The Phone Call
. . . Pookie is a city girl. She is 10 years old. She is like most ten-year-olds, and lives with her parents near the mountains in Shortmont. Pookie is not her real name. That is just what Grandpa calls her. It is not a very cool name for a 10 year old girl, but then what can you do about your Grandpa? While Pookie may not be a very cool name, Grandma and Grandpa are not their real names either. That is just what Pookie calls them.
. . . Pookie and her family live a long way from Grandma and Grandpa, so the only time she is called Pookie is when she calls them on the phone, or they call her, like when something very special happens. As for Grandma, nothing special has to happen for her to call, as she spends a lot of time on the phone talking to everybody. But when Pookie calls something very special is happening.
. . . One day Grandma said to Grandpa; Pookie called us on the phone today, and asked us to come to Shortmont to see her show her pigs in the Bigrock County Fair. Since we are going to be there anyway, we could take just a few more days to watch her show her pigs. What do you think, Grandpa?
. . . Grandpa said: “Yes, I know we are going to be almost there, but it will be a cold day when I go a thousand extra miles and spend another week away from home to see a bunch of pigs.”
. . . Not wanting Grandpa to have the last word, Grandma said; “The fair is a long time from now, and it would mean a lot to Pookie for us to be there. She has been working very hard on her project so the judge will like her pigs. Besides, things may look different in a few months.”
. . . Grandpa snorted; “Cold day. Snort, Snort”. In this pig story, Grandpa is the first one to snort. Grandma and Grandpa travel a lot, but Grandpa also likes to play golf. When he and Grandma spend a day traveling, it is not a day spent playing golf. Grandpa just hasn’t figured out how to play much golf when they travel. Besides, traveling to see a bunch of pigs just doesn’t seem very cool to Grandpa.
. . . Pookie is not an only child. She has two big sisters who moved away, leaving her without anyone to pester besides her folks. So, – she became very good at pestering her folks. In self-defense, they decided that Pookie should have a project to keep her busy. But what kind of a project could a city girl have?
. . . The Bigrock County Fair has lots of kids doing 4-H projects. They bake cookies, or cakes, or preserve fruit and vegetables. Some kids show photography. Some sew, or crochet, and some make the most beautiful quilts. Some raise animals like dogs or horses or cows. But what can a city girl do?
. . . Pookie says; “Little pigs are so cute. Can I raise pigs for my project? My older sister, who lives on the farm, could keep them for me, and I could go out there every day to feed them, and train them, and take care of them. Since they raise other pigs, they would not be any problem at all. What do you think?”
. . . As you may recall, this project was designed to prevent Pookie from pestering her parents, and producing porkers was proposed as the perfect plan. And so it was, – a pig project.
. . .The next trip was to the pig auction. At the auction, there were dozens of baby pigs of every kind. There were black pigs and white pigs, black and white pigs, and red pigs. There were pigs that squealed, and pigs that ran, and pigs that would not.
Pigs With Papers
. . . These were not ordinary pigs! These pigs had papers saying exactly when they were born, what kind of pigs they were, and what certified litter they were from. This is not like grandma and grandpa, who are not certified, and did not come from a litter at all. They may not even have papers.
. . . Every pig was shown in a small pen where an auctioneer took bids. Some of these little pigs sold for unreal prices, – like $1000 each. To bid on a pig, you just had to raise your hand at the right time. As soon as some of the cheaper pigs arrived, Pookie’s parents started bidding. Two specially pretty pigs arrived that were mostly black with one wide white stripe around their middle. Along the white stripe was a gray stripe which helped divide the white from the black. They were so cute. We bought two, – a boy and a girl. They were not so expensive.
. . . Then the two pigs were taken to the farm and introduced to the other pigs. They were happy to be out of the small pens at the auction.
. . . The first thing Pookie did was start training. But how does a city girl train pigs? Same way you train your parents. First you must give them names. You can’t just call them pig 1 and pig 2. The names must be important in order to give each pig something to live up to. That was easy enough. The boy pig had to be Wilbur and the girl pig was Babe. Babe had a much wider stripe across her back than Wilbur, so it was easy to recognize them. Then you have to teach them their names so when you call them they come to you immediately. Wilbur and Babe were both very bright pigs, and learned their names quickly, – just like ma and pa.
