Grace Mahoney chased after her 238-pound pig Harley in its pen Tuesday, spraying him down with water to cool him off as the pink and gray pig continued to squeal and roll itself in its bedding.
"He likes to keep himself busy," Grace said.
Grace, 12, is a first-time participant in the annual 4-H program at the Jackson County Fair. Living in Ashland, Grace and her family had no previous experience raising livestock.
Grace's grandpa Mike, standing by Harley's pen, joked that he's scared of Harley because of its size.
“Oh, no, I’m a city boy. Her dad was a city boy,” said Mike. “We have never lived on a farm. We have no idea how to do this at all.”
Grace said her parents are divorced and live in different cities, but she still spends a lot of time with both of them and their new families.
“We have a lot of family get-togethers during the holidays,” Grace said. The fair gives her a chance to hang out with both parents together.
It’s “an impromptu family reunion,” as Mike called it.
The fair opens Wednesday and runs through Sunday at The Expo in Central Point, with 4-H and FFA events happening every day.
Grace started raising Harley when her dad’s girlfriend suggested that Grace take part in a 4-H program earlier this year.
The hardest thing about raising a pig so far is “giving up my social life,” Grace said. None of her friends at Ashland Middle School are participating in the program, she said.
“I couldn’t hang out with my friends as much,” Grace said. “Then I tried to talk a friend into doing it, but she moved away for the summer.”
But the more she spent time with Harley, the more she enjoyed herself with him. Grace raised Harley from a 50-pound piglet.
“Harley is a stubborn pig, but he’s also friendly,” Grace said. “At first he was scared of everything, but after a while he got very friendly with everyone.”
Many kids in 4-H raise pigs to sell them for money — some of them write up to 30 to 50 letters to prospective buyers for each pig they raise. Grace said she’s not interested in doing that, saying she’s in it because it’s fun.
Harley will be sold during the swine auction Wednesday night.
“I haven’t thought about it,” Grace said. “Actually I try not to think about it, because Harley is a meat pig, so they’re going to take him and ... kill him.”
For a first-timer, Grace said, she did “pretty good.” Harley won a red ribbon during Tuesday’s show — seventh out of 10 pigs in Harley’s class.
“I’ll definitely come back next year,” she said.
— Reach reporting intern Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or by email at email@example.com.