I looked over the fence into Molly's paddock and rattled the bucket. The paddock remained stubbornly sow-free.
Knowing Molly's previous, I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach, memories of chases across fields and even up the island's main road flashing through my mind. A quick look inside the pigshed revealed a further absence of large pig, so I headed back towards the house, passing the hen run where I was forced into a massive double-take.
I'm pretty sure pigs have no truck with the concept of embarrassment, but Molly looked ready for a rethink as she gave me a sort of pleading look through the chicken wire.
With her paddock bordering the hen run, she'd obviously fancied the look of the layer pellets I'd put out for the chickens and had given the mesh a good push, opening up a seam big enough for her to squeeze through, the wire springing back to leave her trapped.
Scrambling inside the hen run (it's 5ft high and I'm 6ft) I tried to undo the wire and open it up enough for Molly to get through while she tried to take a bite out of my backside. I eventually managed to shove her back into her paddock, with the side-effect that the hens escaped and headed off towards the vegetable garden.
Fearing for my cabbages (four varieties this year!) I ran* after them and 20 minutes, a lot of arm-waving, cajoling and foul swearing later had my feathered friends shut away again, the wire secure again with a couple of pallets screwed into Molly's side just to make sure. Tea has rarely been so welcome.
As it happens, Molly is now seven years old and has produced 11 litters at an average of more than 10 piglets each time. Her last litter was born in April and she really struggled to keep them fed, losing weight dramatically right from the start of nursing. Despite my trying to fill her up with high-protein feed she got terribly skinny. I weaned the piglets after seven weeks - a week earlier than normal, but she continued to produce milk for what seemed like an age and has only just started to put some weight back on.
As a result I've decided it's time for her to retire. That would normally mean a date with a large shotgun or even a trip to a German sausage factory, but I reckon Molly deserves better. She's going to spend a couple of years at least in a quiet corner of the croft as a pet pig/rotovator. It's not good modern farming practice, but who cares?
* Actually I don't run these days and never did very often unless it was in pursuit of a ball or pint.