County Fair – part six

I felt betrayed. No one had ever told me I was raising my pig to sell! Just to show! I couldn’t be consoled, even when they came to get Lottie. When the strangers came and took her away, I couldn’t be consoled’ even when she seemed to tell me she was ok.

“At least we won the ribbon.” I’m sure that’s what she would have said if she could talk. It did little to console me.

The swine bidding was much different. They sent each pig through the shoot. As Lottie’s turn arrived I heard my name over the loudspeaker. I couldn’t watch, but I had to. The gates opened and Lottie strutted through it. She was about to get turned into bacon! I just knew it! If only I had a magic spider come and rescue my pig from being slaughtered.

Lottie, my sweet little pig was about to get turned into bacon! If only I had a magic spider to come and rescue my pig from being slaughtered.

The man who talked fast and funny started the bidding.

“Whowillgiveonesevendyfive, whowillgotwosevendy five.”

It kept going up and up as strangers raised their hands and the funny man pointed at the one raising hands adding a little more each time. I watched scared little Lottie as she searched for its master. A little tear threatened to spill over but I wouldn’t, I couldn’t because I hated it when people see me cry.

Lottie not only won third place in showmanship, but she went for the highest bid of all swine that year in the 4-H club in 1989.  I didn’t change my anger status but I was pretty proud of her and myself.

The next year I decided to attend 4-H but I tried not to get so attached knowing I had to sell my pig.

County Fair – part five

Lottie did so well and I didn’t do too bad either! But from the sound of the crowd, I think I had the best audience. My brother and I were 2 of the 6 pigs left. One of the pigs reached out to nip Roys in the butt and she instantly got sent out. That girl was very angry and was the first show person I saw blow her top. Her dad came to gather her up as a Hispanic man who obviously was a hired hand, stepped up and took the pig. The father walked off with his angry daughter, but the judges didn’t even flinch. They were having a hard time eliminating the last few pigs.

We really had to step up our game.

“There never was a year the Christenson and the Shepherd didn’t take home the ribbon,” I heard my father say. “But at least I know my kids are doing the raising of the pig and to me, my kids win them hands down. They bought the judge anyway.”

I wanted to make my father proud.

I didn’t know how you buy a judge.

“I bet a judge is expensive,” I thought as I saw the judge slap Roy’s pig in the butt and hand him the 5th prize ribbon.

I felt the sweat drip down my back and another pigs butt was slapped and handed a ribbon. Only three left. It was down to me, the Shepherd girl, and the Christensons’ boy. It went for quite a while and finally my sweet little Lottie had done so well. I was so excited! I got the third place in the county fair in showmanship!

My brother Joe bent down and playfully slugged me in the shoulder

“Don’t get such a big head sis, but you were a beauty out there!”

All my family was so happy for me and praising me right and left. I turned to Joe.

“Sorry, bro. I can’t help but get a big head”

I was grinning from ear to ear.

“I’ll bet your pig gets the first prize when we sell her,” Dad commented proudly.

“What?”  I couldn’t believe my ears! Sell Lottie!

“Daddy, we don’t have to sell Lottie do we?”

I was struck with horror! Everyone stopped talking over each other excitedly.

“Sis, what did you think we were going to do?” Roy responded.

“No Dad! I can’t sell Lottie. I raised her. It’s like you selling one of us!”

Almost everyone started laughing. It wasn’t one bit funny. I was crushed!

Sitting down on the straw bail, Dad took me up on his knee.

“Sis, we have to…..”

I have no idea what he said next, nor did I care! My mouth turned down and my bottom lip popped out. I don’t care that everyone was going to see it! I also didn’t care that Joe stuck his taunting face right up, nearly touching his nose to mine.

“An airplane is going to land on that big lip,” he said.

My stubborn demon came to full attention, colliding with Mrs. Anger, and had a great big party. I’m going to be mad! I didn’t say a word! I’ll punish them by my silence, not taking into consideration they might enjoy it because I was seldom quiet.

County Fair – part four

I posed for my Father with my best happy smile, grinning from ear to ear, as I did a little twirl for Dad – and anyone else that wanted to see the prettiest cowgirl ever.

Pigs are judged not only for beefy and beautiful hams but for their manners, obedience, cleanliness, and showmanship too.

“They want to see your pig respects its master,” Dad had instructed.

To get a prize I had to teach her how to obey me and lead her by a cane.  The higher up, the more strict the judges are. We had to teach our pigs to stand still when a judge is looking, walk when a judge wants it to, and have manners. If the pigs fight they can be disqualified. If they decide to roll in the dirt, there is no chance.

We were given a number which was a ticket for a stall. They are separated into 5 groups. Slowly they began to eliminate pig after pig until finally, it came down to the final few pigs. Lottie was one of them!

We were very excited. I took her back to the stall where my family praised me and patted my back.

“Proud of you Sis.”

Oh yes,  I gloated, though the truth was I really felt a little nervous. Waiting for the final round, my family helped me wash my beautiful big pink Lottie.

“I’m so proud of you,” I said in her ear. I used Dawn dish soap on her back and picked up my brush. I didn’t realize it would be the last time.  I scrubbed her short, course pink hair and gave her a little pep talk.

“Lottie, you have been such a good girl, but I need you to put on your best behavior. We really need to win this. We both have worked hard for this.”

Jared asked if he could spray her off. After all, he needed to learn because next year he will be old enough. He could use the practice. I stood back while my brother sprayed her off. I used the baby oil to rub Lottie down- back, neck legs and hams.

“Lottie were going to do so great!”

The loudspeakers called for the last round. Picking up my cane, I guided her and she proudly marched her way out to the ring. I felt nervous. What if she gets wild and decides to bite?

