Monday 23 October 2017

Pigs Might Fly

"I've a right to think" said Alice sharply... "Just about as much right" said the Duchess "as pigs have to fly"
I've been learning some fascinating facts about pigs recently, and some new words. 
I haven't actually seen any pigs flying [though the high winds have been blowing lots of other stuff around] 
No, this relates to the pigs living in the New Forest, and the ancient annual custom of pannage also sometimes called common of mast.

The problem is that the trees in the New Forest drop their fruit each autumn, and some of it [especially acorns] can be poisonous to the New Forest ponies. So for 60 days, farmers have the right of pannage, when they can allow their pigs to roam free, eating all the acorns and beechmast [the old name for beechnuts] that they can find.
In a year when the harvest is really good [known as a mast year]  one oak can produce 10,000 acorns.

2017 is such a year, so the New Forest Verderers have declared that the Pannage Season has been extended. Instead of concluding on November 12th, it will continue to December 17th. My friends Carrie and Betty encountered 26 pigs on their walk last week.

What an amazing custom - and it's been happening annually since the time of the Domesday Book. Maybe if I can find a spare afternoon I might go for a walk and see if I can meet a little piggy or two. 


  1. I knew about pannage but had not realised that it was still practiced. What a fab country we live in where customs that go back centuries are still going on. I love your posts Angela, there is always something interesting in them.

  2. My mum is petrified of pigs. She once abandoned me and my brother in our buggy, and locked herself in the car because one came near her while picking blackberries. My poor father had to come find us lol

  3. What fascinating information! Thanks for sharing. I read it to my husband. I love learning new things from my blog friends :)

  4. I love that pannage still continues after such a long time. However I'm surprised that Defra has not thought up some reason for banning such a sensible custom : )


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