody for several more weeks before the inevitable trip back up I-89.

Despite his sojourn in the Green Mountains, the pig had lost no weight and returned home content and healthy. “If you raise pigs, that shouldn’t surprise you at all,” said Katherine Fanelli, co-owner of the farm. “Howdy was probably perfectly happy out there in the woods digging for roots and nuts.

After two years of researching pigs for my forthcoming book, Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for Sustainable Meat, I never cease to be amazed by these remarkable animals.

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