IMPORTANT FARMING LESSONS
Originally published on June 8, 2000
When The Western Producer asked me to write something about myself before my first walk in the woods of journalism, I wasn't quite sure where to start.
My farming career began in 1984 when my uncle decided to retire from farming for health reasons. With no sons of his own, Walter sold me half a section of farmland and agreed to rent to me his remaining land on a crop-share basis.
So at the age of 19, with debt in my back pocket, I started farming with my father. We farmed 14 quarter sections in the Loreburn, Sask., area — definitely God's country but one where rubber boots last a long time.
In 1992 we incorporated, removed some debt by issuing family preferred shares, purchased the balance of the land from Walter and moved toward minimum tillage. We've grown pulses, cereals and oilseeds — and of course some Russian thistle for good measure.
While farming, I was able to finish my commerce degree and obtain my certified general accountant designation. Public accounting experience was always available and I did my best to wear two hats. In the fall of 1998, when my father said it seemed the farm was not getting the attention it needed and deserved, it was decided that we would rent it out.
My cousins Ryan and Chad are now renting 12 quarters, while we continue to hold a Canadian Wheat Board permit book and custom-farm the remaining two quarters.
In the fall of 1999, I became a partner in the Saskatoon accounting firm of Hounjet Tastad. It is a career I thoroughly enjoy due to the talented people I work with and the interesting clients I know and meet each day. I am extremely proud of my rural-urban life and I hope to pass this on to my family. As a father of two young children, this plan seems to be working, since the farm continues to be our family's number one get-away.
Here are some of my more memorable farming lessons:
■ My father stating that "should have" were two words he never wanted said on the farm. The shift was immediate, "Next year when we .... ."
■ Never believe people who tell you that they've grown lentils and made money each and every year. They are either awfully young or selling seed.
■ Never believe any 10-year plus farmer who says he really doesn't mind spraying. He is in denial.
■ Push your pencil as much as you push your mower. You'll be surprised at the results.
■ You don't find a relationship banker, you have to build one.
■ If your family comes out to the field with a harvest meal, stop the combine. Life is too short.
■ Your wife is your partner. If you can't convince her of your operating plans for the coming year, how do you expect to convince your banker?
■ Deferred inputs and operating lines of credit may relieve spring seeding cash flow concerns. But don't forget about them because time does not stand still and unfortunately it doesn't always rain.
■ The symptoms of hardware disease in cattle are a critter heaving profusely on its knees and gasping for air. Hardware disease in farmers produces a similar result.
■ It is easy to be a producer, but not everyone wants to be a businessperson.
So, to readers of this farm management column, please don't hesitate to phone me and bend my ear. And if any of you disagree with my journalistic view of these "trees in the woods" remember, I'm more comfortable on flat land.
Allyn Tastad, certified general accountant, is a partner in the accounting firm of Hounjet Tastad Harpham in Saskatoon at 306-653-5100, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or website www.hth-accountants.ca. He is also involved in the family farm near Loreburn, Saskatchewan. The opinions expressed in this column are for information only.