BERRYVILLE — Young people who raise and take care of farm animals quickly develop attachments to them.
But sometimes they must say goodbye.
Fifteen-year-old Caiden Thompson is among the many youngsters showing their animals this week at the 65th annual Clarke County Fair. He expects to part ways with his beloved pig, Vickie, during an auction Saturday morning.
He has been raising Vickie since she was a piglet. But he has always known, he said, that someday he would have to sell her.
Many farm animals are raised to be sold — either for breeding or eating.
“I’ll really miss her,” said Caiden, the son of Dave Thompson. “Me and my dad and my brother really love her.”
“I hope somebody buys her for breeding,” he said.
Now a little more than one year old, Vickie weighs almost 300 pounds. Yet she is nothing to fear.
Squealing loudly, she was a little ornery when Caiden aroused her from a nap in her pen at the fairgrounds. Having been raised in constant contact with humans, though, she is sweet and friendly. That was evident when she resumed her nap and Caiden laid against her stomach, using her as a backrest.
Caiden and his family raise livestock at T3 Farm. He anticipates raising more pigs in the future. But he will always remember Vickie.
“Definitely, it’s going to hit me hard on sell day,” he said, when he will have to say farewell to his porcine pal.
“It’s hardest (to let go) when you know they’re going to be used for eating,” said Ashley Shippa, 13, who raises dairy cattle. “You really get attached to your animals. They become your friends.”
Ashley will not part with one cow, Mooana, who has become her pet.
Their bond was obvious as they rested together in a pile of hay. Mooana napped while Ashley, the daughter of Steve and Jody Shippa, checked her phone for messages.
Raising farm animals is fun, but it can be hard, too, or at least time-consuming, Emma Nelson said as she showed her goat, Daisy, to a fair visitor.
Cows, for instance, must be walked, fed and given water and hay every day, Ashley said.
Emma, 14, said getting animals ready for awards competitions is also hard. They must look their best, and that requires time and attention.
She has won various awards, she mentioned, including grand champion market goat and novice showmanship awards.
“I just like showing,” said Emma, the daughter of Kelly and Blaine Nelson. That is mainly because of the time she gets to spend with the goats.
In taking care of them, “you play with them,” she said. “They’re all sweet and nice.”
Someone can become attached to a farm animal without owning it, especially if he or she spends a lot of time with it.
Samantha Goode, 15, is in the Clarke County 4-H Light Horse and Pony Club. She rides and shows Keepsake, a 14-year-old white Connemara pony with dark spots owned by the club’s leader, Barbara Byrd.
Samantha, the daughter of Cindy and Larry Goode, began riding horses when she was just 2 years old. She has been riding Keepsake, which she is showing at the fair, several years ago. They have developed a strong bond.
She offered this advice to anyone who wants to gain a horse’s trust and affection:
“Spend time on the ground with them, not in the saddle,” Goode said. “You want them to feel comfortable with you.”
When a horse trusts you, you have a lifelong friend.
“I love horses,” added Samantha. “They give you their all.”