She’d spent all summer caring for her market pig and had just washed it the night before. All that was left was to load it onto its trailer, get it safely from West Portsmouth to Lucasville and hope her last year in 4-H would be a memorable one.
As the saying goes, two out of three ain’t bad.
Wolfe’s father was transporting the pig while her mother followed in her car.
Wolfe was traveling with her friend, Courtney.
“Somehow, my mom got farther back from my dad and, as we’re driving on (Ohio) 104, my mom looks over and sees my pig in the weeds,” Wolfe said.
Her pig had fallen off of its trailer — which was traveling 55 mph.
At first, the situation seemed so ridiculous that Wolfe admits it actually seemed funny (“You know, we’re chasing pigs at 6:30 in the morning on 104”). Once she got a closer look at the animal, however, a different emotion took over.
“But then I got up on him and I saw all of the scuffs and stuff and it started going through my mind, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really bad. 55 miles per hour, hitting the pavement...,’” Wolfe said. “Then it got worse. The more I looked at it, its shoulder, hock, toes... everything was just all banged up.
“But he was walking. I don’t know how, but somehow he was not stressed out. He was very calm, which is very surprising for a hog. Normally even putting him on his trailer stresses him out.”
Wolfe waited on Ohio 104 with her pig until her neighbors arrived and, having extra room in their trailer, finished the task of transporting the pig to the fair. They immediately sought medical attention for the pig and spent most of the morning tending to its wounds.
Meanwhile, news of what had happened slowly spread around the fairgrounds.
Before most animals had even arrived, Wolfe’s pig had already become somewhat famous.
“That’s what was so amazing. By 12 o’clock on Sunday, word got around about the pig that fell out of the trailer,” Wolfe said. “Just about every time I came to my pen, somebody was standing there going, ‘This is the pig! This is the one that fell out of the trailer!’”
It definitely wasn’t the way Wolfe was hoping her last fair as a 4-H’er would begin. Perhaps the only way it would have been less how she hoped is if her mom had been following closer.
“If my mom, somehow, would have been close enough to my dad (when the pig fell) she could have killed my 4-H hog as well as totaled my car that she was driving,” Wolfe said.
In the end, however, Wolfe said the ordeal provided her with some perspective.
Prior to her pig tumbling onto the highway, Wolfe’s biggest concern was that she had forgotten a rag to wipe off the ink when her pig was tattooed.
“It kind of puts things in perspective because I was worried about him having ink stained on his white hair,” she said, adding “there are bigger things in life than the things we think about sometimes.”
Wolfe’s pig ended up finishing last in its class, something she already expected would happen. She actually had an alternate pig at home, but didn’t turn to it because she wasn’t sure it would make weight and be eligible for the auction. Despite falling off its trailer, her hog — which she once called ‘Pigs’ but affectionately renamed to ‘Skids’ — made weight and was looking much better.
“I expected to just go straight last in my class, but I could walk him to the show ring and I’m going to be able to stand up there and sell him. That’s what the project’s about, just completing it and being able to sell,” Wolfe said. “It’s not all just about the ribbons or titles or whatever, but I knew as soon as I got in there I would be headed to last place. But, you know, he’s walking so I could leave the ring with a smile just saying, ‘I got him here. He’s in, and he’ll sell.’”
Not only did she still complete the project, but she actually managed to finish fourth in showmanship on Thursday, which was quite an accomplishment considering she wasn’t even sure her pig would be able to walk a few days prior.
Wolfe said the week of the fair was a stressful. While other 4-H’ers started the week off with optimism and excitement, she started hers off with tears. But, after suffering such a terrible start, she managed to leave the fairgrounds with more than the average fairgoer.
Through those that offered their help, she saw firsthand the compassion of southern Ohio. Through the smiles she wore when times were tough, she learned the power of a positive attitude. And by still managing to do well in showmanship and make the auction, she proved that hard work and dedication can overcome disaster.
In some ways, Wolfe’s final year of 4-H actually went better than her previous one. Last year, her pig failed to make weight and was not able to sell. When asked if she’d rather go through the fair with an underweight pig or one that makes weight, yet falls out off a trailer, Wolfe offered little hesitation.
“Absolutely, fall out of a trailer,” she said with a smile. “I can walk it, I can bathe it, I can ice it. But none of that matters if I can’t sell it.”
ERIC KEPHAS can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.