Kids are going to the hogs

Tyler Schilling, 10, shows his Hampshire hog Saturday afternoon at the 39th annual Farwell Junior Livestock Show. (CNJ staff photo: Mike Linn)

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

FARWELL — Hogs were grunting and lumbering around a small wood-chip arena Saturday at Farwell’s community center. The youngsters who raised them were using sticks to keep the animals from walking into a corner. The judge stood quietly evaluating the quality of the stock.

The competition was on at the 39th annual Farwell Junior Livestock Show.

About 80 junior livestock raisers showed hogs, goats, steers and lambs, competing for best of breed and showmanship awards.

Levi McCormick, 11, toted two pigs around the small arena and won breed champion in the heavyweight Hampshire division with a hog named Razor. He has been raising and showing animals for three years.

“I like whenever they are small, that’s the best part, ’cause you can carry them around,” McCormick said. At nine months, his Hampshire hog looks to outweigh the youngster.

McCormick also won reserve breed champion in the heavyweight Duroc division with a golden pig named Rascle.

The stock show world is a tightly knit community of Future Farmers of America members, 4-H club members, young ranchers and farmers and high school agriculturists. For approximately 80 junior stock raisers, the Farwell show serves as a kind of pre-season event in the Texas stock show world.

Dan Patterson, 15, a sophomore at Farwell High School and member of both the FFA and the 4-H club, showed Landrace, Yorkshire and cross-bred hogs on Saturday.

“It’s good to just get out and help people, get out and work with an animal and have this kind of responsibility,” he said. “It’s fun to get out and work with your hands.”

Patterson, who said he began in the pee-wee stock shows when he was about 3, said he likes seeing the younger livestock raisers succeed and win awards.

The local shows like the one in Farwell rarely have monetary awards. But once the junior livestockers get to the county level and beyond, much money can be made and used for scholarships.

“Primarily what we are doing is getting ready for the stock-show season in the state of Texas,” said Wayne Sales, who teaches agriculture at Farwell High School. “(This) gives the kids the opportunity to raise the animal and be responsible.”

The responsibilities include feeding and watering the animals every morning, brushing their coats and walking them. These activities can last for several hours per day, and in that time a strong emotional bond may develop for the youngster.

Sales said some of his students will compete next at the county level in Friona, constantly preparing for the major stock shows in Lubbock, San Angelo and San Antonio.