Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Three Not-So-Little Pigs

 Well, another year is behind us in showing pigs with the Lancaster County 4-H swine club.  It's always an experience, as is everything on the farm. 

Charlotte and Templeton even showed up!

Trying to make them spic and span!

Judge is really studying Brandon's pig.  Wish that pole weren't there.  I'll have to try to edit that one out.

This year, Brandon decided to buy 3 pigs instead of the 2 he had last year.  As with any animal that will not be here 'long term,' we had tried not to name them.  But with Katelyn's creativity and her love of animals, they somehow get names assigned to them.  This year, the three little pigs were eventually named Wheezy, Doug and Hammie.  Let me explain the names--Wheezy has a little difficulty breathing.  At first we thought he had pneumonia or bronchitis or something of the sorts; but after being treated, he continued with his 'wheezy' breathing.  The vet believed it was some sort of birth defect--he was born with too-small airways.  His health was fine otherwise, gaining weight right up there with the other two.  He just wasn't able to physically keep up with the other two pigs when we got them out walking, so he would stay behind, coughing, hacking and wheezing.  Thus the name :-)  We debated the week prior to the show if we would even take him to the show.  We didn't want people to think we were abusing him or he was suffering in any way.  The vet said he was perfectly healthy and not contagious, so we thought we might as well take him along.  Definitely glad that decision was made.  He ended up doing the best out of the three!  Unbelievable!  He got medium weight reserve champion! 
This was where the judge picked Brandon's pig as 1st in his class.  The pig's expression cracks me up--looks like he's just as surprised as the rest of us!  His jaw dropped too!
Doug's name has a very simple reason behind it--he was always digging holes and 'rooting' when he got out of the pen--So 'Dugalot' or Doug for short stuck with him.  And lastly, Hammie.  Well, that's self-explanatory.  You see, his most prominent feature is his hams, or in other words, his butt.  He's just got a wide load!!!!  The judge even commented on his 'rear-view.'  So Hammie was the name! 

There is so much preparation and anticipation for the show.  It becomes a total family project, which provides many great memories for the kids.  I'm hoping in the future, they will look back and not remember so much the ribbons or the money earned, but the time spent as a family.  It is so easy to get caught up in the 'winning' mode when getting ready for a show.  I will be the first to admit that I was secretly hoping he would win, but we try to teach the kids that in the long run, it's not the money or ribbons, but to somehow let this experience bring honor and glory to the One that makes all things possible.  If we can somehow bless someone through these pigs, then it doesn't matter if you come in last place or first place.  It's all in relationships!!!    I know that sounds odd to bless someone through pigs, but just to take the time to answer people's questions or to let a little child brush a pig that may never again have that opportunity has hopefully touched someone's life, even if in a very small way.

Brandon has already said he's doing it again next year.  Can't wait.  Now if we could only convince Katelyn to show pigs too ;-)  I think she'll just stick to horses.  Don't have to sell those!  The hard part (at least for myself and Katelyn) will be the auction--that will be Thursday evening.  Brandon is very stoic and takes this process very seriously.  It's a guy thing.  Katelyn and I take care of the tears.  We know in the beginning they will eventually be sold and try to keep our emotions at bay, but in a way, it resembles another year gone by, a fun summer spent with those crazy pigs.  But we have the memories and can look forward to another unpredictable year with the animals!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Labor Day Getaway

Over Labor Day, we had made reservations to go camping at a lovely campground near Ocean City, Maryland--Frontier Town.  The last time we stayed at this campground was BC (before children) and a hurricane went through and we had to evacuate.  Well, 15 years later, it looked early on as though history was going to repeat itself!  Earl was headed for the East Coast--but even though we needed the rain, we were very thankful when Earl made himself scarce and quickly disappeared.  What followed Earl was perfect camping weather--warm, sunny, picture-perfect days and cool, sit-by-the-campfire-to-warm-up nights.

I just finished taking an online photography course (which I absolutely loved!).  It helped me move past the auto mode and learn what all those letters and buttons actually do on my camera.  Now I just have to remember everything!  The beach was the perfect spot for practicing.  God's beautiful creation provided some awesome opportunities to try to capture some images of a fun family weekend.

The view from our campsite each morning!

Of course no family vacation is complete without a family shot.  Kids always love these ;-)  I was trying to figure out my camera's timer.  Most of my shots had my backside in as I was rushing to get in place.  Finally got one!

biking over to Assateague Island
Some wild ponies we saw while biking on Assateague Island.  I found it interesting that the birds perch on the horses' backs.  I'll have to research that and find out why.  The horses don't seem to mind one bit!  It looks like there's a line for the birds to get rides :-)
View of Ocean City, MD, from the bridge to Assateague Island