Their names are Tilly and Izzy. No, they are not the names of two sweet girls, but the names of the pigs in the care of two sweet girls whose names are Addisyn and Elyse Bengtson.
The pigs, Tilly and Izzy, have been in the care of the Bengtson girls for the past several months. Next week, the pig-twosome, along with their sister caretakers will be going to the Marias Fair where the pigs will be judged on showmanship and market value and then sold at the auction on Saturday evening.
The Marias Fair starts this Wednesday, July 17 and runs through Saturday, July 20.
Addisyn and Elyse are the daughters of Andrea Bengtson. Addisyn will be in eighth grade this fall and is in her fifth year of 4-H. Elyse will be a fifth grader in the fall and is in her second year of 4-H. They belong to the Longview 4-H Club in Glacier County.
Addisyn’s pig, Tilly, is a Hampshire and is seven months old. When Addisyn got her this spring, she was just weaned from her mama and weighed in at a portly 115 pounds. Elyse’s pig, Izzy, is a Hampshire-cross and she is the same age as Tilly. She weighed in at 109 pounds.
The girls have done their jobs as far as taking care of their pigs, feeding them twice a day, walking them and caring for them.
“Your pig is supposed to weigh at least 210 pounds at fair time,” explained Addisyn. “And they shouldn’t weigh anymore than 290 pounds at auction time.”
“If they weigh more, the buyer who gets them at the auction, only has to pay for 290 pounds,” added Andrea.
Two weeks ago, the girls weighed their pigs and Tilly was 240 pounds and Izzy was 225. Addisyn would like to see her pig top out at fair time at 280 pounds and Elyse is hoping Izzy will weigh in at 265 pounds.
“My pig likes vanilla wafers,” announced Elyse. She, of course, is feeding her sweet piggy Izzy a few of those as a treat, especially during training sessions when Izzy is good.
The girls and their mom live in Cut Bank but keep their pigs and horses out on “Nana’s” ranch, (Becky Peterson) 12 miles north of Cut Bank. They make two trips out there a day, to feed and work with their pigs and take care of their horses too.
“The pigs eat seven pounds of food a day,” added their mom, Andrea. No wonder they are gaining good fair weight!
Both girls are really excited to get their pigs to the fair and show off what they have taught them for showmanship skills. They also know when the pigs enter the ring for the auction, someone will be buying them and they will have to say good-bye to their pets.
“There is a lot of tears when this happens,” shared Andrea, “from me too. It is always hard for all of us to say good-bye. But the girls know this is how it works and once we get over this, they get excited for next year’s pigs.”
Along with having their pigs at the Marias Fair, both girls are entered in several other categories. Addisyn is entered in horsemanship, scrapbooking, cake decorating and archery. Elyse is also entered in horsemanship, archery and will show her chickens.
“Having a pig is my favorite thing,” Elyse said.
“My favorite is my pig and horsemanship and cake decorating. The frosting is pretty good,” Addisyn said with a smile.
This is Addisyn’s third year of cake decorating. Her first year she won best in show.
“My mom makes cakes and when I was younger, I got to play and practice with her,” said Addisyn.
“She was six years old when we would work in the kitchen decorating cakes,” Andrea said.
Elyse will also be showing two chickens at the fair, Maggie who is a Buff Orpington and Jenny who is a Silkie Bantam. “Jenny is really funny looking. She has fuzzy feet and looks like she is wearing slippers,” Elyse said. “They live in our backyard. They are pets too.”
There is much to do to get ready for the Marias Fair. There are presentation boards to make, cakes of Styrofoam to be created and then decorated and pigs that need to be bathed and clipped.
The girls said giving their pigs baths is easier than one would think. Elyse’s pig likes the water, so much so that “she blows bubbles in the water,” Elyse said laughing. “She is really hairy and needs to be clipped.”
Addisyn said she likes to do the clipping and hopes her pig Tilly, stays out of the mud long enough after her bath to get clipped. “She is always in the mud,” Addisyn said.
Addisyn’s pig is nicknamed the Racehorse because she likes to run and “she is really fast,” she added. Catching her for bath time, can be a bit of a challenge for Addisyn.
Once all the preparedness is done, the girls, with mom, head to the fair. They park the camper and stay the week, showing their animals, making their presentations, seeing their fellow friends and 4-Hers, going to other fair events and having a really good time.
“4-H is all about making friends and learning a lot of different things. It is a lot of fun,” Addisyn said.
“I like 4-H and I like spending time with my animals, making new friends and meeting new people, but mostly, I like taking care of the animals,” said Elyse.
Andrea was in 4-H for many years growing up. She knows the value of kids being part of this organization.
“4-H teaches kids responsibility. They learn so much in 4-H from social skills to how to keep track of their animals and all the bookwork that goes with that. It is hard work, but it is also so much fun for the kids,” she said.