Food & Swine

Cookie Dough & Stock Kids

I’m jogging backwards a bit in my posts to tell you about the sale after the Purebred Open Show at the Iowa State Fair and at the end of the post, a short remark about stockmanship and children after reading a misinformed journalist’s opinion of the swine show industry that was circulating this week. Bear with me, I have lots to tell ya.
Buying Back Cookie Dough: Our Duroc gilt, Cookie Dough (out of “Cinnamon”, who was the first pig I purchased with my mother-in-love Sandi with money I won from entering and winning cinnamon roll contests) was the popular pig in our group that we were selling and we had people swing by her pen to check her out. If I only had a nickel for every time I told them, “Sorry, but we’re buying her back.”, I’d have been able to buy a few more lemon-shake-ups. Prior to the show, people stopped by out of kindness and curiosity, (did they like my daughter’s glitter signs?) after the show… I knew why, they might want to buy my BABY!  (The pig not the girl.)
Could we have let them believe that we were going to run her through the sale and then plant someone to buy her back for us to truly see how much she’d have brought?  Asked our friends to bid her up, then snag her back? Sure. However, this wasn’t suitable to me because I was writing the ‘buyback check’ which for us meant we’d be paying the sale commission for the pleasure of showing her (she placed 1st so she made the sale) and running her through the sale.  Commission rate: 15%.  I knew I was taking her home, that was our family deal when I loaded her on the trailer to take her there.  Cookie Dough was coming home.  We left her sis “Sassy” home (I couldn’t bear the thought of her even leaving the farm, she is MINE.)
The sale was nearing and I was getting nervous. When they said bidder numbers were available, I left a 5 gallon bucket with water running into it to snag a bidder number.  First. One. To. Register. The kind staff giggled at me, and said I was the first bidder and I think the word ‘eager’ was in there. Got the #, then the paranoia set in. Something could happen, the auctioneer could miss the fact that I wanted to buy her back, my husband could forget our bidder #, get stuck talking to someone, gotten run over by a MAC truck on his way to the ring or killed by a monster hornet prior to making it to the sale.  (Okay, can you tell I was paranoid and worried?)
My daughter and I went into the ring, got some nods from the nice guys that came around to look at her and my husband took a front row seat next to the block and bought back my girl for me.  There was a moment at the end of the auctioneer’s call that I thought she may go to another bidder (a couple of guys that had been by to look at her but clearly MISSED the certainty in my tone that I’d be taking her home.)  I looked over at Michael L. and slightly shrieked “I’m taking HER HOME!”, then through the obnoxious chatter, I heard: “Bidder 681”. 
Thank you sweet baby Jesus.
The rest of the sale passed, her brothers did not sell (we have a nice buyer and his son from Nebraska on their way to pick them up tomorrow (8/30)… thank you Craigslist).  I wrote the check, we loaded them up and headed for home.
The reality of livestock showing is that  you do sell them (to others for breeding, or take them to market), and luckily for me, the gilts (girls: Sassy and Cookie Dough) are both going to be bred and stay around for a while.  I had a rough few days letting go of Jackson, our orphan boar who was sold, and the thought that my duroc boars may have to go to market.  I even had a good cry about my daughter’s hamp-looking barrow, Stripe that she showed in the Hawkeye Barrow show the last Sunday of the Fair.  I chalk all of this up to her upcoming departure to kindergarten.  I was an emotional mess.  I’m better now.
You’ll still find me in my barn daily, fawning over the pigs, meticulously mucking their stalls to some decent country music, while my son sifts through the dirt looking for bugs and my dog tries to eat every poo that I toss out of the pig pens (seriously Annie, WHY?).  Keeps me busy, keeps him dirty and keeps us from missing big sis too much during the day.  I miss Family Chore Days occurring more than just the weekends, where we all get to go to the barns together.  Here’s a look inside our modern barns.

Our Modern Barns vs. Our Hobby & Stockmanship: My husband is still holding down the modern pig barns.  Things are going well, pigs are growing well. (Our barns are called finisher barns and we get pigs that are 13-15 pounds and we feed them to market weight which is 280 lbs.)  Lots of the pictures I have and pig stories I tell are the pigs we have for hobby breeding and showing purposes. They are a smaller group and we still raise most of them for meat purposes, though some get to be shown. (all of them are used for meat purposes, eventually.) Our kids learn a great deal from these pigs and it gives us control to do it in a smaller space. They learn things like patience, health and detection of sickness, safe handling, feeding, proper care and husbandry.  We hope to give them a strong foundation for good stockmanship at a young age.  No matter what type livestock they will care for in their life (hogs, cattle, horses etc.), a solid grasp of stockmanship will serve them well. Not to mention, the discipline will serve them well going forward in their life too. 
 Stockmanship and Children:This week there was an article outlining some pretty uninformed journalist’s opinions of the swine show industry.  Never underestimate the poise, courteousness, pride and work ethic of a stock show kid.  Some of them come from large family farms, others raise a handful of animals. They are one in the same, working to raise the best animals they can, using the inherited ‘touch’ or learned values of stockmanship.  If there is one thing I’ve learned doing the ‘show’ thing only a couple of years (and not to the seriousness and extent that some of our friends and acquaintances do): people involved are like family. 
Losing my Daughter, Found with the help of Stock Kids:
Did I ever tell you about losing my daughter for 5 minutes last year at the Fair? She wandered off with another little girl (right next to me) to see the goats next to our pens. What felt like millions of people around… she was gone, in a flash. We had 20 people (most of which were Moms and KIDS who had been showing all day). They heard my frantic cries for my daughter and saw me running up and down the aisles. The answered by helping me find her, running around the aisles and shouting her name.  Luckily, I have a good friend, Mindy C. who locked in a security team on her phone and with the help of another Mom and her daughter who still had her exhibitor # on, we discovered my daughter with her friend near a pen of goats.  I was so scared, still am, about having her in crowds.  That was the scariest moment of my life.  Would you expect any kids to just hop out of their chair and clamor around looking for the ‘little girl with a pink shirt and large pink bow’?  Maybe not,  but let me tell you, these kids did.  I was impressed.  The values and goodness of these kids doesn’t go unnoticed in my book.  I’ll forever be thankful for everyone that day.  If you were one of those people, I want to thank you personally, someday.
If you ever have questions about modern pig farming, you can always send me a message via my Facebook Page Food & Swine.  I’ll never be an expert, but I learn more everyday and I know many people with expertise in different areas of pig farming and we’ll get any answer you need.

If you’ve read this far, you deserve a medal… or at least a jar of jam.  Leave a comment below (anything, just say hi!) and I’ll draw a couple of winners next Friday, I PROMISE!  :)  I’m making peach jelly and wild plum jelly tomorrow… just sayin’!

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  • Reply Lauren September 2, 2014 at 1:24 am

    I love this!! I’m currently writing up a post about showing cattle… basically along the same lines as saying goodbye to the stock or being able to bring them home. #stockshowlife is not for everyone that’s for sure!! Will you happen to be showing at the Clay Co Fair Open Show? I’m making the long haul from the Southeast corner to show my bulls! :)

  • Reply Cristen September 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    We have WINNERS! I’m drawing 5 winners for the jar of jam today! Would Sarah D., Sarah K., Alan, Miss Molly and Shannon email me at with your physical address? I will send the jars of jelly to you, right away!

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