10/29/06 — Grantham 13-year-old brings home top hog title

View Archive

Grantham 13-year-old brings home top hog title

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on October 29, 2006 2:01 AM

The State Fair Open Livestock Show -- "That's it. That's the World Series, or for us, the Superbowl since we love football," Floyd Sauls of Grantham said.

For Sauls' 13-year old grandson, Douglas Williams, also of Grantham, the opening weekend of the North Carolina State Fair was the culmination of more than 180 days of hard work.

Showing his eighth market barrow -- a castrated male hog -- since his sixth birthday, Douglas was competing against 75 to 100 other animals for North Carolina's highest prize in livestock judging.

And to his surprise, he won Grand Champion -- the highest award possible.

"He was surprised," his mother Katherine Williams said. "I saw the expression on his face."

But really, maybe he shouldn't have been.

For four of the last six years, either Douglas or his mother has won some sort of grand champion or reserve grand champion award.

"It's just an old family tradition," Sauls said.

Mrs. Williams showed hogs when she was younger and still does. Now, Douglas has taken up the mantle.

"I did it when I was his age, so he just kind of picked it up," Mrs. Williams said.

It's a project that consumes the whole family.

"It's a family-oriented thing. The whole family has to be involved with it," Sauls said.

The whole family except Douglas' father, Derreck Williams, that is, Mrs. Williams explained. Because he works for Goldsboro Hog Farms, he can't be around non-company farms.

"He's not allowed to even come around the animals," she said. "There are times it'd be nice to have an extra hand, but you just deal with it and move on."

But, Mrs. Williams continued, Douglas' father gives support where he can, particularly at the fairs.

The hogs, though, stay with Sauls on his farm where he watches them during the week. But on the weekends, when there's no school, the responsibility all falls on Douglas' shoulders.

"It's a lot of work. There's a lot of time in it," Sauls said.

The hogs have to be fed and watered, exercised and perhaps most important, kept clean.

"These animals never see dirt. They don't know what dirt is," Sauls said. "You let them get dirty, they'll get diseases."

But even still, there's no guarantee the investment will pay off. A lot of it depends on the market.

"It's a gamble. It's just like the stock market," Sauls said. "(Douglas) has had years he's made money, and he's had years he's lost money. It's just like any other business. You get back what you put into it. It's an educational experience for a kid. They learn the value of a dollar."

Each hog, he continued, probably has about 40 cents sunk into each pound. The goal is to recoup that money, whether through market prices or prize dollars.

The most money Douglas has ever won was $10,000 three years ago.

This year it was closer to $500, but all of it is going into his college fund.