Last month I took some time before the Winter Type Conference and the NJSA Southeast Regional to make my first round of visits in Florida and Georgia. I had a great time and really enjoyed getting to meet so many new people. I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of the highlights of my trip with everyone.
I started my trip in Inverness, FL with the crew at D&D Showpigs. Dale and Don are retired brothers who now raise showpigs full time. The set up consists of 15 mainly York sows and a few cross females. Although Dale and Don have only been at this for a coupe of years I was impressed with not only their facilities but the quality of the sow base they have put together. Genetically a lot of the breeding stock goes back to Shipley and Triple B boars. We sorted through some keeper gilts and studied a set of Star Search hogs that I thought had tremendous potential. If your searching for hogs in that part of the country these guys need to be on your short list!
Next I spent some time with Dennis Holt in Archer, FL. Even though Dennis only had some sows and bred gilts to look at, he still took time out of his busy day for me. In 2013 Dennis bought the Shaffer crossbreed boar from the WTC, the hogs out of this guy looked extremely good and the boar himself has done everything you would want. I know the Holt crew has had as much success as any raising and selling show pigs and the passion for making them better is alive and well.
I continued working north and stopped in to see Ken Clyatt in Lake Butler, FL. Ken not only works hard on making crossbreed hogs that will compete as youth projects at home, but he also works with the students at Florida State University. Ken had a white cross boar to take to the WTC as well as some replacement gilts to take a look at. I had a great time visiting with Ken and his family and I would say the sky is the limit when his son gets old enough to show.
I crossed into Georgia and spent Saturday with the Thrift family. Some of you may know that Pat is having some health issues right now, and I would ask you to keep the whole family in your thoughts. I met with Olin and Josh to take a look the hogs. I can’t say enough about these two young men. Not only are they crazy about the hog business, but they are genuinely two really good guys. Olin had some hogs to take Perry for the show as well as some sows and litters for me to take a look at. Thanks again for taking the time to allow me to meet you guys and look at the hogs.
Garry Childs and I spent Sunday running around looking at junior projects for the state show as well as the NJSA show. I bet we looked at 150 hogs that folks have on feed, and I can tell you one thing the GA state show is going to be a good one. Garry was a big help in getting me hooked up with guys in his part of the word. He truly knows the pulse of the industry not only in GA but around the county.
As I headed down to GA I wanted to spend some time with Frank Morgan. I have know Frank for a lot of years now and even showed a few hogs from him in my junior show days. Frank was very covered up that Monday morning, but we slipped away long enough to look at some litters of pigs for his Midwest market. Frank is planning on make several trips up to Indiana for sales and I encourage any of you to meet him and take a look at what he is selling.
Next on my list was Bar M Showpigs. When I called Brodie to tell him I was in my way he told me to hurry because his with Rita was going to cook us lunch. I can say that the hogs look good, but nothing was as good as Rita’s lunch! Brodie has an extremely sharp eye and knows how to not only breed hogs but get them ready as well. I was impressed with the set on feed for the McCraine kids. Brodie and Rita gave me an awesome tour and I really enjoyed talking hogs and life with them.
My last stop before getting into Perry was at Clint Oliver’s. Clint didn’t have a lot of hogs to look at but he toured me around showing me how diverse their operation is. You name it and the Oliver crew does it! Along with the showpig deal they feed out commercial hogs, have some commercial nurseries, and run several head of baldy and Hereford cows. Clint and I talked for along time and I enjoyed getting his take on several aspects of agriculture in general.
This post has become a lot longer than what I had originally planned, however this trip has been one of my highlights. I thank you all for taking time and look forward to getting back down there again.