Jan. 24 2019 08:40 AM

When my dad and uncle are away, my cousin and I must step up to the plate as the next generation on our farm.

From time to time, we all like to go on a vacation. Dad likes to hike, kayak, and bike, while Uncle Andy enjoys golfing and spending time at the lake. However, they do not normally vacation at the same time for business purposes.

If I ever have an issue, my dad and uncle have taught me to get opinions and be open minded. So, of course, whenever I have a question about anything on the dairy, the first people I ask for an opinion are those two. If my dad is out of town, I’ll see what Uncle Andy’s thoughts are and visa versa.

I don’t remember my dad, uncle, or grandfather taking many vacations when I was growing up. It has only been in the last few years that they have been able to go and do what they like. My cousin Josh and I are both out of college now, and it has been a lot simpler for one of them to take off to go to a meeting or to go out of town for the weekend.

This week is Georgia’s Dairy Conference in Savannah, and my dad and Uncle Andy both decided to go. This means Josh and I are at the farm. We are a team, just like my dad and uncle are. Josh handles the mechanics and plant side, while I tend to the cows.

Even though they are only a phone call away, it’s a lot different feeling than when I can simply walk over to the office, pop my head in, ask dad’s opinion, and then go back to work on whatever it is with confidence. We try not to call them while they are gone if we don’t have to, to show them that we can do it and that they can comfortably sleep at night without worrying about things while they are away.

Even though I like the advice that they give and that extra confirmation on a protocol here and there, it is good every now and again to make the decisions and not have them there every step of the way. It gives us a sense of confidence.

Growing up, you always see your parents as smart and all knowing. Dad always jokingly says, “We are always right. If I don’t know it, your uncle does.” When that information resource is available, that’s what you rely on every day until you can’t.

I am very proud to be able to say I have learned a lot of what I know about my career from my uncle, dad, and grandfather. I’ve watched them over the years and been blown away at some of the things they do around the farm — some things I never thought I would be able to do. It goes to show that with their guidance and the tough life lessons they have given along the way, I have proven myself wrong.

I am glad they have the confidence in Josh and me to take off at the same time and leave the farm in our hands. I’m blessed to have them as role models.

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.