2015-08-29

..2015..Thus Far...

2015 is another challenge year.  Beautiful crops in spite of a cool wet start to the planting season and the fact that our region is six inches short on rainfall for the year based on the average.  The rain we have taken came at the right time for the crops.  Three and a half inches showed up last night, just in time for the beans, though too late for the corn.  Weather has been reasonable for the most part, though a wind storm damaged the wet-corn bin and heaved the roof on one of the live-stock sheds.

From a machinery perspective, there have been only minor repairs; perhaps $4000.00 all told including maintenance.  Fuel costs being down helps a bit, though that is not a huge impact on a farm this size unless the price is really high.  Electric is always a pain in the ass, $300.00 to $400.00 a month, and I have yet to figure out where it all goes.  We just don't run that much on electric...

The challenge comes from market prices.  Less than $3.60 a bushel for corn, and beans well below $9.00.  Winter wheat did OK I guess, but the vomatoxin drove prices further down.  Good that I did not grow any this year, instead putting oats in for seed on behalf of a neighbor.  The oats was a good move for  the Farm, reducing input costs and still yielding a fair price.  All said and done, the Farm will suffer financially this year.  There are lots of reasons for the low market prices:  Europe is getting fed up with Monsanto dumping chemicals on their food stuffs, claiming it is safe when it very well may not be - Asia is not all that keen on GMO along with Europe either.  Additionally, there is a shortage of animals to consume feed due to the exceptionally high prices of feed a few years ago resulting in an overstock of feed.  This of course has driven up the price of feeder calves, so those that want to start up or get going again have to pay inflated prices for feeder calves.  And we wonder where volatility comes from?  It boils down to boom and bust management, which we don't do here in the States.  The price of grain will crash, but does the price of fertilizer or seed come down?  Not a chance.

I have heard some snide comments about farmers, how we ride on the tax payer to survive.  It is a popular view.  It is also bull-shit from the word go.  I could write a litany of cause-effect cases which have nothing to do with real farming.... And as long as I am at it, real farming has nothing to do with these conglomerates that pump out milk and meat full of antibiotics and worse.  It is a destructive practice which we are already paying for in our health, our ability to sustain the soils that are so important....I could go on and on.  The bottom line is that it is bull-shit.

The Farm will carry on, it will not suffer on my watch any more than it has in the past.  It will pull through, partly because I will make it so, partly because it has to.  It is a family farm, and with all the other aspects of our lives in this country which are so detrimental to the family, the Farm will remain the best place for a family to be.  A family farm is a source of life, I don't know how else to say it. The only thing I can think of is to point out that there is not one other place in the continental US where people congregate that can teach one so much about how life works in such a short time.