Boss hogs [UPDATED]Published 10:49am Tuesday, August 21, 2012 Updated 10:50am Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Six for six and two for two — that’s better than most 4-H kids hope for in their years of showing animals at county fairs. The Holen siblings Julia, who is going into her senior year, and her brother James, grade 8, are pretty excited about this year’s State Fair.
“I have been showing animals for the past six years and I will be going for the sixth time this year,” said Julia. Julia will be taking her swine Edwin, a 285-pound male market barrow, to represent the Sverdrup 4-H club.
“I named him that because every pig I have shown’s name started with an E; it’s my favorite letter,” she said. “I started showing chickens but now the last few years I have gotten more involved showing pigs.”
Julia said she was fortunate to meet a woman who breeds pigs in Southern Minnesota, who helped her with the fundamentals of pig breeding.
“Now I have taken what I have learned and taught my brother and others in the county to help them show their pigs better,” she said. “It takes a lot of time and effort to get a pig trained for showing and dedication is the key.”
Julia said she spends at least two to three hours with the pig everyday. “I have taught him to walk with his head held up and steady legs,” she said.
For brother James, this is only his second time being eligible to go to the State Fair, and he too will be going with Boo Boo, a 255 pound female breeding gilt.
“My pig isn’t as well trained as Julia’s but she is a little younger too,” James said. “I really like how it takes more to show a pig than some other animals. Other animals like chickens you can pull out of the cage, walk out there and hold them. Pigs take a lot of work.”
In addition to training their pigs on the family farm south of Fergus Falls, they also have to put in many working hours to finance the pigs — the cost of the pig itself, the feed, bedding, shampoo, conditioner and other necessities. Julia has a part-time job, and James does farm work.
“I do a lot of work for my dad around the farm helping with the chicken and cows,” James said. “I also do Julia’s chores when she has to work or can’t.”