Mary Dunn & Alan Johnson||Prom 2016

I was so excited when Mary asked me to help her get ready for her prom (I’ve secretly been dying to get my hands on her gorgeous locks) and take pictures. This girl is my neighbor and like a little sister. I’ve watched her grow into a beautiful young lady who is accomplished and stays super busy with 4-H, livestock, school, and the community. Accompanying Mary to her prom was fellow showman, Alan. My first memory of Alan was him as probably a cloverbud asking a ton of livestock questions. Today, he’s mentoring the cloverbuds.

I couldn’t be more proud of either of these two, and was so glad I got to have a part in their evening!

Although there was rain, with rain comes rainbows, and that is exactly what we got. I hope ya’ll enjoy these!

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It takes a village

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Ya’ll looked wonderful! Thank you for letting me be a part in your lives today and all the other days too.

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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. 😉

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:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Meet the New Additions

After 6 hours on the road, my brother, Alec and I finally made it home with two new show goats.

The little does were born in September and October. They have some growing to do, but I think they have some great potential. Without further adieu welcome this year’s goats for the spring show and sale in April to the farm.

I would like to introduce Hershey, shown by Gideon…

gid and hersehAnd Reeses, shown by Isaac.

reesesThe boys were super excited to see their new goats, weigh them, and introduce them to their new home.

boys in trailerWithin 5 minutes, they were already wanting to practice showing them with collars and leashes. I told them they might want the newbies to get used to everything first. They agreed that rubbing them would suffice for now.

Of course, I had to snap a picture of the new additions for you guys. Can you say #blogger’slife?

take a picEven Sassy, the barn cat, had to come check things out.

sassStay tuned for two more little girls that will be added to the farm within the coming days. These ones will be much more pink and will say oink!