ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — Local 4-H'ers and their animals bid each other goodbye forever Thursday at the livestock auction.
One by one, owners and breeders led their animals to the show arena at the Madison County 4-H Fair for the auction, marking the last few hours they had together. All this week, they've been showing their cattle, sheep and hogs at the fair, culminating months of hard work to raise and train their four-legged companions.
Saying good-bye wasn't easy.
They knew it was coming. Some cried. But most of them realized it's just part of the process.
"If you don't feel a loss, you haven't been caring for the animal long enough," said Fair Queen Stephanie Morris, 17, of Madison-Grant High School.
Morris brought her hog Cash and ram Fuzzy to the fair. To her surprise, Fuzzy won reserve grand champion and is likely to fetch a good price. According to Morris' father Steve, it's good to get about a dollar a pound for sheep, and Fuzzy weighs 136 pounds.
"It was a big surprise. I usually don't expect much from anything but the pigs," Morris said. "I like bringing [sheep] to shows, but I don't like the work that goes into them."
After raising and showing pigs in competitions for more than nine years, Morris favors hogs. She doesn't get attached to her sheep. Cash, a 300-pound pig Morris calls her "baby," won reserve champion for middleweight crossbreeds.
"Pigs just have a lot more personality than sheep," said Morris. "I've worked with him all summer and been showing him every weekend."
Morris has been raising livestock for years and it's in her family, so she's used to getting attached, saying goodbye, then repeating the cycle.