Livestock Lesson–What Picking Out a Show Pig Teaches a Kid

Once again, there are pigs in the building…or barn that is. We picked up two gilts from See Farms, and are so excited. I mean just look at that face!

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Picking out livestock is always a learning experience. As the boys have gotten older, I have tried to give them more responsibilities with their show animals. So, this year, I decided to give them a little more freedom in picking out their show pigs. I had already picked the two I thought were the best, but I told them they could look around and see if there was something they liked better.

They’d stare at the pen full of pigs, and discuss between themselves what they thought. Then, they’d point out one to me. I always ask them why. Why that one? Shrugged shoulders and “I don’t knows” are not an option. They also know that the pigs color or cute factor doesn’t qualify as a solid reason either. After they give me their reasons, I’ll say what I think. They also made sure to get Garrett and Dr. See’s opinion as well. We would all point out different pros and cons to the various pigs.

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After much deliberation, they decided to go with the two pigs I had originally picked out, but they had reasons for picking them now too.dsc_0922

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When we got home, they asked me questions about the good and bad parts of their pigs. I love that they are asking questions, and growing in their skills, knowledge, and responsibilities. They are doing more chores than ever, and make an effort to research about their projects.

They haven’t mastered it all yet, but I love how they are always looking to learn more. Showing livestock isn’t just about the ribbons; it’s about the lessons. Even if they don’t judge livestock in the future, they have learned to analyze a situation, reasearch, ask questions, and seek advice. And, that I think is more important than picking a good pig to win (although we are confident that we picked some good ones).

Most livestock lessons don’t happen in the ring. They happen beforehand…in the barns and homes of the stock show families. Those lessons made me into who I am today, and they continue to impact kids all over.

I can’t wait to see what lessons they boys will learn with their new pigs–Violet and Chickadee.

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NC State Fair–Part 3

An early morning dawned, as our last day of the NC State Fair came upon us. It was time to show some sheep.
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Days before the show, we had washed and trimmed up the sheep to get them looking spiffy for the show. We brought four ewes–Sybil, Edith, Aspen, and Fifi. The boys were super excited. The wool sheep show is one of their favorites. The night before, they put together costumes for the costume class. You can dress up your sheep and yourself, but it has to be worked around wool. Isaac was a fireman theme because wool is flame retardant.

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Gideon was an artist and explained how wool can take dye.

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Both were cute as could be. Gideon won first and Isaac won second. It was a great way to start the show!

The next part of the show were the ewe classes. These classes are judged mostly on the quality of the wool, but also on the ewe’s conformation. Classes are separated by white and colored wool, and long and medium/fine wool. Isaac and Alec were both in the white, long-wool class. It made sense as Fifi and Aspen are twins.

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This was Alec’s first time showing sheep. He didn’t mind it, but he didn’t like the height difference. At 6’4″ he did quite  a bit of bending. Still, he looked like a stud.

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Both the boys did good, but Isaac took home the blue ribbon with Aspen. Fifi and Alec got third.

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Gideon showed Edith in the white medium/fine wool class, and won fourth.

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If you went by color, you’d never guess that Edith’s twin was Sybil; however, besides the color, they look just the same. I showed Sybil in the colored, medium/fine wool class.

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Sybil can have a little bit of sass.

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And sometimes, we both toss our heads in disgust…

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But ultimately, she still gets kisses.

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She ended up pulling in a third. I was excited that the judge liked all of the girls conformation. He said they were really stout and well made. Because Isaac got first, he went back in for champion drive. Gid and I were also in the champion drive showing other people’s sheep.

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Champion drive is against all of the ewes–white and colored, long and fine, old and young. Would you believe it, Isaac and Aspen were named Reserve Supreme Ewe!! I almost let go of the sheep I was holding I was so excited. This was the second year in a row that one of our sheep has received this honor. It makes it extra special that we raised these girls.

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All in all, the show was so much fun, and super exciting!

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Our day wasn’t over yet, though. The boys had ride tickets left. We all got to ride 🙂

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DSC_0053And with that, 2015 NC State Fair was over for the Lintons. It was quite the ride (literally and figuratively), filled with so many memories. Despite it being a lot of work, early mornings, and stress, it is always one of our favorite parts of the year.

