Perseverance paid off handsomely for Levi Kindschi.
The Loganville teen penned last year's winning entry for the 2015 Wisconsin Guernsey Breeders' Association calf essay contest essay. For his efforts, the 15-year-old was awarded registered fall Guernsey calf Jens Gold Dandy Ohum Bug.
While writing a 250 word essay may not seem like a daunting task to some, Kindschi said it was especially challenging for him.
"Writing an essay if very hard for me as I have ADHD and memory issues. So, I've been writing essays (for this contest) for a few years and last year I finally won," Kindschi said.
One of the topics for the essay contest is "What a Guernsey calf would mean to me". To Kindschi the presence of his calf whom he affectionately calls "Bug" has been life-changing.
"I don't know where I would be today without her," Kindschi said. "It's opened a whole new world for me where I've been able to meet a whole new group of amazing people in the Guernsey industry."
Kindschi's mother, Tara, says her son has taken the responsibility of caring for Bug seriously. While Tara and her husband, Bill, were raised on a farm, the family currently lives on a hobby farm near Reedsburg. In addition to Bug, Levi owns two Holsteins (which are housed and milked on a neighboring farm) and a second Guernsey heifer.
"Levi gets up every morning at 5 a.m. every day to feed her before he gets on the school bus at 6:30 a.m. — no questions asked," Tara Kindschi said. "If he has something going on where he has to be gone, for him to take the responsibility to find someone to care for his animals is huge."
Tara says her son travels to the neighboring farm to milk and care for his cows several times a week.
"While we're once removed from the farm, Levi makes a point of being involved by milking for the neighbors. He's made plans and now has a focus," Tara Kindschi said.
Finding time in his busy schedule to compete at shows with his calf has been a balancing act for the Kindschi family who runs a family business Kindschi Pedal Pulls. The family often spends weekends running two to three kiddie pedal pulls around the state. Last year the family ran 55 pedal pull events.
"That's how Levi has earned money to buy his animals. So we have to coordinate things to make sure we have enough employees on hand to run the events and find a way for Levi to show his animals," Tara Kindschi said. "We wouldn't have been able to do this without teamwork from a lot of friends."
The Reedsburg Area High School sophomore says he and Bug accomplished much her first year in the show ring. Bug was named the Grand Champion Guernsey at the Sauk County Fair last summer. The duo finished 5th in open class and 3rd in the junior class in the Guernsey division at World Dairy Expo in October.
"What enjoy most in the show ring is how well I'm doing for not being raised on a dairy farm," Kindschi said. "Sometimes showing is really competitive especially in the Holstein classes, but the people from the Guernsey industry were so nice to me and made sure that we had everything we needed."
Tara Kindschi says she has been impressed by the outreach of folks from the Wisconsin Guernsey Breeders' Association since Levi took ownership of Bug.
"You would not believe the number of people that checked on us to make sure we knew what was going on and had what we needed and let us know about upcoming shows," Tara Kindschi said. "It was teamwork from the Guernsey breeders to make sure that this kid and his calf was welcome wherever they went. And at the shows, even the competitors in his class wanted to make sure that Levi and his calf did their best. That's huge."
Bug has done so well that she has even been nominated for All American and Junior All American Honors.
Tara Kindschi says that owning and showing Bug has allowed her son to experience success.
"What's important is that he didn't buy Bug, he earned her which gives him way more feeling for her in the first place," she said. "It's not just getting the calf but what you do with her afterward."
And the 15-year-old has big plans.
"After I graduate from high school I see myself becoming a dairy farmer," Kindschi said. "Luckily my parents are very supportive of me building my herd."
This year's winner of the essay contest will be recognized by the Wisconsin Guernsey Breeders' Association during its annual convention on March 4-5 in Siren, WI.