by Kate Evans
Berkeley Springs High School tenth grader Elle Arthur had a prime ham and two choice bacon sides entered in the FFA Tri-County Ham, Bacon and Egg Show and Sale at the Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds Indoor Exhibit Building on Friday, March 17. FFA was formerly known as Future Farmers of America.
Arthur joined other FFA members from Berkeley and Jefferson Counties who had either raised a hog for its meat or raised chickens for their eggs for their livestock products judging.
Arthur was the only Morgan County FFA member who did the hog project, which was not required, said her mom Lisa Arthur.
They bought the pig at 90 pounds weight, said Arthur. Ellle’s goal weight for her hog was 260-280 pounds. The pig weighed 278 pounds on slaughter day. They had to load up the hog and take it to the fairgrounds to be weighed.
Elle fed and cared for the hog and cut and cured the meat after slaughter. She cut the hams and bacon and the rest of the meat she made into tenderloins, ribs and sausage.
Berkeley Springs High School agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor Dave Aberegg took Elle to Musselman High School for the meat cutting and curing and to check on the meat curing there several times. He also did several home visits to see how the hog raising was going, her mom said.
Aberegg said that FFA members don’t slaughter their hogs themselves. The slaughter takes place at a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) slaughter facility.
Elle said she brought the hog water and food twice a day, before and after school, and also cleaned its pen and water bowl. The pig liked to lay in the water bowl.
Elle also wrote letters to local businesses asking for them to bid on her products at the show. Hunter Clark and Leslie Clark, a Berkeley Springs High School teacher, and Chris and Beth Jones of Little Learners Village purchased her ham and bacon products. Elle said she got to keep all the meat except the ham and bacon.
Businesses and individuals support student’s future projects or schooling by making bids on their products at the sale, which is like an auction, Lisa Arthur noted. Some FFA members sold eggs from the chickens they raised for $1,300 and $1,400 a dozen at the event, she said.
FFA members can keep track of their receipts of expenses and income for a FFA records project, as Elle did. She cleared almost $2,500 in profit, said her mom. Aberegg said that students can enter the rest of the hog meat that they keep for home use as income.
Elle said she never had any farm animals before. She learned about the daily routine and responsibilities involved in caring for her hog and that she had to get up and do stuff for it every day.
Elle said she’d do the project again next year, but can’t because she’ll be taking a therapeutic services class at James Rumsey. She’s considering becoming a surgical technician.
Aberegg said he’s had four students do the Ham and Bacon project over the years and might have three students doing the project next year. He hasn’t ever had a student do the Chicken and Eggs project. Aberegg hopes to encourage more kids to do the FFA livestock projects.
Arthur said that Aberegg wanted Elle to do a PowerPoint presentation about her Ham and Bacon project for middle school kids to help generate interest.
Arthur said it’s an awesome project and that she’s proud of her daughter for doing it all on her own. It’s a great opportunity for students. If kids don’t have room for a hog, they could do the Chicken and Eggs project.
Arthur felt it’s also a great way for businesses and the community to support FFA members by bidding on their projects at the tri-county show.