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Last week was our county fair. Since we are
quite involved with 4-H, it is a busy week for us. In addition to the pigs and
rabbits, the kids also bring non-livestock projects like Food, Plant and Soil
Science, Wildlife Biology, Quilting and Self-Determined to the fair.

Tuesday was weigh-in for the pigs and
Wednesday was the swine and rabbit show which made both days quite challenging
with the heat and humidity being so extensive. Everyone, animals and kids,
survived both days thanks to the help of lots of water, for both of them.

4-H, like many organizations, is an excellent
way to build leadership skills for our youth. I’m proud that Brett and Adam
will be going to the State Fair with both a livestock project and a
non-livestock project, but I’m extremely proud of Brett winning the Interview
contest for Swine and for Adam giving his Public presentation.  These two events really focus on the kid,
what they know and how they interact with others, all very important skills for
later in life.

We prepare all summer for the county fair and
in one quick week, it’s all over. The week is intense but really a lot of fun.
The animals have been sold or taken home, the projects are packed up and all
that’s left is a final cleaning of the buildings. The kids will have a chance
to focus on other summer projects for a few weeks until they begin to prepare
for the State Fair.

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Yesterday our family spent the afternoon in Blaine at the USA Cup Soccer tournament visiting with parents and kids and talking to them about being pig farmers. It was a busy afternoon with lots of questions, which is a good thing since every question they asked us meant 1 pound of ground pork was donated to Second Harvest Heartland.

Most questions were pretty basic like how many babies does a sow have? (on average 10-12). How heavy are pigs when they are marketed? (275 lbs) and how old? (5 1/2 to 6 months). Many kids want to know why pigs roll in the mud. Easy, they don’t sweat so they need something like mud ,water or air blowing over them to help them stay cool. The soccer players really understood that one.

The golden moment was when you were able to strike up a really meaninful conversation with an adult and give them a few bits of information to help them understand what we do and more importantly, why we do it. Just over half of the population in MN doesn’t know a farmer and in the absence of that first hand knowledge, many people resort to misconceptions or old wives tales as truth.

It’s hard not to feel outnumbered, that no matter how much we try, we’ll never stay ahead of the “bad press” that’s out there. Yet, for a few hours yesterday, we were able to talk about being a pig farmer and help some city people get to know a farmer.

 Dale’s remodeling project continues to move along. The ceiling was the area of focus. Brett cut out inlet areas and built wooden frames, which you see here. The air will be drawn through the louvers into the room.

They also painted the ceiling with an epoxy paint which helped stopped the rust and provide coverage and protection. If you’re not familiar with epoxy paint, it’s not like your regular paint. It bonds quickly and strongly to many kinds of surfaces, including skin. Imagine my surprise (okay, that’s not the word the kids would use) when they came walking into the house, hands full of paint, wondering how they were going to get it off. The solution – plain old fashioned scrubbing. A day or two later the evidence of paint was gone, except for a few traces on Beth’s fingernails, but that just looked like polish. Thank goodness the boys were due to get haircuts, since that was the only way to get the paint out of Adam’s hair.

The next step will be to hang the white plastic paneling on the walls, which will protect them and provide easier clean up and then remove the slats to prepare for the new flooring.

One of my goals this summer was to run a longer distance race, somewhere between 5-6 miles. I was able to accomplish that goal today with Dale’s help at the Freedom Run 8K in St. Peter. Physically I thought I could probably run that far, but mentally I knew I’d do better and enjoy it more if someone ran with me. Dale, coming off Grandma’s Marathon two weeks ago agreed to be my running partner and pacer.

 The whole family loaded in the van at 6:00 am this morning, since Beth was running the 1 mile kids race and I needed the boys to stay with her while we ran. It was a beautiful morning and as we gathered at the starting line, I wasn’t too nervous but I told Dale my goal was not to walk at all.

We started off at a nice pace and as we ran I already was starting to sweat. Having experienced stinging sweat in my eyes on some of my training runs, I borrowed Beth’s headband that she got at Grandma’s Marathon which really worked to absorb the sweat.

We ran at a consistent pace, slowing slightly for the hills. Dale and I didn’t talk much but I appreciated his words of encouragement and the steady sound of his stride next to mine. As we passed mile marker 3 going up a slight hill, I knew things were going to be okay. As we came upon mile 4, I was ready to pick up the pace a bit, which was the right time since we were starting to go downhill.

As we ran down the hill Dale encouraged me to open up my stride and then as we neared the end, he told me to go after a lady ahead wearing a hat. Just as I surged, she did too, but I passed her right before the finish line and finished with a time of 46 minutes, 50 seconds. Not a course record or even a placing for my age, but still a nice time.

 The race was important to me mentally and physically, to give me the confidence to know I can run those distances. I really appreciated Dale’s support and I know it was hard for him not to just break out and run faster.

 Beth finished the morning with a nice one mile run, finishing second overall and the first girl.

 Setting goals is important; but achieving those goals gives us confidence to do even greater things.