Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2018

Youngsters share tales from the pen

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Oct 06, 2017
Source: PHOTO COURTESY OF SARAH BAETSLE Sawyer Goehring poses with his pig and poster declaring him the reserve grand champion in spotted market hog at the Clarke County Classic earlier this year.

It takes a lot of work to make a pig go somewhere it doesn’t want to. You don’t have to explain that to Sawyer Goehring and Maddie Black, a couple of youngsters who have spent their youth tending to swine at home and in the show ring.


Sawyer Goehring

Eight-year-old Sawyer Goehring lives near Eldon, and has been helping his dad Cody and grandpa Mike raise hogs since he was 4. He has become so skilled in the craft that he shows all over the state. He has shown with the Iowa Swine Jackpot Series, an organization that promotes youth education and involvement in the swine industry.

Sawyer has won awards for his performance in the show ring, such as getting third place overall for market hog. He has won two turbofans and a table. He said the turbofans help him sleep.

The young man is in charge of feeding his pigs, which he does before and after school, and on the weekends. Most of his weekends in the summer are spent attending shows in places like Spencer, Oskaloosa, Osceola, Columbus Junction, Burlington, Anamosa, Monticello, Marshalltown, Allison, and the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines

“Showing the pigs is my favorite part of being around them,” Sawyer said. “I really like going to Marshalltown because that’s the last show of the season and it has a dunk tank.”

Sawyer said he loves everything about pigs, and that there is nothing he doesn’t like about them.

“When I get older, I want a job where I can work with pigs and cook pigs,” he said. “That’s all I really want to do.”

Even though he’s still in primary school, Sawyer is quite an accomplished chef. He’s gone to two baking classes through Indian Hills Community College, where he’s learned to bake cake and pizza. His favorite foods are pork chops, tacos and bacon, which might be his most favorite of all.

“Tonight, I helped Grandma [Jeanett] make potato soup with ham,” he proudly declared.

Sawyer attends Cardinal Elementary School where he has created a special bond with teachers who raise pigs, too.

His parents are Cody and Cori.


Maddie Black

Madeline Black is 13 years old and lives on a farm near Batavia. She attends Pekin Community School, and has belonged to the 4-H club Packwood Trojans since joining 4-H in fourth grade. That year, she began working with swine in preparation for showing them at the Jefferson County Fair, something her older brother Tucker and sister Megan have done.

“I would walk them up and down the driveway like I was showing them,” Maddie said. “I feed them cookies each day so they’ll like me and get really friendly.”

Maddie likened pigs to “giant dogs,” remarking that one of her pigs loves to roll over hoping Maddie will scratch its belly.

“Once they know you’re there to give them treats, they run to you,” she said.

Maddie gets on the pigs’ good side by putting food in their troughs. Then she asks for their obedience in return, teaching them when and where to move on her command. She said getting a pig to walk is the most challenging part of the job.

“During a show, the judges look at how the pig walks. They see if it could be a good sow, or how much fat it has if it’s going to be a market hog,” she said. “For showmanship, the judges look for how well you control your pig.”

Maddie has shown cattle at the state fair, and she might want to show pigs there someday, too. She just returned from showing cattle in Grand Island, Nebraska. She said pigs are easier to handle than cattle because they’re smaller.

“They’re both like big pets, and even though they’re large, you trust them enough to know they won’t harm you,” she said.

Maddie said she “definitely” wants to work with farm animals into adulthood.

“At some point, I’d like to raise show cattle or hogs as a side job,” she said.

Maddie cares deeply about her animals, as evidenced by the fact she names each and every one. Her pigs have names like Ethel, Ernie and Edith.

Maddie’s parents are Matt and Dawn Black.

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