It has been bitterly cold here in East Moline, Ill. As I write this blog, we are subzero with more than a foot of snow on the ground. Not a great way to start this Valentine's week, but our big project includes being inside, so that's a plus. Unfortunately, it’s finalizing our taxes.
Yes, some would argue that tax work doesn't spell out romance, but it sure does solidify those marriage vows. My husband, Scott, and I have survived many things, but sorting cattle and finalizing taxes year-after-year reminds us that we can conquer just about anything.
Scott and I met 19 years ago at the Kentucky National Jersey Sale in Louisville. He was there to purchase cattle, and I was there to write about the sale. Although we didn't formally date until several months later, it was love at first sight.
Since then, we've managed to survive more than taxes and cattle work. We've made it through birthing three children while simultaneously expanding our dairy operation. He has been there to wipe my tears as I buried both of my parents and sold my childhood farm. We've smiled wide watching our kids show cattle, drive tractors, and learn some of the best lessons while being raised on our family farm.
I won't lie; there is something about these dairy farmers that make our hearts bloom. Through the best of times and the toughest of times, they know how to plow deep and straight and do not cut corners.
They have a way of raising the bar — working more hours than we dare report, but rarely complaining. They get up well before the sun: milk cows, haul the manure, plow the fields, fix the fence, and still seek what else needs to be done. They can be found sitting in the school bleachers in their coveralls to cheer on their children, and grabbing coffee on their way to a 7 p.m. Farm Bureau meeting. They mix feed, breed the cows, attend Sunday mass, and then go back to the barn for the remainder of the day.
And, the best part about my dairy farmer is his smile and his ability to laugh. Scott has a way of leading by example, working harder than anyone I have ever met. With the twinkle in his eye and the smirk of his grin, he gives me hope that the best is yet to come.
Karen Bohnert is a second generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State University. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.