. . . Pookie would say: “Suuwee piggy, piggy, piggy. Come here Wilbur. Suuwee piggy, piggy, piggy. Come here Babe.”
. . . And they did. They learned that when Pookie came and called them like that, she had food for them. They came running right away. Wilbur and Babe were both hungry little pigs, and ate everything that Pookie brought to them. So they grew, and grew, and grew, and grew, and soon they were not baby pigs any more. They ate every single thing that Pookie brought to them, – not like Pookie. Pookie is very careful about what she eats, because she doesn’t want to grow up like, – – – a pig.
. . . Wilbur and Babe watched the older pigs, and often did exactly what they did. After a rain they would run straight for the puddles. They would walk around in the water, and snort and wallow, and make mud like all regular pigs. Some days it was so hot they would lay down in the mud and roll around. They got mud everywhere. Then they would roll in the grass and leaves until they looked like huge chicken fried steaks. It took a long time for all the mud to come off.
. . . One day Pookie saw Wilbur and Babe when they were mud and grass and leaves from tail to snout. She said to them in disgust: “Wilbur and Babe! You two are just a couple of disgusting, — like — pigs, which you are. You are going to grow up to be show pigs. You can’t run around muddy and dirty with grass and leaves all over. The judge wouldn’t like that. We need to teach you to be pretty pigs. You are going to be prize pigs at the fair, and you must make me proud.”
. . . So Pookie got a pail and a brush and some soap. She scrubbed and scrubbed until both pigs were shinny. At first they were not very happy about being scrubbed. Then they got used to it, and came to like it a lot. They got a scrubbing at least every Saturday night while they were growing up, just like Pookie.
. . . One day Pookie was feeding and washing Wilbur and Babe. She got Wilbur really clean first, then started scrubbing Babe. When she was finished with Babe, she looked around and could not find Wilbur anywhere. Where could he be. Pookie said; “Babe, where is your brother, Wilbur. He was very clean when he left, but I can’t see him now. Do you know where he is? Lets look for him”
. . . Of course Babe did not say anything because pigs can’t talk. They looked all over the pigpen, and finally walked toward the shed. Wilbur jumped out from behind the shed and grunted, – “oink, oink”. After that, Pookie said that Wilbur was playing pig-a-boo.
. . . After weeks of feeding and scrubbing, Babe and Wilbur got to be big pigs. Then it was time for the Bigrock County Fair. Wilbur and Babe were loaded into a truck and taken to the fairground. There they went to a place where there were hundreds of pens. In the middle of these pens was a large arena where the pigs would be shown. Pookie spent a lot of time in this little pen with Babe and Wilbur to help them feel at home. This was their very first time away from home.
. . . The fair in Bigrock County is a lot more than just pigs and other animals. There is a large building where all the homemade products and handicrafts are taken. This is where the quilts, and dolls, and cakes and pies, and photography, and all other things are shown. Then dozens of judges examine everything to decide which ones will receive a first prize, and second prize, and third prize ribbons.
Better than First Place
. . . Because there are so many good things to judge, the judges decided that there should be a whole bunch of ribbons besides just 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th prizes. So when you look at the ribbons, you see a lot of big purple ones which say special things. One says Champion which is better than 1st. place, while another says Grand Champion. This is better than champion. Then there are others which show the Judge’s Choice and another which says Peoples’ Choice. This is when the judges and the people can’t agree on the real champion. You can see that first place is really nice, but there are a lot of ribbons better than first place, specially when the judges can’t agree.
. . . In Bigrock County, fair time only comes once a year. Some people take vacation, and spend the whole week at the fair. There is even a parking lot with hookups for campers and motor homes. When you have a camper or motor home, you can park it there and not leave the fair all week. That is what Pookie’s big sister did. Then she asked Pookie if she would like to stay with them during the week of the fair. Pookie said she would.
. . . One of the first things you see at the fair is a parking lot full of tractors that are older than Grandpa, and old steam engines which are shiny as new. There were three huge steam engines. One of them took folks on a ride around the parking lot. It takes about 20 minutes for one round trip because it moves so slowly.
