The State Fair is More than Fried Food and Rides for Me

For many people, the NC State Fair is about fried food, rides, and giant pumpkins, but for me it is so much more. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting fried cheese, bacon pimento cheese hushpuppies, and blooming onions. I always ride the Ferris wheel and bumper cars, and always take a peak at the giant pumpkins.

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BUT…that’s not why I go to the fair.

I go to the fair to drive and nervously back trailers in the heart of Raleigh. I go to help my brothers wash pigs, watch them compete against hoards of others in the ring, and coach them along the way. I go to fluff and trim goats. I go to the fair to walk sheep in the ring, pick straw from their fleece, and to see if we’ve improved from last year. I go to compete for the blue ribbons and champion titles. I go to take a thousand photos, to see friends, and spend 6 days in a barn. I go to the fair to spend time with my family and make memories. I go for the livestock experience.

I look at the NC State Fair through a different lens than many who walk through the gates. It isn’t just a place to find entertainment or unique food. It is a place where both heartache and joy has taken place. It is a place where I have run around with so much adrenaline and energy, but also been utterly exhausted. It is a place where I have learned lessons. The NC State Fair is a place that holds a special place in my heart. This year was no different.

NC State Fair 2017 Recap

While there was a great deal that took place over the course of the fair, I just want to give you the highlights. The first day, Mom, the boys and I went to check pigs in. All went smoothly. We headed back home to pick Dad up and head once more to Raleigh to stay in a hotel. We had a super early morning and didn’t want to deal with Raleigh traffic the next morning. Although an early morning awaited, I was to have a late night.

You see, Garrett was arriving on a flight at midnight! I hadn’t seen him since I left him in Nebraska back in August. I was so excited! I am ashamed to say, that I dozed off and was 15 minutes late picking him up from the airport. It all worked out, and I was reunited with my fiance!! Fair wouldn’t quite be the same without him.

The next morning did indeed dawn bright and early, but I was too excited to be tired. Today was the pig show!! My boys did an amazing job showing Arnold and Schwarzenegger. Both pigs were in the top 10 and Isaac received a super showman pin. I may have teared up a bit.

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On Saturday, I returned once more to the fair, this time alone. I arrived in time to walk Garrett’s little red pig in the sale ring. Goodness do I miss driving a pig in a ring.

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My primary reason for coming back to the fair wasn’t to walk a pig, though.  I was set to photograph and video the Sale of Champions. I love auctions, livestock, and the fair, so being able to capture it all with my camera, is such a joy! Alec was also recognized as a scholarship recipient.

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The next day of the fair was to be on Monday. We loaded 4 little goats on the trailer during such a rainy day. Because all the goats were born within a couple of weeks of each other, they were all the same size and in the same class. Sadly, we only had 2 Linton boys, but 4 goats. They couldn’t very well show 2 at a time. Thankfully, we had friends in the barn who helped us out! Mom, Dad, and the boys went home, while I stayed in town to spend time with Garrett. He would fly out the next day.

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Wednesday arrived. We loaded 12 sheep (all of which had been washed and clipped). Because there were so many, we had to take the big trailer which is always more nerve-wracking to drive. I take that back. It is fine to drive but scary to back. I’m happy to say, though that I was able to back it perfectly! With the sheep penned and the trailer backed, we were ready for the next day.

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Another early morning greeted us. Today the entire family was able to be at the fair together. Showmanship was up first. Isaac and Gideon went head to head in juniors. Gid came out on top, which worked out well. Isaac beat Gideon in pigs. Alec received reserve champion senior plus showman despite an irritable sheep. We were off to a phenomenal start!

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Costume class followed showmanship. Isaac dressed up in a red, white and blue theme to highlight wool in America. Gideon showed off tools of the trade to raise sheep. There were so many cute costumes!

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With 12 sheep, we were in and out of the ring constantly. All of our girls did well, and I was even able to show during the open show.

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Isaac was extra proud of his Astrid sheep. He bought her with his own money earlier in the year, and she ended up winning her class! The face says it all!

