Losing a loved one stands out as one of the most heart-wrenching and challenging times in most people’s lives. It tests people and forces them to find a new normal.
In 2009, Billy and Brittany Rodgers experienced a loss greater than any other in their lives when Billy’s father passed away unexpectedly. Not only did the Rodgers have to cope with the loss of their mentor and friend, the couple had to step up to help run the family farm.
“My family has been on this farm since the early ‘50s,” Billy says. “After college, I went to work off the farm. When Brittany and I got married in 2009, we made the decision to move home so I could farm with my dad and brother full-time. My dad welcomed me back with open arms. That year turned out to be rough. We had extremely challenging weather, and ended up leaving a lot of crops in the field. Then, in the fall, we lost my dad unexpectedly.”
Following the emotional and financial pain of 2009, the Rodgers picked up the pieces by forming Rodgers Farm with Billy’s brother and sister-in-law. The two couples have been operating under that entity since 2010.
“Faith and a lot of prayer kept us going,” Billy says. “We did what we thought was God’s will.”
Today, the Rodgers farm more than 3,500 acres of soybeans, cotton and corn in Humphreys and Leflore counties.
“About 85 percent of that acreage is irrigated, which is not usually heard of,” Billy says. “We’re the most efficient in our irrigation practices. We use all the latest technology for irrigation practices, such as pipe planner and telemetry on all of our electric wells. This allows us to cut those wells off with our devices. We also use soil moisture presence and flood meters on all of our wells, allowing us to conserve water and be more efficient.”
In addition to their row crop operation, the Rodgers breed and raise show sows. The couple began the venture when their oldest son, Rayner, turned eight, and could begin showing in 4-H. Now, six years later, showing pigs proves to be a family affair.
“All three of our children – Rayner, Milla and Russ – show pigs and are involved in helping us breed them,” Brittany says. “We start breeding or buying the pigs in the Spring. The baby pigs are usually born at the end of June or beginning of July. The fall is spent raising the pigs and preparing for shows. It’s a year-round thing, but we love it.”
The Rodgers introduced their children to livestock showing in hopes it would influence their lives for the better.
“I grew up showing livestock, and it’s always been something I’ve been passionate about,” Billy says. “As a young person, the values I learned by showing livestock played a huge role in my life. I wanted our kids to experience the same thing. We really enjoy the time we get to spend with family and friends while showing.”