For many of the students participating in the Junior Livestock Auction at the OC Fair, the auctions Saturday are a bittersweet moment, bringing the sadness of saying goodbye with the prospect of having their months of work rewarded.
Below is a closer look at four of the youth — who represent the local 4-H and FFA organizations that are supported by the annual auction — and the animals they've taken care of.
Student: Alyssa Hosmer, 16
La Habra High School Future Farmers of America
Animal: Cora, a Blue Butt pig
"I had a Hampshire my first year and I was wanting to get another one, but she had a really big butt," Alyssa said, as a classmate sprayed off Cora and two other pigs. "That's good for marketing — so I saw her butt and I knew, 'Oh, I gotta have her.' "
She met Cora about four months ago, when she was a two-month-old piglet, just about 2 feet long.
Alyssa said she named her now 242-pound pig because she loves Greek mythology, and Cora is a nickname for Persephone, the daughter of the goddess of the harvest and herself, the queen of the underworld.
"Her attitude went with the name," she said.
Alyssa said she gets sad when she thinks about sending Cora to market.
She said she sent letters in an effort to find a private buyer before the Fair.
"The girls, they kind of get a second chance to go be used for reproduction," Alyssa said with a sigh. "That's why I tried to get a girl."
But Cora was still headed for auction, and Alyssa hoped to fetch at least $300, an average price for a pig like Cora, which is about double her bill amount. Next year, the aspiring veterinarian plans to raise another pig, as well as a steer.
Still, she said, "It doesn't hit me until they're about to sell her."
Students: Adam Uzueta, 17 and Arianda Lopez-Villegas, 16
Covina High School Future Farmers of America
Animal: Sally, a white-crested broiler hen
Adam and Arianda spoke over the roar of a long tube blow-dryer, Sally's feathers ruffling and shifting.