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Of pigs and beauty

By Staff | Sep 1, 2017

It was a call I’d received a while ago that got me thinking.

When I answered the phone there was a woman from our local extension office on the other end of the line. She asked if I would be interested in doing the announcing for the swine show at our county fair. Always up for a fun challenge, I accepted her invitation.

And that’s where it all headed south.

She said, “Oh good – thank you. We thought you would be a good person to do the swine show.”

It was like telling me I had a face for radio – which I do, actually.

If I were a man, I would probably not even remember that she said that. But I’m not a man, and even if she had made that statement 15 years ago on the 23rd of May at 10:36 a.m., I would still remember it.

But I wouldn’t be able to tell you how much rain we had that spring or how much rain may have fallen on that particular day. That would be something a man could tell you.

It got me thinking about true beauty and how it relates to life on the farm.

Even as our 2016 crop became “old crop” as soon as the new year began-and before the new crop was even planted – I was thinking of how fleeting time is, and how quickly something new can become ‘yesterday’s news.’

This year as I emceed our swine show again, I noticed on the program for the first time that there were lots of gilts and barrows, but no sows. There have never been sows there, I suspect, but I was laughing to myself about the irony in that as I thought about how that played out in human form.

Most women who have never had children can schlep around in sleek clothing and look like a million bucks with hardly any effort, it seems. Once she has carried a child in her stretched-out tummy for nine months, she can try doing that, but her body at that point is made for other things – like feeding the baby it just carried.

It’s glorious to do, but perhaps not glamorous in a style show.

In pig reality, I would be the equivalent of a sow, since I have had offspring – even two at a time – my own small litter. And I know now that the county fair does not allow for sows to parade around in front of a group of onlooking, salivating bacon hoarders. Once she has little ones, a pig is no longer eligible for a beauty contest.

Oh, the injustice of it all, and the irony in that reasoning. If a judge could pick out a sow that still looked great after four or five litters, now that would really be something special.

I once sat with a friend of mine through a 4-H and FFA fair swine show where our children were exhibiting. As the judge did what judges do, he made his selections for the top ones, and began to tell the crowd of parents and other onlookers about his top choice. He chose a particular pig because of its “prominent, muscly, round back end.”

My friend leaned over to me and said quietly, “…so he’s saying it’s good to have a round, larger behind?” She then pointed to herself and laughed, as we both did. I fit into that category as well.

Our children are in their mid- and late-20s, and I’m afraid I’ve nearly used up my ‘baby fat’ excuse time. Maybe I could squeeze another year or two out of it, but that might be it.

Poor, persecuted pig-bearing porcines. I understand their beauty plight. I’m also an inch shorter than I used to be.

I wonder if that helps give me a “…prominent, round, muscly back end?”

I’ll be expecting that grand champion ribbon at next year’s swine show.

Karen Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at kschwaller@evertek.net and www.karenschwaller.com.

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