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NC State Fair: Part 2–Goats

For 13 years, we have packed the trailer full of goats to take to the State Fair. In 2015, we maintained our habits, and packed the trailer with goats.Back in our hay day (no pun intended), Alec and I would have 12 goats between us at the fair. We have since downsized our goat herd, but always have something to bring. This year we brought 7 does. Unfortunately, we only showed 6 because Nala decided to lose too many teeth prematurely, making her ineligible to show. Does have to have a certain amount of baby teeth, indicating they are under 2 years of age to show. Nala was indeed under 2, but her teeth told another story. Oh well! She didn’t have to get a bath.

Because Alec had classes, only Isaac, Gideon, and I showed. Of course, Mom and Dad were there too. Our first order of business was to clean-up the girls. Everyone got baths, blow dryed, clipped, brushed, and polished. It takes several hours to do 6 goats. Can you imagine the time it used to take to do 12!

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DSC_0867Fitting involves a lot of detail from head to toe, and yes, even the butts. We get up close and personal!

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DSC_0853As you can see from these pictures, fitting is a team effort. Over the years, the boys have taken on more and more responsibility.  At first they couldn’t exactly wield the clippers. The goats would be a hack job. They have always brushed, washed, and blow-dryed though. Now, they are trimming hooves, clipping, and more. I love watching this progression! Before too long I can just supervise and sit back–not really. I like to be hands-on.

Show time rolled around and started with novice showmanship.My boys did so good in their classes, and were clearly the most handsome 🙂

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It was my last year in the ring with goats. I still don’t think that has registered. It will next year when I’m on the outside looking in. I got to show the smallest goats (poor planning) which were Miracle and Tres. Miracle was a terd outside of the ring, jumping and rearing up. I think she was mad that she had to be on a collar like all the other goats. Yes, Miracle, you are a goat. In the ring, she did great except for gnawing on my thumb the ENTIRE time. Hey, whatever makes her happy and stand still. Tres surprised us all and got 4th! I get super excited when anything we raise on our farm gets in top 5 of a class. I can also say, that she was a dream. Sure she was a little goat for me to show, but daggum if she did not stand there without moving and walked perfectly despite being worked with once.

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DSC_0998Clearly, I have the serial killer look down when showing. I promise I’m having loads of fun. I just like to concentrate.

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And, look who decided to show up.

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DSC_0976For those of you who know Garrett, you know he’s a pig guy. He is not fond of goats, but he came to cheer and help anyways. 🙂

All in all, it was a great day finished off with some spectacular fair food…again. If you ever want to see french fries disappear like a Houdini act, then you should watch us at 8 o’clock, still showing goats, wolf them down to tide us over. No worries, we later got fried pickles and jalapeno, pimento cheese, hush-puppies with sriracha sauce. Holy lanta!

Don’t forget, there is still one more part to the fair–sheep!

NC State Fair: Part 1–Pigs

The NC State Fair has already come and gone.  It was quite the whirlwind, but held a lot of special moments. For me, it marked a lot of bittersweet moments. This was the last year I was able to show in the junior show (21 years old and under). While this doesn’t mean I have to give up showing period, it does mean I can no longer do showmanship. I suppose I have to retire at some point. 🙂

I decided to do a series of posts for each day of the fair. Part 1 covers the pig show. We weighed them in on a Thursday, and showed them early on Friday. Alec, Isaac, Gideon, and I all stayed at a nearby hotel to make sure we could be at the fair in time to show. Traffic gets really bad from our house to the fair, adding 30-45 minutes to travel time. Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Papa came up that morning, but enough of those details. It is time to give the results of the pig show.

Gideon had an amazing hog circuit season. He won Champion Novice Showmanship and the belt buckle to go with it. He and another showman tied for the award, and Gid won the tie because he had attended more shows. The duo flopped places, and Gideon got Reserve Champion Novice Showman at the State Fair! I was super stoked for him. He and his pig, Nilla, were a dream team and worked so well together. I love watching Gideon show because he is so intense… sometimes too intense. For a 9 year old, though, he could beat some of the older kids!

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DSC_0553Watching Isaac show is completely different than Gideon. Isaac is laid back and oh so chill. Despite the style difference, he also won a belt buckle in the circuit in the junior division. This is a tough category, because he is 10 and is up against 13 and 14 year olds, but he won! At the fair, he made the cut, and was so close to getting placed. Making the cut was major in itself, though. There was double the kids compared to the circuit shows. He and Legalus, his pig, did so good! Legalus got 3rd place in his market class, and won first place born an bred.

