Their moms refer to them as Mutt and Jeff — with much affection and not a small dose of humor. Jake Beeler and Brooks Randall are two 10-year-old, fifth-grade students at Frontier Elementary School.
The two are also first-year members of 4-H and each is raising a pig for the 55th Annual Northern Gila County Fair.
Jake calls his “Porky” and Brooks has given his the name his father suggested, “Fresh Side” — as in a fresh side of bacon.
As much fondness as the boys have developed working with their pigs for the past few months, the goal is to get them to a good weight and sell them at the annual livestock auction at the fair and make a profit.
The 4-H pig projects are not the boys’ first experience raising pigs. Jake has helped his family raise pigs since he was about 5 and Brooks has done the same since he was 6. So, they knew what to do.
“But we had to feed them special food,” Jake said.
“Not slop,” Brooks added.
They decided to have pig projects because they’re fun.
“Pigs are smart,” Jake said.
And, according to both boys, theirs are well behaved, or at least that is what the judges told them in the pre-fair event they took part in a couple of weeks ago.
The pre-fair gave the two and their pigs a chance to learn how to show in front of judges, get the pigs weighed and, if needed, have shots and get ear tags. At the pre-fair, Jake’s pig was about 175 pounds and Brooks’ was 155; now Porky is around 220 and Fresh Side is sitting at 200.
They learned the judges will be looking for a good weight and muscle ratio and that their pigs can’t weigh more than 300 pounds. The judges also look for the dimple on the pigs’ backs and hourglass hindquarters.
They also learned they will be sleeping on cots by their pigs’ pens at the fair; they have to be with them around the clock.
Their moms will be nearby though. Patty Beeler said she is setting up the family travel trailer; she won’t be sleeping in the barn with her boy.
The boys bought their pigs in Snowflake at an auction, each spending around $50 in early June. Since then, each spends about five hours a week training their animals, feeding them twice a day, grooming them and keeping the pens clean.
Jake enjoys leading his pig around with a stick with a tennis ball on the end of it. He has also been knocked over by Porky (in one of his less well-behaved moments). Brooks said he likes washing his pig.
Both boys say they are enjoying 4-H and are looking forward to the Northern Gila County Fair, which will be Sept. 11-13, though the livestock will only be available for viewing on Friday and Saturday