The following post was written by Jill from Crooked Lake Farm. As a fellow farmer, Jill wishes to engage with other farmers as well as educate non-farmers on what farming is about and what happens on a farm. If you have any questions you wish to ask, please feel free to leave Jill a comment or engage with her on Twitter and Facebook!
Farming is more than a lifestyle
Let’s take a walk back in time…
The year is 1950. Approximately half of Canada’s population lived on farms. The farm had
pigs, chickens, beef and dairy cows, and grain. These farms were very self-sufficient, many
producing everything the family needed to sustain itself for the year. The excess was sold to
local buyers in town. Grain produced on the farm was used to feed the livestock and some was
sold to the local elevator just a few miles down the road.
Fast forward to today…
I’m sitting at my desk, entering purchase and sales information to our farm accounting software
on my MacBook Pro. Once everything is entered for the final quarter for 2014, I will be able to
submit my GST return to Revenue Canada electronically. When that is done, I will be able to go
into my accounting software and in a few clicks of a mouse, have the entire year for our farm
summarized on a few sheets of paper.
Farming today is more than a lifestyle, it’s also a business. Depending on the farm size,
depends on how intricately the business is ran, from my observations. I was at a conference
recently, and participated in a “Bear Pit” style session about growing your farm business. The
first question they asked is, “Do you have a formal business plan?”. Not many people realize
that farms today, are not like the farms that their grandparents might have grown up on.
All our farm accounting is done on software designed for a farm business. It not only tracks our
purchases and sales, but also tracks inventory. Keeping track of inventory on the farm is no
easy task either. We have over 21 grain bins on our farm, and each one of them holds
something at various times of the year. At the end of the year, we do a year end
inventory. Every bushel of grain is counted (we measure by how much grain is in the bin, it’s
not an exact count, but we’re usually pretty close). We then walk through our bale yard and
count every bale of hay and straw. All this information is recorded and is used at various time
throughout the coming year.
For our cattle, we do not manually count them. Because we are Verified Beef Production Producers, we have to
track everything we do to the cows. If we have to doctor one or vaccinate the entire herd, the
animal’s radio frequency ID (RFID) tag is individually scanned and information is recorded. So
when it is time to inventory the cattle, I pull up the information in separate cattle tracking
software and record the numbers of different classes of cattle.
While living on a farm is a lifestyle choice, farming itself is much more. A farm is ran like any
other business and technology is incorporated in pretty much every aspect of our operation,
especially the accounting and cattle tracking end of things.
Victoria Ess says
Thanks for sharing your experience, Jill! It was so interesting to read!
Thanks for the post!
What farm accounting software do you use?
Yeah, I never even thought about all the other work that goes into farming. Thanks Jill and Christine for your posts and enlightening us on the real sides of farming.
Elva Roberts says
My husband and I farmed when this transition was beginning to take place. Sixty years ago, nearly every property on our road was involved in farming-either farming or working on a farm. Today that road has no farmers actually living on it.
When we moved 46 years ago to another community about five miles away, the situation was about the same.
Now there are very few farmers in that community and the farm is a corporation.
I wonder if the change is for the better, but time alone will tell.
Judy Cowan says
Definitely a lot more to farming than most of us realize. Thanks for the summary Jill!
Margaret Imecs says
Great article! Not easy being a farmer.
Thanks, Margaret! Jill did a great job summing up what it’s like to farm! So much more involved than meets the eye.