David Letterman occasionally does a bit on his show called "Is This Anything?" It features some sort of strange performance, followed by Dave and band leader Paul Schaffer discussing whether the act is anything. That's it.
That's how it feels every year looking at our 4H pigs in the months, weeks, and finally days leading up to the Polk County Fair. After the previous year's fair ends, Brett and I start studying boar websites, looking for the next year's sires. We pick up every boar catalog available at the Iowa State Fair, even though we always get boar semen from the same two places, Swine Genetics International and Cain Super Sires. We discuss which boar would enhance the qualities of each of our sows and gilts, and we hope that we're able to match up the right genetics to get next year's Polk County Fair Supreme Champion Market Individual.
Once the farrowing starts in January, "Is This Anything: Swine Edition" starts in earnest. From day 1, we look at the new baby pigs and talk about what's good about them and what they are lacking. I talk with both Brett and Kay about what litter they want, and what their other options are if the other girl has first choice.
This year, there were really only two litters from which to choose. We had six litters, but these were the only two that had enough pigs in them to win the litter class at the fair. Brett went back and forth between them. Since she's a senior, she had first choice for both pigs and calves. She knew right away which calves she wanted for her feeder pen, but didn't make up her mind on the pigs until the week of the swine weigh-in in April.
At this point, we think both girls may have something. Brett has some individuals that are really thick and muscular, and Kay has a number of pigs whose rate of gain has far surpassed anything we've ever raised. Are they anything? That's up to the judge to decide, one week from tomorrow, when the pigs finally enter the show ring at the Polk County Fair.