Who in their right mind would choose a career that requires attention and responsibility 24 hours a day, 365 days a year? Who in their right mind would choose a career where they have to work in all elements: rain, sleet, thunderstorms, heat, cold, and so forth? Who in their right mind would work at times for very little pay or even nothing? These are questions with one simple answer.
I guess I could be working somewhere else making pretty good money not worrying if the milk market will crash, and not worrying if we will have enough money to pay the feed bills. If I worked somewhere else, I would not be worrying about the bulk tanks cooling properly or if all the parlor equipment was working correctly.
There have been a few times where selling the cows and getting a job elsewhere seemed like maybe it would easier, less stressful, and better financially. So I’ll ask one more time, who in their right mind would choose the career path my family and I have chosen? People on the outside would be wondering why. They would wonder who would want to do this. It’s because they don’t understand.
There is no doubt the stress and worry that dairy farmers endure. But when you love what you do, you deal with these things in a different way. You strategize to make ends meet at the worst of times because you don’t want to lose what you father, grandfather, and great grandfather work so hard to accomplish, and you want to feel that accomplishment, too. You want to live up to those people. You want them to feel proud that you kept the legacy going. You appreciate your livestock, land, and equipment.
I love the career path I have chosen, even during the hard times. The rewarding feeling of getting through a long, tough day with the cows fed, milked, healthy, and happy is worth any stress we go through. Our cows rely on us for everything. To be able to provide for them and keep them healthy is an awesome feeling.
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.