Meet Ron, the #DairyDad

Em C is one of the sweetest, most loving and fun-having people I have ever met. So it’s no surprise that she has a rockstar for a father. When it comes to smile that lights up a room… it seems to be genetic. Take it away, Em!

And who may you be?

I’m Emily Caldwell, an editor with Progressive Dairyman magazine. I’m a 2009 Penn State graduate. My current hobbies include remodeling a house and planning a wedding.

Who is your #DairyDad?

My dad is Ron Caldwell, and he’s a farmer and a 1979 Penn State graduate. Dad’s hobbies change on a regular basis. In the past two years he’s dabbled in making maple syrup, growing strawberries and raising guineas. (The guinea thing is new within the past month. The first time I stopped by to see them, they started making a racket. I said, “It sounds like Wild Kingdom around here!” Dad just nodded enthusiastically. That’s exactly what he was going for.)

How is your dad involved in the dairy industry? How has he supported you in the dairy industry?

Dad was a 5th generation dairy farmer and recently transitioned the farm over to my brother and his wife. Most farm kids would tell you that they learned values like hard work, dedication and responsibility from their farming parents. While that’s certainly true of the Caldwell kids, I’d add that Dad taught us not to be afraid to be a little different. My parents decided to switch to grazing (instead of conventional dairying) in an area that didn’t have many grazing dairies. He’s done once-a-day milking. He experimented with all kinds of different grazing breeds of cows. He established a seasonal herd so that all the cows have their calves in the spring, get bred again during the summer and then are dried off during the winter. These are all things that might seem a little crazy to fellow farmers, but it worked for our family.

I wrote an editorial for the magazine two years ago for Father’s Day about Dad’s pep talks: http://www.progressivedairy.com/blogs/from-the-editor/thanks-for-the-pep-talk-dad

This sums up pretty well how I think Dad has supported me in the industry.

One word to describe your dad and why you chose that word – go!
Enterprising. I looked up “hardworking” in an online thesaurus, and though it wasn’t a synonym, enterprising was a related word to hardworking. Dad is resourceful and takes on new projects with a lot of enthusiasm. He’s not a guy who likes to take orders, and he doesn’t like to manage other people. So any form of farming or making a living from here on out that he’ll do will likely be on his own (with the support of my mom, of course).

If you had the chance to say once last thing to your dad, what would it be?

I think I’d tell him to just take a second and appreciate all that he’s accomplished. When my fiancé (then boyfriend) was getting to know my family, I warned him that my dad is hard to impress. But what I recently realized is that Dad has a hard time impressing himself too. If we tell him how good the meat is from his new smoker or how nice a fence looks that he built, he shrugs off the compliment. It’s not because he’s trying to be humble. He just genuinely thinks he could have done it better. I’d remind him that he raised a great family (especially that third kid!), kept the family farm going and ensured it could be passed on to another generation, and works hard every day to the right things for his family, the environment and the local community. And that’s just the stuff I know about. High five, Dad!

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