SHOWING HOGS AT THE FFA FAIR

By Powell Grosboll
September 4, 2007


Late summer 1957

Good day. I am Powell (PJ) Grosboll, distant cousin of William Cyrus Grosboll. (We are distant cousins or close relatives, depending on how we feel about each other on a particular day.) I have been reading his articles on times past, and I wanted to share a story.

I, too, grew up on the farm, but I was a misfit and today remain mostly a white collar snob. (But I don’t belong to a country club.)

I worked many summers on the farm for my Uncle Tom Grosboll and the summer of 1957 was no exception. I was going into my Senior year of high school. My cousin Tommy was two years my junior and could not yet (legally) drive. Consequently, when he had to show hogs at the Illinois State Fairgrounds to complete an FFA (Future Farmers of America)
project, I was elected to go with him because I could drive the truck the necessary 25 miles. This was a welcome relief from my usual duties of bucking bales and cleaning out livestock habitats. (Barns)

Tom’s project was supposed to be a litter of market sized pigs. These guys are small enough to run. More on that later. From my observations and logic, it would seem to me that most of the FFA “boys” would identify their litters from birth and work with them all summer so they would be tame enough to show, not to mention be an actual litter. (Siblings)

Of course not Tommy. On the day of the show, we backed the truck up to the pig lot and loaded five undisciplined pigs. Tommy picked them by saying, “Those five will do.”

When we get to the show, most everyone showing pigs wore their FFA jackets, jeans and work boots. Most also had cute little hand held pieces of white fence with the name of their farm on them to help control the pigs. Many fathers were assisting the young men. All the show pigs were washed and the white ones were even powdered. Tommy and I, with no piece of fence to help, herded his five unwashed unruly hogs from the unloading area to a pen. I was dressed in shorts, tennis shoes, shades and a T shirt. About this time, I learned that the litters would be judged as they remained in the pen, but a short time later Tommy and I, at the same time, had to show individual hogs in two separate show rings. NOW is the time that previous work with the pigs would have helped. A lot. (Not a pig lot.)

I managed to get my hog to the show ring, but he (she) would not stand still. The others boys in the ring kept their pigs in front of them so the judge could evaluate them as he walked around the show ring. I started chasing my hog to try to control him which made him run even more and this also disrupted all the other pigs. Several fathers were yelling at me, so I simply gave up and stood in an empty spot in the ring. When the judge got to me, he was looking at the ground and asked, “Where is your pig?” I pointed to him on the other side of the ring. The judge shrugged, sighed and moved on.

No blue ribbons for the Grosboll hogs today. I felt lucky to get out with no physical damage.

One more thing. We had to load up the pigs and go home. (I think I would have left them.) When we got ready to leave, there were many trucks in line waiting their turn as there was only one loading chute. Tommy said, “We’re not waiting that long.” We had a plan. We herded the hogs from the pen to the parking lot. My job was to get the hogs, scared and fast I might add, close to the truck and Tommy would grab them, one at a time of course, pick them up and throw them in the back of the pick-up truck. Needless to say we had quite an audience for this endeavor and very little, if any, voluntary help. We got out of parking lot with no further excitement.

I was not asked again to help show pigs.

PS: Also, knowing Tommy, as we do, makes it more funny. It is so typical of him. I’m not sure to this day how we got those pigs through the parking lot and into the truck.

 

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