When Jonathan Knight starts talking about his son, his demeanor turns calm, and his voice dials down — quiet, slow, contemplative.
“He’s my best buddy in the whole world,” Jonathan says about Johnny, 7.
Six week ago, Jonathan was laid off from a plumbing company he had worked with for eight years. Now he spends more time working his farms and helping his friends and relatives with farming and construction jobs.
Jonathan, born and raised in Upton, leased his first farm at age 16, so he could move his 12 cows off his father’s farm. He now owns multiple properties in Hardin, LaRue and Hart counties, many of them providing feed and hay for his 70 cows and four steers.
Despite skipping college, Knight considers his 26 years as an education itself in farming and cattle-raising. He started farming tobacco and now concentrates on cows — and Johnny.
Six years ago, Jonathan divorced. He often picks up Johnny from school every other Friday. They spend the weekend together, and they get an entire week once a month. Johnny attends second grade in a neighboring town where his mother lives.
The balancing act — farming, working odd jobs and spending time with Johnny — comes with challenges.
But Jonathan remains undaunted and makes sure his son’s childhood memories are filled with the same fondness Jonathan keeps of his father and Johnny.
All are tied to each other and the land.
Johnny first started helping his father at age 4 when he had to drive a tractor when farm hands didn’t show up for a day’s tobacco harvest, his father said.
“He drove it just as well as any adult would have,” Jonathan said. “I was real proud of him that day.”
Toy barns, plastic cows and a handmade wooden farm play set built by Jonathan sprawl across the wooden floor of Johnny’s bedroom and the living room of Jonathan’s house in Upton.
Whether telling Johnny to stay in the bed of his pickup truck after a cow begins to head-butt a nearby gate or letting his son ride in the bed on drives on the farm, Jonathan shares with his best friend the things he enjoyed as a boy and learned from most.