As many of you know, milk prices as of late have been entirely too low for a dairy farmer's comfort. It has a lot of us on edge and even fearful for the future. All we can do is put the situation in the good Lord's hands and pray about it.
If you choose a career as a dairy farmer and expect to be "money rich," you might as well get out now. Now don't get me wrong, there are some really good years with milk prices, but they are usually followed by bad ones. Fortunately, most dairy farmers don't take pride in how much money is sitting in the bank. The pride we have lies within our work.
The past year has been stressful. Money is extremely tight, yet the cows have to be fed and milked 365 days a year. There have been times that we might want to give up and throw the towel in, but then the "little things" happen and we realize there is no where else we would rather be.
To give an example . . . you get to work one morning and realize the cow you have been nurturing back to health for the past four days did not make it through the night. You have a milk house compressor not working correctly and your feed mixer wagon breaks down. You have a cow that will not get up out of the stall to be milked, and it seems like every employee has more terrible news throughout the day. After you have sweated and worked so hard to fix everything, and it has taken you until almost 8 p.m. to finish up, you realize you are going to have to go assist with a calf's delivery. At that point you may think, "Why did I choose this life?"
Still, you continue on. You get the cow up, put her in the chute, and give it your everything to get the calf out. And finally, a new life appears on the ground before you. You find a piece of grass and tickle its nose. It takes its first breath and shakes its head around trying to blow its nose. The cow goes over to the calf and tries to make heads or tails of it and then starts licking it. That's when you realize that all the sweat and hard work you did that day was worth it.
We have long days, stressful days, and days we feel like nothing could get any worse. But then we focus on the little things and feel blessed to live the life we do!
Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. Their "Daddy and Daughter Dairy Together" column will appear 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.