One thing the three Hanfler siblings, John, 13, Charlie, 11 and Arabelle, 10, of Little Falls agree on is that many friends are made when they are involved in 4-H events. They are all members of the Livestock Legends 4-H Club.
“I got into 4-H for the fun of it, for the friends you make and for showing animals,” John said.
At this year’s Morrison County Fair, John will be showing three Boer goats. A lot of training and patience goes into preparing them for show.
Some of the ways John trains the goats is by feeding and giving them treats.
“You have to tame them so you can walk them and so they will stand still,” John said.
However, there is a backside to giving a goat too many treats, said their mom, Ashley LeBlanc. Instead of standing still, they can begin to move around and beg for more treats.
But John’s training with his goats has paid off in the past. Last year, he won grand champion at the Minnesota State Fair.
For the most part, the goats are only used in 4-H events for one year.
“They are usually bred in the fall, so we have babies in the spring,” LeBlanc said.
John’s brother, Charlie, 11, will be showing goats, as well. But his real passion lies in showing chickens.
Normally the animals are given names in time for the Fair. Charlie said he has yet to find a name for the chicken he will enter.
“Right now I just call her ‘Chicken,’” he said.
But even though Charlie finds that it is easier to train and show chickens, he has his own homework to do.
As part of showing chickens, he has to learn about their characteristics, facts and be able to tell a judge about the chicken he is showing, such as describing its beak, what kind of feathers is has and what kind of comb. But it is a task he welcomes.
“Knowing all that knowledge about chickens makes me feel smarter,” Charlie said.
John and Charlie’s sister, Arabelle, 10 will be showing goats and Pony of America “Honey.”
“I’m really excited to show her,” Arabelle said.
This will be Arabelle’s second year of showing Honey at the Morrison County Fair. She especially enjoys barrel racing and the keyhole race.,
“The best part is going fast,” Arabelle said.
Before Arabelle received Honey a year ago, she rode a smaller pony. The difference between the two horses is like night and day, LeBlanc said.
“Arabelle was trampled by that pony once. She was the kind of pony that she had to be in front of everybody and if she wasn’t, she’d act up,” LeBlanc said.
Honey, on the other hand, was trained by an Amish trainer. LeBlanc said it isn’t uncommon for horses deemed not good enough to pull the buggy, to be trained and then sold.
“She behaves very well. They train the horse and do everything with it. You can put anybody on Honey. She’s a really good horse,” LeBlanc said.
Some of the ways Arabelle prepares for the Fair with Honey includes spending time with her and riding her.
What inspired the family to get involved in 4-H goes back to both LeBlanc and her husband, Eric. When they were younger, they were also involved in 4-H. Knowing how much fun it was, the friendships that were made, the knowledge that is gained and how it helps give confidence for other areas of life, it was only natural for their children to be involved.
“It’s a lot of work to get ready, but a lot of fun,” LeBlanc said.