Oct. 17 2019 10:40 AM

Don’t just assume that a farm’s owner or manager has to be a male; there are plenty of women in those roles, too.

How many of you ladies would agree that when someone unfamiliar with your farm comes to visit, advertise, or put in a resume, they go to every male on the farm trying to get to the “owner” or “person in charge”? We, as females, are often automatically dismissed.

Just this week I had someone pull into the farm and park. I was the only one in sight, but he looked at me, then turned the other direction and walked all the way around the barn until he found one of our VMS contractors (who was male) and asked if we were hiring.

The VMS contractor pointed at me and said, “That is the person you need to talk to.” The person turned around and realized that I was right behind them. Yes, I had to follow some random person who got out of their car on my farm, saw me, turned the other direction, and was oblivious to where he was going or who he was trying to find. I mean, I’m not mad . . . but I’m just not invisible.

No, this blog is not a shout out with our picket signs to demand that things must change or women will take over the world. Like I just said, I'm just not invisible. This doesn't happen every single time, but it does happen more often than not.

I did the calf feedings after class when I was in middle school and high school. I went and got a bachelor's degree to better prepare for this career. I came back home after graduation and went to work. Over the years, I have put the time in to learn this business inside and out. Long weeks and long hours, in hopes that eventually my dad can step back, relax, travel, and halfway retire. So, does it bother me when someone pulls up and automatically walks in a different direction to find someone in charge? Yes, yes it does.

Could it be just this part of the country? I am actually curious to know if this is still a normal occurrence for women all over the country.

It took a while for me to get to this position and feel comfortable with making management decisions. I’m not big on tooting my own horn, but I have worked hard and had sleepless nights to get here. At the end of the day, it's my “wrong call” or my “mistake,” no matter if it was me or one of my employees who might have dropped the ball on something. And if you carry that responsibility, male or female, you are probably the one in charge.

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.