A fresh start for the new year, for you and your grain marketing plan

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I resist saying, ”Happy Holidays” this time of year. There is, after all, a specific holiday, or days. We celebrate the birth of our Savior, then we observe the New Year.

I heard this morning on the radio that the war for Christmas is over and Santa had won. That is wrong, of course. Santa hasn’t won anything. He is a myth, designed to be a counterfeit Christ, designed to divert attention away from the Birth.

The shadow that hangs over the Creche is the shadow of the Cross. Jesus grows up to be the Christ, the Redeemer. We get to choose to follow Him and have a second chance.

Starting over

In Western tradition, New Year’s is the day we mark the second chance (or the third, or the 65th). Traditionally, we make resolutions to change our lives and to do things differently.

I didn’t make a resolution last year, and I probably won’t this year. I hate to disappoint myself.

If I made one, it might be the one many people make. This is the year to lose weight. Then I find myself at the Indian buffet in Niles and it is all about how good the food is and about how the second plate is free.

Eat it today, wear it tomorrow, my mother always used to say.

Family ties

And that brings up memories of relatives, another trial we go through during the holidays.

At my age, most of the relatives are dead. These are the times for being the senior generation, for celebrating the growth of the grand kids.

We didn’t have any for grandchildren for awhile after my three kids got married in just 14 months. I remembered my dad telling me that the whole world is working at something that they don’t want to succeed at!

Well, they eventually succeeded, and the result was a You-Tube video I received this week that showed Vivi playing doctor with the dog. Out came the toy stethoscope, she prattled on about how well he was, and the dog just sat there and took it.

Full house

This weekend we go from two to 13 in our house. The air mattresses hit the floor, the junk food hits the living room, three or four people sit around and watch TV and play with tablet computers at the same time.

The area behind the one couch becomes a toy paradise again. The overflowing toy/treasure chest in the hall gets its contents scattered into four rooms. The plastic swords and light sabers get battered together in mock battles. Some of them actually involve the kids. (I have warned my daughters-in-law that when all the kid is gone out of a man, the man is no good at all.)

Squeeze and I wonder where to walk, and if the place can ever be put together again. By Tuesday, Squeeze and I will be rattling around in the house again, feeling sad and lonely and wondering when they will all come back.

Oh, yeah, the markets

What does all this have to do with the price of grain? Not much, except maybe this: The New Year is a time for a fresh start. Most of the farmers around here need one.

Marketing plans have disappeared in the wake of $8 corn and “beans in the teens.”

In most summers, prudent, planning farmers look ahead with forward sales for the next year. Last summer, the forward sales looked pathetic after the prices we had seen. The result was a storehouse mentality.

Trumbull County farmers had taken their BP checks and bought grain bins and a newer semi. The grain could stay home until they felt like selling, and at better prices.

Now we have better prices, just not good ones, at least not good compared to the last two or three years. It is hard to pull the plug on $4 corn and $10 beans, but the prices are getting close to that for corn and over that if you are delivering your own beans.

Now is the time to plan a disciplined series of sales that get the bins emptied before the rest of the farmers look around and realize they have to empty the bins for next year.

Or, you can join the crowd and look for $5 corn and $15 beans.

In the classic story, a farmer is in Florida on his corn, beans, and Florida rotation. He kicks at a lump in the sand, finds an old lamp, rubs it, and a genie emerges to promise him one wish now, one wish in another year.

“I want $15 soybeans!” says the farmer.

“Done!” says the genie.

A year later, the genie returns, to ask what the second wish is. The farmer tells him he wants $15 beans.

The genie is surprised. “I gave you that last year.”

The farmer is embarrassed. “Yes, but when It got there, I thought maybe it would go to $16!”

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Marlin Clark is an associate of Russell Consulting Group, with a local office in Williamsfield, Ohio. Comments are welcome at 440-363-1803.

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