Pig whispering at the Maple Ridge fair: a new twist on an old skill
Some of the stars of these shows come with their own entourage.
Hundreds of people are heading to The Maple Ridge Country Fair, one of the highlights the largest 4-H show in B.C.
At a time when many young people are wandering around using Pokemon Go to find fictional creatures, many kids are handling real animals – some larger than themselves.
“You just try to make them track them as nicely as for can,” said Deroche cow handler Aiden Kennedy.
“The judge tells you to stop and then the judge will rank you in how well each person you showed their cow.”
With crowds and the careful eye of the judge, it is a stressful time for participants and parents.
“It’s very nerve wracking for these kids because…later on they will say they should have done this or that, in the moment they forget things,” said Brenda Stoker, a mother of one of the participants.
Inside the barn, 13-year-old Lily Ahern is prepping her pigs.
She joined 4-H this year: her background was dog handling and she thought why not try to train her pigs to do something different.
“I thought wouldn’t it be funny if I taught them to sit on command.”
Howard and companion pig Francois took to the training, and while sitting on command is an entertaining skill, it is not going to score Howard and Lilly extra points when they are in front of the judge.
Rather than sitting pigs like to move, they can be little feisty – which is where a judge marks the handler’s skill.
“They want to look for a good showman, one that makes eye contact with the judge and smiles at the judge. Pigs can be territorial so that’s why we have the board men, they come in with the boards.”
The judge is also looking for a shiny clean pig: always a challenge for the handler, because if you are a pig, you always want to get down and dirty.