The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

July 24, 2013

Fair brings 7-child family together

By HOWARD BALABAN howard.balaban@journal-register.com
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — KNOWLESVILLE - One could assume that seven children living under one roof would lead to a significant amount of sibling rivalry.

In the Gabalski household, William, Mary-Grace, Maggie, Peggy-Jo, John, Joan-Marie, and Hugh have instead poured that energy into helping each other raise american fuzzy lop rabbits as Orleans County 4-H members.

The children’s father, Walter, said he and his wife knew they wanted their kids to do something.

“We were both in scouting, not 4-H,” Gabalski recalled. “When our oldest (William) was at an age when we thought he should be involved in something, my wife said 4-H made the most sense.”

Gabalski said the advantage of 4-H over scouting is that there is the freedom for boys and girls to participate in the same clubs and do many of the same activities. This year, the six youngest Gabalskis are all showing rabbits at the Orleans County 4-H Fair. Each of them is a member of the Orleans County 4-H Rabbit Raisers.

“It’s nice to see them help each other,” Gabalski said proudly. “They all go out to do their chores together, and it’s a great way to support each other.”

Some of the Gabalski showed rabbits on Tuesday. And they had a built-in fan base in the nearby bleachers.

While Joan-Marie, 9, showed her rabbit, Andy, older sisters Mary-Grace, 18, Maggie, 16, and Peggy-Jo, 14, sat and watched. They said rabbits are one of the more enjoyable animals to raise.

“I think we chose them because they’re probably the easiest thing to do because they’re small,” said Mary-Grace. “Of course we have American fuzzy lops, which are wooly and make a fuzzy mess, but they’re still smaller and manageable and don’t take up a lot of room.”

Maggie agreed that rabbits are fun.

“They’re a fun pet to have, they’re not frightening in any way,” she said. “Plus, they’re cute. You can do a lot with them, like enter them in costume contests.”

Mary-Grace added that the Fair is an exciting time of year for the family.

“This is really the time we show the rabbits, and its the most fun we have with them all year,” she explained.

“This is our 4-H county, so this is really the only fair we do,” Mary-Grace added. “It’s great to interact with others at this level and do some of the activities.”