“STOP!” I commanded my fear demon. “Don’t let yourself go buggy!“ I took a deep breath before the stomach ache I got whenever I was put on the spot got worse.

I patted Lottie lovingly on the back as we walked out in the ring. This time it was so much tenser. Not only did I have to be in perfect unity with Lottie, but have all eyes on the judge on me. I kept moving. This was time for the showmanship.

County Fair – part three

For the fair, I got a brand new pink cowgirl shirt. It had a 3-inch fringe that pointed to a V just above the two snap down pockets on either side. The buttons were pearl white with a ring of silver that went all the way down the front and a double wide cuff with two of the same beautiful snaps at my wrist. When I walked, the fringe in the front and back would stylishly bounce up and down, brand new boots with diamonds and pointed toes. If that wasn’t cool enough, I thought excitedly, for the first time in my entire life I got to wear pants like the boys! I didn’t look any different than everyone else. I never felt so amazing in my life.

I suddenly remembered I had left my hat in the cab of the truck! Or had I left it home? I began to panic. This couldn’t be complete without that beautiful pink cowgirl hat with a band around and a feather sticking out the side of the band. I didn’t mean to turn off my ears I just couldn’t waste any time.

“Oh God please let my hat be in the truck!”

Jumping up on the side railing of my Dad’s new King cab truck,  I was in such a panic I nearly fell since. I swung the door of the truck as it flew open. I forgot I was told not to swing on the door, but right now my one thought was my hat.

My heart sunk down to my tummy as I felt myself about to cry. There was no pink hat in the back seat. It wasn’t in the front either. I sat back,  sulking in my disappointment.

Just then our station wagon pulled up to the side of the truck and my Little brother, grinning from ear to ear, was waving my beautiful pink hat. Thinking everything was perfect as I smugly placed my hat on the top of my head like a princess puts on her tiara.

“There! I look like a rodeo Princess,” I voiced out loud.

Following my brother, as he led me to where the pigs were getting settled. I was so happy, today was my day!

County Fair – part two

Working day and night, most of my extra time was spent with Lottie. Time seemed to fly. Before I knew it we were loading Lottie up to proudly show her off.

When we got to the fairgrounds the parking lot was very crowded. Dad found a parking spot I jumped out butterflies dancing excitedly in my stomach. There were metal buildings all around. Dad led us to to the open shed where we needed to be.  

I’m glad I didn’t have to drive here by myself, I’d be lost.  I envisioned my small frame trying to sit on the seat and touch the pedals and trying to see over the dashboard. Joe was not too much older than me and he had been driving on the farm all the time, why couldn’t I drive. It sucks being a girl.

Ouch!

My mind got so wrapped up in my day-dreams I bumped into another kid twice my size. What the heck was he doing not watching where he was going?

Oh boy, it stinks in here! Wait a minute where are we going? I didn’t realize I couldn’t see dad or anyone else. Just then Roy came up behind me and tugged my long brown braid.

“Where the heck are you going! We’re over here!”

I was daydreaming and wandered clear to the opposite side of the building!  I should have noticed I was in the lamb section of the place. Rushing, I tried to catch up to my brother but he made it back before me. At least I could see where our spot was.

“I think I’m going to pay better attention from now on!”

A little embarrassed, I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed.

My mom made all my dresses, that is all I wore. Even though it was wrong I wanted to dress like other people.  I wanted people to see Lottie, not me for looking different. I had to fight down the wicked thought. Dad taught us to be proud of who we are and if we are not proud of it, why are we doing what we are doing?

County Fair – part one

“Hip Hip Hurray!”

I woke up with a jump, threw on my clothes, and slipped quietly out the kitchen door. I ran to see if the fat momma pig had her piglets in the night. This was the fourth morning in a row I won every one out there. That meant I was going to be the first one to chose my pig to show in the county fair. My heart was as light as a feather and as happy as can be!

Being the only girl of my mom’s twelve children I had to keep on my toes to stay ahead of the constant challenge of all brothers.

At nine years old I finally got to be part of 4 -H and determined to win a prize. I skipped joyfully to the sow’s pen.

Coming around the side of the pig pen my heart dropped to the bottom of my toes.

“What! That’s no fair!” I loudly protested with an angry stomp of my foot.

The one morning I wasn’t the first one to the sow’s pen she had her babies. Five boys stood there in the pig pen each one with a claimed pig in his arms! Just my luck.

I did not want to look weak or let my brothers think they got one up on me. I put on my most stubborn, sassy, and competitive personality. I climbed through the panels and marched straight to the littlest pig of all.

“Good, I’m glad none of you took the pig I want.” I mustered up my best poker face.

I picked up the cute little runt that had been rejected not only by the others but her momma as well.

“Oh now, aren’t you the poorest little piggy. How do you like Lottie?” I held her to my heart and snuggled her in my arms. My mind went to the pig movie Charlotte’s Web, one of the few movies I was allowed to watch. I turned around with a sassy little swing of my hips and gave one of my killer dirty looks in the direction of the boys.

My brothers, as usual, started laughing at my dramatics.

“Sis, you’re going to baby her so much she won’t even have hams.” They cheerfully chanted, shoving past me, yelling “last one into breakfast gets to feed and water the pigs today.”

I didn’t care as I looked at Lottie. Holding her close to my heart I whispered in her tiny pink ear.

“We’re going to win the grand prize this year.”

Tenderly I gave my new little piggy one last gentle squeeze. I scooted off before there was no food left. Sometimes I think we have a houseful of pigs! Smiling smugly I hurried into the kitchen.