We are counting down the days to the County Youth Fair, when we must bid our farewells to “Marvin” and “Sweetie.” Though our kids have been involved with 4-H and FFA for a while now, this is the first year that one of them has been involved in a Market Animal project: the rearing of a young animal for- yes, you guessed it: FOOD.
My son had been raising Silkie Bantam show chickens and showing them at the Youth Fair for 4 years, but at the start of this past school season, he decided to try his hand at a pig- his friends were doing it, so why not? They don’t have show pigs- well they do, some are Grand Champions, but in the end, it all ends up as bacon.
Our pair of piglets arrived in a barrel-(In October) together- and we had to put them in the dog kennel as they could fit through the fence of the pig pen we built. Over 120 lbs. later, they are enjoying their pig-pen (home of our future pre-fertilized veggie garden!) The pigs were cute & small, and snuggled together in a half-barrel like babies in a cradle- the half-barrel now serves as their feeding trough and one pig couldn’t nestle it alone, let alone two. They are smart critters, and gallop to you, wanting to be petted or a belly rub. The friendlier they are, the more I try and avoid them, knowing the final outcome of this project.
There are five weeks left to fair, and we are in the nail-biting stage- pigs must make the 230 lb. minimum weight to make the fair. We’ve seen plenty turned away. Record books, complete with photos, detailed costs and a written essay must be completed and letters to potential buyers must be sent out. So, my son must not only feed & wash Marvin, but also keep track of every expense, and find someone willing to buy his pig at the Youth Fair Auction- and then there’s walking the pig. They have to walk it in the show arena prior to the auction and during the auction- whew- he has his hands full!
After having seen the kids last year break down in tears at the auction, I will have a discreet tissue or two ready (one for me) cause I’m sure to shed a tear when the end comes. And afterwards, I think I’ll pass on the bacon..at least for a week or two.