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Interestingly, Alec ended up with the best sheep–Georgette. Last year, I did not like Georgette. She placed behind all our other sheep, and just wasn’t my favorite. This year, here fleece was gorgeous, and the judge agreed. She won her class and went on to compete in the champion drive along with two other of our ewes–Astrid and Evelyn.

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I held my breath as the judge looked over all the blue ribbon sheep. And then…she shook Alec’s hand.

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Georgette won Supreme Champion Junior Ewe and Got to Be NC Grand Champion Junior Ewe. I may have screamed a bit.

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We have come so close to Supreme Champion several times, and it finally happened. What made it even more special was we raised Georgette on our farm. She was Countryview Farm genetics. It didn’t stop there, though. In the open show, Georgette also won Supreme Champion Fleece, and our new ram, Church, won champion medium/fine white ram.

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It was such a good show!

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We celebrated by eating our favorite fair foods, walking around, and riding some rides.

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I found my bacon pimento cheese hushpuppies, Dad and Alec snagged them a blooming onion and Isaac and mom grabbed a funnel cake.

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Gid discovered a new favorite –Poutine (fries covered with cheese curds and gravy). This gravy loving boy was in heaven.

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And with that, the 2017 NC State Fair ended for the Lintons. We loaded up and headed home. For us, the fair is about family, livestock, friends, and some food. See you next year!!

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Taylor Glover|Senior Session

When it comes to livestock, there are very few that are as passionate as Taylor. She loves it! She keeps the roads packed with hog and cattle circuit shows during the fall, and can be found in the barns in between the shows. I’ve known Taylor for many years, and I’ve watched her passion grow. She is so fun to watch in the ring. She is also fun to photograph in the show ring. Speaking of which, that is where I am used to taking pictures of her at.

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While I love capturing her do her thing, I was beyond excited when she asked me to do her senior pictures…with her pig and heifers. Ya’ll, this photographer was squealing with delight. My livestock heart was so, so happy. Without further delay, here is Taylor’s senior session. A beautiful girl and her livestock.

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Stop & Smell the Sage: A Look into NC Clary Sage Industry

Driving home from NC beaches, you may come across a sea of purple. Beautiful fields filled with flowering plants dot the sides of roads headed to the coast. These fields of flowers are not simply to look pretty, nor are they volunteer wildflowers. Rather, they are an upcoming crop for NC farmers. The flowering crop is clary sage.

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Clary sage has roots (no pun intended) dating back to the Middle Ages. Used for its calming properties and benefits to the skin, it is not to be confused with the sage you may find in your kitchen spice rack. Clary sage, also known as salvia sclarea, is an herb that is found in many household items for its fragrance. Think dish soap, perfume, and detergent. It first must be extracted, though.

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This is where a company in Bertie County comes in. Avoca Inc. is the largest extraction facility in North America for sclareol. They have been in the business since the 1960’s.  They take clary sage and produce sclareol  which helps fragrances have a longer life in items like soap and perfume. Avoca contracts with many farmers to grow a certain amount of acres. This is appealing for many  farmers because so many other crops have huge swings in prices. Clary sage is more stable.

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Planted at the end of summer (August) the perennial grows until winter. At this point it becomes dormant until warmer weather hits again. By Late May, early June, the blooms are in full force. Blooms can be purple, pink, or white, depending on the variety. Harvesting begins mid to late June.

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The smell the crop produces is obvious. It makes sense, since it is in the fragrance industry.  A special harvester is used that cuts up the plants into 1 inch cubes much like silage. The flowers have the highest oil content, but the entire plant is used. The harvest is sent to Avoca where they will extract throughout the year. Here is a video of harvesting:

Avoca contracts with over 120 farms, there are over 25,000 acres being devoted to growing clary sage in eastern North Carolina. North Carolina is definitely a major player in growing clary sage.

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I was super excited to see all of the purple fields on the way home from the beach. So excited, I made Alec pull over on the side of the road so I could jump a ditch and take pictures of sage in the setting sun.

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If you happen to see the purple (or white/pink) fields in North Carolina, know that they are much more than flowers. They are a farmer’s crop. So, roll down the windows to stop and smell the sage.

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Resources:

Avoca Inc.

