At Our Farm, 'B' Stands for Bad Road, Blizzard, Below Zero And...

Two Hearts, One Harvest

This time of year at our farm, there's one "B" word that's the granddaddy of them all – the battle of the budget!

Published on: January 30, 2014

Sheilah: When I think of wintertime, I think of “B” words – blustery, bitter, bad roads, blizzards, below zero. But the granddaddy of them all is budgeting.

During January and February, Mike spends lots of time making phone calls and sitting in front of his computer looking at spreadsheets. At times, he gets a bit obsessed with his budgets – my opinion anyway.

But it's an important and essential part of farming. While I keep track of all the expenses and bills, he takes care of making crop and farm budgets.

Mike: I feel that it's important to know what your break-even costs are to grow a crop. I also like to figure in costs for updated equipment, parts and repairs.

This year, I made three lists: Needs repaired; Big things we need; Little things we need.

Sheilah: While Mike was concerned with figuring out crop budgets, I was busy finishing up our 2013 year-end reports. That’s what I was doing when he bounded up the stairs and handed me his "want" lists.

I read over them, and I’m not sure how he defined “big things” from “little things”. I’m pretty sure they could have been on the same list. After reading over them, I grabbed a pen and wrote on the top list –

Mike: She handed them back to me and there was a big “REQUEST DENIED. PLEASE RESUBMIT” printed on top! She then handed me another piece of paper. “R U NUTS??????,” was written on the paper.

Sheilah: Sometimes Mike forgets that we need things repaired around the house, too. There were too many lists, and not enough dough – the dough we need, not knead.

So Mike and I talked about the lists and what was needed the most. A newer combine and a service truck got to stay on the “big things” list. A bigger grain head and auger got moved to next year's. I, in turn, mentioned a few things that we needed for the house.

Mike: Sheilah has been telling me for a year that we needed new basement steps. I should have built them before I gave her my lists.

She was right though. We needed to condense the lists to be able to sustain our budgets. One of the nicest features of a budget is: As long as those numbers are just on the spreadsheet, they can be changed.

Sheilah: I’m happy to say that I now have new basement steps, fully equipped with extra storage.

Mike: While budgets work great for the farm, I need to remember that there's also a need to have one for the house. Sheilah and I are in this together, and it’s important that we both agree on what's on “our lists”.