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FFA

Posted 9/18/2013 4:04pm by Monique Russ.

Us & FionaOn Saturday, August 24th, 2013 my husband and I went to the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe to watch Fiona Lyle show 2 of Miss Pig Pig’s babies. Fiona purchased these pigs from us earlier this spring for her 4H and FFA programs, and she’s been raising and showing her pigs with the hope of getting to the Washington State Fair in Puyallup. Since we support both programs we went to watch her compete in the Fit & Show Class for both 4H and FFA. This competition demonstrates the qualities of the hog, but also the showmanship and abilities of their handler.

Ben and I have never been to a pig show before – we’ve walked thru the barns, sure, but we’ve never actually watched people show their pigs, so this was a treat for us. This is also the first year we’ve ever sold weanlings for a 4H or FFA project (not for lack of trying), so it was definitely exciting to see pigs produced by our farm at the fair. These are ¾ Berkshire and ¼ Chester White pigs out of our beloved Miss Pig Pig who produces friendly, very nicely built pigs, and Fiona has done a great job in raising and training them.

Pigs are highly intelligent animals and they're easily trained, so I was eager to see how well the pigs would react and listen in the show pen. With all the commotion going on around them these kids had to control their pigs around the show ring, demonstrate what they thought were their animals best qualities, and get these pigs to show their bodies in a certain way to the judge. It was easy to tell which handlers didn’t spend enough time with their pigs, and some kids had pigs that were too young to be shown (in my opinion) because they weren’t able to control them effectively. Most of the handlers were able to control them (as much as you can expect anyway), but it was frustrating to see how many of these kids were actually afraid of them! Having the judge shout out that the kids needed to be careful with the pigs interracting with another for fear "they'll eat one another" blew us away. This judge says he's been in the business for years - well why in the world would you make such outrageous claims!?

There’s no doubt pigs are large animals and to someone that doesn’t know their wonderful personalities and calm dispositions they can be very intimidating just because of their sheer size. Take Miss Pig Pig for example –she’s about 750lbs, taller than my waist, and she’s got a lot of power in her, but she's a big baby. Pigs are gentle giants in most cases. Just like dogs it all depends on how they’re raised, treated, and whether or not you respect them.

Now, on to Fiona and her pigs…she did an outstanding job in the show ring! Seriously, she’s got talent!! There were quite a few good competitors, but I honestly have to say we thought she was the best presenter and handler because she was listening to what the judges were telling her, she was able to move her pigs and display them as asked, and she was always focused on the judge and getting her pigs out in view of him. I’ll be honest in that I don’t know anything about showing pigs, but I’ve been told that one of the biggest objectives while you’re in the show ring is to get your pig noticed.

While pigs are easy to handle and train on the farm it’s a little more difficult when you have a show ring full of rambunctious and excited pigs. They’ve been cooped up all night and they’re excited and nervous by their new surroundings and all their new playmates. (One of the best parts was watching the pigs bolt into the show ring and start running around and barking.) Fiona did a fantastic job of keeping her pigs under control, and despite having some little pigs interfering with her own she was able to keep her pigs' attention and focus on her and what she was asking of it.

Fiona did an exceptional job with her pigs and watching her was exciting. Her best quality as far as my husband and I are concerned was her willingness to get in between the pigs when needed. Pigs are curious by nature and these guys often wanted to play or check each other out, but Fiona wasn’t afraid to put herself between two pigs to break them up. If a bigger pig was trying to push hers, she stepped in and moved the pigs apart. Unfortunately, she was the ONLY handler there that wasn’t afraid to do this. When raising animals you can’t be afraid of them or to get involved when it’s needed, and this trait will carry her far in her dreams of becoming a vet. We had a great time watching the show and it was fun to be a part of it. We were so happy for her when both her pigs won Grand Champion in Fit and Show at the Evergreen State Fair in both the FFA and 4H division! Congrats to Fiona!!  She definitely deserved it, she worked hard for it, and we were proud that she was the one showing pigs born and bred on our small farm.

Fiona went on to show at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup on September 16th, and she won blue ribbons for both her hogs. She was competing against 14 of the best competitors and farms in the State, and even though she didn’t win grand champion we’re extremely proud of her. She stole the show at Evergreen! She is an energetic and remarkable young lady and she has a gift and natural ability around animals, and we have no doubt that if she chooses to she’ll go on to make a wonderful vet. I wish there were more kids like her that were passionate about animals and involved in FFA.

 

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