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It's the Pitts: Going whole hog
Itís the Pitts
By Lee Pitts

One of the biggest decisions for FFA and 4-H families every year is what species of animal their offspring will show at the county fair. I think I can help in this regard.

As a young FFA member I took several sterile steers to the fair and grew into an adult without any children or exciting job prospects. My sister showed pigs in the 4-H and she ended up with a great job where she gets to boss people around, a good man and two really great kids. So parents, I know itís not the macho thing to do, but if your little darling wants to show a pig at he county fair, Iíd suggest you go whole hog.

I had to get up early every morning to feed my steer because if I didnít heíd bawl and wake up the entire neighborhood. Iíd carefully weigh out the correct amount of feed because if I was slightly off my steer would bloat up like a senator from Massachusetts. My sister slept until midmorning, filled a self-feeder for her pig about once a month and her hog was smart enough to get its own water from an automatic drinking faucet. While I was slaving away on my steer every summer, my sister was going on vacation.

Raising a hog is excellent training for young girls to become excellent wives. They learn that in raising a husband all they have to do is occasionally throw him some slop, let him lay around in his own filth and only expect that once in a blue moon he might bring home the bacon.

I kept my steer pen cleaner than many living rooms while my sister kept hers as neat as a pen ... a pigpen. And parents, if you are worried about the smell I can only say that where we lived the hog aroma actually improved the air quality.

I walked my steer everyday, hosed him down so heíd grow long hair and styled his hairdo in the latest fashion of the day. I had to buy brushes, halters, fans, combs, a show stick and an assortment of beauty aids whereas to show her pig my sister stole one of my brushes and used my Grandpaís cane. Thatís it. She never washed her hog until show day. Then she slapped a little baby powder and perfume on it and was done.

While my steer was stepping on my toes and trying to kill me my sister never got close enough to her hog to get hurt. Or dirty. Even at the fair, when my sisterís hog would occasionally go after another pig, someone was always there to stick a board between the two.

Once again, this is excellent training to become a mother: my sister learned to let her kids fight to the point of bloodshed and then to separate them.

Showing my steer required months of work and training whereas all my sister had to do was occasionally tap her hog on the jowl and then pretend that whatever way it went was exactly the way she intended. We all know that getting a hog to actually do what you want is like trying to sort cats or frogs: It canít be done. Showing a pig is all a bunch of hogwash. The trick is to just let it do what it was going to do anyway and then take credit for it. This develops job skills and is excellent training for a person to become a CEO in one of the huge corporations that rule our world today.

When all was said and done I had owned my steer for half a year, worked on it daily and in the end lost a total of 13 cents for every hour I worked on it. I think my sister made about five bucks per hour with her hog at a time when minimum wage was about a buck and a quarter. And the best part about a pig? Despite my steerís lack of profitability I cried my eyes out when I had to say goodbye while my sister was in hog heaven. She laughed all the way to the bank. She was living high on the hog for years.

The worst part is that I enjoyed my steer so much I was left with a lifelong addiction to raising cattle which hasnít paid off any better than that first steer. The only hogs in my sisterís life, however, are the ceramic and stuffed ones that she collects. They are even easier to take care of than a real hog and smell a lot better.

So parents donít have a cow if your kid wants to show a pig.

This farm news was published in the March 15, 2006 issue of Farm World.

3/15/2006