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Members like Olivia

Supporting and sponsoring 4-H Market…and Montana’s future generations

Head, Heart, Hands, and Hogs: A nine-year-old’s passion for animals

 

Hi, my name is Olivia. I am nine years old and in 4H. I would like to share with you what I am doing in 4H, and bring you on my journey of raising my hog, in hope that you will consider coming to fair to bid on my project…

 

“I’m Olivia and I raise hogs, and I have three of them this year.”

 

 

Every kid is usually a bundle of energy, and Olivia is no exception. In fact, it seems impossible that her small, wiry frame is even able to contain it all.

Her parents are doing their best to channel it. Between archery, dog obedience training, 4-H (where she’s the treasurer of her club), small animal barn and hog committee meetings, hog barn tours, and raising and caring for three hogs, chickens, growing veggies, and—oh yes, there’s Olivia in a bee suit with her dad—she’s busy. But while some kids might spend their downtime lying on the couch or glued to a screen, you can find Olivia racing around her family’s farm on her bike—in a black and pink helmet—with colorful iridescent streamers cascading from the end of each handlebar.

 

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“I like to ride my bike down to the pigs,” she says. “Usually, I’ll put the buckets of food on the handlebars.”

 

Olivia isn’t just feeding the hogs. She raises them fully to take to 4-H Market, a massive annual event held in August at the Northwest Montana Fairgrounds that features food, crafts, artisans, rodeo, and livestock sales.

“Fair week is really busy, you know,” she says. “I have rabbits, chickens, and my vegetables, but it’s fun because you get to go run around with friends.”

But while they tend to be docile and easy-going, raising a hog is no easy feat. In order to get each of her three hogs in fighting shape, Olivia will have to walk them every day, feed them, monitor their weight, and make sure each one is the very essence of a healthy, well-brought-up pig.

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“Market is different than Showman,” she says. “Showmanship is where it’s based on me and not the pig. It’s based on, like, if I keep eye contact and I look intense, then they’re gonna judge me for that. And in market, it’s just about the structure of the pig. So, if the pig looks all funky and its legs are bowed in, it’s gonna be last. But if it has good structure, and it can walk nice, and it can hold its body weight nice, then it’s gonna be closer to the top.”

For Olivia, the 4-H season starts in October. Over the last year, she’s been studying not only the care of hogs but also the varying cuts of meat, preparing her own hog feed, and more. And after only two years of experience, she’s also been getting involved in helping other kids raise their hogs.

Of course, it means working on her patience, and for a kid who’s got more energy than an electric power station, that’s no small feat. This year, she’s raising the three pigs—livestock to be judged and auctioned off to the highest bidder at the Market—and the one known as Wild Thing is looking to be her best candidate. Despite the animal’s humble beginnings as an 80-pound piglet, the Hampshire pig now tips the scales at a whopping 281 pounds. And that’s good news when bidding for hogs is based on the pound.

When she’s talking about raising pigs, it’s easy to see the signs of determination in Olivia’s blue eyes. There’s a stubborn jut of the chin, a quickness of smile and comical expression, and the confidence that while she still has lots to learn, she’s already learning a lot. And if she has her druthers, her education will continue for the rest of her life, culminating in one specific professional goal.

 “I just wanted more animals,” she says. “I want to be a vet. Once you learn you can take care of one animal, then you can go bigger.”

And when it comes to raising hogs for bidding, bigger is definitely better.

Especially when Wild Thing easily wins the highest bid at an impressive $31-per-pound. The winning bidder? Whitefish Credit Union, of course—out to support not just the market, but the kids doing their best. For 4-H, it’s all about community.

So Olivia’s little piggy went to market and fetched her a small fortune. And what is she planning to do with that money?

Go bigger, of course.

Because—and this shouldn’t come as a surprise—she’s already got her eye on a horse.

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For more information on the annual Northwest Montana Fair coming this August, click here.

 

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