MONROE — The tiny piglet, just nine days old, likely was going to die.
She couldn’t get enough milk from her mother, not with stiff competition from hungry siblings. She had become weak and was getting worse. A touch was enough to tell that her stomach was empty, and her hairs stood on end.
The sickly piglet was one of the newborns Ed Miller, of Granite Falls, brought to this year’s Evergreen State Fair. He brings a sow and her litter every summer.
The team in the swine barn figured a meal of goat milk might save the baby pig. It’s a good substitute for a mother pig’s milk, Miller said. His wife went over to the dairy goat barn Tuesday to ask for help.
A group of 4-H kids was just getting ready to show their goats. During showing, a dairy goat should have a full udder. Otherwise, competitors are likely to lose out on a third or more of their possible score.
The goat handlers didn’t hesitate, and a number of them offered to milk their goats right away. They decided they’d be willing to give up their chances at ribbons and prizes if it meant saving the little pig.
The timing was good. Chloe Graham, 15, of Camano Island, was just finishing her showing. As soon as she was out of the ring, she milked her goat, Lavender, to provide for the piglet. No one had to take the hit to their score.
However, their willingness to help struck a chord with fair advisory board member Rick Merrill.
“We’re always on the lookout for people who go above and beyond to help the fair, and to help each other,” he said. “They were ready to give up their own contest and milk their goat to help that baby pig.”
The fair board decided to present the 4-H kids with a special award for their kindness.
“It kind of worked out perfectly,” Graham said, noting that she was surprised when the fair board showed up with a prize. “It wasn’t an unusual thing to have people jump up and offer to help. The dairy goat barn is very family-friendly and community-based, and if things were different, if it wasn’t Lavender, someone else would have stepped up.”
The piglet is now healthy and living in the pen with her brothers and sisters, and a little pink container full of goat milk.
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.