My now second grade son, Jacob, came home last year with homework — for his mom! I was asked to write one short story to describe Jacob. Where do I even begin?
For those of you who don’t know Jacob, just wait, you will! I wholeheartedly believe that Jacob made his debut into this world, tipping the scales at a whopping 11 pounds, 9 ounces, solely because of his larger than life personality!
While he now requires a belt to keep his pants up, Jacob clocks in 50,000 steps a day. But beyond his ability to be nonstop, go, go, go, is his wildly large personality. It scares me and inspires me at the same time. I honestly believe that God blessed the world with Jacob to make a large impact, but in the meantime, he will age his mama tenfold over.
Jacob never looked back, taking his first steps shortly after his first birthday. I remember interviewing a dairy farmer and then looked up from my computer as my 18-month-old son was looking at me, when he actually should be sound asleep in his crib! He climbed out and walked all the way down two sets of stairs to see me!
I try to bottle up all of Jacob’s zest for life, and everyone, including his father, frankly cannot get enough.
When he was barely 3 years old, Jacob backed the John Deere Gator out of our machine shed and was found going in circles, backward, at full speed. Thank goodness he couldn’t shift gears or Lord knows where he would have ended up!
With the help of his mom, at the age of 4, Jacob made a video that has 20,000 views (and growing) by singing renditions of popular country songs, such as “Boys ‘Round Here” and “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” to a group of nosy Jersey heifers.
At 5 years old, Jacob was off to kindergarten and easily won the heart of his teacher. He came into kindergarten reading and graduated adding and subtracting double digits. I would like to take credit, but kudos goes to his older siblings and an amazing teacher who guided a talented child. Jacob nearly made it the whole year without landing in the principal’s office, but his temper got the best of him. Passion packed in a pint size can be a bit too much at times, especially for our youngest.
Jacob showed his first calf at the age of 3 and his first cow at the age of 7. He was determined that his 47- pound frame could handle a mature Jersey cow. He proved everyone right!
Jacob is loved by all. His friends range from 2 to 82. Some of his best friends are well-known dairy farmers and industry professionals who have fallen victim to our Jersey boy’s charm. Jacob also has an imaginary friend, Jo Jo, who is 82! The pair play air hockey together, chore together, and even nap together.
Jacob has rode shotgun in all the tractors and knows the horsepower of each. Like many farm kids, Jacob has clocked numerous hours playing farm carpet. He is determined to play professional basketball for the Golden State Warriors and during the off season work with his father on our family dairy farm.
I woke very early one morning shortly after we moved to the farm and could not find Jacob. After searching the house, we found a note from him, “I went to help Dad in the barn. Love, Jacob.” He was just 5.
Jacob sees no barriers. Some might see this small farm kid, but for Jacob, he truly believes he can do anything. What a gift that we all should learn from. He has confidence, whether he is going to show a cow at our county fair, drive a Gator, or even play a game of pick-up with a bunch of high school guys. Yes, that’s right; while some might be intimated to play with men nearly double their height, that wasn’t the case for Jacob, who comes up to the group at a local park and says, “Hey guys, I’ve got next!” And he had no problem keeping up, talking smack, and high-fiving!
Jacob often says, “Give it all you have baby,” which is something he illustrates daily. And at the end of the day, it’s all about having fun, and this farm kid makes an ordinary job fun! Not too long ago, his older brother and sister were bellyaching on a hot summer day when we were clipping cows. Jacob was determined that he would help out and sang and danced and helped get the job done!
Perhaps that’s why it didn’t surprise me that at county fair, Jacob made new friends. He does that everywhere he goes. But this one friend, an Iowa dairy farmer, still had to clip a heifer. Jacob grabbed the clippers and said, “Do you have a 15 blade?”
The farmer replied “yup,” and Jacob worked under the hot sun, never missed one hair and single-handedly got the heifer’s head clipped.
Keep on the lookout for Jacob Patrick Bohnert. He either will be the next Jimmy Fallon, the next NBA superstar, or the next great dairy farmer. My bet is the latter. Regardless, he will make your smile stretch wide — guaranteed!
Around the Kitchen Table is a regular column in Hoard's Dairyman. The author and her husband work in partnership with family on a 450-cow dairy in East Moline, Ill.