NC Field & Family

Almost Free Food, Frog Legs, and a Tractor Parade–All at the Got to Be NC Festival

I love when a few of my favorite things combine together to make a fun day. Last Saturday, my family and I went to the Got to Be NC Festival.

This event is held at the NC State Fairgrounds and hosts a ton of North Carolina vendors and products. There is a tractor parade, flea market, rides, and games. One of my favorite parts (actually it was the BEST part) was trying lots of food. One of the great things about the event is you can pay $2 for all-day access into a giant building filled with food vendors that are giving away all sorts of free food. FREE FOOD! After writing that, I’m realizing that the $2 negates the free part, but it is basically free and so very worth it. Even cooler was the fact that all of the food was NC based. There were peanuts, hot sauces, mints, wine, dips, Bright Leaf hot dogs, and so much more. My favorites had to be Cherry Orchard Food’s pretzel dip mixes (we got the buffalo bleu and chili, cheese, bacon flavors) and the pickled green beans and Bloody Mary mix by Bruce Julian. Of course, I could have stayed at the Bright leaf hotdog station forever, but I feel like that is a given. Gideon was in heaven with all of the hot sauce samples (the boy absolutely loves hot sauce and has never found one he couldn’t handle). Isaac was obsessed with Sunshine Energy drink. Thankfully, he didn’t get wound up off of the samples. All in all, the $2 was absolutely worth it!

hot saueI paid another $2 to try some very odd food. I ordered deep fried sweet tea. It was essentially a doughnut drenched in very syrupy tea. While it wasn’t bad, it was too sweet for me. Daddy ordered frog legs.dad frog Now, if you know me, you know I HATE frogs. I am utterly petrified of them, yet somehow, for some reason, I ate a bite of the frog legs. frog legs

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Obviously, I was thinking about what I just did…

I know. I may be going insane, but it wasn’t half bad until I actually thought about it. Then it wasn’t so good. I can cross it off my bucket list, though (not that it was really on it). Adding to the craziness, was our photo bomb guy. Do you recognize him?

anthHe is Anthony Anderson, an actor. He has played in movies like Transformers. He was at the festival, filming for a food show, and he totally photo bombed us! Too funny!

Our main point in being at the event was not food, believe it or not. My brother, Alec, and I both received NC State Fair Livestock scholarships along with 22 others and were invited to come to the shin dig for a ceremony. The scholarship is brand new, and was started with a change to the NC State Fair livestock sale. A percentage of the proceeds of the Sale of Champions goes to the scholarship fund. Awesome, huh? Alec and I were very honored to receive the scholarship and participate in the festivities. We met the NC Commissioner of Agriculture and got to ride in the tractor parade. Our families were able to ride in the parade too. It was perfect.

scholarshipIt was also a nice final hurrah. Garrett and his family (he and his sister also received the scholarship) were able to come to the festival. Garrett was leaving that day to drive to Illinois where he would be working as an intern all summer for Maschoff’s, a large hog company. I’m super proud of him, but it was bittersweet to see him go.

g and mI jokingly told him I was now single for the summer. No worries, I’ve only gone on one date so far. They were short, blonde and cute. Don’t you agree?

date night with boysThe rest of the day was spent walking around and enjoying everything.

paradetractor paradeag festboys and matag fest boys dadSo, there you go–a quick recap of some of the happenings around. I strongly recommend the Got to Be NC Festival and definitely the $2 entry to try all the NC based foods.

An Endangered Species: The Farm Family–You Can Help!

Coming across a petition for or against something happens about as often as gas prices change. OK, maybe not quite that much, but they do pop up quite often. Some petitions seem rather silly or only matter to a select few, but there are those certain petitions that can make an impact on many lives. They have the potential to make a difference and they matter to more than just a few individuals. I’m not talking about the petition I saw regarding Bojangles’ Cheddar Bo Biscuits and their goal of making sure every Bojangles establishment sells the cheesy goodness (although, it is a good thing to petition for). The petition I have in mind that is worth taking time to sign is the Protect North Carolina Farm Families. If you like to dine on swine, then you should definitely sign!

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What is the petition about?