DSC_0611Isaac has been dying to show a red pig, so he was super excited to help another showman out and show his red pig.

DSC_0617I loved watching Alec, and his pig, Gus show. Alec really enjoyed showing Gus-Gus, but they’d butt heads at times. Ultimately, Alec won 3rd in the senior division of the circuit. He also made the cut at the fair. All during the pig shows, Alec struggled finding the perfect height to stand while showing. I think he finally found the right bend.

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He and Gideon ended up in the same market class together. They literally went head to head. Alec and Gus won 5th and Gid and Nilla won 6th.

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As for me, I drove Alice into my last showmanship class. There were 4 of us in the senior plus category. I don’t know why, but I was super duper nervous. There are few times I remember being that nervous. I finally got my nerves under control and entered the ring, only to have the judge ask me the ear notch of my barrow before I had taken 3 steps. “Ummm… 4-6 notch, but this is a gilt, not a barrow.” He nodded and I walked on. I couldn’t help but think if it was ok to correct the judge. Too late now. After driving Alice for a bit, the judge asked each of us to get on the microphone and give a little speech. I don’t remember all that I said except for we should thank farmers 3 times a day every time we eat. Thank goodness for my communication major!

10172015 138I went back to showing Alice. At this point she is getting super cranky, and I am convinced I’m done.

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The judge began to announce the winners, and said the “the lady in the red plaid will be our winner.” Is that me? I’m wearing pink. I quickly looked around to see if there was another in red. No one was wearing red. It was just a color label mix-up! After over a decade, I had won the elusive belt buckle (stay tuned for a separate post on this). I was beyond excited. What a way to finish!

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Alice got 9th in her gilt class. Unfortunately, she had twisted something, and was limping, so didn’t get around too good.

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After the show, we went out and got fair food!

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10172015 174Before going any further, I want to thank Mom, Dad, Grandma and Papa for all they do in supporting us. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do any of what we do. They opened the door to the opportunities that have become my passion.

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The next day, we went and fed the pigs. Alec and I went to a banquet where we were recognized for receiving a NC State Fair Youth Livestock Scholarship.

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As I was looking through pictures, I noticed a theme–butts. I couldn’t resist sharing.

Candid pictures are always the best, and I couldn’t help but include many of them here.

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And that, dear friends, is a wrap for the pig show. I’m not responsible for any sudden urges to go and eat a ton of bacon. 😉

Got to Be NC Show Pig Sale–We Are No Longer Pig-less!

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen where Alec and I traveled 1,200 miles and photographed/videoed 85 pigs at 12 farms all across the state for the Got to Be NC Show Pig Sale. We did it within 5 days and it was quite the adventure. Honestly, though, I loved it! After hours of editing videos and photos, they were posted on the online portion of the sale through Willoughby Sales. All there was left was to wait for the sale.

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Alec and I both planned on buying a pig at the sale. We had each picked out our favorites and set budgets for ourselves. I was stoked. When we arrived at the sale, I was excited to see so many people there. This was the inaugural sale, and I wanted it to do well. Because there was an online portion, there would be bidders both on the grounds and over the internet. It was a big deal for NC show pigs. As far as I know, this was the first of its kind in the state. There was free food, free t-shirts for buyers, and a lot of great folks.

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The problem with sales is you have to be strategic. I had 3 pigs picked out that I was interested in, but my favorite one was later in the sale line up. I was in the conundrum that I could wait until my favorite with the risk that it would go too high, and my other favorites would then be gone as they were earlier in the line up. I’m telling you, strategy and a bit of gambling is needed.

Alec’s first pick pig went too high for his budget, so he moved to the second, but when it got in the ring, he decided he didn’t like it. So, on we went to the third pig which went too high also. At this point, I’m getting a little squirmy for Alec. Our top 3 pigs for him were gone, and now it was a matter of picking one as they came through. One little guy came through the ring, and I nudged Alec that I liked this one. Alec watched him for a bit then bid. He got in a slight bidding war with another guy, and ended up calling it quits once he hit his budget. Dad and I finally talked Alec into going another $25. That won the pig.

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My bidding was much less eventful. I decided to pass up two pigs I liked to wait for my favorite and got her with no competition. I was stoked!

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Overall, I think the sale went well, especially as it was the first year doing it. Sure, there were some no-sales, but that’s alright. I hope to see it grow, and more people support it in the future.

