As part of a summer series to My NDFB Life, we will be experiencing 4-H through the eyes of 15-year-old Paul Hanebutt. Paul is the son of Pete Hanebutt, NDFB Director of Public Policy. Throughout the summer, we will learn about the joys, struggles and rewards of being involved in 4-H. This is his second post. Read his first post here.
I have already gotten my pigs for this summer. We get our pigs from family friends of ours, to show them support. They have always been great to work with. Every year when it gets time to go buy my 4-H pigs, I have to think about what characteristics I want them to have. Buying pigs when they are young is sometimes difficult because they are so small and haven’t fully developed their “personality.” I try to pick pigs that show good characteristics when they are young, hoping that they keep these good characteristics when they are older.
For instance, I always look for a pig that walks with confidence, doesn’t have any walking problems, and walks with its head straight. If these characteristics are strong at a young age, hopefully they will stay with them as they grow.
I also need to make sure my pigs don’t get too big for the fair. They should not gain weight too quickly, but gain at a steady and healthy rate. I try to maintain it as well as possible. Sometimes it goes perfectly and sometimes it doesn’t go as well as I’d like.
There are other struggles that come with new pigs, too.
When we first bring them home we are learning about how they act and the way they walk. When they first get into the barn its always interesting seeing what they like to do. They sometimes cause problems when they mess with a panel or gate. That’s why I like to have something for them to play with and rub their bodies against. My choice of toy for the pigs is a bowling ball. They enjoy pushing it around with their heads and shoulders.
Teaching them to get used to human contact by rubbing them is always a funny sight. When they are learning to get used to human contact, they will sometimes run away or get scared. But, pretty soon they will be used to me, and I will start working with them so they learn to walk and follow my lead.