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Bill-paying and love can be hard to keep mixed

Young farm couple work through the give-and-takes of their differences on farm bill-paying and marketing.

Bill-paying and love, like oil and water, can sometimes be incompatible ingredients – tough to keep mixed. And more agitation isn't the answer. Here's the Reskovacs' conversation on it:

Sheilah: Mike is one of my biggest frustrations when it comes to paying the bills and keeping track of all the farm paperwork. He takes a check out of the checkbook without writing how much or what it was for. $100? $1,000? Big difference!

Mike: Okay. I’m guilty. I’m usually in a hurry. Sometimes I can’t remember what I used the check for or that I even took it. But sometimes I do! I also like to keep a check in my wallet in case I need one unexpectedly. I usually forget to tell her when I use it.
Sheilah: He's not doing his share of the paperwork. I can do most of it myself, but there are some things I need him to do. I make him a [bill-paying] stack and ask him to do it.

Sheilah: Last week, I asked if he had gotten his stack done. He told me it had all been done and mailed out. I found the stack the next day – untouched!

Mike: I really thought I'd done it. I wasn’t allowed to leave the table after supper until it was finished. She told me she had her own homework to get done, and that I could work on mine, too.

Sheilah: He must have "farmer's ear" – not listening to me when I tell him he needs to sell a load of corn or beans so I have money to pay bills. I try to give him a month's notice of roughly how much I'll need. I swear he thinks I make the numbers up. He finally gets around to selling grain usually two weeks after I needed the money.

Mike: I do listen when she tells me we need money for the bills. But my excuse is that market prices are usually down when she tells me. So I’ll wait until the next day, and see if it goes up any. Then I wait until the next day and the next day. Then I come home to an unhappy Sheilah.

Sheilah: He tells me he was talking to so and so about what the market is doing and when it’s going to go up. He likes to talk about selling the grain. But the action part is pretty slow in coming.

That grain isn’t doing me any good sitting in the bin when I have a stack of bills to pay. Whatever the price is at that given time – even if it’s down – is still better than having late bills.

Marketing – another frustration

Sheilah: For the past two years, Mike has told me he wants to get better at marketing. It’s another thing he likes to talk about.

I read an article one day about a man that was working on his marketing plan. That night, I told Mike we were making one.

Mike: She wasn’t kidding. She whipped out that article, told me we were going to make a marketing plan. Next thing I knew, she had out paper, pens and a calculator. And not long after that we had an initial rough draft of our first official marketing plan.

She doesn’t like wasting time. There’s a reason I call her “management.”

I’m slowly starting to get better with knowing what I need to do and remembering to tell Sheilah things. Paperwork is a big part of farming.

I usually put that in the back of my mind. But the truth is: it’s just as important as how much rain we're getting. I’ve started to make lists of things to help me prioritize what I need to do and dates that I need to have it done by.

Mike Reskovac is president of Pennsylvania Corn Growers Association. The Reskovacs farm near Uniontown, Pa. Read all their "Two Hearts, One Harvest" columns in American Agriculturist.

This opinion is not necessarily that of or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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