By, Rhonda McCurry
Every ribbon and banner taken home by a Cain family member is a win for Cain Super Sires.
That’s not just a statement but a way of life for the Cains who make their living working together and being part of a three-generation family hog operation.
Earl and Patty Cain started in the hog business in 1971. Though they started slowly and managed wisely, most hog breeders wouldn’t know their humble beginnings. Earl and Patty built a legacy for their family, and because of this, each year their Thanksgiving table is full.
Earl’s sons, Lee and Dusty, and their wives, Jana and Kim, are instrumental in the day to day operations and management of Cain Super Sires. Dusty’s children, Sydney and Austin, and Lee’s sons, Aaron and Dylan, are also heavily involved. All of Earl’s grandchildren show pigs with a passion. Dusty says nothing makes his father happier than to watch each of his grandkids in the show ring.
“We have the opportunity to work as a family every day, to make a living working with family, showing and selling pigs from my dad’s to my kids age,” Dusty says. “Watching his grandkids show touches Earl so much. When they win and do well it makes his heart pump. And, it keeps him young and active.”
Cain Super Sires manages 350 sows to raise show pigs, has 55 boars in stud and raise row crops. Because they farrow year round, Dusty says every person is essential to the daily operation. Earl’s the boss man, Lee is responsible for breeding sows, the mating decisions and feeding and Dusty is the marketing and financial manager. Patty manages registrations and pedigrees and packing and shipping semen and Kim and Jana handle all other jobs around the farm. Dusty says his wife cleans out all the show pig pens for the kids, for example, but when school’s out the kids come to the barn and manage their show projects.
It’s day in and day out together for the Cains and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Dusty says they are hard on each other in the barn, but it’s because of their drive to be competitive. He says when one kid wins or sells a hog at a high price they split the money four ways among all the grandkids. This is one of the times they feel thankful for being able to raise hogs and show as a family.
“Showing is a great opportunity for the family to be together,” he says. “It is also our way to let the kids earn money for their education. The kids have to work on the farm but don’t have to pay for feed and pigs and when they win they put that towards college.”
The realization they have created a legacy for their family is not taken for granted. Dusty says when a buyer comes to the farm, we make it a priority to get to know them and try to figure out how we can help them make their herd better. No matter where they’re traveling – shows, sales or to sell semen – the family takes time to visit with people to share stories and past experiences.
Dusty says he is thankful this season that his kids and nephews have the opportunity to grow up on a farm, in a rural environment, and learn strong work ethic. He believes there is not another activity for young people that teaches the kind of responsibility and care for others more than raising livestock does.
“I am thankful that I learned to work on the farm growing up,” Dusty says. “I used to hate coming home from football practice and cleaning pens, but as I look back on that, it was just preparation for the real world. Raising pigs is not an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job with four weeks of vacation. We work hard and are thankful for our success together as a family.”
The Cains are thankful for their customers too, for without them they could not have built a legacy. He says they are thankful for the young people who buy show pigs from them. And, they are thankful for their ability to continue to work and live doing what they enjoy.
“We are thankful for our health and happiness, both of which come from raising hogs,” Dusty says. “Being a legacy is humbling, but it’s what my dad started working for to provide for is family.”