The weather has been mostly spring-like at the Fort Worth Stock Show, but many participants are still feeling the effects of a blizzard that roared through the South Plains around Christmas.
Among them is the 33 students from Frenship FFA near Lubbock, many of whom couldn’t get to their animals to adequately feed them for days after the storm dumped 11 inches of snow in their community, creating 8 to 9 foot snowdrifts around some barns.
2,648 pigs registered for Thursday’s junior barrows show (although not all will show up).
But the students persevered, and managed to bring more than two dozen properly-weighted steers and barrows to Fort Worth for this week’s junior livestock shows. That’s far less than the roughly 40 cattle, sheep, pigs and goats they normally bring. But they’re just happy they made it.
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“I called eight or nine boys and we got shovels and dug an alley way in the snow to get the animals out,” said Will Edwards, Frenship FFA adviser. He added that the animals had feed during the snow storm, but “they were using all their calories to stay warm, versus growing.”
No easy task
Rachel Crandall, 16, spent part of Tuesday cleaning and weighing her pig, Drizzy.
The sophomore at Frenship High School believes she has a good chance of taking home an award with the 265-pound barrow, but she won’t be taking the animal home with her. After Thursday morning’s Junior Barrow Show at the Swine Arena, Drizzy, a black and white Hampshire pig, and the other participating animals will be sold for slaughter.
“He is crazy when it comes to eating. He will be the loudest one in here,” she said of Drizzy. “You do become attached. Some of them are very smart.”
Raising a pig takes far more effort than the twice-a-day feedings of grain and oats. There is also the routine baths and coatings of baby oil, to improve the shine of their fur.
“You need to spend at least 30 minutes (a day) walking them,” Crandall said. “They have to be able to hold their heads up for the show.”
I called eight or nine boys and we got shovels and dug an alley way in the snow to get the animals out.
Will Edwards, Frenship FFA advisor
The young pigs also must have access to heat. And, they have to be taught how to use a water faucet, so they won’t become dehydrated, she said.
“You can put marshmallows on the water faucet, and they will eat the marshmallows and learn how the water comes out,” she said.
City kids drawn to agriculture
Frenship FFA is an urban school district, on the outskirts of Lubbock. Even so, the district has a whopping 600 students involved in FFA, Edwards said. Students range from third graders to high school seniors.
Crandall is a city girl.
She grew up in San Antonio, where she said FFA wasn’t an option, at least not in her neighborhood. But her family relocated to the Lubbock area and her parents, who had experience with farm animals in their childhoods, encouraged her to try FFA.
She has been raising pigs for two years.
Her animals are kept at one of the farms used by the school district.
The Junior Barrow Show promises to be an enormous competition, Stock Show superintendent Gary Rosenbusch said. In all, 2,648 head are registered for the show, although not all of them will show up.
The Stock Show’s swine barn only has 305 pig pens. So many of the contestants are housed in nearby facilities, including the sheep barn next door.
The top winning hogs will be sold in Saturday’s Sale of Champions, where last year’s grand champion went for $55,000.