Sow her the cash

July 09, 2003 11:00 pm
With the help of her father, Ron, Emily washes the mud from Bailey, a Golden Ham. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).
With the help of her father, Ron, Emily washes the mud from Bailey, a Golden Ham. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).

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.