Editor's note: The following post was written by Steve and Christi Crane of Crane Show Pigs. It was originally published on http://craneshowpigs.com and republished with permission.

Early in the year, we get lots of calls. Inquiries on pigs, appointments, prices – you name it. We truly enjoy visiting with each of you and answering all your questions.

However, we are noticing a disturbing trend.

We get more and more inquiries, like this one, every season. And, it goes like this:

Caller: I want a champion showpig, can you help me?

Us: We do raise show pigs, and many of our feeders are very successful. What exactly are you looking for?

Caller: Well, I want to beat (so-and-so). They (the so-and-so family), beat us every year. I’ve been watching you on Facebook, and I want a champion pig like the one that was just pictured.

Us: Yes sir, that was a very good pig. That family did a phenomenal job, they’re good feeders and they work very hard.

Caller: And, we want to win…

The caller goes on and shares about their feeding program (a self feeder filled with a mix made at the local Co-Op. ‘I don’t have time to hand feed, I work and we’re gone a lot on the weekends); and their exercise program (‘we start walking a few weeks before fair – kids have to walk every afternoon before they go to the pool’).

Basically, they want to beat the so-and-so family, by investing the least amount of TIME and EFFORT into their swine project.

If you want to be successful, I challenge you develop a brand-new mindset this show season. Many of you know that we are a die-hard basketball family.

Our entire family plays ball and there’s even an indoor, full-size court next to the kids’ show barn.  

Basketball is a lot like showing livestock: You’re not going to win a championship without practicing; without being in shape and eating right; and without working hard both in and out of the gym.

Folks – if your family refuses to put time and effort into the project, then no breeder out there is going to be able to help you. Even if you could afford to buy the most expensive pig out there, your chance of success with that pig is slim to none.

And as for the cost of livestock, think of it this way: Expensive basketball shoes don’t make the player. It is hard work, dedication and determination that is going to take you and your sneakers to the game. Do champion players often choose one brand of shoes over another? Yes, absolutely they do.

Winners want a proven product, something that meets their demands and is going to be worth the investment of both their time and money. Proven products are used for a reason, no matter if it is basketball shoes, show feed or successful breeding programs.

Winning starts with a desire to succeed.  Take that and mix in a pig with great genetics, fuel it with proven feed, and quality time spent in the barn – and you have a recipe for a memorable show season. There are NO shortcuts. There are NO quick fixes. There are NO substitutions.

Don’t blame the refs, and don’t blame the judges. They are simply calling it like they see it.

Don’t blame the coach, and don’t blame the breeder/extension agent/ag teacher.  Their job is to guide you, not do the work for you.

Don’t blame the other team, and don’t blame other exhibitors. Their job is to show up & work hard, it’s not their fault if you weren’t prepared.

Don’t blame the equipment, and don’t blame the animal. Neither one will be in their prime,  if you don’t care for them.

Your success starts with you. I challenge you to have a positive attitude and an athlete’s work ethic.

If  you want to win this season, start stepping up your game at home.  

Your efforts, or lack thereof, will speak for themselves on show day.