By Karl Terry: PNT managing editor
Ten-year-old Daniel James hasn’t had an easy life but it was hard to tell Wednesday as the ruddy-faced youngster beamed to the crowd from the show ring where he was showing his first hog.
Daniel was excited as his pig Donkey (after the ‘Shrek” movie character) was penned by the judge to be in the final group in the first-year feeder class judging. He got several high-fives and congratulations across the ring as he waited to be called back. When it was over, a green fifth-place ribbon hung from his jeans pocket.
Daniel was among 13 students from the New Mexico Christian Children’s Home showing pigs at the Roosevelt County Fair. It was clearly a big day for Daniel and his friend Austin Moore, who also lives at NMCCH.
“This is my first year,” Daniel said. “I’ve just been showing rabbits before this.”
He said he had been walking his Hampshire pig every morning except Sunday and Wednesday this summer in preparation for the show.
“It’s an incredible experience for them,” said Janice Hardin, who works in the office at NMCCH and helps the children with their show animals. “It helps them learn responsibility and teaches them to listen so they can take care of their animal. They learn that the pigs have to be fed every day.”
Hardin says it’s also good for the kids to understand the hogs are raised as food. She said any animals that aren’t sold at the Junior Livestock Sale come back to the home and are butchered and consumed there.
“It’s something that’s a hard one for them, but that’s part of life,” Hardin said. “If they learn it early it really helps.”
Austin, 11, who is showing for his third year, says he likes washing and brushing the pigs and says it’s hard work learning to control them in the ring.
“It’s sometimes hard to control pigs, especially when they fight. They don’t like each other’s smell sometimes.”
Wednesday was devoted to pork at the fair — both on the plate and in the ring. The day started off with a pork chop breakfast put on by NMCCH. The proceeds from the meal go to purchase animals and supplies for the children who want to show animals, Hardin said. She said 245 plates were served Wednesday.
The day culminates with the various classes in the show ring as well as the kids pig chase.