May 23 2022 08:00 AM

Are you really a dairy farmer if you don’t visit other dairies when you go out of town?

I went to visit a college roommate in southern Florida who I try to catch up with from time to time. While down there, I had the chance to check out a dairy farm close to where she lives.

While growing up, through college, and even right after college, when I would go on vacation or out of town away from the farm, the last place I wanted to visit was another dairy farm. It’s not because I didn't enjoy my life or job, but at that time, I wasn't as invested or focused on my life career choices.

As I have gotten older and matured, I have put a lot more focus on the family farm and have become far more interested in the business. I read more dairy related magazines and try to consume as much information about different ways of farming. I read up on bovine health information and commodity specs and prices. I am always asking questions about different ways of doing things to make the farm run more efficiently.

Long story short, while I was in Florida, I was asked if I would like to go visit a dairy farm up the road that was pretty well known for community outreach and selling ice cream. Unlike myself 10 years ago, this time I said absolutely, and I enjoyed it very much.

I was able to see how the operation worked and toured the beautiful farm. I sent some pictures back home to my dad and uncle, and they both laughed and said I had finally become a true dairy farmer because I went on vacation and still ended up on a dairy farm. I thought about it, and most of the time when either one of them goes out of town, they always end up visiting another dairy farm.

The end of the story is that dairy farming is definitely not just a career choice, but it’s also a way of life. Even when you take time off from your own dairy farm to get away, you wind up stepping foot on another one before you make it back home.

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers

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.