Patience is a Virtue
If you want to test your patience, try taking photos of show pigs! Pigs are notorious for doing what they want, when they want. So the fact that you want them to give their best profile photo is like asking to meet George Strait! Add the element of your photo sidekick being busy working on the grain drill and you might as well feel dang excited if you get one decent photo. Keep in mind, I often shoot photos with my iPhone because it is convenient and I always have it on me. I usually am feeding and decide to shoot some pictures.
Taking pictures of pigs is like taking photos of kids on a trampoline! Pigs move constantly so getting a picture that isn't blurry is a difficult task with a camera that has a slow shutter speed. It never fails that the ugly runt always wants to be in the front of every picture, casting a shadow on the best pig of the litter. Bribery usually comes into play while trying to get pigs to hold still long enough to get a good shot. Marshmallows, feed sacks, a barn cat, brushes or anything that will get their attention is fair game. Needless to say, it can be very frustrating and it takes patience. I'm pretty sure some couples have divorced over taking show pig pictures. When the sale of your pigs depends on how good they look in the picture, you would be willing to trade your first born child for that "perfect" photo.
When people contact me wanting pictures of pigs, I encourage them to come to the farm and look. I still believe in the old school way of show pig shopping! Go out to the farm and look at the pigs. Meet the breeder and build that relationship. Now most pigs are sold online from pictures and videos. I know that times have changed and people rely heavily on photos when they purchase pigs. I will say, we have never sold our pigs in an online sale and we have had great feeders, drive our hogs to success. So, there is a glimmer of hope for the small farms that are still hanging on to that old school mentality.
Some of my favorite memories are driving from farm to farm with my Dad, picking out show pigs. These were our special trips and I remember being full of excitement to see what pigs we would find. On one of our trips, we bought a really nice York gilt. I named the gilt Danna after Danna Goss. We bought pigs from Kent Goss for years but I really thought Danna (Kent's wife) was so cool! I thought she was knowledgeable about hogs and when I met her, she was the only female that talked hogs with my Dad and I. All the other farms were solely men producers. After I met Danna, I wanted to raise show pigs like her and so I named my gilt after her. I'm sure she doesn't remember that but I'm sure she would be flattered to have a pig named after her. Ha! I always hope to be that same example for a young girl who comes to look at our pigs. I hope she meets me and thinks that if she wanted to raise show pigs, she could.
I know that times will continue to progress and unfortunately, we will not go back to, farm to farm pig shopping. So we all will have to conform, even though I don't necessarily want to. As I wrote about the horrors of taking photos of pigs, I continue to think about the good old days. When on-farm pig shopping was a perfect way to make family memories and meet people in the agriculture industry that could make an impact on your future.