Enjoying fair time
Hands down, one of my favorite times of the year is fair time. It’s the time when 4-H and FFA members get to take the projects they have worked so hard at to a show, and compete against their peers.
I love seeing the passion and drive in these youngsters. They reach the barn early to feed and make sure their animals are comfortable, and then they begin prepping for their respective shows.
I love watching the kids push their hogs down to the wash racks, and laugh as their pigs shake their heads and shower them in water. It only takes a second for the hog to grab the hose, and for the next several minutes the children then giggle as they try to get it back.
Then it’s time to dry the hog and take it back to the pen, and for the next several hours the children will be attentive to every need of the pig. When it’s time to go in the ring, the kids change into their pressed show shirts, brush their hogs down and grab their stick.
The look of anticipation on their faces it evident as they enter the ring, and their eyes are trained on the judge. As he sorts out the hogs he likes, the anticipation in the ring mounts.
That final handshake for the champion lights up the child’s face who won. Parents and friends cheer from the stands, and I can’t help but smile.
I know what it feels like to be that kid. The pride that she feels, and the excitement she has is one of the best feelings she will have in her life.
This story is relevant to every species that the youth show. Each student has an interesting story, and has spent hours and hours working with their projects.
When it is time for the students to sell their livestock projects, the emotions they exhibit range from excited to sad. There are some children who do everything they can to hold back their tears, and many times are unable to do so.
There are other students who are all smiles, and as the price goes up, their smile gets bigger. At most junior livestock sales, the animals sell for much more than the market price, which is good for the students.
This extra money is almost always saved for future projects, and to be used for college. There are many students who save up enough through their years in 4-H and FFA to pay for their entire education, which is a pretty amazing thing.
The experience of raising a livestock project is very beneficial to these kids in more ways than one. The financial aspect is easy to see, but it is the intangibles that are even more important.
Learning skills such as hard work, dedication and responsibility are skills that can be used throughout these students’ lives, from their schoolwork to jobs and in their relationships.
4-H and FFA help develop these students into leaders in agriculture, which are vital in helping the agricultural industry to move forward and continue to be progressive.
I believe in supporting these organizations, as well as the students involved. Seeing the smile on a kid’s face when they compete at fair makes everything worth it.
Even though all of my struggles this year, I know that the animals I sell are making a difference in these students’ lives. That is one of the best parts of my life, and seeing these students compete is the highlight of my summer.
When I’m not attending these livestock shows, I am spending time back at the farm with my livestock. I weaned my piglets at four weeks, and they are all now eating aggressively and have adapted to living outside from being inside. I do know this much: they sure love dirt.
Actually all pigs love dirt, but the first time these piglets play in the dirt is always amusing. They dig and roll, and run circles around each other. They are happy to get to be pigs.
When the pigs hit eight weeks old, they will go to their new homes, where a student will get the opportunity to raise them and nurture them in preparation for National Western Stock Show.
I look forward to seeing these pigs compete in January, and watching the excitement the kids who are competing have to be at this prestigious event.
In early January I will also be delivering goat kids for the 2013 show season. It appears that all seven of my does settled, so I will have roughly 14 goat kids to play with next year, and watch grow into show prospects.
This next month, at the end of the month, I will be breeding back my sows for the spring litters. It’s always exciting to pick out the boars that I will be using, and wait patiently for the results from those selections.
I did have one exciting birth this month, and that was the birth of eight adorable pot bellied piglets. I got into pot bellies originally with a single boar, that I use to tease my big females for artificial insemination.
I decided to buy a sow, and have had a couple of pot belly litters. They are easy breeders and easy farrowers, so it’s nice to have a pig that can have the babies on her own without issues.
The pot belly babies are only about a half to three quarters of a pound when they are born, and they are incredibly cute. They are a fun animal to have, and usually I sell them to homes with little kids.
The kids are so excited to bring home a pig, and get attached to them much like they would with a dog. It’s another heartwarming part of having livestock.
At the end of they day, I know that I enjoy what I do because the students and the families that I get to meet. Whether it’s watching them succeed at fair or bringing home a new friend, I love seeing the smiles on their faces. ❖
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