April 20 2017 10:00 AM

At times, you have to let the younger generation take the wheel and learn from their own experiences on the farm.

My brother and I are the third generation to farm the land on our home farm in Dearing, Ga. We are in the “teaching phase” of our business with my daughter and nephew both deciding they wanted to return home and farm with us.

There are some trying times involved in letting them make decisions. They have their own ideas on how things should operate, but sometimes they lack the judgment that experience gives. It is hard to allow them to make the mistakes required to gain the experience they will need to be successful. Still, it does make me smile to hear them say, “Would you go on vacation already? We have got this.”

My dad, on the other hand, is 81 years old and more fun to work with than he ever was when my brother and I were growing up. He shows up for work— if the weather is nice, he is bored, and he has no other plans that day. Don’t get me wrong, we are happy to see him do whatever he wishes. We love having him pitch in and help, even though it usually means he wants some implement hooked to something greased up and fueled up, with the cab vacuumed out and the windows washed.

He still loves planting and harvesting seasons. He also loves the farm to look nice. He mows, sprays fencerows, and keeps the farm looking great. He is happy to leave the operational decisions to us but will give advice if asked, and sometimes if we don’t, we still get an opinion.

I have been where my daughter is, trying to make good decisions and please Dad. It is tough. But I look forward to walking the path that my dad is walking now; to get to watch my daughter, nephew, and, hopefully one day, their respective children operate our family’s farm. I am blessed to be stuck in the middle of our family’s dairy endeavor.

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers

Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. Their “Father and Daughter Dairy Together” column appears every other Thursday on HD Notebook. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.


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