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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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.