Wednesday, June 4, 2008

World Pork Expo

What other blog takes you INSIDE the hog barn at the World Pork Expo? A world exclusive peek into the world of international swine exhibition follows:

Whew, hog shows are a lot of work. First, you have to drive 10 hours in the truck while your sons play 10 episodes of Dirty Jobs and then watch the same Scooby Doo movie three times.

I guess this beats the road trips I used to have as a kid where the biggest diversion was playing, "YOU TOUCHED ME" with my two siblings and maybe, if we were lucky, getting a puff on the cigars Dad always seemed to smoke/need during these trips.

But we finally go there and then the real work began. First, you have to wash the pigs. This is kind of like washing a car. If your car was snorting at you and trying to escape

Second, we had to number the pigs. An important step where farmers follow each other through the barn waiting to get the next dibs on the metal numbers and John Deere paint used to mark each pig for easy identification during the show. My dear husband had more important work to do, so I had to trail along behind all the other farmers, trying to get our chance at the precious paint.

If women were running this, there would be about 40 sets of numbers and a sharing system in which we just passed the numbers and paint down from pen to pen. Also, there would be more color choices than JD green or yellow.

On to other "chores" which included cleaning up pig manure with this fancy little rake. Fortunately, farm kids are easily entertained, so this rake also became Justin's Bobcat, used for moving piles of sawdust bedding.

Justin and I took a little break to scope out the huge trade show and outdoor exhibits at this event. Just was very excited about this large tractor-like piece of equipment. The trade show featured every type of pig equipment imaginable and many more that none of us imagined. They had everything to house, feed and vaccinate pig from birth clear through to the day their ashes need returning to the dust.

FINALLY, we get to show the pigs. Ryan showed first against kids from all over the U.S. Todd shows later in the event against "professionals" from all over.

Showing a pig involves taking it within the barn to a fenced-in show ring where a judge hired by the event organizers decides which pigs he (or she) thinks are the best. In some cases they are looking for hogs that would be best to eat--nice muscling, low fat, etc. In other classes they are looking for the potential for the pig to make more pigs, looking for good quality underline (teats), good breed conformation (just like they do at the dog shows) and overall quality of muscling and genetic potential.

One shows a hog by tapping it with a wooden cane, piece of pipe or specially marketed pig whip (which is NOT like Indiana Jones). The idea is to guide the pig where you want it to walk. As you may have guessed, this does not always work.

After a long day of directing wayward hogs, and ensuring they are watered, washed and exhibited, all most of us want to do is take a rest.

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