FROM secretaries of state to first ministers to brethren from across the world, Pippin the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig has met and charmed them all.
The unusual pet of Hilda Winter, Pippin was a big character at the historic Co Armagh farmhouse where the Orange Order was first founded.
Whether munching apples in the orchards behind the house, greeting visitors at the gate or snoozing in the farmyard, Pippin was always a central part of the experience. And no pig would be happier with a ready supply of fruit to gobble at the farmhouse, situated in Loughgall, firmly in the heart of Northern Ireland’s apple-growing region.
She even charmed Secretary of State Owen Paterson and Upper Bann MP David Simpson when the pair visited the pre-1835 listed farm buildings and cottage.
But more recently Hilda told the News Letter that Pippin has been becoming restless, breaking out of her stable at night and running down the road, posing a danger to herself and motorists.
And so Pippin has been retired to live out her days at a farm close to Stewartstown in Co Tyrone.
“I first got Pippin in 2007. Before that, we had another pig called Bramley. She lived to seven-and-a-half, but she was very different to Pippin,” Hilda said.
“She mostly went up to the orchard, ate her feed of the apples then slept up there and came down when I called. Whereas Pippin would take off up the road at night sometimes – I would have neighbours ringing me up and saying your pig is up here and we would have to go and get her back.
“She liked cows and enjoyed being in amongst them although they were scared of her. That was ok when we had cattle in the field up above, but then when they were moved, she was going in with the other neighbours’ cattle.
“She even ran down to the Diamond one night.
“We started shutting her up at night, but she’d have the door taken off its hinges and lift the gate up. She was determined to get out. I suppose not all pigs have the same personality.”
Hilda admits that she misses Pippin, and many of the visitors to Dan Winter’s Cottage also miss seeing her.
“I do miss her. I got used to seeing her at the gate with the cats and the dog to greet me in the morning,” she said.
“People coming to visit are always asking where the pig is. She was an attraction in herself.
“But the running out at night was getting too big a risk. A black pig running over the road in the dark – no insurance policy would cover it, never mind what would have happened to the passengers in a car if she had been hit.
“The day they came and lifted her I sent her off with three boxes of apples. She’s now down on a farm near Stewartstown among horses so I’d say she is happy enough.”