This petition has been created as a result of a large amount of attacks on the swine industry for many years.The industry has been put in a poor light by bad press, activist groups, and lawsuits regarding animal welfare and the environment (read about the latest major attack here). The petition’s goal is to bring attention to the good that the industry provides (such as jobs and the economy) and highlight the families behind the farms. The goal is to get 10,000 signatures by June to send to Governor Pat McCrory.

Why is this petition and movement so important?

Sadly, there are groups that have not only stirred up trouble regarding the hog industry, but they have also caused a lot of grief and harm. Not only have they had rallies in Raleigh and put up billboard campaigns, but they have filed countless lawsuits, against both larger and smaller farms, most of which are family owned. There have been cases of bankruptcy and the loss of those farms. Even within the larger companies, individuals are being singled out for lawsuits causing a lot of stress and burdens. At times, the only thing these families are guilty of is owning a farm. While there may be cases of neglect and poor management, the majority of cases do not involve this. Almost always, farmers try to negotiate and mediate with these groups to reach an understanding or agreement; however, it is often that this does no good.

With all that being said, farmers are your neighbors. They are your friends. They are the people you go to church with or see at your kid’s baseball game. Farmers are families, trying to make a living like anyone else. Not only are they families like yours, but they have a passion for what they do. They work hard to create a quality product for you. The life of a farmer is unpredictable, with unforgiving weather, disease outbreaks, and property damages. Add to this unpredictability, the potential for groups to sue them. It is often a scary world for farmers.

By  signing this petition, you are not only showing your support of farmers, but you are helping families–moms and dads, kids, grandparents. You will also be helping your own family. Showing support for farmers and the job that they do, helps ensure an affordable product for you. What is that product, you ask?  Bacon, pork chops, sausage, and ham. It isn’t just the delicious products that complete your breakfast meal, it is also everyday products you may not realize are made possible by pigs. Do you like s’mores? Marshmallows are made possible by pigs. How about the Superbowl? They are throwing a pigskin football. If that doesn’t get you, there is also insulin, soap, crayons, just to name a few. The point is, that if you sign this petition you are helping to keep products like these affordable for your family. It is a win-win situation. More than one family wins. Signing this petition is important, and your voice matters. The goal is 10,000. Make sure you are among those marks.

I don’t support hog farming practices, so I shouldn’t sign this petition

While I would encourage you to do as much research as possible about hog farming practices, I understand that you may simply just not agree with them. By signing this petition, you are not really supporting those practices, but rather, you are supporting FAMILIES and their livelihood. I don’t know of many who would disagree with that cause. Not only are you supporting families, but you are joining a community. In this community, you can have conversations and learn. Please, do not get hung up on the fact that you may not support certain practices. Look at the larger scope and support your fellow human, join a conversation, and be willing to learn. Perhaps we may learn a thing or two from you. I would ask, that if your mind is closed, to please open your heart up to a family much like your own.

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I don’t have the time

I promise you that you have time. It takes less than 5 minutes. Click on this link and SIGN! It is just that simple. It took you longer to read this post than it would to sign it.

I want to do more than sign!

Great! You can become a sponsor for the initiative. Your logo will be featured on the site. You can also do something as simple as sharing this petition as much as possible. Get your family and friends to sign. Tell your farming story. Tell your friend’s farming story. Share your support for NC farm families in any way you can, whether that is a bumper sticker, word of mouth, or through Facebook. Know that every little thing counts.

Whatever your stance is, wherever you are from, please be sure to sign the petition to support NC Farm Families. It takes less than 5 minutes and is a worthy cause. Farm families are already an endangered species with less than 2% of the population accounting for farm families. With recent attacks, some may not survive. If you like bacon and you like to dine on swine, then please SIGN! If you aren’t a bacon fan, that’s fine. Have a heart, take part and support local families. Thank you in advance! Your support means the world!

 

 

What You Aren’t Being Told About “Hog Farm Pollution”

If you drive down many Eastern North Carolina roads, you may see a billboard that looks like this:

Raise A Stink

They are doing just what they say–raising a stink, but it is a stench much worse than any pig poop could possibly smell. These billboards are part of a campaign started by the Waterkeeper Alliance organization to blame hog farmers for polluting local waterways. Although their aim is to make a positive difference in the community, this organization is causing harm, defaming an industry, and do not have their facts straight.

