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Sun, Oct. 20

Talk of the Town

My pig's name is Cromwell. I'm raising him as my 4-H project this year. He is a 6-month-old black-and-white Berkshire hog.

Many young people are raising animals in Yava-pai County, and we learn about animal nutrition, diseases and caring for our animals.

I'm a 10th-grader at Pres-cott High School and have been in 4-H for the past five years. I bought my pigin December when he weighed only 40 pounds. After six months, he has grown to 205 pounds. He became friends with my 2-year-old dog, Simba, andthey kept each other warmthrough the cold winter.

Many think it's possible to feed pigs anything. The U.S. Department of Agriculture makes sure livestock get proper food, so the public needn't worry about meat quality. Ano-ther common misconception is that pigs are dumb. After two years of experience with two different pigs, I have learned how smart they really are. Cromwell learned to walk up a ramp into his van in just two days. He also walks alongside me and has learned to turn around with my directions.

In three weeks, I will show Cromwell at the annual Yavapai County 4-H/FFA Expo. Every April, hundreds of 4-H and FFA members flock to the Rodeo Grounds off Fair Street. These young people from 8- to 18-years-old show their knowledge and skills in raising livestock in the show ring. 4-H is a worldwide youth organization, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture started in the early 1900s.

The 4-H mission, "en-gaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development," represents the values of more than 9 million members in the U.S. Almost 100,000 4-H clubs are active in the U.S. today.

For three days, we will show our steers, swine, horses, sheep, goats, dogs and poultry to the public.

Judges consider showmanship and the quality of our animal. Showmanship is the cooperation between the youth and his or her animal. More than 200 youths will show their projects. Indoor exhibits will display talents in projects ranging from woodworking and leather craft to photography and homemaking.

April 28 is the final day of Expo and usually one of the busiest. This is the day we will sell our animals. In this way, young people raise money for college or other post secondary education.

I encourage the public to attend some of the judging events and hope people will come see Cromwell in the Market Swine judging at 11 a.m. Friday, April 27.

On Saturday, April 28, bidders will have a barbecue from 11 a.m. to noon and the bidding begins at 12:30 p.m.

More information is available at the Expo Web site at www.4hffaexpo.org.

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