Vehicles With Lugs
. . . One pretty red tractor had all steel wheels. The rear wheels were just large steel rings with many lugs attached. Older folks like Grandpa remember signs on the roads which said, – “Vehicles with Lugs Prohibited”. When Pookie’s great-grandmother would see one of these signs, she would say “stop the car and all you lugs get out”. You could never be sure just who great-grandma was calling a LUG.
. . . Grandma and Grandpa really did arrive in time for the fair. They found out what the schedule would be for the next four days. The first day was mostly loading up the pigs and finding out which pens they were supposed to be in. Then the pigs are weighed and put into groups which would be judged together. City girls learn a lot about farm things like gilts and barrows. The young female pigs, called gilts, are shown first. The male pigs are called barrows. All the pigs are also grouped by weight with the lighter pigs being shown together. Because there are so many pigs at the fair, it takes two full days just for judging the pigs.
. . .The first day is used to judge showmanship. On this day Pookie is judged for how well she shows her pigs. You choose your best pig, clean him up until he is spotless, and then do your best job doing what you are supposed to do when showing pigs. What are you supposed to do showing pigs? There are a few rules;
. . . 1. Always keep your pig between you and the judge.
. . . 2. Keep your eye on the judge.
. . . 3. Keep your pig moving, if you can, as this shows things like
. . . . . mobility, muscle structure, height, and flexibility. Judges like these things.
. . . 4. Keep your pig out of fights.
. . . 5. Don’t let the pigs congregate in the corners. Pigs like to move to the
. . . . . corners of a square pen, and then start squealing.
. . . Here you can see two pigs kissing. There isn’t any rule about pigs kissing, so you don’t lose any points here.
The next day was pig judging. Babe came first, and Pookie herded Babe into the arena with a dozen other pigs and people. After doing what you are supposed to do for a long time, the judge looked at Babe real carefully, and whispered to Pookie; “Your pig really needs more meat in the all-important rump area. You did a good job of keeping your pig in the middle of the arena where I can see her, number 344.”
Babe lost points here, and should have spent more time on the rump shaping exercises.
. . . The next day was Wilbur’s turn. He was guided into the arena with another group of porkers. For very short periods of time, there is really not much to do when showing your pig. Here is Wilbur. He is content to root in the straw in the middle of the arena. It is OK for a pig to stand still for short periods of time. Pookie slouches just a little bit during this break.
New rule: No slouching, Pookie.
. . . After showing Wilbur, the judge waved to his crew to put Pookie and Wilbur in the last pen on the right next to the main arena. Then he picked four more pigs and directed them and their owners to the other four pens. After all the remaining pigs were escorted out of the main arena, each of the pigs in the five pens was brought back into the main arena. Pookie and Wilbur came back first, because she was one of the winners. The judge reviewed Wilbur’s strong and weak points, then congratulated Pookie and her parents on a good job.
. . . Wilbur won fifth place on Pookie’s first try at the fair.
. . . Good job, Pookie. Good job, Wilbur. Good job, Mr. Judge.
To Market, To Market
. . . Some of the fair’s activities were to be held the next day. It was another auction. This auction is for those exhibitors who want to sell their animals. Pookie didn’t want to sell Babe and Wilbur, but they were ready for market.
Immediately after the fair, Grandma and Grandpa returned home, because the cold day had come and gone. They had not been home very long when Grandma said; “Pookie called and said she had sold her pigs at auction. ”
. . . . Pookie said; “I got (SOB!!, SOB!!) $600 for (SOB!!, SOB!!) Wilbur. They are going (SOB!!,SOB!!) to make pork (Boo Hoo!!) chops out of him. (Boo-Hoo!!) But, I guess (SOB!!, SOB!!) the fair was a good experience. Besides I can take the money and raise a horse next year. You don’t have to sell your horse, and if you do, they don’t make pork chops out of them. Baby horses are so cute.
My older sister has horses on her farm and she says it’s OK. They could keep my horse there, and I could go out there every day to feed and train it. What do you think, Grandma? Will you and Grandpa come to Shortmont next year to watch me show my horse?”
Good Bye, Babe
Good Bye, Wilbur
Pork Chops in the Sky
Copyright by Grandpa