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!

dsc_1004

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.

dsc_0918dsc_0919dsc_0916dsc_0915

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

dsc_0927

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.

dsc_0948

dsc_1003dsc_1005dsc_1012

dsc_1028dsc_1014

 

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!

gup

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.

DSC_0548

DSC_0534

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.

DSC_0555

n

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.

10172015 133

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!

10172015 152

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

DSC_0660

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

10172015 074

10172015 172

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.

10172015 079

10172015 007

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.

DSC_0774

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.

i

DSC_0518

g

DSC_0586

DSC_0672

DSC_0775

10172015 154

DSC_0067

DSC_0503

DSC_0520

DSC_0785

 

 

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. 😉