Showing is tradition and more for Jacob Gochnauer

KENYON, Minn. — Showing cattle has long been a Gochnauer family tradition, but there’s something special about the fall senior yearling Jacob Gochnauer showed at this year’s Dodge County Fair.

The heifer isn’t special because of the ribbons she won, because the registered Holstein didn’t excel in her class, finishing in the middle of the pack.

Instead, it’s the story behind Martha the Holstein that makes her special.

Martha, named in honor of Jacob’s grandmother, Martha Gochnauer, traces her lineage back to the beginnings of the family’s dairy herd. Jacob’s grandfather, Larry, said his grandfather, Jay, had registered Holsteins on the farm Larry and Martha now live on near Hegre Lutheran Church in rural Kenyon.

Jay went to Northfield to buy the registered Holsteins and brought them back with horse-drawn wagon, Larry said.


Larry showed cattle. A picture of him and his father, Donald, showing Holsteins at the District Black and White Show at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester is tacked to a kitchen wall. He was 8 or 9 years old at the time.

Larry and Martha’s four sons also showed Holsteins, belonging to the Concord Cheerful Workers 4-H Club. The older two were members of the West Concord FFA, the younger two belonged to the Triton FFA, created when West Concord merged with Dodge Center and Claremont in 1992.

On April 1, 2003, Larry and Martha sold their dairy herd. They kept Midnight, a heifer calf, at son Jeff’s urging so Jacob could show her at the county fair.

"She was just a mostly black Holstein, that’s why I called her Midnight," Jacob said.

The following January, Jeff was killed in a car accident on Highway 56 when he was 35 years old. He had survived leukemia when he was 2-1/2 and a brain tumor at 14, Martha said.

Jeff had helped Jacob get set up at the fair and it was an honor to continue showing his calf, even though it never earned any trophies.

Midnight was a three-teater when she freshened with a blank front quarter but she maintained a nice udder and milked good, Jacob said. Midnight went to the sale barn a couple years ago, but Martha is her great-granddaughter.

Jacob, who turns 17 on July 29, owns three descendants of Midnight: Fall senior yearling Martha, a two-year-old due to calve any day and a four-year-old cow.


Jacob is a good cattle showman, Larry said, because he’s calm and quiet. He doesn’t get excited.

He already has 15 years of showing under his belt, showing his first calf in open class two weeks before his second birthday.

Not only does Jacob show Holsteins, he also shows beef and sheep. He showed one dairy, one beef and two sheep at this year’s county fair and earned blues with everything. He also earned senior beef showmanship. He won a state fair trip with his beef animal.

"It’s easier to get a state fair trip with beef than dairy," Jacob said.

He also helped care for animals brought to the fair by his sister, Elizabeth, brother, Samuel, and cousins. This is the third year he’s brought in and cared for animals at the FFA children’s barnyard.

Jacob is a president of the Eden Progressive Gophers 4-H Club and vice president of the Triton FFA. He’ll be a senior at Triton High School this fall. He just obtained the rank of Eagle Scout, his project was enclosing a picnic shelter at Kasson Church of Christ.

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