It’s safe to say most of us here at Wildwood Grilling are a little food-obsessed, and when the county fair came around in August someone had a wild hair: what if we bought a pig?
Some of our crew probably thought we were joking, but the more we thought about it the less crazy it seemed. Chef Matt is constantly developing new recipes, and we’re always looking for new content to write about on our blog, so it would be very nice to have a hog in the freezer. Wildwood Grilling is big on community involvement, and the local 4-H program is all about educational programs for kids to build skills like responsibility, resiliency & hard work.
We asked around our group to see if we had any former 4-H kids who might know what to look for in terms of fine swine. It turns out that we have several ex-4-H swine handlers amongst our team (our Controller and Sales Director among them) and they were more than happy to share their hog farming, showing and selling expertise, along with the emotional highs and lows of auction day.
Once we learned what to look for in a pig, plans were made to attend the 4-H Auction.
The barn where the auction was held was hot and dusty, and getting hotter as the morning wore on. The steers were first, followed by the hogs and then later on in the afternoon the chickens and sheep would follow. Everyone used their bidding paddles as fans, which confused the auctioneer and his cronies. We watched the Grand Champion Hog and Reserve Grand Champion Hog get auctioned off for vast and astonishing sums, and then settled in for the long list of blue and red ribbon hogs.
Bidding in a live auction is absolute exhilarating, and if you haven’t done it, I recommend trying it. We ended up buying a blue ribbon pig from Jesiah, a local high school senior. We sat down with Jesiah to learn more about his experience raising and selling his pig Louis.
Q&A with Jesiah
What are you into when you aren’t showing swine?
I play corner on Sandpoint High’s football team, and I work for a landscaping company as a summer job. I want to go to Boise State University next fall, and major in business. I have three sisters.
Do you like to cook or grill?
Well, I just make basic food for myself. Not into grilling yet, but my dad smokes his own bacon.
What do you like to eat?
YES. I’m pretty much hungry all the time.
So what’s your favorite meal?
Pretty much anything. I’m hungry right now, in fact. My Mom makes really good Meats and pasta. I really like her Lasagna and spaghetti.
What do you like to get if you are eating out?
I like Second Avenue Pizza. You get everything on those pizzas!
Prior to this year had you ever been involved in 4-H?
Yes, I’ve done it for 6 years in total, but this was the first time I raised a pig.
Have you ever done pig 4-H before? Would you do it again?
This is my first and only 4-H pig. I don’t think I’ll do it again. I have too much going on Senior year and with sports.
What was your pig called?
Have you ever raised a pig before?
Yes, but not for 4-H. I helped my family raise three other pigs.
What is the most correct term, hog, pig or swine?
I think they all work. Any. Either? I’m not actually sure?
What breed was your pig?
Hampshire / Yorkshire cross.
What did he eat?
We get our hogs a custom food made by Woods. It’s a non-GMO food blend, it’s also corn and soy free. It has peas, oats, barley, and wheat in it, and vitamins.
Wow. That sounds like good pig chow. Where did he live? Did he live with any other pigs?
He lived in pen on our property, and had a house to go into if it got too hot or cold. He lived with his siblings and parents.
What is the daily work of raising a pig?
You have to feed them twice a day, sometimes three times a day depending on the time of year. You also have to make sure their automatic water system is up and running. It’s a nipple on the end of the hose, so they can suck on in and get fresh water whenever. The problem is that pigs like to break things for fun, so you have to check it often. Pigs are prone to break things. They are smart, but also not so smart, because they like to break their own stuff, like their water hoses, then we have to fix it for them or they start squealing. Pigs also are very hard to catch and they enjoy breaking out. They like to break things for fun, pretty much terrorizing the farm until they are caught.
When and where did you get Louis? How big was he? Are these sad questions?
Loius was born at our farm, we have the sow and boar, his parents, at our farm too. I raised him from a baby. The piglets were born in early February this year. Yeah, it was kinda sad. My piggy was super cute when he was a baby, he was super chubby. He was a nice animal; he wasn’t a problem or mean. It was sad, but that’s the way it goes.
How did you manage to get a blue ribbon? Congratulations by the way.
I got a blue ribbon for showmanship and for medium weight hog. We made it to the medium championship round, we got sixth place for the whole show, and that’s pretty good! The judges award ribbons based on how the body of the hog looks. It’s all about the body of the hog, and how big are the hams are. My hog had a really great front end, so when I was showing him I made sure that the judges got a good front end view, as my hog was lacking a bit in the hams.