April 11 2024 12:37 AM

I am proud and thankful to have grown up working and making memories on my family’s dairy farm.

I can’t count how many times I forgot to shut the door all the way and heard the phrase, “Were you raised in a barn or something?” Yes, as a matter of fact, I was.

I grew up with the boys playing in the dirt with animals, tractors, and skid steers. I did not come inside unless supper was on the table, or it was time for a shower and bed. My dad had one television in the whole house (and still does), and for a very long time it only picked up one or two local channels. Those channels were nothing that I was interested in. Saturdays meant going to work either on the farm or in the yard.

I was raised with a philosophy that you start working early in life. I would follow my dad, grandad, or uncle everywhere I could on the farm as a kid. Once I was able to do stuff on my own, I began feeding calves. I was unknowingly learning so much more than the processes of feeding calves or helping move cows from one pen to another.

Have you ever had someone offer help or start working for you when they’re not used to being on the farm? Just by being around animals, I learned to respect their space or learn their flight or fight instincts without realizing it. I understood their points of direction, how they sound when they are content, and how they act when something isn’t quite right. I learned what the milk compressors are supposed to sound like and the noise they make when something isn’t working properly, and so much more. I would understand all these things subconsciously at 15 or 16 years old, whereas an adult would never see, hear, or understand these things if they hadn’t been “raised in a barn.”

Fun for me during my childhood was a little different than the average kid. We rode in tractors with Pop and played hide and seek in the corn fields. We snuck off on four-wheelers to go jump terraces down in the far-off dry cow field. Fishing and swimming in the ponds were a weekly activity most of the year. Being around family while they were at work meant constantly getting pulled back to the barn to help move cows in the right direction, open gates for tractors, pull hay twine off bales, and hold the flashlight, all while asking too many questions. Being a “raised in the barn” kid gives you a little bit thicker skin.

Growing up here on this farm made the best memories I could ask for. It makes me happy to answer the “Were you raised in a barn?” question with an “Absolutely.”

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.