Goats, pigs compete for overconditioned kudos

July 26, 2010

I learned a new word at the agricultural fair last week, which I believe will be a help to many of us in the greater Hagerstown area. The word is "overconditioned."

It came up during the dairy goat competition, when the judge felt that one of the animals had been laying in a bit heavily on the sweet feed. But he did not come out and say that the animal was a bit fat; instead, he said the goat was "overconditioned."


I could stand to drop 10 or 15 pounds myself, but I am not obese. I am simply overconditioned. In fact, I am wearing a pair of my "overconditioned jeans" as we speak. If it gets much worse, I'll have to go to an overconditioning farm.

Do these pants make me look overconditioned?

We have one goat at the farm that is overconditioned beyond belief, but only because she's a jerk and chases everyone else away from the hay. We keep her in a pen with a couple of wethers that are of no more use than pets and an ancient goat with a Merlin-like beard who is little more than a pasture ornament.


I call this paddock the one with the "loser goats," a term Beth doesn't like.

The productive animals are kept elsewhere, and the daughter (Abbie) of one of the Toggenburgs -- now owned by a couple of young friends who live nearby -- was in the show.

Abbie placed third in her class, which sounds good until you consider that there were only three animals in the competition. It's like coming in second in a U.S. presidential race. After we got home, I had a talk with Heidi, her mom. I told her that her daughter had brought shame on the farm, but Heidi was too busy working on some overconditioning of her own to listen.

But I didn't sit down to write about goats. I wanted to write about pigs, specifically the Hot Dog Pig Races at the county fair, a presentation of F and F Productions out of Jackson, N.J.

Why, why, why, am I such a sucker for these things? Everything about it screamed "Run away at full speed," but I couldn't. Maybe it was the trailer with the giant inflatable pig on top. Maybe it was the guy selling plastic checkered racing flags and waving around a pink pig puppet to the sound of pig-themed music. Maybe it was the names they gave to the pigs -- Jerry Swinefeld, Lindsay Loham, Kevin Bacon, etc.

According to the company's website (yes, I was that obsessed that I looked them up), "These awkward, but cute and cuddly racing animals fascinate spectators. Real crowd pleasers, these natural comedians bolt from the starting gate and race around the track snorting and squealing, stubby legs churning and curly tails sailing along behind."

Well, it was something like that, I guess.

In a way, I feel bad about critiquing the pig races, since by my very presence I skewed the average spectator age upward by about 20 years.

The audience consisted of:

1. A lot of kids, who absolutely loved it.

2. A lot of parents of kids, who had an excuse to be there and consequently were free to relax and enjoy.

3. A handful of childless adults trying their best not to look guilty.

Each race took about eight seconds as the pigs quickly galloped around a short loop. In between was just a lot of good, old-fashioned carnival barkering. Personally, I would have liked to see longer races -- or maybe a porkathalon that would have forced them to swim or ride bikes.

With short little races like this, it is easy for a pig to get overconditioned.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at"> Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under">, on or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

The Herald-Mail Articles