Scaffedi siblings have staying power
CAMERON-WYOMING, Del. — Last year, young Cameron Scaffedi captured the grand champion market hog honors at the Livestock Extravaganza at the Delaware State Fair. He aims to do it again this year.
What he likes best about the fair, Cameron said, is “showing with my friends and competing with them and their animals.”
He shows both pigs and cattle.
A member of Westville 4-H Club, Cameron is now old enough to enjoy overnight camping. He is 10.
His ribbons include a first in showmanship, a reserve champion gilt in the open show and reserve champion open barrow.
“Cameron has been showing animals at the fair since he was 3,” said his mother, Heather Palmer. Fair administrators recently instituted a rule that an exhibitor must be at least 5 years old, but Cameron and his sister, Caroline, now 8, had started showing before the new rule.
Their younger sister, Charlee, is only a year and a half old, so she has a long wait before showing at the fair.
Cameron does more than just parade his animals around the show ring. He is responsible for feeding, washing, walking (when it’s cool enough), and cleaning the pens. He and his sister have a joint business, “Cameron and Caroline Show Pigs.”
“We get the pigs in May so they are ready for the fair in July,” Heather said.
Asked how much it costs to raise a pig from 30 pounds to market size, which is 220 to 290 pounds, Cameron guessed “about $8,000 to $10,000.” His mother quickly explained that Cameron was a little young for the bookkeeping required in farming, and that $2,000 covered the cost for five pigs.
If he earns a spot in the Junior Livestock Auction during the fair — which is limited to approximately 100 lots — his parents require the proceeds to go into his college fund. Money earned for ribbons is his to spend as he wishes. Each exhibitor is limited to selling two animals per species, with a total cap of three animals. Winners of champion and grand champion awards are strongly encouraged to sell their animals in the Delaware State Fair Junior Livestock Auction.
Cameron also has an Angus-cross cow, Stella, which he showed as a heifer. She now has a calf, Stella Boy, born in April, so Cameron will enter the pair in the cow-calf category this year.
Stella has plenty of company on the Palmer farm, where there are four feeder calves, four heifers and two steers — part of Palmer Cattle Company. There are also turkeys, chickens, pigs and one horse and one donkey.
Cameron, who wants to be a farmer if he doesn’t end up a professional baseball player, is learning the ropes from his stepfather, Justin Palmer, co-owner with his parents and siblings of T.A. Farms LLC, which is perhaps best known as one of the few growers of turkeys in Delaware.
Justin is part of the fourth generation on the farm, which was started some 70 years ago by his great-grandparents, John and Mary Webb. The tradition continued with his grandparents, Betty and Cliff Palmer.
Their son, Danny, and his wife, Sandra, welcomed into the operation as partners the next generation, including daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Alex; son, Brian, and his wife, Katie; and Justin and Heather.
Justin grew up showing sheep and hogs and later, cattle. Now farm operations manager, he started farming full-time in his teens.
“Dad is still active on the farm. He’s planting beans now,” said Justin on a hot July afternoon. “Mom is the silent partner, “the glue that holds the craziness together.” She works in the office.
Elizabeth is in charge of meat processing and manages a majority of the daily operations on the farm.
Brian is beef operations manager and does all field applications. He and Katie have two children. The older one, Bailey, is now old enough to show pigs at the fair.