4-H & FFA Fair ends on bittersweet note with livestock sale

It was a loud, busy scene at the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair livestock sale Friday evening, a din of auction calls, children's play, and animal bleats, squeals and moos — a fitting end to a weeklong celebration of Carroll's agricultural heritage.

It was a satisfying end to a busy week for Kristin Poth and her family. This was the second year her three children had raised pigs for the sale; her daughter, Jenna Reid, had also shown horses.


"There are days where she showed from 7 a.m. — and then she had to show at almost 10 or 11, so we are here every day, pretty much all day," Poth said. "It's sun up to sundown — by Monday we will all be shot."

Poth didn't grow up on a farm, but her husband Randy did, so when Jenna and their son Rowan decided they were interested in raising animals, it was Kristin who was the most excited.

"He knew the hard work that was involved. I was a little more naive and thought it looked fun," Kristin said, with a laugh. "And it is fun — but a lot of work."

Jenna, 13, got interested in 4-H through a friend who has raised pigs, lambs and steer, and Jenna hopes to one day raise up such a large bovine. As far as pigs are concerned — her pig for sale was a large pinkish porker named Kirby — she said her favorite part of raising them is the paycheck; last year her pig went for $625.

"That's more than you would get at regular slaughter house, but because it's 4-H you usually get more," Jenna said.

Jenna's least favorite part of raising pigs: knowing where they're going after the auction and the fair are over.

"It's actually probably better for the parents because it's the end and you can kind of settle down and then there's school year and you can concentrate on that," Kristin said. "I think it's hard on the kids since they raised the animals."

Rowan, 10, had an especially rough time of it, according to Kristin. His pig didn't meet the rate of weight gain requirements to be in the livestock sale on Friday, and so alternate arrangements to sell him to a family friend had to be made. It was rough for Rowan, as he was already feeling bittersweet about saying goodbye to his pig, Norman.

"I mean, it's sad, it's sometimes happy. Both," Rowan said. 'There's a lot of different emotions in it."

All along the pig pens, the occasional child could be seen shedding a tear or hugging a parent — or their pig — quite close.

"That was me my first year," said Rachael Hockenberry, 19, who has been raising pigs, lambs and cattle with 4-H since 2007. "Now it's my last year and I don't know how it's going to go tonight. I hope I don't cry too much."

Hockenberry first raised cattle in 2009 and said the best part of raising them is also the biggest difficulty.

"They all have different personalities when you bring them in the barn. It's just fun to get to know them," she said. "With their personalities, they also have attitudes. So getting over their attitudes and getting them to behave like show cattle do. It takes a lot of work and a lot of patience."

After a week of that work and patience, Hockenberry was ready for a nap but had to wait until her turn to sell Quicksilver, her steer. It was a pleasant weariness.


"It's a lot of hard work but it definitely pays off in the end," she said. "I would encourage anyone who wants to start just to find somebody and try to get into it because it pays off and you learn a lot from it."

At just two years in with her family, Kristin Poth feels the same way.

"There is definitely a benefit — they get so many friendships out of here," she said. "I think they will always remember this year over year."