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sale5It is truly exciting to see a great group of NC pig farmers come together to provide quality stock. Most of the pigs will be at the NC State Fair competing, so be sure to stop by the pig barn at the fair. For now, though, I would like to introduce you to our newest additions. I am no longer “pig-less”! They LOVE marshmallows.

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I am pleased to introduce to you my gilt, Alice:

 

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And, Alec’s barrow Gus:

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We should be getting two more pigs for the boys soon too, so stay tuned.

10 Reasons Why Sponsoring a Youth Livestock Show is Worth the Money

1. These kids have great character.

This group of kids work hard for months, working with and caring for their animal. Many of them wake up early before school to feed and come home to work with their animal after school too. They work in the heat, rain, snow, and ice and deal with equipment malfunctions, sick animals, escape stock, and trying to get an animal to gain weight for the show. It isn’t easy and takes an incredible amount of dedication. If that isn’t enough, these kids love what they do! They have a passion for showing and that shines through. For our county’s spring show, the participants give up a whole spring break to show their animal, exhibiting their dedication.

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These youngsters are filled with camaraderie for each other, and are always willing to chip in to help. They often exhibit excellent sportsmanship, congratulating each other on a job well done. They attend workshops before the show to learn more, and compile a record book of their efforts after the show. The show is not a one and done day deal. It take months, and these kids are willing to do it. If you want to see hard working, responsible, dedicated, passionate, kids who are all often friends, look no farther than livestock show participants.

2. Raising livestock is expensive

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It doesn’t matter if you buy a cheap goat or the most expensive one on the farm, raising an animal is expensive. Feed, medication, and supplies all goes into costs. Feed on the cheap end is around 10 dollars a bag, but to raise the best show animal possible, you are looking at 15 and even 20 dollars a bag, and these bags may not even last a week, depending on the species of animal. If you are lucky enough to not have to buy any medication for your animal, there is still the costs of supplies such as clippers, halters, hog sticks, shampoo, brushes, and more. Those in the livestock joke that showing is not a money making business; however, getting close to breaking even would be nice.

3. The money goes to next year’s livestock project

For most, showing livestock is addictive. It is hard to do it just once, which brings up the matter of next year. Money received from the sale, often goes toward next year’s livestock project. Next year holds the hopes of bettering oneself and seeing friends from the previous year. Having the funds to invest in another livestock project is crucial, and even having a larger budget thanks to the sponsors of the sale holds the promise of being able to perform better in the next show.

4.Much of the money goes into a college fund

I cannot tell you how many show families I know, that their rule is any money made from the sale goes into a fund for college. After more than a decade of showing for some of these kids, they have a substantial fund to put towards college. The sale is more than money for a kid who shows a pig. The sale provides scholarships for the future education of youth. With rising tuition costs, this is major. Becoming a buyer in a livestock show and sale is often sponsoring a scholarship for a child’s college fund. It is literally adding to the piggy bank.

5. It teaches the kids financial and budgeting skills

As a part of a good livestock project, youth keep track of their expenses and what they make at the sale. For our sale, they must do a worksheet that tracks their outcome, income, and their profit or lack of profit. When I was little, I did not realize the extent of money that went into my livestock project until that worksheet was filled out. At that moment, I realized just how much finances went into showing livestock.

6.You will be appreciated forever

There are one of two ways that a child gets a buyer/sponsor. The first is if they personally ask an organization or individual to support them in the sale. The second way is to have someone in the sale crowd to bid on their animal. Either way, the excitement  and appreciation that accompanies the knowledge that someone is sponsoring you is profound–not just for the child but for the parent as well. While not every child gets the same amount of money, any amount is celebrated and appreciated. Don’t be surprised to receive a picture and thank you letter later from the child you sponsored.

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7. You don’t have to bring an animal home

Although giving money is often referred to as a buyer and the sale is run like any other auction with the words “SOLD!” stated, it does not mean that you take an animal home. The only thing you are taking home is the image of smiling child. The only one bringing animals home is the person bidding on support price.

8. It is crucial in helping to continue the program

A show’s success is often contingent on the individuals it comprises of. Parents, youth, and volunteers all take part in the program. Sponsoring the show and sale, helps support these individuals and the program and therefore allows it to continue for years to come. Show and Sales are often many decades old and are attended by generations of people. It is a tradition that would be tragic to die.

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9.You are impacting the next generation in a profound way

It goes beyond providing financial support to a child, by sponsoring, you are impacting that child at a much deeper level. They notice when someone bids on their animal. They know when they are being supported or when they aren’t. Believe me, they are grateful for that support. It provides encouragement and excitement along with finances for their endeavors.

