By LIZ HARRELSON
Local entrepreneur, scholarship founder and an award-winning public speaker, Emily Hamilton keeps a remarkably full schedule given she's only 10 years old.
With the purpose of producing local, high-quality pigs at a fair price and raising swine from birth to butchering, one of Emily's 4-H projects, High Sierra Pork Producers H&H Swine, has tapped into a previously unmet customer demand.
Without a local supply of quality swine, Emily said, foothills kids involved in animal husbandry groups like 4-H and Future Farmers of America were known to travel as far as Utah and to pay up to $400 for a pig.
But now, more than 50 H&H piglets sold at a flat rate of $125 with a 50-pound bag of feed thrown in for good measure have been snapped up.
For a fifth-grader, running this business can be overwhelming, though her cousin and fellow 4-H member, Tyrell Hamilton, helps her out.
With hard work and responsibility the foundation of Emily's success, she credits her family's ongoing support as a major factor, as well.
"There's so many pigs that I'm not capable at all of doing it myself," Emily said.
There are more pigs on the way, too. An H&H sow is due to farrow or birth at the Mother Lode Fair this weekend.
Pigs are known for a predictable gestation term of three months, three weeks and three days. If the timing is right, piglets will be born on the first night of the fair tonight, Ron said.
Growing with the business is Floppy, Hamilton's first 4-H project swine and co-founding business member.
Now a 700-pound sow, Floppy came to Hamilton as an underweight gilt, or female pig who has not birthed.
The 4-H program is designed so that by caring for animals like Floppy and recording in a notebook all the associated costs for a year, kids like Hamilton develop confidence in their abilities and a sense of responsibility. At the end of the project term, the animals are judged at the fair, and can be sold at the junior livestock auction for lots of money.