I have been working on the farm since I was able to grab a calf bottle and drive the golf cart to where our calves are. Over the years, though, I have gone from not knowing a whole lot except for the main jobs around here to knowing all kinds of details I never knew existed. For instance, I never knew to keep my ears open to listen to the air compressor pump in the oldest parlor for a reason dealing with the well pump for our farm. I just learned that one about two weeks ago. Other things I learned long ago, like how to prep the parlor and milk cows in high school.
There are many chores that seem so natural to me now that I don’t think about them I just go through the motions. I notice details now that I know I wouldn’t have noticed 10 years ago. I am aware that this career will teach me something new every day.
With all that being said, boy oh boy do we still make mistakes. That doesn’t change. Maybe I don’t make quite as many as I used to, but I definitely still make them. I think all dairy farmers can relate to me when I say I should have sold that cow earlier in the week on sale day. That’s one of the toughest pills to swallow when you have a fresh cow that doesn’t look all that great, but you are trying everything you can because she was such a good cow last lactation. You decide not to sell her and then boom, the next day you check her again and she has a displaced abomasum and might not make it to the next sale day.
My uncle wanted me to help him with hay harvest one summer I was home from college. I jumped up on the tractor when the hay rake was lifted, put it into gear, and headed through the gate to the hayfield. What I did not know was that the tractor had a hydraulic leak. The rake came down just before I got to the gate, and well, I broke the rake in half. They didn’t let me rake hay for the rest of the summer. That was a pretty bad mistake.
I know I will continuously make different kinds of mistakes as I go through life on this farm. I think it’s more about how we learn from them. My dad told me a while back that I had finally grown up after making one of these mistakes because he saw that I was harder on myself about it than anyone else was.
When you make a mistake, remember this: You’re going to fall off. The question is: Are you going to get back on?
Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.