The psychological thriller I’m currently reading discusses how good kids can grow up bad. The author explores the usual suspects with a ring of familiarity to those of us blessed with parenthood, often a struggle to be sure.
One of my favorite stories describes the gift in struggle. It’s a parable about a man freeing a butterfly from its cocoon after watching it struggling in vain to free itself. Predictably, the well-meaning Samaritan weakens the butterfly by robbing it of its ability to struggle — its survival mode. The moral is that the struggle to free itself helps the butterfly develop muscles for flying.
A proud parent on our magazine staff shared her happy news about her 19-year-old daughter’s recent accomplishment, epitomizing responsibility, accountability, and respectability. Meet Karrisa Hankes and Big Boy, her Grand Champion Barrow, whom she adopted when he was an 80-pound three-month-old piglet born this year on January 15.
A retiring 4-H Club veteran after 10 years of membership, Karrisa’s Big Boy helped her go out in style with his recent performance at the Illinois Kane County Fair as a 269-pound adult.
Talk about responsibility and accountability! Well, I’ll let her tell it.
“There is a lot of responsibility in this [raising, grooming, and training] making sure he is kept cool in summer, fed twice a day, and has plenty of water,” Karrisa says. He gains about a pound and a half a day, she continues, and drinks six gallons of water, and eats eight pounds of feed a day.
She doesn’t shy away from the unpleasant jobs involved with raising a farm animal — she even cleans the pens twice a week. Preparing Big Boy for a show means first washing him, followed by a short haircut. His mistress then sprays him with show sheen to make his hide glisten before he takes to the ring to strut his stuff.
“I lead him around with a plastic pipe, tapping him on his front quarters prompting him to move right or left, and on the rump for forward movement,” she explains. Training is essential since performance in the ring is judged scrupulously. “Judges look for walking muscle expression, leanness, and overall structure,” Karrisa says. “The person showing the hog makes a big difference, because you must keep him moving to show the judge all sides.”
It is said that if you train a child in the way he should go, he will not depart from it. The work Karissa put into caring for and training her cross bred barrow —part York and Hampshire — certainly gives her a leg up in what to expect in parenting. By the way, she also worked as a nanny for two families in her spare time.
What’s next for Karrisa? Currently a sophomore at a community college, she’s heading to Illinois State University next to earn a degree in family consumer science. She hopes to become a child life specialist.