BY RACHEL BITTON
My kids used to watch a cute little cartoon that played a song called “Spring Brings Things” – I find myself singing this every spring. At our house, spring not only brings warmer and longer days, but also fair animals. The last few years have brought us a few pigs and a bucket calf in addition to our year-round animals. In all honesty, I have not always enjoyed the pigs.
The first few years, I thought the pigs were here to ruin my life, and the term ‘freaking pigs” was born. The “freaking pigs” got sick, died, didn’t make fair weight, etc. I fully intend to make a shirt that says, “Freaking Pigs.” I’m also fairly certain more than one fair parent will join me in wearing the pig shirt.
After a few years, our pig-raising skills were getting better – we are now smarter, buying better pigs, and we’re well on our way to fair weight; then, the tire incident happened. My good friend and I picked up a large load of pig feed and made it almost back home, when I noticed one of the trailer tires was racing us down the road. I quickly pulled over, my friend jumped out, and with cat-like reflexes, chased the tire down, kicking it over before it could cause any property damage. We both looked at each other and yelled, “FREAKING PIGS!” Then we laughed and laughed. That adventure will not soon be forgotten.
I do love the pigs now, though. They are funny creatures, and I enjoy having them as an addition to our funny farm. I really love them when they make fair weight and behave in the show ring.
The bucket calves have always been a sweet addition to the funny farm. My son is never happier than when he has a bucket calf to raise. I often find him snuggled up in the straw, cuddling his calf. He comes inside slobber-covered, but thankfully, clothes and kids wash up well.
Mornings with fair animals can be tough: the kids must wake up earlier, prepare feed, and stumble out into the dark, cold mornings to take care of their babies. I won’t ever begrudge the lessons they are learning while taking care of animals. These are real-life experiences that will last a lifetime.
When I was a teenager, I once heard my dad tell someone, “People think we’re raising horses and cows, but really, we’re raising good kids”. I remind myself of this often, especially after I vacuum up all the straw and shavings that are continually dragged into the house with my feral farm children. My hope is that we are not just raising fair animals, we’re raising good kids.