Sunday, March 28, 2010

An education in swine

This year was Paige's first year to be able to show animals as a part of 4-H at the local youth expo. One of her best friends was showing a pig, so Brian asked her if she wanted to show too.

Here are Paige and Emalee:
Needless to say, I was never an ag girl in high school and have only frequented the annual youth exposition a few times over the years. The last time I went was probably 6 years ago to watch a girl from the church youth group show her steer. I'd never seen a pig show, and certainly got my education last Wednesday night.

I know that when you watch a steer show, the steers are pretty much go where you lead them and stand where you have them stand.

I know from the chicken show one year while Brian was in high school that you have to hold the chickens upside down and that I was not a good enough sister to hold a set of chickens for him during his judging when he needed extra sets of hands. A sister has to draw a line somewhere.

I didn't know a thing about a pig show. Dad and I chose to stand next to the bleachers. I made such choice because I had been sitting all day and didn't think sitting on the hard, cramped bleachers would do much for my cramp in my hip I still haven't figured out how I got. That's a whole other subject, but we were standing in the "uninformed section" and we had to guess what was going on.

Paige had two pigs - they weighed just a couple of pounds different, but did make it into two different weight classes, so she had the chance to show each of them.

The first class came through, and this one younger boy that was one of the first to come through had a big that ran and got away from him. They put him in a pen pretty quick and he was walking around with his hand in the air. Peyton was there at the moment (before running off to do other things) and asked about the hand in the air. Dad and I didn't know what to tell her but we thought the kid was a little off or something.

In this class, there was also a girl that I knew couldn't possibly win a showmanship award. She was walking around bent over with her rear sticking out, and beating the snot out of her pig. It was awful to watch. The judges finally said something to her. Whack, whack, whack, not the gentle whack most kids did to guide their pigs around or keep them moving. Bruise worthy whacks. Drove me nuts.

After a few more pigs were penned, our assessment is that they put the pigs that were out of control in the pens. So, the pigs were dwindled down, and they let some of the "misbehaving" pigs back out to go around. The kid who had his hand up and the rowdy pig kept going around and around the ring as they others were being culled out. This kid's pig looked like it was foaming at the mouth to me, and seemed even uglier than the other pigs.

When 15-20 pigs are wondering around, it seems a bit frantic and confusing. Pigs are led around too easily, it's just a bunch of random wanderings. Pandemonium would be how I would describe it.

Much to the surprise of both my dad and I, the rowdy pig won his class. Dad and I were perplexed. The judge was explaining his decisions, but the sound system was not good, and we had no idea what was being said.

Class 2 came into the ring and we started to get a little better idea of what was going on. Or so we thought. Dad had a couple of people he picked out with their pigs. But, the judge caught up to them and eliminated them. Think sort of like the dance off on Dancing with the Stars when the dancers they keep dancing around until someone taps them on the shoulder. You don't want the judge to talk to you while there are still pigs in the corral.

Class 3 - the first of Paige's two classes. Her pig got a little ahead of her, and she quickly went to the pen. At first, Dad and I were frustrated. Then, I convinced him this must be a good thing. After all Rowdy Pig in the first round won and he got penned right away.

I kept telling him that I thought I had it figured out now, and that you really wanted to be penned right from the start. We figured, ok, this must be good after all.

Sure enough, Paige got out and got to parade her pig around for a while. She ended up 8th in her class. Quite impressive for a third grader who was showing for the first time with kids up to seniors in high school. She was disappointed, you could tell by looking, but she did great. She's competitive - way competitive - and I'm not totally sure where she gets that from to that degree.

After she got to bring her pig out for judge's comment after getting her ribbon, she had to go back and get her next pig ready for Class 4.

This time, as soon as she came out, she had her hand up as she came down the shoot, and went right to the pen. This time, we knew this was good.

I said something to Mom saying it was good, and she knew that already. She heard Paige tell Emalee before everything started to watch the judge and that it was a good thing. Guess Dad and I should have heard that, and it would have solved us a lot of trouble.

Paige didn't do as well this time around and ended up in the middle of the pack at 13, but we were still super proud of her.

I saw the complete standings a couple of days later, and I think the girl who appeared to be beating her pig did actually end up with a showmanship award. I say this because she had another pig in Paige's first class and where she placed in relation to Paige's first pig. The results had showmanship notes listed by them. Further proof of my cluelessness.

Maybe there was actually a pig problem as to why she was so rough with him. It was hard to hear out there, but I hope the people around me didn't hear me comment on her beating her pig. Some people close to us were talking later about how one pig got stressed out and wasn't going to make it through. The girl in question was going to have to work with a less superior pig to have a chance at showmanship. If they indeed heard me comment on the pig whacking, I apologize. They really could have informed me on the particulars of pig showing and behavior.

At least next year, I'll have more of a clue!

1 comment:

Pam said...

My daughter is having to raise tilipia and catfish in an ag class right now. It is so funny because they have a fish doctor of some sort come in and talk to them. He keeps telling them the fish are dying because they are stressed out. I didn't know fish even got stressed!