Make time to ponder a plan for your farm

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Hello, Northeast Ohio! School is back in session, and in just a few days, we will be enjoying Labor Day weekend. This holiday weekend marks the end of summer and celebrates the American worker and the labor movement. Part of this movement was advocating for the “eight-hour day” consisting of eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. 

Growing up on a dairy farm meant our family operated under the “make hay while the sun shines” labor philosophy, translating into 16 hours of work and eight hours of rest. There was not much time for eight hours of recreation — although baling hay was considered great recreation by my dad and grandpa. 

Even to this day, I find making hay a recreation. In fact, some of my work vacation hours are spent each summer making hay on our family farm. What I appreciate the most about this vacation time is that it allows a break from the daily routine and allows me to do some deep thinking either on the tractor seat or up in the mow stacking hay. 

In the hustle and bustle of life, it is easy to just do, do, do and not think, strategize or ponder. Of course, there are a multitude of ways in which we can create time to think. 

My wife gets up early every morning to reflect and read her daily devotions. Another friend carves the first 15 minutes of each day for non-digital thinking and planning. No meetings, laptops or smartphones allowed. He just pulls out a plain old piece of paper and pen and works through the issues required to make his business more successful. 

How do you think best? Maybe it is a walk around the hay field or through the pasture? Maybe it is in the lawn chair under the swamp white oak tree? Grab a pen and notepad, and you will be shocked what ideas you can generate to make your business and family relationships better. 

Points to ponder

Earlier this summer as I was throwing some hay bales around, my mind wandered from controlling the uncontrollable, budgeting and escalating costs. So today, I would like to share of few of these thoughts. 

Control what you can, not want you can’t: The past few years have cemented the fact that we can’t control every aspect of life. In fact, we as farmers know this all too well about the weather. The forecast can be perfect when we drop the hay, but it can change in a blink of an eye.

How sensitive is your operation to the unexpected? How much time to do you worry about things that you cannot change or control? Whether it is the weather, sky-rocketing input prices, or the latest political consternation, how well can your operation pivot in response to the unexpected? It is easy to manage when the plan goes according to the script. How ready are you for plan B, C, or D? 

Know your numbers: What would a 10% change in key revenue or expenses mean to your business? Do you have a written marketing plan with price targets that drive your marketing decisions? Do you know your cost of production? 

Higher crop prices can be a temptation not to be as detailed in tracking expenses. Make sure to track and monitor both variable and fixed expenses. Set meaningful financial targets for your farm business. 

Bulletin

In a recent farmland lease webinar, Barry Ward from OSU Extension shared his insights for next year’s corn, soybean and wheat crops. While crop prices are forecasted to remain strong, input costs are also projected to tick up. Factored together, 2023 profit margins are expected to be much slimmer than the past few years. 

One of OSU Extension’s most popular bulletins is the Ohio Farm Custom Rates Bulletin. The 2022 version of this bulletin was recently released and serves as an excellent guide for farmers and landowners to utilize as they negotiate the price to hire farming tasks and operations. We all know that fuel and machinery maintenance expenses have increased which means you might need to adjust your custom farm operation rates. 

I encourage you to stop by and visit with Barry Ward and our other farm management specialists at the Farm Science Review Sept. 20-22 to get your copy of the 2023 budgets and a copy of the custom rates bulletin. These documents can also be found at farmoffice.osu.edu/ 

So, as you celebrate the upcoming Labor Day weekend, I encourage you to find time to work, rest, recreate, think, manage, mitigate and start to fine-tune those budgets for next year. 

In closing, I would like to share a quote from Benjamin Franklin who stated, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Have a good and safe day! 

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