Seven. That was the final count for how many ram lambs we had born this year. As the saying goes, there’s always the one black sheep. This year, it was very true. Sybil had given us the only natural colored ram of the year. Born on a windy day, he was dubbed Gusty and Gus for short.
I’m not sure why, but Gus was friendlier than any other lamb that year. As such, Gideon formed an attachment.
“Don’t get attached. We don’t keep rams,” we continually reminded him. No matter, Gid is the king of making excuses. The final one he landed on was if Gus wins at the NC State Fair, we had to keep him. I just shook my head, but let him hope.
Gideon spent extra time on Gus the days before the show. He trimmed his “dreadlocks” from his face, and gave him a buzz cut. He washed him, and he put show sheen in his fleece. He even had a special halter picked out just for Gus, although I’m not sure why pink and blue was the choice (the halters would later get mixed up in the chaos of the show).
I had to admit, Gus looked good. He had one of my favorite fleeces of the group, and I couldn’t help but wish he had been a ewe.
When we arrived at the show, we walked the pens of sheep to scope out the competition and view the various breeds. I secretly told mom that night that it was tough competition this year. Don’t get your hopes up. So, we didn’t, but Gid did.
Because Gus is a ram, he couldn’t show in the junior show. So Gid showed his mom, and waited patiently to be able to bring him in the ring during open show. When it came time for Gus’s class, Gideon did a little jump and clapped his hands in excitement.
He won first, and Gid was grinning.
He then went in for champion Medium/fine Natural Colored Ram.
He won grand champion in that division.
Gideon came out of the ring with the biggest smile and said, “now we have to keep him…”
I told him not to let his head get too big, but he did a good job.Gus didn’t win overall champion ram, but he did win his fleece class.
Gideon thought he was done for the day, but there was still Overall Grand Champion Fleece yet to be decided. Back in he went with his prize ram—Gus, and out he came with the champion banner, a plaque, and the biggest grin you ever did see. Gus had won it all.
I smiled and shook my head at this (not so) little boy and his little ram, my heart filled with pride. I looked back over to see Gid on his knee talking to Gus, telling him what an awesome job he did.Believing in someone or something can go a long way, especially when hope is involved. Gideon and Gus won on that, and now, I think Gus is staying on Countryview Farm.
Another year has come and gone at the NC State Fair, but this year was different in many ways. I had to travel by air this time to get there thanks to living in a new zip code, but I was willing to do whatever it took to be there. I’m pretty sure hell would have to freeze over before I gave up State Fair.It was different in more than the airplane ride this year, though. This is the first year in 16 years of showing at the fair that the Lintons have not shown a goat at the fair. What?! There was a time that I never thought I’d say that. Granted, there was a time when I swore I’d never own a sheep. Here we are, bringing 18 of them to the fair. Never say never. This was also the first year that Alec didn’t show. Adulting, man…it’ll get you. He was able to join us after the sheep show to help us load sheep and eat fair food.Yet another aspect that was different this year was that the fair closed the first day due to Hurricane Michael. Guess who had a flight scheduled to land that day? This girl. Thankfully, the storm had blown over by the time I arrived. Somehow, I managed to miss the five inches of snow Lincoln, NE got and the hurricane rains. I did bring fall temperatures with me (your welcome NC).
Anyway, there was a lot going on. Everything worked out, though. On Friday morning we headed to show Isaac and Gideon’s infamous pigs. The boys had a lot of difficulty with these pigs throughout the circuit shows, and it was killing me not to be there for them. Facetime and text updates were what I had to resort to. Aldo and Mack were stubborn and loved the rail (not a good combo for shows). The boys were nervous heading into showmanship drive, and to be frank, I was too. I felt like throwing up. Granted, this is normal for me when they are in the ring. I gave them a pep talk with a few pointers and in they went.
