Orange has another state championship team. Add Madison Miller and her Hampshire pig Todd to the list of winners. The two won the market barrow Hampshire championship at the Dallas State Fair. It was Madison's first time to the state fair and the 14-year-old 4-H member beat the swine entries from professional farmers. It was not luck. Todd was one special pig, and downright pretty, too. He appears to be smiling regally in his official championship photograph. Under Madison's care, Todd reached 260 pounds at the age of six months for his fair appearance. He was only 30 pounds when she got him when he was a month old. Madison and her younger sister, McCartney, got the baby pigs as a gift from their grandfather. The girls named the piglets Todd and Copper after the characters in the Disney movie "The Fox and the Hound." Madison said the two little pigs ran and played like the two best friends in the movies. Copper the Pig also went to the state fair, but he didnít get to compete. Madison said Copper hurt his leg somehow during the long ride to Dallas in the trailer behind the Miller family pickup truck. Copper was limping on arrival and limping pigs donít make the contest cuts. A pig at the state fair has to be perfect.

Todd looks like that perfect pig. He is black with a wrap-around pinkish-white stripe that runs down his front leg. To a non-pig person, that looks extraordinary. But Madison will explain that the stripe is a trait of the Hampshire pig. She can go into details about how other pig breeds are marked. She knows her pigs. For the past six years, she has been raising pigs or heifers for projects and to show at the Orange County show or the South Texas Fair in Beaumont.

Raising the animals has become a family activity. Madisonís parents are Dr. Travis and Leisa Miller.  Madison said her mother, who is originally from Oklahoma, raised 4-H animals when she was young and suggested her daughter try it when she got old enough. McCartney has also joined in with her own projects. The family lives in a Little Cypress subdivision and the pigs arenít kept at home. ďI donít think our neighbors would be too happy with a pig in the backyard,Ē Madison said. They have some acres off MLK Drive and the girls go there twice a day. Madison said they have gone from a green shed to a barn that all of them helped build.

Pigs and heifers arenít the only activities for the Miller girls. McCartney is a student at St. Mary School and Madison is a freshman at Little Cypress-Mauriceville. She is in the student council and dances with the Honey Bear Drill Team. Her morning routine includes getting up early to feed the animals before school. After school, she practices with the drill team until 5:30 p.m. Then itís back to the animals to walk them, bathe them and feed them. Homework is on the schedule before bedtime. But Madison said she loves everything about the farm lifestyle.

Donít expect to see Todd back in Orange. The fair requires that the champions be auctioned. Madison got $3,500 for the prize pig and the money will go into her savings account. It wasnít easy saying goodbye to the champion. Leisa said Madison cried almost all the way back from Dallas. Saying so-long to a 4-H animal is part of the circle of life, and Madison has done it before, but never to a state champion.

-Margaret Toal, KOGT-