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Saline County Farm Family of the Year: The Bolands

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Boland family of Sweet Springs were honored recently at the Missouri State Fair as Saline County's Farm Family of the Year. They keep busy showing pigs at shows across the country. Earlier this summer, oldest son Brent (second from left) won a large national show taking home Grand Champion Barrow overall with a champion Chester White Barrow at the Team Purebred National Junior Show in Springfield, Ill. Austin (far right) showed the Champion Berkshire Barrow at the show. Also pictured are parents David and Rene Boland.
Going to the Missouri State Fair is nothing new for Rene and David Boland and sons Brent and Austin. They are usually there with pigs a few days before it opens and spend all 10 days it is open each summer, showing up to 12 different pigs in various classes.

But Monday, Aug. 15 was just a little different, as they were honored as Saline County's Farm Family of the Year for 2011. They attended a special dinner in the governor's tent at the fair, along with other farm families from across Missouri. They also received an engraved plaque and took a family photograph.

The Bolands were notified early this summer they had been voted for the award by Saline County's Extension Council. It is given each year to area families who are active in the Saline County Fair, through 4-H and FFA.

The first family got involved in the Liberty 4-H club and the Saline County Fair, about 12 years ago, when their oldest son, Brent was 8. His projects included woodworking, ham curing and baking, before he started showing hogs around the time he was in seventh grade. Brent is currently a sophomore at Coffeyville Community College on scholarship as a livestock judging team member. Besides hogs, he also shows sheep and has shown goats at the Saline County Fair.

Austin, a freshman at Sweet Springs High School, was a Clover Kid for a few years, before he joined Liberty and now is a member of Sweet Springs FFA. He has shown hogs for most of his 4-H career, starting at the same time as Brent.

"I just kind of did what he was doing," he said. "I thought it was kind of fun."

Now, they not only show locally, but also at several shows in Missouri and across the country.

They purchase about 15 hogs each year, usually picking out the best 12 to show.

"We buy a whole bunch of pigs and see how they turn out," said Austin, explaining that after feeding for awhile, some of the pigs don't work out as show animals.

They purchase hogs locally from J.R. Reid and Harlan Reid and have also purchased hogs from as far away as Nebraska and Oklahoma.

"For the summer shows, we probably start looking at them late in late March through April," said Austin, adding they have to own all the animals they are going to show during summer shows by May 1.

The Missouri Youth Pig Circuit Show begins on Memorial Day, with several sanctioned shows throughout the summer. They have also shown at shows across the country, including Springfield, Ill. and Lincoln, Neb. They are currently getting some hogs ready for the National Berkshire Barrow Show set for September in Austin, Minn.

They show several breeds of purebreds, including Chester, Berkshire, Spot and have shown Polands as well. They also show crossbred hogs.

Showing hogs is a definitely a family activity for the Bolands.

"It takes a family to do it, because somebody's got to stay around here to watch what they have at home," Rene said.

That job usually falls to David, who is a row-crop farmer and also owns a semi-truck, hauling livestock and seed beans across the country.

"Not all the hogs go to every show, more get left behind than go," David explained.

An advanced practice nurse, Rene has a busy job working at Fitzgibbon Hospital as the Hospitalist Extender. But during the summer, she also keeps busy going to various shows with the boys.

"Mom's job is to buy the food, buy the gas and pay for the hotel," she said.

During the state fair, they do a lot of traveling back and forth to feed and switch out pigs. Although Rene and the boys often stay at the fair, this year they traveled even more than usual so Austin could make it to high school football practice.

However, all the running back and forth seemed to pay off, as the boys brought home awards for the Champion Berkshire and Champion Chester barrows.

Austin also won showmanship in his age group and broke the state fair record for the Berkshire gilt sale, selling his champion Berkshire gilt for $2,250.

The family has also done well at several national shows.

This summer Brent won Grand Champion Barrow and Champion Chester barrow, while Austin won Champion Berkshire barrow at the Team Purebred National Junior Show in Springfield, Ill.

"This was the first national show that dad got to come to, when Brent won champion over all," said Rene.

"I was trucking and I bounced over there about 100 miles and went to the show," said David.

Two years ago they won the open show at the Nebraska State Fair, being awarded champion on both days.

Brent and Austin do all the caring for the animals, except when they are at shows. They spend about three hours a day washing out pens, as well as feeding, watering, washing and walking the hogs.

The boys also do their own "wheeling and dealing" when it comes to buying the pigs.

"Mom and Dad are just in the background," said Rene. "They have to learn how to manage the money."

She said being in 4-H and FFA, as well as showing pigs, has helped the boys with several skills, including communication.

"I think what they've gotten is the leadership skills and the ability to talk to anybody," she said

For example, Rene said Austin bought a pig over the phone from a gentleman in Nebraska a few years ago. When they actually met in person, the seller told her he thought he had been dealing with a much older person.

"It's given them the ability to transact business and do it to a high level," she added.

Austin said one of the things he enjoys about showing is, "The reward that finally pays off after all your hard work."

In addition to showing hogs, Austin also participates in pellet rifle in 4-H shooting sports. He is currently practicing for the state contest in September. Last year he was second in the state competition and is being groomed as part of the national team.

Besides football and FFA, Austin also participates in basketball, baseball and track. Although it is still several years away, right now he thinking of pursuing a career in business or accounting.

While in high school, Brent a 2010 Sweet Springs graduate, was active in FFA and received the State FFA degree. He also played football for four years. Now he is working on an associates degree in Agriculture at Coffeyville and plans on transferring to a four-year university next year to finish his degree.

The family are also members of St. Peters Catholic Church.

Contact Marcia Gorrell at mgorrell@marshallnews.com

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Congrats to the Boland Family!!! Super nice folks!!!!!

-- Posted by Takealoadoff on Thu, Sep 1, 2011, at 8:18 AM

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