I’ve enjoyed eating my share of bacon, sausage, ham and pork chops during my life. But it wasn’t until I became a community journalist and moved to Iowa that I received an education worthy of distinction in the art of raising, showing and photographing hogs, pigs or swine.
I mention hogs, pigs and swine as it seems that all three names fit them well. One farmer I spoke with and asked what the correct name was for a hog, pig or swine, and he said, “they all work.”
I am reminded of this as the Poweshiek County Fair gets underway this week and I will be there covering most of the animal competitions, including the swine show.
Having grown up a city boy, I knew very little about the critters. My grandfather on my mom’s side had a few hogs back in day as did my Uncle J.W., my mom’s younger brother, who raised them for food.
I remember once when I was a young fellow going to a farm sale and my Uncle J.W. bought a runt pig for 50 cents. We all thought the little fellow was going to make it, but the odds were not in its favor.
Some years after moving from Tulsa to their farm in Bixby, Okla., my parents bought a couple Berkshire hogs to root out the weeds in the family garden. Mom and Dad built a moveable pen and let the hogs do the rest of the work.
Without going into too much detail, one of the hogs didn’t make it all summer due to lack of water and the hot Oklahoma summer.
Since moving to Iowa, I have not only learned a thing or two about the animals, I’m also a good pig photographer, an adventure in itself.
I’m quite proud to say that I have photographed the swine show at the county fair every year since 1998.
Some may recall reading a column or two that I have written in years past about the first time I tried to photograph the animals at the county fair. It was July 1998, less than a year after I graduated from college and moved to Iowa. I was sent to the Iowa County Fair to cover the swine show, or hog or pig show.
The swine show superintendent at the time decided to finish the show then take the winning photos. That was not too bright of an idea as it was getting dark and the animals had returned to the comfort of their temporary homes for the evening.
So, here comes a long line of hogs from the barn to the showring.
It was quite an experience for a city boy. One fellow had a bucket of slop and another fellow had a table-top like device he used to keep the ornery critters in line.
After sometime of trying to coax the animals to stand still for more than 5 seconds, the powers that be got one hog to stand still. I ended up taking about a half dozen photos of 4-H’ers holding their winning banners in front of the same pig.
Since that experience, I have learned a thing or two about photographing the animals. I’ve also expanded my knowledge of the different types of hogs. For example, there are barrows, boars, gilts and sows.
I’m planning to dive more into the different types of hogs next. Stay tuned for more.
I hope to see you at the Poweshiek County Fair. Stop and say hello and maybe we can talk some pig, hog or swine business.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.