For weeks I have been concerned about getting our pigs to the fair. In years past we have loaded them onto the trailer the night before in order to give ourselves plenty of time for the loading process. It is not easy to convince a pig to walk up a ramp into a trailer and, unlike sheep and cattle, pigs must be convinced; they cannot be bullied. Just in case it took all night to get them on, I gave myself all night.
This year, however, weight weighed on my mind. A pig, stressed by unfamiliar surroundings, can lose 10 pounds in a trailer. Grace’s pig did not have 10 pounds to lose. To minimize the impact, we needed to load the pigs early in the morning and have them at the fairgrounds by 5:30 a.m.
To increase our chances of getting the pigs on the trailer, we built a chute to funnel them from the pen to the trailer door, figuring that it would be easier to convince them to enter the trailer if there were no other place for them to go.
Even if the chute/funnel system worked, however, my worries were not over. Somehow I still had to get the truck and trailer out of the garden and up onto the road. As you may or may not remember, Dad’s truck is a gutless wonder. (http://www.lifeisthestoriesyoucantell.com/life-is-the-stories-you-can-tell/archives/01-2014, scroll down to “Soggy Bread”) I love the big Chevy beast, I really do. It has hauled more animals and more hay and more camping equipment for me than Dad ever dreamed it would when he bought it. The fact that it has served me incredibly well does not change the fact that it has no power; slopes slow it and slickness stops it. My garden path is both sloped and slick; more than once I have had to call a neighbor to pull Dad’s truck up and out of my garden. Tuesday morning the darling diesel not only had to drive up the garden path, it also had to pull a four horse trailer loaded with 1200 pounds of pork up the hill. Would it do it? Who knew? I certainly had ample reason for worry.
When the sound of rain awakened me Monday morning I knew I was stuck; stuck in the mud with a gutless truck and a loaded trailer. How would I get to the fair in time for the mandatory 6:00 a.m. weigh in? There was no way on this side of the Mississippi or the other that that dear Chevy would be able to get itself, much less the trailer, up our garden path. Heavens, when it is wet the clay soil morphs to mud so snot-slick that I cannot even push a wheelbarrow up the slope.
“God hates me.”
Driven from bed by the thoughts of being unable to drive, I got up and had a little conversation with my Maker. He made it very clear to me that He does not hate me…which I appreciated very much.
Did I mention that I cannot back a trailer?
Did I mention that I have an amazing bishop?
Bishop Bradford is an incredible man. Not only can he back a double horse trailer through a winding alley at 35 mph, he can show up at my home cheerfully at 4:45 a.m……AND, as an added bonus, he has a four wheel drive truck.
The rain stopped, the soil never saturated, and the Bishop showed up at my house Monday evening to back the trailer down my garden path which he did after he backed it into Wilkinson’s barnyard and helped us load.
Tuesday morning, before morning actually dawned (4:45), Bishop was at our house, cheerfully. We successfully convinced the pigs to enter the trailer—though it took putting a bucket over Big B’s head to get him in. Attempting to get it off his head, he backed rapidly away from the bucket….and up the ramp into the trailer.
I put the truck into compound low and drove as quickly as I could up the garden path, giving it enough acceleration to gain maximum momentum but not enough to lose traction. Up we went, surely, steadily..…….until the truck wheels hit the lawn. The sprinklers had turned on during the night and the grass was wet. First the truck lost traction then it lost momentum and then it stopped.
I had been very concerned about God’s rain and had forgotten completely about my sprinklers. As usual, it was not God who sabotaged me; it was me. And, as usual, it was God, via His servants, who rescued me. Bishop hooked his truck to my truck and, without so much as a single tire spin, pulled me, the truck, the four horse trailer, five swine, a couple bags of feed, and a pitch fork onto the road.
We made the mandatory 6:00 a.m. weigh-in with 20 minutes to spare……..and Grace’s hog made the mandatory weight with 14 pounds to spare. BLESSED DAY!!! Her pig gained over 2 lb/day over the last three weeks. Thank you God and Kent’s doughnuts!
The fair was good to us. Perennially red ribbon earners, the kids’ swine won blue ribbons in the market class for the first time ever. Miles’ pig placed 6th in a class of 12; Grace’s was fourth in a class of 12; and Tanah’s placed 2nd, advancing to the star round. [The top two hogs in each of 12 classes of 12 advance to the star round from which the Grand and Reserve Champion hog are selected.] Her long, wide, well-muscled black pig ended up ranked 17th of 144. Exciting.
In the market class, the animal is judged; how big is the ham, how long is the loin, how wide are the shoulders, etc….. In showmanship classes, the owner’s ability to present the animal is judged; how clean is the animal, does the owner keep the animal in the judge’s line of sight, how confident is the owner, etc…..
Grace excels at showmanship; she loves showing and it shows. She broke out of the preliminary rounds, quite an accomplishment at her level of competition, and did well in the championship round though she did not place. [They award only four places; there were over 75 kids in the division.]
Miles showed in the junior division (grades 3-5). He also broke out of the preliminary round and into the finals but he did place. When the judge shook his hand, signaling that he had won Reserve Grand Champion Junior Showman, his face almost broke, his smile was that big. And when he put on the belt buckle he won, his back almost broke, the belt buckle was that big.
Saturday’s auction was big for us. The children’s pigs sold at triple to quadruple market price which will put a tidy little sum in their bank accounts, even after money for the animal’s original purchase price and food bill is taken out.
A word about the people who pay triple and quadruple market price for 4-H and FFA market animals…..I do not understand them but I am so, SO grateful for them. The people who bought the children’s animals did it solely out of the goodness of their hearts….and it is not cheap. They spent $800 to $900 for $250 worth of pork, certainly not a bargain by any standard. Paul and Karen Mackley, whose sons and nephews also had livestock at the auction, bought Miles’ pig. Why? Paul tried to tell me that it was because Miles’ pig looked delicious but I know it was simply because he and Karen are bottom-line good people. Gary and Elayne Sorensen sponsored Grace’s pig and got nothing but our gratitude and God’s blessings from the deal, another example of basic big heartedness. Weber County Farm Bureau and Brinkerhoff Excavating were also Hislop hog purchasers. We have no connections whatsoever with either business and no real prospect of ever using either of them. Mackleys, Sorensens, Farm Bureau, Brinkerhoff Excavating….if they get any benefit at all from buying our animals it is very indirect yet there they are, spending good money on my good kids. Grateful. Grateful. GRATEFUL.
The Fair is not the only thing for which I am grateful this week—I am also grateful for a successful Primary Service project and Ogden River clean up, for Aliza’s and the Mellman’s visits, for Lance’s help with the Book Club meal, for Gabby who was “Mom” to Miles when he played his first wear-pads-and-helmet football game, and for all who were with us in the Logan Temple when Chick was endowed—but the Fair is the only thing about which I am going to write this week…..which is something you can be grateful for!
Sure love you,