DECATUR With seven weeks until the Benton County Fair, planned for Sept. 15-18, Decatur 4-H members are busy getting their projects ready for competition.
The club met on Saturday and did craft projects for the fair in the morning. In the afternoon the club went on a "farm tour" where 4-H members got to practice presenting their projects to the rest of the group. Destiny Meek, soon to be in the first grade, showed the club her goats and sisters Jayme and Haley Burden showed their cattle and hogs.
Jayme has two heifers and Haley has two pigs to exhibit in the fair this September. Haley, who will be in the sixth grade in Decatur schools this fall, said she started showing sheep when she was about five years old and has been showing hogs for the past five years.
At last falls Benton County Fair, Haley won a championship in the breeding class and a reserve championship in the market class with her Poland China hog Minnie. Now Minnie is pregnant and due to have babies in the nextseveral weeks.
This year Haley will be showing Bella and Sweetie in the fair. Bella is a Hampshire hog and Sweetie is a Spot hog. Both of the pigs are gilts, or female hogs that have never had babies. Once they have babies, female hogs are called sows.
Haley will be showing her hogs in market classes as well as commercial gilt classes and registered breed classes. Right now Haley is working with the two hogs once a day, but as it gets closer to fair time, she will start working with them twice a day. Haley spends time every day teaching Bella and Sweetie to walk calmly around the arena in whatever direction she guides them. She is also working on teaching the pigs to keep their heads up while they walk, explaining that is one thing the judges are looking for. Hogs are not lead by a halter or a lead rope, but guided by taps on their shoulders.
To show in the fair, the hogs have to weigh between 170 and 270 pounds. Bella was born in February and had a head start, while Sweetie was born in March .
"So far I think they're both going to be good pigs," Haley said.