SANDPOINT — Pigs are one of the smartest animals on not the planet, but they are not easiest animals to control. Just ask the 4-H youth who hit the arena this week to show their pigs at the Bonner County Fair.
"It's not too bad except on the second day of the show, because they know where the exit is," said Trevan Adam, 14, with the Gold 'n' Grouse 4-H club on Friday.
Gretchen Schroeder, 13, with Baldy's Colored Cavalry, came out with bruises on her knees after trying to get her pig out of the corner, but "Murphy" didn't want to budge.
"It's still frustrating, because even if you work with your pig, that can still happen," Schroeder said.
Others, like 15-year-old Cody Young's pig, "Hank," are excited to hit the arena.
"He likes to run back and forth in the show arena," Young said.
While some pigs don't enjoy the arena quite as much as Hank, they do enjoy a good bath. As Olivia Earls with the Hoodoo Hustlers 4-H club soaped up her pig, "Thor," on Friday in preparation for today's sale, he reveled in the feel of the scrub brush and the spray of the hose water.
"This is his favorite part," said Olivia's mother, Chelsea Earls. "He loves water."
It is pigs like Thor that make it difficult when it comes time to sell the swine at fair, Earls said. Last year, she said, her pig was not as friendly as Thor, so it made it a little easier not to get attached.
"Not this, year," Earls said. "(Thor) is perfect."
Young said that is something he learned his first year, as well, is not to get attached to the animal. It does get easier as the years go by, though, he said.
Many of the returning 4-H youth have their hand in at least a couple different programs. In six years, Earls has done pig, survival, archery, sewing and scrapbooking. Schroeder, who has been in 4-H for six years has been involved in pig, horse, sewing and rabbit projects. Next year she wants to try steer. Young, who has also been in 4-H for six years, said he has stuck with pig each year. His favorite part about the program, he said, is the camaraderie with others in 4-H.
"And 4-H is really good because it teaches kids responsibility," Schroeder said.
For some, like 15-year-old Halle Holliger, it is her first year in 4-H with Baldy's Colored Cavalry.
"It's been pretty fun," Holliger said. "It's been a new experience for me. I haven't done anything like it before."
Adam is in his seventh year in 4-H and his fourth year in pig. He previously did market lamb, but said he wanted to try something new, and now he prefers swine.
"It's so much fun just watching them grow," Adam said. "They are cute when they are little, and they are still cute now, but it's just so much fun."
This year was pretty tough, Adam said, because they changed the age of the senior division to 14, so he competed against the 17- and 18-year-olds as well. Adam said his little brother, 10-year-old Dallen Adam is also in pig and was awarded overall reserve grand champion this week. The pair named their animals "Mango" and "Oreo."
In honor of this year's fair theme, "Remembering Our Roots," Schroeder said she named Murphy after her grandfather's wife, because that was her maiden name. Her grandfather, she said, put on horse shows and her mom used to ride horses.
"We've had a lot of family go through these fairgrounds," she said.
The teens were in the swine barn at the Bonner County Fair Friday to answer questions by potential buyers as well as get their pigs ready for today's sale. Some of the questions, Schroeder said, revolve around the pigs' weight, what they are fed and what the protein content is. Schroeder's pig reached 290 pounds — 60 pounds over the required weight for sale at the auction.
The sale begins at 9 a.m. today in the indoor arena at the Bonner County Fair and includes all the market animals from chickens to cattle.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.