Robyn Scherer: From the Edge of the Ring 4-2-12
April 3, 2012
I can remember the day I got my first pig like it was yesterday. I had saved to buy her, and couldn’t wait to bring her home. It was the spring of my senior year of high school, and I took my parents to the pig farm from our house to pick her up.
I watched as the boy I was buying the pig from went in and put up the sow, and then attempted to catch my little girl. When he finally caught her, I was treated to my first experience with a high-pitched pig squeal.
The look on my parent’s faces said, “What are you getting into?” I have to admit, I was wondering the same thing. But I was determined to raise and show a pig, so we loaded her up and took her home. I decided to name her Shanae, after a little girl whose father was the farrier for our horses. A few days later I got a second pig, and I was ready to go.
I grew up around horses and cattle, so getting a pig was something different for me. However, I knew after just a few weeks with my little piglets that I was hooked. I didn’t know at the time what it was about them that I loved so much, but I knew I had to have them.
I fed and worked with my pigs throughout the summer, and in August took them to fair. The first night of fair was our move-in, and I was so excited to finally be able to show a pig. That night, however, I received devastating news.
The second pig that I had bought carried a genetic disorder called porcine stress syndrome (PSS). It’s more common in show pigs, because it makes them extra muscular. I didn’t know anything about it, and my pig went from being fine to being stiff and dead in a matter of 15 minutes. It was awful.
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After trying to get over losing one of my babies, I knew I had to pull myself together so I could show my gilt. As I took her in her class, the judge immediately penned me. After penning a few more, he dismissed the rest of the class and let us back out. After his evaluation, he picked my gilt to win the class! I was so excited.
I then came back for the championship drive. The judge picked the champion, and it wasn’t mine. He then debated for awhile between my pig and another girl’s, and ended up picking hers for reserve.
However, in my county, we have a special section. The reserve champion was not a Delta County Bred and Fed pig, so we still had more showing to do to compete for the Reserve Champion in that section.
After winning my class again, it came time for the championship drive and sure enough, we won! To place that high my first year was more than a dream come true. I was completely hooked on showing livestock.
After discussion with my parents and a local FFA adviser, it was decided that my parents would purchase my pig at the sale so that I could keep her to breed her, and start a business raising pigs. That’s when my show business, Champion Livestock, was born.
They bought her, and that next spring my first litter of piglets was born, including two gilts that I decided to keep. I marveled at how wonderful they were, and couldn’t wait until I could bring them to college with me.
That next spring, I was finally in a place where I could keep them, and moved them so I could care for them full-time. I loved being able to see them every day, even though it meant a lot of extra responsibility while going to school full-time.
At this time I was too old to show market pigs, so I kept a few from that spring’s litter to show as breeding pigs. I also looked for another animal that I could show, because there weren’t many breeding pigs shows. I learned that I could show goats at any age, and so I bought my first Nubian dairy goat, Lilly, and my first Boer goat, Lola.
I showed them in a breeding class at my county fair that fall along with my pigs, and had great success. The next summer I picked up an Alpine dairy goat that someone no longer wanted, and I bred the three of them that fall.
When those little kids were born, I knew I had a second livestock love. At this time I also had four litters of pigs, so I was in baby livestock heaven.
Since that time, my sow herd has grown to include eight sows (two breeds) and a boar, and my goat herd now stands at 13 does, and encompasses three breeds of dairy goats and my Boer goats. I still have my first two goats, and show all the breeds.
And what about that gilt that I showed my senior year of high school? Shanae is still part of my herd, and I recently bred her for her seventh little of piglets, which will be due in mid-July.
Having all these animals can be a lot of work, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love the joy they bring, and the wonderful people I get to meet through them. One thing I do know is that without my parent’s love and support, I wouldn’t be where I am today.