FFA barn brings pigs and kids together
Mike Wallace’s animal agriculture class enters a new high school barn, the smell of feed and sod filling the air.
The long-awaited Future Farmers of America barn at Quincy High School opened around Nov. 25 to students and Wallace’s class has received their first project: pigs. Wallace is a Quincy High School teacher and Future Farmer of America’s advisor.
On Dec. 5, the class gathered around the pigpens, while a group of about four students, helped by Wallace, rounded up the compliant hogs, who were unaware of what was about to happen.
The murmur of chatting students was then broken by the horrified screams of the swine as their ears were pierced with tags and they were weighed one-by-one.
“He’s cussing me out in pig Latin,” Wallace said as he tagged one hog’s ear.
Wallace bought the pigs—a total of 15—from Rusty and Maggie Finch in Cashmere and went to pick them up on Dec. 2. Each student was assigned a piglet to take care of and they will show their plump porkers at the Grant County Fairgrounds junior livestock show in March.
“There’s not a bad pig in the bunch,” Wallace told the class, who chose their pigs after school that day.
The pigs are divided into three pens in the barn. Each student is responsible for their own pig, but students who share the same pen often take turns cleaning the pen and feeding all five pigs. Students, such as Madi Lee, will be in the barn almost every day, regardless if it is their turn to clean.
“It’s fun to be out here with your pig,” said Lee, who has shown pigs and a rabbit before at the Grant County Fair.
In previous years, students’ animal projects were spread around town. A group of about three students raised pigs at a teachers’ house, said Gladys Reyes, a student in Wallace’s class. Anytime students had questions or needed help, Wallace would come to their aid, sometimes driving all around town to wherever the student’s pigs were located.
“He was a huge help,” said Anne Safe, a student.
Now with the barn open on the high school’s campus, all the student’s projects are in one central location, Lee said. It makes it a lot easier to take care of the pigs, she said.
The barn was originally scheduled to open in early October, but was delayed by a county septic system requirement. The septic system had to be redesigned, which delayed the opening, Quincy School District Superintendent John Boyd said.
While most teachers were able to move into their classrooms when the high school opened in August, Wallace had to wait for the barn to be completed.
“I think it’s great,” said Wallace about the barn. “This is like the Taj Mahal for pigs.”
By Miles King email@example.com