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Student interaction breeds positive hog-raising experience

By Elena Watts
Feb. 22, 2014 at 6:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 21, 2014 at 8:22 p.m.

Nike the hog takes a drink of water in her pen at Greg Gordon's ranch in Raisin. Nike is being shown by 13-year-old Carli Bothe in this year's Victoria Livestock Show.

Whiskey, Lola and Ellie, Greg Gordon's dogs, rambled around the pens on his Raisin ranch as the students tended to their hogs.

Gordon's grandson, Coyt Miller, 10, a fourth-grader at Our Lady of Victory Elementary School, and his nephew, Travis Bigham, 17, a junior at St. Joseph High School, were two of four students who raised hogs on the property for the Victoria Livestock Show.

Family friends Carli Bothe, a 13-year-old at Howell Middle School, and Shawna Gott, 14, who attends Meyersville School, also housed their hogs there.

All are members of the High Bidders 4-H Club. Coyt, Travis and Shawna will show a market hog and carcass hog, while Carli will only show in the market hog show.

Travis, who raised his 10th hog this year, said the interaction with other exhibitors at the pens was beneficial.

"Especially for my little cousin - it was his first year to raise a hog," Travis said. "We gave him tips on what to do and what to expect, since we've all been there."

Coyt, who raised a lamb last year, plans to raise a commercial heifer next year.

"We learn from mistakes others make," Coyt said. "We hang out and have lots of fun."

Shawna tended to her hog every day after school.

"We helped each other out," she said. "We fed and walked each other's pigs when someone couldn't make it out."

Shawna cleaned the pen, laid down fresh hay, mixed the feed, walked the hog and even washed it on warm days.

"I sprayed its skin with oil to keep it moistened because flaky skin is noticeable on a black pig," Shawna said.

This was Carli's third year to raise hogs at Gordon's ranch.

Her parents drove her to Raisin every day after work so she could feed, walk and weigh her hog.

"I'd like to thank my parents for letting me have a pig out here because it's a lot of work," Carli said.

Gordon, whose daughter raised hogs for 10 years, has helped students with their projects for almost 25 years.

The animals rely on the students for everything - food, water and exercise.

"They do get attached to their animals, but they are not like dogs, cats or hamsters," Gordon said. "It gives them an idea of how the agriculture process works."



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