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February 8, 2024
Planning for the next growing season always seems to start before the current harvest season ends. The 2024 growing season may be just around the corner, but planning started months ago.
As farmers, it’s paramount to be optimistic that this year will be better than last. We have ideas on how to make our farm better, more efficient and improve our bottom lines. We dream of being able to make those improvements come true. It’s what drives us. It’s what wakes us up in the middle of the night. It’s what keeps us going.
In today’s environment of high inflation, high interest rates and mediocre prices, it may be a struggle to not only have that drive and positive outlook, but also to keep it.
Trust me, we know that our dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to. Just a quick trip to the grocery store for a few items will verify that. Most days, it seems as though everything costs a minimum of $100. The cost of shipping parts is mind-blowing some days.
How can we manage to get ahead when everything keeps going up and up? What changes or cuts can we make to have a better cash flow without hurting yields or taking shortcuts? Is there equipment or parts that we have accumulated over the years that we don’t need that are sitting around? These are questions Sheilah and I ask each other frequently.
One change we have decided to make this year is to spread our own fertilizer. This is one area where we feel like money can be saved, and we can see a quick return on our investment in equipment.
For years, we were blessed that my mentor and landlord owned a custom application business. Not only did he spread all our fertilizer, but also all of our lime. I never had to worry about the job getting done accurately or in a timely manner. He knew all of our land, including the wet places, and was always way ahead of the planters.
He has retired, and hiring the work out last year to someone else was a frustrating and time-consuming experience. I feel like doing the work ourselves, even if it takes a little longer, will not only be a cost savings to us, but will also provide peace of mind knowing that the right fields were taken care of.
Another thing that I do each winter is look around at things that we don’t use and can probably live without. This frees up space and puts a few extra dollars in our pockets. These days, Facebook Marketplace seems to be the place that works best for us to sell stuff. Luckily, we have had a few takers for some of that stuff.
Sheilah has her own way of saving money here and there. She has mastered getting cash back from credit cards, and through apps like Ibotta and Upside, and a bunch of others that I don’t even know about. She always tells me the best way to get the most money back when I go to order something.
For example, I just had to get tires put on my truck. She stopped me in the middle of paying and said, “Stop. You need to restart and shop through Ibotta, and then pay with this card not that one.” She then saves that money and uses it when we want to go away. Surprisingly, it really adds up.
Every little bit helps, and so far, this year we are ahead, but we know how quickly that can change.
One major breakdown is all it takes. Maybe we will try to find a leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day!
The Reskovacs and their sons farm near Uniontown, Pa. Check out all of their "Two Hearts, One Harvest" blogs.
Mike and Sheilah Reskovac are a young farming couple just starting their second year of marriage and farming together, near Uniontown, Pa. He's a first-gen farmer who met his fourth-gen farmer-bride online, and married in November 2012.
Mike grew up next to and working on his neighbor's Fayette County dairy farm through high school and college. After graduating from Penn State University in 2002 with a B.S. in Ag Systems Management, he worked as a manager at Tractor Supply stores for three years.
In 2005, he began farming his neighbor's land. Today, he and Sheilah farm 900 acres of corn and soybeans, plus do custom planting and harvesting.
Mike is president of the Pennsylvania Corn Growers Association. He also serves on the local Penn State Extension Board and is a Farm Service Agency county committee member.
Sheilah grew up on her family's Indiana County dairy farm. She graduated from DuBois Business College in 2008 with an associate's degree in Specialized Business and Medical Assistance, then worked for DuBois Regional Medical Center for four years. She also volunteered as a firefighter and EMT for the local fire company.
Since moving to Fayette County, Sheilah has been chief bookkeeper and farm assistant, along with taking classes at Penn State Fayette for Nursing. She enjoys “taking care of” groundhog problems, raking hay and mowing cornstalks.
While she enjoys cooking and baking, Mike enjoys eating the goods. Both enjoy hunting, attending concerts and county fairs, and spending time with family.
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