It is important that not just the other side of the story is told, but that facts are put out there, so that the public can be informed. Pollution is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly; however, there are a few things that the Waterkeeper Alliance isn’t telling you–things you should know to get the whole picture.

Who is the Waterkeeper Alliance?

The Waterkeeper Alliance organization is an international group represented by 240 local groups on 6 continents. They are environmentalists who focus on maintaining and promoting clean waterways. They have been active in campaigns against dairy farmers in New York and hog farmers in North Carolina along with various other campaigns. Last year (2014), they, along with their local subsidiary, The Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation filed an intent to sue against a NC farm, that gave the farm 90 days to complete a list of demands or else the organization would file suit against the farm. Although the farm worked with the organization to meet demands, the Waterkeeper Alliance has launched the billboard campaign against all NC hog farmers.

What claims have been made by the Waterkeper Alliance?

The Waterkeeper Alliance makes many claims that can be found on their website. Here are a few to note:

  • Waterkeeper Alliance seeks to expose the fact that foreign-owned corporations are reaping the profits made possible by the antiquated lagoon and sprayfield system of hog waste disposal, while placing an unfair burden on local contract growers.
  • Many people “are unaware of how much environmental damage and human pain and suffering these industrial swine operations are inflicting on people and their environment,” Rick Dove, North Carolina CAFO manager for Waterkeeper Alliance
  • “For too long, factory farms in North Carolina have been disproportionately located in minority communities where residents are forced to endure the smell, water quality impacts and the embarrassment associated with the facilities operating near their homes. Through this campaign and multiple other fronts, we’re working toward the day when people living near these operations are granted their right to swimmable, drinkable and fishable waterways,” Marc Yaggi, executive director at Waterkeeper Alliance
  • “Using so-called lagoons and sprayfields to dispose of hog waste is an outhouse method that must be replaced. A number of systems that will do away with lagoons and sprayfields have been tested and approved for implementation. It is time to put an end to this problem and the best place to start is by educating the public about what is happening to their water, air and communities.” Rick Dove,North Carolina CAFO manager for Waterkeeper Alliance

There is a lot packed into these claims, so let’s dissect them and look at what the hog farm scene looks like.

Hog Farm Fast Facts:

  • First, let’s make sure we don’t call large hog farms factories. Even though they are on a much larger scale, they are still a farm, and should be called as such. The majority of these farms are still family operated too.
  • The hog farming chain can be a little confusing with its many parts. Here is a chart that will hopefully help.pig integrator
  • North Carolina is the second largest producer of hogs in the U.S. and contributes $2.9 billion to the economy
  • Large hog farms keep pig waste in large pits called lagoons.
  • No new lagoons are allowed to be built
  • Hog waste is used as fertilizer for crops.

What are the Waterkeeper Alliance not telling you?

The Waterkeeper Alliance makes it sound like pig farmers have absolutely no concern for the environment, and they are irresponsible with the waste from the farms. This is the farthest from the truth. Farmers are some of the most avid hunters and fishermen out there. Why would they want to pollute the very waters that provide that recreation? In addition, many of their families live within the vicinity of these farms. Would farmers purposely pollute and cause damage to their own family? I don’t think so.

Even if farmers didn’t care (which they most certainly do) they are required by law to adhere to strict regulations as to when, where, and how they can deposit and manage the waste in the hog lagoons. These regulations are put in place by the Department of Water Quality and are monitored throughout the year. Hog waste is never allowed to be dumped into waterways; however, human waste is permitted to be dumped in the rivers once it has been treated. Although the majority of pollutants have been removed from the waste, the volume put in streams is still high and the pollutant mass can still be high in streams (NCSU).

The Waterkeeper Alliance demands a waste water treatment facility to deal with the hog waste in a more environmentally friendly way; however, human waste water treatment facilities are not perfect either. According to the EPA, there are over 22,000- 75,000 sanitary sewer overflows (SSO’s) that occur each year due to blockages, line breaks, sewer defects that allow storm water and groundwater to overload the system, lapses in sewer system operation and maintenance, power failures, inadequate sewer design and vandalism. The only thing a hog waste water treatment facility is going to do is cost the pork industry millions of dollars, driving the cost of bacon and porkchops through the roof. According to Feeding America, North Carolina is ranked in the top 10 states for food insecurity, and higher pork prices will only drive food insecurity up.

