Fun journey from knowing nothing to being ‘old hands’ and ribbon winners
by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Ron and Ann Borash of North Prairie knew nothing about 4-H when the oldest of their family of eight reached the right age. They both had grown up on farms, but were not near 4-H clubs.
“Randy, Jen and Gary were all little when they took dairy calves to the fair,” Ann said. “Not knowing anything about it, there was a lot of confusion.”
The Borashes were members of the Mississippi Movers (now the Loyal Royals) club at the time. They later started a new group, the Two River Trailblazers.
“Many of the members are from dairy farms and we can work around chores,” said Ann.
The Borash family includes Randy, Jennifer, Gary, Peter, Daniel, Ben, Christopher and Erin. The four eldest are out of college, and Daniel is in his last season of 4-H showing as a recent high school graduate.
Another time, Randy took ducks to the fair.
“Ron wanted him to take something different than dairy,” Ann said. “Randy got best of show. But the best part of learning was the other people who helped him learn how to take it out of the cage and how to hold it.”
Now, the Borash kids find opportunities to help others just starting out in 4-H.
“Now, poultry is our biggest thing, with Project Bowl in the winter,” said Daniel.
Although all four of the youngest Borash siblings agree they like to show chickens, Ben also likes ducks. Christopher likes llamas and would like to show goats, sheep and llamas.
Erin was in Cloverbuds last year, the youngest 4-H age group for students age 5 and in kindergarten until they reach age 8 and are in the third grade.
She took many projects to last year’s fair, including a giraffe poster, a scrapbook, two shirts she sewed and jelly she had made.
Fair competition sometimes takes some unexpected turns. When Peter was younger, he took a calf into the ring for the first time and received a red ribbon (the lowest possible.)
“He wanted to quit, but Ron talked him into doing showmanship and he won,” said Ann.
One year when Ben showed a calf for showmanship, it just stopped in the ring and would not move.
“There were two people behind trying to push, but it would not move,” said Ben.
Another year, while showing a pig, a different pig came up behind Ben and pushed between his legs.
“I ended up riding it for a while,” he said with a grin.
Last year, Peter wanted to go the State Fair for his last year in 4-H. He had chosen his chickens far in advance.
“On the day of the show, he noticed one crooked toe on one chicken,” Daniel said. “I wanted him to go to the State Fair too, so I switched with him.”
Daniel ended up qualifying for the State Fair with the crooked-toed chicken and Peter did not.
“Never judge a day by the beginning of the day,” said Ann.
The Borash family has benefitted from 4-H participation in a number of different ways.
“It’s been good getting kids working together with other kids,” said Ron. “Learning record-keeping for projects is good for them.”
“They learn great leadership skills. They have to sit in front of a judge and answer questions.,” Ann said. “They gain confidence.”
Randy, Gary and Peter were all members of Project bowl teams that went to national competition in Louisville, Ky. Gary’s team won.
The training that 4-H show animals receive is something that stays with them and benefits the farm operation as well as they are easier to handle later.
“A few years ago Daniel showed a cow that just recently calved again,” Ron said. “When she was ready to calve she needed to be taken to the barn, and all he did was halter her and lead her to the barn.”
One of the highlights of summer is attending camp, which is at Northern Pines Camp near Park Rapids for three days in June. There are outdoor activities with wildlife, games and canoeing.
“I made such good friends there,” Daniel said. “We get together every year now.”
The four eldest Borash siblings have been camp counselors as well.
“Even when he was out of 4-H, they called Gary one year to come back and be a counselor,” Daniel said.
The Borashes want people to know that it’s not necessary to live on a farm to participate in 4-H. Even if someone wants to show livestock, there are ways to do that.
“It’s mostly about learning about the animals,” Daniel said. “A lot of people just get a few chickens. They can work with grandparents or neighbors. I leased a trained roping horse for Western Heritage.”
Two River Trailblazers draws members from North Prairie, Bowlus, Little Falls, Elmdale, Upsala and Holdingford.
“Each club is different,” Ann said. “I strongly encourage parents to go to different clubs to find one that fits their interests. There are way more opportunities for them than you have time for.”
“There is definitely something for everyone,” Daniel said.