Amanda at fair

Amanda had a good fair. It is a joy to watch her grow up.

But with that said, showmanship with her steer was not her shining moment.  Mickey was his typical stubborn self. 


Mickey giving Amanda a look!

She ended up placing 6th in showmanship.   In market class Mickey placed 7th overall.


Amanda with the judge asking her basic beef knowledge questions as he watches her set Mickeys feet.

Showing Frosty, her feeder calf, wasn’t a lot better.   She clearly needs to work her cattle MUCH more before next years show.  She placed 9th in showmanship.


Amanda walking Frosty in the show ring following Daniel

Hog showmanship went well.  She placed 3rd.  The judge told her she was a natural and should have started years earlier.  Funny this was the same judge that didn’t place her at all last year!


Amanda walking Cinderella in the show ring

Her pig placed 4th in her class.  


Amanda, in a holding pen, during market class

She was very happy.


She loves to show pigs. 

Next year’s goal- win showmanship!

All pictures in this  post are thanks to my wonderful mother in law. 


Mike with his market hog


Mike did excellent in showmanship.

He, unfortunately had a tough group of 18 kids. In showmanship the child is being judged, not the pig. He had a good group of strong handlers but earned a 5th place ribbon.


Mike walking spot


Outstanding for interview, 5th place showmanship

Very proud of you Mike!

Picture day

Ever try to take a good picture of a pig?  Or a steer?  AND a kid?


Very frustrating.

The kids are raising the animals to ultimately sell at auction at the end of fair.  Local businesses buy the animals as community service / advertising.  I am always wowed by the support the  town gives 4h kids.

The kids write letters asking for bidders.   We include a picture so the bidders (hopefully) recognize them in the auction ring.

The animals get washed.   The kids get ready.  But you cant make a pig smile for camera!

We spent an hour chasing pigs around the yard trying to get 3 suitable pictures. We tried all the tricks, put out bowls of feed, a hose, piles of apple, etc.

So frustrating.


wait!  dont walk away.


Youre walking away again!


This isn’t working!


Horrible, busy background.


Not only will Cinderella not stop at the food bowls, she knocks them over.


Who wants to bid on a pig butt?


How did I not notice how short her shorts were?  I can NOT mail this one out! 


Ooops, forgot the kids face!


Runaway pig.

I posted these because any one who photographs kids and animals understands!

We did end up with 5 pictures.  3 hogs, 2 steer.  They weren’t great.  But they will do.


Mike with Spot.


Daniel walking Pepper.


Amanda with Cinderella eating the hose.  (I will photoshop jeans on her!)


Daniel and Squirt


Amanda with Mickey.  (again, jeans will be added!)


The kids are required to attend “super livestock judging”


Amanda identifying cuts of meat

The kids bring their record books.   These books are very time consuming.  There is a basic workbook section with general breed/livestock/animal well being questions.  

The second half is specific to their animals.  They need to have pictures, feed schedules, expense records, immunizations, etc.


Mike waiting his turn for feed identification

They  have interviews with judges and skill stations.   They have to  identify  types of feed, breeds of animals, parts of animals, cuts of meat, and more animal husbandry.

Long day!   They have top go through this in both beef and swine.

I was very happy with the overall results.

They were judged on one hog and 2 beef projects each with blue ribbons all around.  And 6 of the 9
projects were awarded outstanding ribbons.


Lots and lots of hard work this summer, always good to see it pay off!

Time to walk the pigs


Mike with Bertha

I love this time of year.   We have 33 days until fair and life is busy.

The pigs are finally big enough to walk.   We wait until they are about 200 lbs.  If you walk them much lighter they run too fast to control.

They all have different personalities.  Yesterday only Mike and  Amanda were to walk.

We could very quickly see that Amandas pig, weighing only 175# is a runner.   We opened the pen and  she took off running, to the back hay field.  You don’t chase or they run faster.  Very nerve wrecking to watch the kids projects run away!


Amanda and Snow White

Eventually, Snow White calmed down to walk.  Amanda uses a whip to walk, but with only very light touches.   Pigs are sensitive, a soft touch is enough to send then in the right direction.


Mike with both Spot and Bertha

Mike uses a cane.  But again, with very little pressure.   Once the pigs have been walking for a week or so it becomes much easier.

Peek into a busy morning of chores

We are camping this week, so everyone has to get up early, stumble, yawning to the car and drive home for chores.


Asleep and not wanting to get up.

The drive is quick, only 20 minutes.

The calves and steer all need to be haltered for grain and supplements.  We halter them so they are used to being tied at fair.


All lined up in the barn

They don’t mind being haltered.  They usually just lay down and sleep.   They stay tied for about 45 minutes.


Amandas steer just isn't filling out like we wanted despite our efforts so he gets extra corn.

The hogs need cleaned and fed.


These girls can get quite messy overnight, jeter they are getting brushed.


See the wagon at the gate? The dreaded manure wagon that gets emptied twice a day in the hay field behind the house.

Of course the dog wants fed.


Zoey at the campground

And the cat wants attention.


Naughty Fluffy scratching the barn

The garden needs watered and zucchini harvested.


Mike in the garden in June

Finally, untie the steer and drive back to the park.  But at least there is a  river and a pool awaiting  hard working kids.


Thoughts from an former vegetarian

Amanda with 2010 fair piglets

I didn’t eat meat for 4 years while in high school. I thought it was cruel. I slowly added meat back into my life while in the Navy and having limited choices.


But I have always struggled with the concept of eating meat.

Amanda with piglet at 250 lbs. Sept 2010

I wasn’t sure I could raise an adorable 40lb piglet into a 300lb hog and then eat him. It was a somewhat horrifying proposition.

But, honestly, it has all seemed very wholesome and natural. We raise these adorable piglets and calves into adults. They were well cared for. We know what they ate. The living conditions were wonderful for a farm animal.

And at 300 lbs they aren’t so cute. They are strong. And stubborn. And tasty.

I wondered how the kids would react.  I wanted them to understand what they ate and where food comes from. If any decided to given up meat, as several of my nieces have, it would come from an informed decision. They would know that pork chops don’t grow on grocery store shelves in plastic.


The kids, of course, responded better than me.  They were saddened at auction, but had no trouble eating the meat.  It was delicious.  They all wanted to raise another piglet the next year.


Mike with Speck, 2011

As we look forward to our third year rasing fair animals, it becomes routine. Simply provide comfortable living conditions, healthy food, clean water, and a clean shelter.  Treat them kindly.


I never take for granted what we eat. I try very hard to cook everything and not waste.  Just seems respectful to the animals

Spring Cleaning


Rob and the kids power washing the hog pen

Since it oddly felt like summer in March, we decided to get the barn ready for this years animals. 

We typically get the hogs Memorial day weekend but the feeder calves arrive in early April.

We  power washed the hog pens. And the kids got excited talking about this years calves.

Amanda and Daniel got the steer out on the new show halters


Mickey and Amanda


Daniel and Squirt

Spring steer sure is only weeks away, and they aren’t walking well at all.  yikes!

Lots of walking is needed. Hard to find the time with youth group, baseball, softball, track, 4H and FFA!

The weather has been insane.  77 degrees and sunny in mid-March.  heavenly!