Amadeus or The story of the 'not so wild' boar!
I was recently commissioned to paint a wild boar and my mind went instantly back thirty years to my dad’s organic farm in Dorset where he had a small herd of wild boar.
Feeding them one day he found a tiny, what seemed lifeless, boarlet trampled in the mud.
He gave him mouth to snout resuscitation! a tiny bit of brandy and put him in the warming oven of the Aga for some heat and he revived.
This was just the first step as next was lots of bottle-feeding where after his last evening bottle he insisted on being cuddled to sleep otherwise he would just keep squealing loudly. After several weeks of this with my Dad falling asleep in bed with a wild boarlet on his chest, it was decided Clarrie the family Great Dane might like to take on parenting duty! This she did brilliantly, even cleaning up after him. He did like dozing off to a bit of music by Mozart so that is how he came to be named Amadeus.
When Amadeus got too big and boisterous for the house he moved out into his own pig sty but still used to go for regular walks round the fields with Clarrie and assorted humans.
This is when I first got to meet him and discover his favourite trick to play on his human friends when out on a walk. If you stopped to chat it was imperative to clamp your legs together or else you might find yourself suddenly flat on your back on the ground with everyone laughing as he loved to stick his snout (a very powerful weapon on a wild boar) between your ankles, give it a wiggle and flip you over!
When fully grown with a pair of tusks too he was a very impressive sight but still very calm and trusting with my Dad.
For several years he was a star attraction at the Newbury Agricultural show, where he had his own pen and a fascinated audience of admirers. His party piece was to put his front feet on may Dad’s shoulders and take an apple from his raised hand.
Back home in Dorset he acquired his own harem of six Tamworth sows and produced several litters of ‘Iron Age’ pigs.
He also had several visiting ladies! One of whom was Miss Piggy, a Tamworth sow owned by Lord Cairns. She didn’t have an official Tamworth pedigree so couldn’t produce pure Tamworth offspring so Lord Cairns decided to send her to Amadeus to produce some crossbreed piglets.
Two of these piglets became perhaps the most famous piglets of all time! The Tamworth Two, also known as Butch and Sundance.
These two piglets escaped while being unloaded from a lorry at an abattoir in Malmesbury, Wiltshire in January 1998 and were on the run for more than a week.
Their escape made world news headlines and when they were recaptured there was such a public outcry at the thought of them being slaughtered that the Daily Mail newspaper bought them to save them and they lived long, comfortable lives at the Rare breeds centre in Ashford, Kent, where many years later my dad visited and gave the centre details of their family tree with Amadeus as their father, a role that had been largely forgotten.
BBC made a film about them in 2004 and they even have their own wikipedia page but I think the real unsung hero with the most wonderful character to tell stories about is our most unwild of wild boars, dear Amadeus.
Amadeus allowed all of us who met him, the opportunity to experience first hand this incredible animal up close and to see what amazing trust and communication can be achieved when there is a bond between animal and human.