Attitudes admirable at local show
Chattanooga High School senior Sara Lovett is living proof that all the hard work that the Comanche County Saddle & Sirloin Club puts into the Comanche County Livestock Show is making a difference in people's lives.
The 18-year-old daughter of Shannon and Scott Lovett wants to major in agriculture education when she goes off to the Stillwater campus of Northern Oklahoma College next fall. That's a two-year school, so her plan is to complete her bachelor's degree at Oklahoma State University and become an ag teacher. Her FFA adviser is Dexter Matlock, who's in his fifth year of teaching at Chattanooga.
Sara began showing pigs 13 years ago when she was just starting out in Cloverbuds.
"I actually have a picture of me in the paper when I was 5 years old. My pigs, in a pen here," she said with a smile.
She experimented with a heifer one year and some sheep another year, but she's come back to pigs. She prefers them to the other species.
"I just know more about them, and I feel like they're a little bit easier to work with than other animals. I just enjoy working with them because they're a little bit smarter, to me, than some other animals," she explained.
"The most important part (about caring for a pig) is you realizing that that animal depends on you every day to feed it. And it's not for your parents to feed, it's for you to feed. So basically, responsibility is the most important part of owning a pig," Sara said.
A lot of work goes into grooming them.
"Contrary to popular belief, their hair needs to be brushed and taken care of every day, just like every other animal," she said, adding that her pigs get walked for 20 minutes each every day.
On certain animals, she aims for a balance between "trim and lean" and "fat and sassy." They need to be fat in the middle, with muscle on their forearms and in the back, be wide in the front, with a lot of cover (fat). She's already shown her pigs five or six times this season.
"I've been showing here at Comanche County for nine years. I love it here. I've grown up in the barns, and being here is my favorite thing of the year. I've met a lot of new people. And seeing our (Chattanooga FFA) chapter grow from having 60 hogs on feed, maybe, now we have 130 on feed. We have 65 pigs here, and that's more than any other school by a long shot," said Sara, adding that Chattanooga is very proud of being the pig capital of Comanche County.
Some of the Lawton students represented at Tuesday's swine show keep their project animals on family farms outside the city limits. Edison Elementary School fourth grader Braedon McDonald, for example, is the 10-year-old son of Kendra and Jacob Lovelady, who raise pigs at their place in Faxon.
This is Braedon's second year to show as a member of Lawton 4-H. He brought four hogs to show, and managed to get everything sorted out so that no two of them were in direct competition with each other. His heaviest is a 230-pound Hampshire barrow, followed by a 227-pound Crossbred gilt, a 223-pound "blue-butt" Crossbred Crossbred barrow and a 212-pound Crossbred barrow. They've all been raised on Henderson's feed.
At age 9 he began with two barrows, a Yorkshire and a Cross. Braedon said he didn't do very well the first time he showed, but by the time he got to last year's Comanche County Free Fair, the Crossbreed placed first in its class. He's hoping to repeat that feat this year.