It starts in March and ends in August, the grind of taking care of and showing pigs. You start by buying the pigs around the end of March the start of April. I go to different sales with my uncle who also houses our pigs. We go from sale to sale picking out which ones we think are going to be good. We try not to go after the really expensive pigs so we don’t spend a lot of money. Once you finish looking at them the auction starts. One of the places we buy our pigs is in Illinois so we buy them offline and then go exchange the pigs around the Illinois Indiana State line.
When we get them home we put them in a pen normally the pen is small to start so they stay in warmer spots while they are small. At first you have to let them get used to you by letting them sniff your hand so they aren’t scared of you. Normally we end up with about twelve pigs eight for county fair and four for the State fair. We each only show four at the county fair and two each at the State fair. As we get more we split them up into separate pens so we can feed and develop each pig the way we want them to.
As the county fair gets closer we walk them outside every day so when they get in the show ring they won’t flip out and run all over the place. We also wash them off with water every day we walk them so the look good. A normal day taking care of them consists of; walking them, cleaning out their pens, watering them, feeding them, rinsing them off, and putting on conditioner on their hair. The bedding we use at my uncle is a mixture of straw and wood shavings. At the fair we only use wood shavings because it it hotter at the fair than at home.
Then a month before the fair we start weighing them at home so we can see where they’re at and what we need to do to get them what we want them to weigh. Sometimes we have to hold a pig because he weighs to much or we might have to push a pig to get it to weigh more. It is all about how they weigh compared to their body structure. Then July 5th through the 11th roles around and all the hours you spent walking them, feeding them, washing them, and brushing them finally pays off.
The night before we took them to the fair we had to go to the fairgrounds and set up our tack which is all the stuff we need to take care of them while we are at the fair. The hardest part was setting up the fans and running all the extension cords to the outlets. The next morning I had to get up at 5:00 a. m. in the morning! The hardest part is loading the pigs into the trailer because they have to step up 6 inches to get into the trailer. A lot of the time they don’t want to go in so you have to push them to get them to step up into the trailer.
Once we get to the fairgrounds we have to unload them and put them in our pens. Once we are done with that we had to wait until 10:00 a. m. to weigh them in. 10:00 a. m. finally comes and then we had to wait another two hours to weigh in. Once you are done weighing in we finally feed them for the first time that day. We didn’t want to feed them before weigh in because we didn’t want their weight to change. We spent the rest of the day and all of Tuesday doing the normal stuff we did when they were back home.
On Wednesday which is the day before the show it is hecktik in the barn because everyone is trying to wash their pigs and make their final adjustments before show day. We normally wash them towards the end of the day because everyone else washes them around the middle part of the day. The next day is show day it’s finally here. The way they make the classes for the barrows it is by breed and weight but for the gilts it is by breed and birth date. I normally take a chester white barrow, a duroc barrow and sometimes a gilt, then two crossbreds, normally a gilt and a barrow, but last year I took two crossbred barrows.
We got there around 6:30 a. m. because the show starts around 7:30 a. m. they do the gilts first so I didn’t have to show my first pig until around 8:00 a. m. First I showed my Duroc Gilt and I really was focused on going out there and showing my best. I didn’t have any pressure to show well because it was early in the morning and not very many people were watching. I got second in my gilt class so later I had to go take my pig back for the champion Duroc Gilt drive. I got second so if the person who beat me got Champion Duroc gilt I would get to compete for Reserve Champion Duroc gilt.
That’s exactly what happened the person who beat me won Champion and I got to go show for reserve and won. I was so excited I got my day off to a good start and even better things were to come. Next I showed my Chester White barrow towards noon so more people were there. All the people we bought the pigs came to watch so I had to good because our reputation was on the line. Then when I took it back out for the Champion Chester White barrow I was nervous my hands were sweaty and It was hot. I took him out there and showed him my best but I came up short and got Reserve Champion Chester White barrow.
That was pretty good and I still had my best two pigs left to show. Later that day it was time to show my Duroc Barrow. This was one of my best pigs I had. I also had a couple of people in my class that have really good pigs too. I was really hot and sweaty my hands were greasy from all the conditioners we had on him. To add more pressure the guy we bought the pig off was there to watch and he came all the way from Illinois. So I knew the only way to satisfy him was to not only win my class but to win Champion Duroc Barrow.
So that’s exactly what I did. I won my class and then ended up winning the Champion Duroc Drive. I was so happy that I finally won Champion with one of my pigs since I had won two reserve champions. Finally last but not least I had my crossbred barrow left to show. We stopped for lunch after the Champion Duroc Drive. When they started back up i had to wait a while until I showed. Finally I was ready to show I took him out there and won my class and took him back in there for Champion Middleweight Crossbred Barrow.
Then I won that finally I took him back for Champion Crossbred Barrow but ended up losing to two other guys because they’re pigs were bigger in mass and muscle than my pig. Then it was time for the big moment the Grand Champion Drives. First was the Grand Champion Gilt Drive and since I had a gilt that got reserve I had to go up there so if my pigs breed won I would get to go show to replace the pig that won. That’s what happened my breed got reserve Grand gilt and I got to have a chance at 3rd, 4th, and 5th overall grand gilt. But I ended up getting beat by a couple of other good pigs.
Then it was time for the grand barrow drive. When I got my Duroc barrow out there it looked good. I had to drive him for a long time and then he started talking about the pigs he really liked and he wasn’t one of them. I ended up not placing at all so I was sad but I knew I still had years left to show and that I have a pretty good chance of winning eventually. Even though I didn’t win most people we talked to thought we should have placed top five with both my Duroc gilt and Duroc Barrow. Know it’s time to get ready for a new year and maybe I’ll have better luck this year.