10. Because there is nothing cuter than a kid at the end of a hog stick or show halter

Need I say more?

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Through My Lens: 2015 Livestock Show and Sale

After two days of showing, a day of clean-up, some ribbons, lots of goats, pigs, and cattle,many great showmen, and 800 pictures later, the 2015 Wayne County Junior Livestock Show and Sale is over. Yes, I did say 800 pictures later. I won’t say I went crazy with being the designated photographer; I’ll just call it thorough. While I have to go through those 800-some pictures, I won’t make you go through them all. Rather, I wanted to highlight my favorites and tell the story that I see in those pictures. The Show and Sale has always been one of my favorite weeks of the year, and many of these photos capture why it means so much to me. I hope you enjoy the show through my lens.

Shave and a Hair Cut…

After everyone has weighed their animal in, the barn is buzzing with the sound of clippers and water is flying in the wash pits. You can see kids helping fellow showmen with their fitting and hear a lot of laughing at various animal antics. Washing pigs typically ends up with the showmen just as wet as the pig, yet somehow smellier than their porky friends. Cows come away fluffier, and goats whiter and slicker. You could say it is the time of makeovers.

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Bath time also includes treats and compliments

 

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“We want out! Water is absolutely no good!”

 

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Oh, so you guys were white pigs. I thought you were brown…

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Pigs have a lot more hair than you would think
Pigs have a lot more hair than you would think

 

Yay for cooperative pigs!
Yay for cooperative pigs!

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Show Time!

The jitters are strong, but the excitement has never been higher. It is show time! The goat show was first on the list followed by cattle. The next morning was hogs. I think everyone did an amazing job, but most importantly, I saw a lot of smiles in the ring.

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One of my favorite parts to watch is the novice division. These munchkins are not only cute as a button, but they are serious too. They know their stuff and can out show some older kids!

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These two kids had major guts. Their calf outweighed them by a lot, and the calves were not always cooperative. Despite one getting loose once and a lot of prancing, these two stayed focused and never gave up. I was impressed with them, for sure.

Always, keep your eyes on the judge…

Our judge for the show, judged all three species and did a great job with the kids. While you show each species of livestock in a different way, there is always one rule that applies across the board–keep your eyes on the judge at all times. I think every child in the show had at least a little conversation with the judge, answering his questions, or just telling him about their animal. I always love the facial expressions that the kids make, and I can’t help but try to read their lips to see what they are saying to the judge.

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Banners and Ribbons

While showing livestock is a competition, it goes far beyond the ribbons and banners. As the quote goes “ribbons fade and buckles tarnish, but the friendships and memories last forever.” I couldn’t agree more. I was always taught by my parents that we weren’t in it to win, although we strive to do our best and winning is nice. We do it for the lessons, the memories, and the pure enjoyment of it. Showing livestock is not a money making activity. Trust me, we go in the hole almost every time. We do it because we love it.

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I absolutely love the camaraderie in this photo. The smile and embrace says it all.
One of the most prestigious and meaningful awards to me is the Sportsmanship Award. The recipient is voted on by their fellow showman for exhibiting exemplary sportsmanship.
One of the most prestigious and meaningful awards to me is the Sportsmanship Award. The recipient is voted on by fellow showmen for exhibiting exemplary sportsmanship. This includes helping others, congratulating fellow showmen, working with their animal, and just having a good spirit.

champCity Slickers and Costume

A fun aspect of the show is the costume class and city slicker class. Costume class winners are chosen by the audience. There are always some really creative get-ups. City slicker class is for anyone who is not able to show or just wants to experience the world of livestock showing for a few moments. They are paired with a showman and get to take a spin around the ring, learning about showing. It is great to see the mentorship of the showman, and the excited faces of the “city slickers.”

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SOLD!!

After the costume and city slicker classes, the sale begins. The barn is filled with people, as the auction begins. Every child walks through the ring with their animal, to sell. The way our sale works, is there is support price and sponsorship money. Support price is the price per pound of the animal. For example, the hogs weighing from 273 to 280 pounds went for .50 cents per pound. After support price is established, every child brings in their animal for sponsorship money. Sponsorship money are donations given by individuals and businesses in the community to the child. These sponsors do not buy the animal, but rather, bid on the amount to give the child. This helps kids earn money for their livestock project next year, and many use it for a college fund. I want to thank all the buyers for their support. You have made a contribution that goes beyond the ring. You have made a difference in all of these kids’ lives!

