Sitting on a haystack, I'm gazing into the eyes of either the world's most gorgeous pet - or its most expensive cooked breakfast. Meet the micro pig. The name says it all.
This unimaginably cute piglet measures just 8in from snout to tail.
The size of a large guinea pig or a small rabbit, it's a hundred times more adorable than any animal you'll see in your local pet shop.
The little baby I'm stroking - he's five days old, and hasn't yet been given a name - cannot decide whether he'd rather nibble at my shoes, rub affectionately against my leg or curl up asleep next to his fat mum a few feet away.
Decisions, decisions! I'm happy with any of these options - except, perhaps, the shoe-gnawing one. Just watching him make his mind up is mesmerising.
This little piggie: The micro pigs cost £650 each
Think of the Andrex puppy with a snout. He's got the softest blond hair, the dinkiest black beauty spots, and he's fully house-trained - he'll use a cat litter tray without being asked to.
No wonder he's the pet of the moment. There's just one catch: he'll set you back a whopping £650. You can get quite a few packets of back bacon for that.
They are certainly 'micro'. Four weeks ago, my wife and I had a baby. Our little girl was born at just over 3kg. These little babies weigh less than half that. Even at full size, they'll come up only to your knee - roughly the size of a spaniel.
My little piggie, and his equally cute seven brothers and sisters, were brought into the world by Jane Croft, 42.
She's a pig breeder with a difference. A former veterinary nurse, cab driver and investment banker in the City of London, she long ago tired of ordinary working life.
She tried her hand briefly at raising traditional pig breeds, such as Gloucester Old Spot, but she soon ran into problems.
'It upset me whenever they were sent to the abattoir,' she says. 'Even when they were dead, I could tell which one I was eating, and I hated it.'
Her solution: to breed pigs for pets. She scoured the country for the right tiny breeds, and began to observe the results when they were mated. Her newest little beauties are a mongrel mix of Kune Kune (a New Zealand breed with a hint of wild boar), Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spot.
Former investment banker Jane Croft breeds the piggies for pets
Now Croft is shacked up with 50 pigs on her Little Pig Farm, just outside March, in Cambridgeshire. The animals live outside with the constant company of Classic FM, which they love.
In her first six months of trading, Croft has sold 300 animals - 'but it could have been thousands,' she adds.
Wandering into her home is like barging into the Seventies' sitcom The Good Life - and not only because Jane's delicate blonde features, child-like wide eyes and scrumptious enthusiasm instantly make you think of Felicity Kendal.
There are ducks and chickens wandering around her garden, piglets scampering across the living room coffee table and a woman at the centre of this mayhem who says with a straight face: 'Yes, of course I let pigs sleep in my bed.'
Why? 'Because it's like a lovely hot water bottle. Once you have bonded with them you want to be with them all the time. If you're watching the television with them at night and you go to bed, they sometimes start crying. You've got to give in to that, haven't you?'
Well, yes and no. A little later, Croft's cleaner confides that, er, one of the pigs did have a little accident in bed the other day. Pig poo under the duvet. Lovely.
It is life-affirming to spend time in Croft's presence. I cannot remember the last time I met someone who was so in love with their job.
Tiny pigs the size of tea cups are the latest pet craze
Her life has been a frenzy since pictures of her piglets first appeared in the Mail earlier this week.
The world's media haven't left her alone. She's been on TV here, in America (on CNN and NBC's Today show) and in Australia. In the two hours I spend at her home, there must be 40 phone calls from potential purchasers, and she says she has received 800 emails in the past 24 hours from potential customers.
So what is the appeal of a teeny tiny piggie for a pet? 'People love them,' says Croft. 'Not only do they have these incredibly cute faces but, contrary to popular opinion, they're really clean. They're easier to house train than a cat. They're incredibly intelligent.'
They're also cheap to look after - a £10 sack of food lasts for four months - and ideal for people with cat or dog allergies.
'Because their skin is very similar to ours. They don't have fur, they have hair,' she explains.
Best of all, they are inquisitive, affectionate and relaxing - liking nothing better than a night in front of the telly or a relaxing doze in one of your shoes.
Look, I'm Jewish - and even I've fallen in love with them. Though I'm not sure what my family will make of the fact that after a few hours in their company, I do smell faintly of pig. It's not a nasty smell - far from it - but it is distinctive. Definitely piggy.
So what if you do want to take one home with you? Well, there are some strict rules to adhere to, some of them laid down by Croft and others by the Government.
Owner Jane Croft says the micro pigs are easier to house train than cats
First of all, if you want a pet pig you must apply for a (free) livestock licence from the Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs.
'They need to know who to inform if there's an outbreak of foot-and-mouth,' says Croft.
Oh, and don't be thinking that you can easily take your pet pig for a walk. Believe it or not, you need another licence from Defra if you want to 'transport' your animals anywhere: so any jolly Sunday wander into town would have to be specifically sanctioned by the Government beforehand, down to the precise route you'll be taking.
Second, you'll need to get past Croft's strict vetting procedure. She won't sell to anyone she doesn't like the look of. If you don't have plenty of outside space, forget it; ditto if you think you can leave your pig home alone while you go out to work. (She much prefers selling the animals in pairs.)
Nor will she sell a piglet before the animal is weaned and mature enough to deal with the world without her mother by her side.
In fact, she's less of a businesswoman than an enthusiast. She turns down the majority of customers.
'People have got to know that micro pigs are not fashion accessories. I can't bear it when people say, "I want one with more spots" or "I don't like the black ones". Those people don't get one at all.'
And that, she says, is one of the reasons she's pitched the price so high - in order to prevent people buying the animals on a whim and deciding they prefer their pig served up on a plate rather than curled around their feet on the sofa. At £650, a micro pig is not just for Christmas.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1219140/Yours-650-The-micro-pigs-latest-designer-pets-Jane-Croft.html#ixzz0TsKAitMD