Fair week began Tuesday at 4:00 a.m. when we loaded the pig into the trailer. It was the easiest pig loading ever; two pigs strolled in on their own and the third pig was easily lured in with a bucket of food. “I know his love language,” Miles said. And he did.
We gave the pigs an hour to finish their breakfast in the trailer before driving to the fairgrounds for weigh-in. While waiting in line for our turn at the scales, we spoke more of their love language in the form of chocolate milk; each pig got a gallon.
The love, chocolate milk, and prayers (LOTS and LOTS of prayers, some fasting, and a mention on the temple prayer roll) paid off for Grace’s pig. The poor creatures spent over a month sick, plagued by projectile diarrhea (we learned the hard way to never stand behind it…..), and a severe stomach ulcer. It went through three rounds of antibiotics, twice daily Gatorade treatments (picture using a water bottle to squirt Gatorade into a pig mouth….), and several different stomach-coating medications before slowly recovering. We had no hope that it would weigh the required 230 lbs by fair time.
But prayers work and miracles happen. Grace’s pig weighed in at 239 lbs. The boy’s pigs easily made weight as did all three lambs. Having made weight, we figured everything else was frosting on the proverbial cake.
Each child got their serving of frosting. For Cooper (my nephew) the frosting came during the pig show. Over hearing me instruct Miles to show the judge the front view of his pig and to avoid a side view if possible (Miles’ pig’s chest was massive and its body short), Cooper asked me which aspect of his pig he should showcase to the judge. “You can show it all,” I told him. “You have a great pig.”
I was right. He did have a great pig. It placed 2nd in the heavyweight division and 5th overall. Fifth of 157 pigs is frosting. Miles’ pig was earned a blue ribbon, 5th of 10 pigs in its class, and Grace’s pig, too skinny for its long frame, earned a red ribbon.
Miles’ frosting came during the lamb show. His lamb, which he professed to hate, earned 2nd in its class and 8th in heavyweight division. Hate turned quickly to affection when the lamb earned him a place in the star class. Cooper’s and Grace’s lambs earned red ribbons.
Frosting for Grace came during the auction on the final day. It had been a rough fair for her--two red ribbons, a dearth of showmanship honors and the knowledge that it was her final fair appearance as an FFA competitor. She was having difficulty imagining how it could be worse when it got significantly better. The floor price (current market value) of lambs was $1.23/lb. Hers sold for $9.50/lb to a family friend who bid himself up from $3; no one bid against him but the lack of competition did not stop him. Money speaks and it spoke loudly to her, changing her final fair from a “worst ever” event to an intensely validating experience.
And thus ends our 2018 fair season. All the animals made weight and the rest was frosting on the cake.