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My favorite pictures often come from behind the scenes. These are the pictures that represent the day to day happenings of the show. It is here where the best faces are made, where competitors turn into friends, and the bond of the youth and their animal shines through. The majority of the show happens outside of the ring.

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These two competed against each other in cattle and goats, but remain best friends sharing a fellow passion.

 

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Family is an important part of the show, and is often a multigenerational ordeal. For many it is a tradition that has been passed down for years.

 

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I love this photo for personal reasons. These are my parents. For 13 years they have helped at the show, getting there early and leaving late. They wrestle animals, shovel poop, answer questions, and still help us with our animals too. They represent the many people who make this event happen. They just happen to be my favorite.
Paperwork and auctioning
Paperwork and auctioning
What would we do without our ringman to break up pig fights?
What would we do without our ringmen to break up pig fights?

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Cleanup, cleanup, everybody do their share…

The last thing that has to be done is cleanup. All pens have to be shoveled and aisles swept. Goat and cattle pens are done the night of the show, and others come back the next morning to clean the hog pens after the pigs have left.

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cleanHeaded home…

After a total of 4 days of setting up, showing, selling, and cleaning, the show is over. Months of preparation and hard work has come to a close. Another year has passed, and it is time to go home.

headed homeBefore we know it, the Show and Sale will be upon us again, but for now, I think I’m going to put my boots aside, and reminisce over the week. While I hope these images have given you a glimpse into the week, looking through the lens does not do the reality justice.

Show and Sale 2015: Preparation Days

This week marks one of my favorite weeks of the year–our county’s livestock show and sale. While I can no longer show because I’m an old lady now, I do get to go watch my brothers and other youth younger than me show.Even though the show is not until Wednesday and Thursday, preparations are in full swing.

Prep work for the show starts days beforehand. In reality, it really starts the day we get the animal. From that moment, feeding, training, practicing, and learning are all done in preparation for the big day. It is a matter of hard work and some serious dedication. This week, there has been some added prep work that goes along with the days leading up to the show.

Yesterday, the boys and I finished clipping the goats and pigs. We trimmed the goats’ hooves and horns and then moved on to haircuts. I let the boys trim all they can by themselves on both sets of animals. After they have done all they can, I come in and do the tricky parts and touch-ups. When they get older and more experienced, they can do it all by themselves. Clipping is always an adventure, because the animals don’t always want to cooperate. I was covered in goat hair after the goats. We had to clip the pigs on the go as they walked around their pen. I was standing on my head a couple of times or had to let them chew on my boot to preoccupy them while the boys clipped. It is an adventure that requires an immediate shower afterwards.

Can you see the difference clipping makes?
Can you see the difference clipping makes?

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Today, we went to the fairgrounds to set pens up. The boys picked their pens out, spread shavings, and dusted off the fencing. On Wednesday morning we will go back to weigh in the animals and put them in their pens. Wednesday evening is the goat show, and the hog show will be Thursday morning, followed by the sale that evening.

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Well, that is the latest from the farm. We have a big week coming up. If you are in the area, feel free to drop by the Wayne County Fairgrounds to cheer our showman on! If you can’t come by, stay tuned for updates as the show progresses via social media or here on the blog.

A Peachy Pig Trip to Georgia

While everyone was watching Katy Perry’s many wardrobe changes and cheering on their team during Super Bowl, I was on my way back from Perry, Georgia. Our Super Bowl food of choice was Taco Bell, which is not easy to eat in a truck. Somehow I managed to not spill (shocking I know)! Anyway, yesterday was the end to several days in Georgia showing pigs at the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) Eastern Regional show. I hitched a ride (leaving NC at 4am) with my boyfriend Garrett and his folks to the show, and compared to last year, it was a lot warmer and a lot less white–aka not snowing.