I could have screamed when Gideon got pulled for the final drive and was doing mental praise hands when Isaac did too. Our goal was final drive. Anything else was sprinkles. My nerves were still bad, though. Bad enough to give my friend and bridesmaid, Joanna, the finger. Not THE finger, but the “hang on/cannot deal right now” finger. Thankfully she totally understood and watched from the rail. Isaac ended up in the final 5 and did so good. Good enough that I was in tears (just think what it will be like with my own kids). While neither G nor I got a banner, they both ended up in top 6. They stuck with it, kept cool heads, and drove those pigs. I was dern proud.The rest of the day was spent catching up with friends and running around taking people’s photos. Thank you to all who entrusted me with taking pics of your kids. You helped pay for my plane ticket to be there!The day at the fair concluded with me showing in the performance hog show. Ya’ll, I’ve been coaching the boys on showing pigs, but showing them yourself…man, I felt rusty. Nonetheless, I had a ball showing the barrow and ended up with a Reserve Champion Market Performance Hog for See Farms. My day was made complete with a trip to CookOut. They don’t have those in NE.The second day at the fair was a bit different than the first, but it was still busy. My Fit Bit let me know that I achieved 8,000 steps that day. Instead of showing, I was on the job for the Sale of Champions. I helped check buyers in, took photographs, and videod the sale with my partner in crime, Emily. It was a record-breaking sale, bringing in $190,000, some of which goes to scholarships. It is always a ton of fun to work the Sale, and I often pinch myself that this is my job! Once the sale was complete and the truck loaded, Emily and I headed to the Golden Arches for dinner at 10 at night followed by a tour of her new apartment. I got home around midnight to get up the next morning for a sunrise engagement shoot for some friends. It was early, but amazing lighting and so much fun!The next few days were spent washing and clipping 18 sheep. Let me tell you, this is no easy or speedy task. It took us a solid 2 ½ days to complete. The sheep, of course, despised us, but didn’t look like a hot mess for the show. One sheep, Cain, even did a flip in the air and landed in the mud—he got washed twice. Mom, grandma, Isaac, Gid, and I clipped until dark while Dad and Alec built a divider for the trailer. The guys also built a new sheep stand, that made much easier. Those nights, we didn’t eat until 8.On Wednesday, Mom, the boys, and I loaded up the truck with all our feed and supplies and put all the sheep in the trailer. By the way, that is simple to write, but not simple to do. Catching sheep isn’t always a walk in the park. Thankfully, I have brothers who are excellent sheep wranglers.We were off to the races…errr… show. The fair had decided to rearrange things a bit which meant no backing trailers for this girl. I approved of the new set-up. The vets were super helpful, and we got the 18 sheep checked-in in no time. After some last-minute touch-ups, we headed back home for some Brightleaf hot dogs (because you can’t get those in NE either), grabbed our bags, and headed back to Raleigh to stay in a hotel. The show was early, and we didn’t want to deal with morning traffic.
Sheep show day arrived. We were hopeful for many of our sheep, but also knew that it was a bigger show than years before, with new people. The next several hours went in a blur. While we brought 18 sheep, we showed many sheep more than once because they were entered in both the junior show and open show. All in all, we entered the ring around 50 different times! No, I’m not exaggerating. I just did the math. The boys didn’t show them all. I showed in the open show. Let me tell you…it’s weird having your name called Marisa See over the speaker phone…yet another difference this year.Ultimately, we couldn’t be more thrilled with how it all went. We came home with many top 3 in classes and a few champion banners! Our top honors included:
Gideon also came away with the Grand Champion Junior Showman and both boys placed in costume class.Each of the boys is attached to a certain sheep. It does my heart good to see them cheer on their sheep as much as I cheer on the boys. Isaac’s prize sheep is Astrid. While she didn’t win a banner, she did win top NC Born and Bred in her class. She is, and always will be Isaac’s Astrid. Gideon has bonded with Gus, our only natural born ram this year. Well, Gid and Gus won not only their division, but took home the top honor of Grand Champion Fleece, beating out purebreds (we always get odd looks at our crosses, but we also get results) and people out of state. Alec was able to get off work early to meet us right as the show was ending. So, the whole family was able to head out on the fair to ride some rides (bumper cars and Ferris wheel being my only rides), and eating all our favorite food.It was a wonderful day! We packed up by 9, and headed home. I caught a flight the next morning at 10am back to NE. I now sit here in between the classes I teach, reminiscing on the 2018 NC State Fair and time with family and friends. While I wish I were back to be with them, I’m also happy to be back with my husband who had to lead a bachelor life while I was gone and deal with the very needy and moody Callie Cat. This was also our first state fair not together.Needless to say, this NC state Fair was a tad different than years past, but it still holds all the wonder as before. I still made memories with the people I love, and still enjoyed the fried food and livestock shows as much as ever. NC State Fair, you are worth every mile I traveled to reach you, and while there’ a lot of changes happening in life right now, you stood pretty constant.
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.
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.
An early morning dawned, as our last day of the NC State Fair came upon us. It was time to show some sheep.
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.
Gideon was an artist and explained how wool can take dye.
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.
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.
Both the boys did good, but Isaac took home the blue ribbon with Aspen. Fifi and Alec got third.
Gideon showed Edith in the white medium/fine wool class, and won fourth.
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.
Sybil can have a little bit of sass.
And sometimes, we both toss our heads in disgust…
But ultimately, she still gets kisses.
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.
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.
All in all, the show was so much fun, and super exciting!
Our day wasn’t over yet, though. The boys had ride tickets left. We all got to ride 🙂
And 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
It 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.
I am pleased to introduce to you my gilt, Alice:
And, Alec’s barrow Gus:
We should be getting two more pigs for the boys soon too, so stay tuned.
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.
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.
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.
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.
City 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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
Before 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.
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. One 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.
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.