Borderline Livestock & Community Club 4-H adviser Jill Kutz (above, left) coaches Emily and Sarah Gorham in the final minutes before the Showmanship Class III contest on Jan. 12. The twins took two of the top three prizes in the event.
Photo and story by Rick Hiduk
(Second installment of a two-part story originally published in the Susquehanna County Independent)
Three long days at the Farm Show Complex paid off for three members of the Borderline Livestock & Community Club 4-H of Susquehanna County. Twin sisters Emily and Sarah Gorham of New Milford and Caitlin Demarest of Forest Lake Township arrived in Harrisburg with club adviser Jill Kutz on Jan. 11 and immediately set to the task of making their goats comfortable in their pens and ready for the scrutiny of the judges. By the time they left for home on Jan. 13, they had collectively accumulated about two dozen awards.
For Caitlin, it was an especially exciting trip as she was showing for the first time as a regular 4-H member, having been a Cloverbud until she turned eight. She had many years of experience to back her up, as the twins have been successfully showing animals since they were Caitlin’s age, as has Jill, who started with dairy cattle when she was a youngster in Wisconsin.
Showing livestock at the Farm Show is the climax to a year of preparation that includes bonding with the animals to gain their trust, daily feedings and pen cleaning, and training the animal to the rigors of performing well in an arena full of other livestock and surrounded by unfamiliar people.
“The most challenging part is learning how each goat reacts to certain things or how to set her up to make sure the judge only sees your goat’s best qualities, because often times you have to figure those things out quickly if it’s not a goat you show regularly,” Emily explained.
The Gorham girls showed goats in both the 4-H and Open divisions. There are a wide variety of categories and classes in which the animals compete but also contests in which the handlers, themselves, are being judged.
Emily and Sarah did especially well in the first competition on Jan. 12, moving their goats Ginger Ale and Elena around the ring at the bequest of the judge. Despite the fact that, as the judge put it, Elena suddenly decided that she didn’t want to be there, Sarah took second place in showmanship with her sister right behind her in third place. Elena and Ginger Ale are LaManchas, a medium sized dairy goat admired for the quality of their milk.
Elena more than made up for her unusual behavior in the first contest by garnering Sarah a first-place win in the Open Recorded Grade Show for does in milk. Elena was also named Reserve Grand Champion and Reserve Best of Breed, ages 3 to 5, after placing third among does in milk in the 4-H division.
Emily said that the “unexpected wins” are the ones that mean the most to her, especially when the field of competitors is large. “You have to keep showing your animal to their best advantage in these moments because you know the competition is close,” she remarked.
Sarah also showed a kid named Diana that was awarded a third place ribbon and a young doe named Katerina that finished first in her class in the 4-H division. The pair later took third and first in the same categories in the Open division.
Ginger Ale did especially well for Emily in the 4-H LaMancha show for does in milk over the age of 5. Ginger Ale was also named Grand Champion and Best of Breed LaMancha out of 108 entries in the 4-H division. But the best was yet to come.
All three girls fared well in the Open division with their own goats and showing goats that Jill had brought to the Farm Show. Caitlin scored big with a Toggenburg goat named Toggie, taking first place out of 15 goats born in the first three months of 2022. Caitlin also picked up a fourth-place win with an Alpine goat of the same age named Stripie. She said that the whole experience was exciting and fun and that she looks forward to doing it again.
Every goat that they took to the Farm Show placed. Elena was first in the 3-to-5-year-old class, and also named Reserve Grand Champion and Reserve Best of Breed in the Recorded Grade show.
Emily took a young goat of Jill’s named Everdeen to a first-place win in the Recorded Grade Open Junior show. And Emily’s Ginger Ale continued her winning streak in the Open division, placing first among does in milk over 5 and then being named, Grand Champion LaMancha, Best of Breed LaMancha and, out of 302 total Open entries, Best Doe of the Show. It was the first time that Emily had ever won an entire show, which surprised her because she doesn’t show Ginger Ale regularly. “It was an amazing experience,” she stated.
Caitlin certainly had some impressive role models to help her through her first ADGA-sanctioned show, and the twins said that Caitlin was very receptive to the tips they shared with her. Jill referred to Sarah and Emily as great showmen and great competitors, whether they are working with animals, riding horses, or participating in sports together.
“I’d say the fact that we are neck-and-neck makes it more fun and keeps us on our tows,” Sarah offered. “It’s always interesting to see who’s going to perform better in the ring and whose ring presence catches the judge’s eye more.”
“We are very competitive, but we are also always there to support and help each other,” said Emily. “While it’s happening, beating her is definitely a goal but, when all is said and done, we go back to being sisters. We will both be proud of each other and be there to congratulate the other in the end.”
(To read the first part of the story, click here: Borderline 4-H Girls’ Goats Excel at PA Farm Show – EndlessMtnLifestyles.com )
Borderline 4-H members (front, from left) Sarah Gorham, Caitlin Demarest, and Emily Gorham, and club adviser Jill Kutz proudly display the ribbons they amassed showing dairy goats at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.