NJSA shows deal with four purebred breeds of pigs–Duroc, Landrace, Hampshire, and Landrace. There is also crossbreds, but to show a crossbred, you have to show a purebred. I went to my first NJSA show last year in Georgia and really enjoyed it. Because there are a lot of shows all year round, people get to know each other and it becomes quite the community with pizza parties, games for kids, and of course piggies. The show consists of showmanship classes, skillathon, and both barrow and gilt classes divided in breeds. In the open show (for all ages), there is also boar classes. All in all, there are about450 contestants and 700pigs, if I could guess. You can see why it lasts from Wednesday to Sunday. effectOne of the cool things about dating someone with similar interests as you, is you enjoy doing those things together. Garrett and I met showing pigs and doing livestock events. We talk about pigs and livestock more than most things. Even though we share a passion, that doesn’t stop us from being competitive with each other. We still compare who has more ribbons, but we also help each other out too. This show, he beat me in skillathon with a 7th place and me 8th, but I beat him in sweepstakes with a 10th. He brought home the coolest prize though–a new pig. This show consists of a sale in addition to the show. After selling all our Yorkshire pigs we brought and showed, Garrett (well, his dad) bought a cool Duroc gilt. After much debate, she was named Hazel, and is now the lone red pig in a bar filled with white ones back home.

hazel

I’ve decided that instead of giving you all the many details of our time in Georgia like spilling my drink at Steak ‘N Shake or getting pig pee on my pants, I’ll give you a bunch of pictures of our peachy pig time in Georgia.

me and g

skillathon

perry

gilts show

garrett judge

me and judge

 

Bringing Home the Bacon

The highly anticipated show pigs are officially here!! I get extra excited about getting pigs, because, well they may be my favorite. Shhhh… don’t tell the others. I hate to play favorites, so I’ll just say I like them A LOT! They are, however, my favorite animal to photograph. They have such personality and are always doing something goofy. Check out this girl:

pig tongue

I told you they are hams (pun intended), but before I show you more of the photo shoot I had with the little porkers, I wanted to share with you the behind the scenes of bringing home the bacon.

A house that won’t blow down

When we first started showing pigs, we kept them in a dirt lot with a shelter. While this may sound like the perfect habitat for pigs, it really wasn’t. They rooted up the entire pen, creating craters that were begging for a twisted ankle. The pigs would get sunburnt from laying around, and it was a huge mess. So now, our pigs are kept on a concrete floor under a shelter. They have a bedding box, heat lamps for the cold, and a fan for the heat. Unfortunately, concrete floors mean we have to clean the poop everyday, but it is loads better than what we had before.

Before we could bring the pigs home, we had to clean and scrub the pen (sheep had been occupying it for a few months). We laid down fresh bedding and even built a new “wall”. By wall, I mean we put up a fabulous tarp to break the wind during the winter.

I’m pretty sure our toes and hands were frozen by the end of it, but it looked great. We had a house that wouldn’t blow down or be blown into.

What makes the bacon?

Of course, pigs don’t grow off of air. They have to have pig food. We get ours from a local mill that blends a special mixture of corn, vitamins, minerals, soybean meal, and more together to make a delicious meal. Alec ran to the feed store to pick up the sustenance for the pigs.

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This little piggy went wee, wee all the way home…

Today was the day to pick up the pigs. Ahhhh!! I had already picked out the two pigs we were getting at a previous farm visit (if I don’t pick them out ahead of time, I have been known to take over an hour to pick one out). See Farms is about an hour from our house, and we have been getting pigs from them for about two years. We have typically had great success with them including two champion titles and a first place at NC State Fair. It helps that they are nice folks and live close by. All three of my brothers and I piled in the truck with trailer in tow to head to Raleigh, NC.

bros

Once there, the Sees showed us the pigs as well as the new litter of pigs they had. They were gracious enough to let me snap a bunch of photos of all the pigs. I was able to capture some good ones like these:

pig

 

baby piggiesLoading the pigs up into the trailer went pretty smoothly. One of the pigs was super loud, grunting the whole time, but she didn’t give any problems.

loading

After loading them, I told Isaac that the money to pay for them was in the front seat of the truck. He ran to go get it and returned, handing the money to me. I told him, “Oh no. That isn’t for me. Give it to the Sees.” You know, teaching them young about business transactions (really, I think it just teaches them the sting of dropping a chunk of money).

The boys decided to name their two gilts (girl pig) Halo and Miss Bacon. When we arrived home, we unloaded them and ran them through the scales to determine their weight. In case you are curious they were 145 and 110 pounds.

weigh

We then let them into the pen, to which they explored contentedly. I commenced partaking in another photo shoot.

Bringing home the bacon is a little more than just picking up pigs. It includes tarps, frozen fingers, feed runs, photo shoots, and some money. It is all most definitely worth it! A big thanks to See Farms for these beautiful girls!

see farms