Behind the swine area, Patterson FFA students relaxed until their numbers were called to be ready. It was still early in the auction—around 9 a.m.— and they had a wait ahead of them.
Monse Ortiz, 17, a Vernalis resident and Patterson High student, said she got into raising farm animals to be around friends.
“That way, we get to see each other over the summer,” she said, though she added that she is considering a career in agriculture.
“It gives us something to do over the summer,” agreed Victoria Bellini, 17, a Patterson High senior who lives in Patterson.
The teenagers rose before dawn for months to tend to their animals — some started late last year — and worked hard to get them prepared for the auction.
Jacob Jordan, 18, a Patterson High graduate and Modesto Junior College student, was in his last of three years of showing pigs through FFA. He said he got started by helping out a friend who was out of town, and he was hooked.
“I wanted to do a steer,” he said. “But I found out how much time it takes.”
Raising pigs fit his lifestyle better, he said, because they could accommodate his sports schedule.
At the same time, even those who raise pigs note that they require a lot of work—feeding and cleaning up.
At least one problem can arise from taking care of animals that are eventually sold for slaughter, however.
“I got attached to mine,” said Chesney Oleson, 15, of Patterson, who attends Patterson High. She named her pig Beckham.
Sixteen-year-old Jenny Rodriguez of Patterson, another Patterson High student, agreed. She said she wants to be a farmer, but she still grew fond of her goat, Buddy.
Natalie Caeton, 16, of Patterson, said she wanted to study crop science in college after graduating from Patterson High. She said she wasn’t particularly attached to the goat she was going to show that day, John Deere. She showed a rabbit earlier in the week.
“Next year, I think I’ll show a sheep,” she said.
The livestock competitions require lots of time and effort while students are at the fair in addition to the time it takes students to prep their animals beforehand.
Outgoing Patterson High seniors Isaac Carter and Brandon Marlow, who both showed heifers at the fair, said they spent about 10 to 12 hours at the fairgrounds each day, arriving at 5 a.m. and often staying until 6 or 7 p.m.
“It takes a lot of time, and you have to have a lot of patience,” Marlow said of raising animals.
Likewise, Steven Chacon, who will be a senior next year, and his father, Frank Chacon, noted they had to get up at 3:30 a.m. the day they delivered Steven’s pig, Bailey, to the county fair.
The Patterson Auction Boosters helped out the teenagers by purchasing their animals for more than market value to encourage them and promote agriculture.
Beef cattle fetched $2.05 per pound at the junior livestock auction, thought they are normally on the market for $1 a pound. Lamb went for $4.95 a pound, when the market is $1.10. Goats were getting $5 a pound, up from $1.35 a pound, while pigs sold for $3 a pound versus their normal per-pound rate of about 75 cents.
Patrick Alves, treasurer of the boosters said 40 Patterson 4-H and FFA students were helped this year, with nearly $5,000 being spent.
The boosters hold fundraisers and take donations from local farmers throughout the year to support agricultural education, he said.
Irrigator editor Jonathan Partridge contributed to this report.
• Nick Rappley can be reached at 892-6187, ext. 31, or firstname.lastname@example.org.