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I feel the last sands of summertime slipping through my fingers. Even though the temperatures today are predicted to be 90-95, I can tell summer is winding down and it makes me a little sad. Last week we were at the State Fair. The boys did well, especially on their interviews, but the State Fair signals the close of summer.  Soon the the carefree days and unstructured schedules and lack of homework will be replaced with school schedules and nights of homework. Campfires will be less frequent and we’ll actually need them to keep warm, instead of just roasting a marshmellow.

Then again, the kids are ready to go back to school; they’ve even admitted it in public. They’ll enjoy being with their friends more reqularly. Cross Country has started and the thrill of the competition will once again be felt every week, which the boys enjoy.

I’m going to enjoy every last minute of summer that I can.

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.

 Every year we try to work the Oink booth or the Promotions booth at the State Fair. I like to do it for two reasons; first I enjoy meeting people and talking to them about raising pigs and preparing pork. Second, I think it’s a good experience for the kids. It teaches them how to support the pig industry through their involvement and how to interact with people.

 Last Saturday the boys worked in the Oink Booth while Dale, Beth and I were in the Promotions booth. The boys spent time with the sow and litter and answered questions, mostly regarding the pigs’ age and how much they weighed. The largest boar is also a great attraction but the ultimate draw has to be the paper pig ears that people get to wear. You see them all over the fairgrounds. I’m not sure what the record is for assembling paper pig ears in one hour, but I know it’s a lot, especially when people are standing three deep to get them.

 In the Promotions booth, questions deal mainly with cooking pork. Most people overcook pork and end up with a dry piece of meat. Four words of advice… Use a Meat Thermometer. This year I was amazed at how many people took the recipes we had on the counter. Many commented that they stop here once a year to get new ones and that we have some of the best recipes. Beth spent most of her four hour shift restocking supplies. She did have to sneak away once to look at the carved butter heads of the Princess Kay of the Milky Way contestants.

 At the end of our shift, the boys came back with stories about pigs and people. Dale and I had a number of good conversations and felt we had the chance to educate a few people on what we do and how to prepare pork. Beth was just happy to hang out with us as you can see by the picture. All in all, a good day promoting pork.