For 20 years, the name ‘Remmers’ has been synonymous with the Gage County 4-H program, and, more specifically, the pork shows.
Dennis, the patriarch of the Remmers family, has raised hogs with wife, Doreen, for decades at their home and farm near Filley.
“It’s been our bread and butter for years,” he said. “Once the girls got in 4-H, they kind of took interest in it.”
The family’s involvement in 4-H began when oldest daughter, Lindsey, was 12. Middle child, Neeley, was 9. While the two sisters had grown up with hogs their entire lives, Lindsey said showing hogs was an entirely different challenge.
“We had no idea what the heck we were doing,” she said of her earliest years in 4-H. “I just remember dad taking us to a hog show the year before. I was kind of intimidated, to be honest, having to show a hog around and not knowing what to do. I just remember being nervous as all get out. I had no idea what to do the first year, but it was fun.”
Dennis said when Lindsey and Neeley started showing 20 years ago, there were many more families raising hogs. He said most families took hogs straight from the barns to show at the fair.
“When we first started, we basically just took them out of the finishing barn,” he explained. “We picked out a few from the finishing barn and that’s about it. We washed them up and led them around. We tried to find the best ones out of the finishing barn.”
Today, Dennis said, most 4-H competitors breed hogs specifically for show.
“As the years went on, everybody now breeds for a certain type of hog to show,” he said. “You got your show pigs, and you got your commercial pigs. You just get a better bore. You take the semen out of a higher-quality, more expensive bore.”
Dennis said there are distinct differences between show pigs and commercial pigs.
“Your terminal bores they raise, you want your fast gain of rate and a certain percent of lean,” he said. “Your show bore is a shorter pig, a bigger-boned pig, a heavier-muscled pig.”
Carley is the youngest of the three Remmers children. More than a decade younger than her sisters, Carley said she learned much of her in-ring strategy from Lindsey and Neeley.
“Always keep your eye on the judge,” Carley said. “Always smile. Have fun. Once I got older, I’d watch the other older kids that would always win showmanship.”
As she become more comfortable showing hogs, Carley began to develop strategies of her own.
“After my pigs would do something good, I would feed them a cookie,” she said. “That way they know ‘okay, if I want a cookie, I’m going to have to do that again.’ Last year, one of my hogs knew that. They’re really smart.”
As members of the Gage County 4-H Program for two decades, the annual Gage County Fair and Expo is a special time for the Remmers Family. Lindsey said the weeklong event is a mixture of work and fun.
“We had campers out there when we did it,” she said. “We stayed overnight, took care of our hogs and hung out all day at the fair. We watched a lot of the livestock shows.”
Dennis said the 4-H program is important, because it helps keep young people interested in livestock.
“Livestock’s important in this area,” he said. “You get to learn responsibility and the financial side of it. It’s good that there’s still livestock around. People got to eat.”
Carley encouraged all area youth, despite their level of experience with livestock, to join the 4-H program.
“It’s not just all livestock, there’s also craft projects and small animals like cats and dogs,” she said. “It’s a very good leadership tool, as well.”