Adjusting to the curve: Zach Griffith
for The Fence Post
Zach Griffith is a trooper and knows the importance of adjusting to the curve. Griffith, a 2020 Brush High School graduate just ended his Morgan County (Colorado) Fair career by hanging the Grand Champion Market Hog banner with his gilt named Baby Girl.
His summer was spent feeding and preparing his show stock — three market steers and four market hogs — for the county fair.
Though Griffith is, of his own admission, more of a cattle guy, he has followed in his older sister, Courtney’s, footsteps and, as he said, follows her orders when it comes to showing market hogs. With his sister home from college early due to COVID-19, there was ample time to work on his showmanship skills, despite uncertainty about whether or not there would be a fair.
Griffith purchased his pigs in Nebraska from Scott Dean at SD Genetics, intending to purchase only two. With two purchased, a little bluebutt gilt came in the ring.
“When this hog came through, Zach really wanted her and so we came home with three that day,” his mom Shelly Griffith said. “She has been a barn favorite. Her name is Baby Girl and she’s everyone’s favorite because of her personality. She’s a sweetheart.”
Knowing he had the quality of market hogs to be a contender, he and his sister spent every evening perfecting Zach’s showmanship skills, teaching the pigs to walk slowly with their heads up, and preparing for his last year.
When the weight classes and division drives finished, Zach had three first place hogs, one fourth place, the Champion Medium Weight Market Hog and the Champion Heavy Weight Market Hog, and a ticket to the Grand Champion Drive.
“I was feeling pretty nervous because that was the first time I’ve been in the Grand Drive when I felt like I had a good chance to win,” he said. “She walked perfectly out there with her head up and everything.”
When the shavings settled, it was Griffith and Baby Girl who received the champion nod from judge Kendal Reitzenstein. Reserve Champion was Sidney Miller.
Later in the week, Griffith’s week capped off at the Junior Market Livestock Sale where Baby Girl sold to a group of 16 buyers. Auctioneer Bryson Miller said he gathered the group of buyers, who were all excited to cooperate, Miller said, at the mention of Zach’s name.
“For me it boils down to Zach being an inspirational young man,” Miller said. “If we all learn to deal with adversity the way that young man has,the world would be a better place.”
Miller said he sees Zach light up rooms with his attitude, personality and grin.
Banners and buckles aside, perhaps the most endearing lesson Zach has taught his 4-H family is the importance, as he said, of adjusting to the curve. At 11, he and his sister were both in a freak ATV accident on their way to help feed and sort cattle. Zach was left with major injuries and his mom described his diagnosis as grim. To adjust, Zach put different processes into play to make the daily tasks of caring for his livestock within his reach, eventually returning to the showring. With walking again after his accident an activity that was once beyond his reach, he has certainly adjusted and prevailed.
With his last Morgan County Fair in the books, Griffith said he will miss the close friends he’s made showing locally and nationally, but he has big plans to stay in the cattle and agriculture industries. He’ll be in the Morgan Community College Precision Agriculture class in the fall.
“It’s new types of farming and new technology and I’m excited to learn that so when I do go back and work with my dad, I can take the knowledge I learn there, back to the farm,” he said.
In a year and in an industry that turns on the ability to adapt, Griffith is ending his 4-H career with a purple banner and that skill down pat. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 768-0024.
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