The Waterkeeper Alliance draws on various studies that show the effect of hog farms and hog waste on the surrounding community; however, these studies often show inconclusive data and rely on speculation. Yet, the Waterkeeper Alliance states them as fact. Beyond any of this, though, are the facts that they are hiding about the regulations that hog farmers have to abide by:

  • Lagoons are required to have substantial grass planted around its banks to prevent erosion.
  • Crops meant for direct human consumption, are not allowed to have hog waste sprayed on them as fertilizer.
  • Lagoons must be kept under a certain level at all times to prevent overflows into waterways.
  • Rain is stressful to a hog farmer as it increases the levels of the lagoons and soaks the fields to where they cannot be sprayed on. With no where for the rising lagoon water to be sprayed, hog farmers often times have to hire tanks to haul it away. They have even flown men in from other states to help in the effort of managing the lagoons during a heavy rain season.
  • Hog farmers have to take lagoon samples of the waste to make sure the nitrogen and phosphorus levels are appropriate within 30 days of spraying on fields.
  • If hog farmers know a neighbor is having a party or an outdoor function, they try not to spray as to disturb them.
  • The majority of farms are off of a dirt path away from most homes. By law, they must be 1,500 feet from a residence and 2,500 feet from a school, church, hospital, or park.
  • Farms are inspected twice a year by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). According to the NC Pork Council, during 2000, 98% of the 6,000 inspections of NC’s 2,500 hog farms were found to have no direct discharges of organic waste water to the surface waters of the state and 94% found no signs of over-application to fields.
  • If there happens to be a hog waste spill in the rivers, the farm is required to report it and could be fined.
  • Spills are typically caused by equipment malfunctions.

The organization claims that there are better innovative ways to deal with hog waste out there, but hog farms are stuck on the antiquated ways of spraying on fields. Many hog farms are collaborating with scientists and innovators on various ways to improve hog waste management. Many of these innovations are in a trial period or are so expensive that the cost outweighs any benefit. The goal is to provide affordable pork to the public and  do so in an ethical manner. Farmers are being ethical and careful in how they manage hog waste.

The Waterkeeper Alliance may also tell you that the Neuse is one of the most polluted rivers and fish are at an all time low; however, the Neuse River basin does not boast the most amount of hog farms. The Caper Fear River Basin has the most hog farms. If hog farms were the cause of the river pollution, then why is the river basin with the most concentrated hog farms, not the most polluted? It doesn’t add up.

Cape Fear
http://scorecard.goodguide.com/env-releases/aw/nc-riverbasin.tcl?image_id=030300&huc6=030300

What Now?

While the Waterkeeper Alliance is not calling for an end to large pig farms, they are saying some nasty things that does not tell the whole story by any means. It is ok for them or anyone to ask questions and even challenge certain practices. It is important that hog farmers look at ways to constantly improve, but the current billboard campaign does not ask questions and challenges in an unhealthy manner. The Waterkeepr Alliance is suggesting that hog farmers are unethical in their environmental practices, but the Waterkeepr Alliance is not being ethical in their efforts by defaming an industry, causing the potential for increased pork prices, and not telling the whole story.

If you see these billboards remember that there is another side to those signs. They look something like this:

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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.

Busting Suds

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Family Affair

 

Davis
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…

Clean Cut

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!

dan

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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Payton

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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!

taylor

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sasser and cowkeilley

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.

judge spotlight

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gid and judge

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.

banners

awards

ribbons

hugs
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.”

des cos

duke

baseball

marshal clown

moon pie

marshall and city

city

kylle

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!

mary

Sold
Sold

sold

saleCandids

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.

india

sw

caleb bwcaleb color

outlaw

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

 

young

sasser
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.

 

marshall

goatl

mary and cow

md
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?

alan

pw

tay gid

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.

cleaning

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.