It’s that time of year again. Every high school in America has had their calendars full of year-end activities highlighted by junior-senior proms. Spring is also the time for the ever-popular pig sales.
Pig sales and prom time have caused an age-old conflict in scheduling. Throw the topic out in conversation among any FFA and 4-H families and you will be regaled with the memories of the many who experienced it.
One mother recalled the day her family had gone to pick up a trailer load of pigs and while in town, they stopped by the dress shop to purchase their daughter a prom dress. Parking the pig-laden rig right in front, they traipsed into the interior of the shop, selected the gown and hurried back home.
“We got home, she got the pigs settled in, was showered and ready for her prom date by 7 p.m.,” her mom said. “And, I’m sure the dress shop has never smelled the same!”
The ring of a cell phone could be heard just barely over the roar of the F-350 flatbed as it rolled down the highway.
“I’m on my way to a pig sale,” she said loudly into the phone.
Cell phones invite callers into a rural world that is completely foreign to most of them. This particular caller was a hi-tech computer jockey working on a network of computers at an office belonging to the woman he called.
He politely tried to reason why in the world would she be going to a pig sale? It is sometimes difficult for “regular” people to grasp the concept of livestock projects for FFA and 4-H youngsters that in a few months will be headed to the county and state fairs.
Their deductive reasoning finds no logic in driving great long distances to buy just the right pig or three of them, spending the next three months buying feed and dispensing it to said animals, knowing the odds are for losing money in the end.
The value of this effort year after year is not tangible because it really isn’t about the pig. It isn’t about how much he ate, how well he showed or how many cents per pound he’ll bring in August. It is all about the kid.
It is an investment in responsibility. From now until fair time, the kid will be required to daily feed, groom, exercise and clean up after his pig. And the most surprising part to those same amazed regular people is that the kid really does like it and so does the pig.
Something happens within a youngster when an animal becomes part of his daily life and dependent upon him. Psycho-babblers would call it bonding. The pig has no idea about that but he knows that the short person that shows up every day is bringing chow and some attention. That’s good enough reasoning for a pig.
And the proms? Another investment in growing up except in a venue with a tad more glitz and glitter. Still, the chatter will argue the conflict.
“Go with the pig sale. You’ve seen one girl in a dress, you’ve seen them all.”
“The pig sale would cost less.”
You can dress the kids up in tuxes and dresses with matching satin in both, send them off to a decorated ballroom and serve them punch from a crystal bowl. However, underneath it all, they’re still the same kids who will spend a whole lot of time this year hanging at the pig pen.
God bless the wonders of rural America.
Julie can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org, or quite possibly at a pig sale.