Money, Money

Today’s Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you’re staying warm.

End of the year so I’ve collected all the miles and hours from machinery and cars. Vehicle mileage has been down the last few years with Kelly working at home and my having less shows to work on.

My largest tractor; the one I use primarily for fieldwork, gained 48 hours. About average. And the other tractor that does planting, mowing, and snow moving was used 114 hours. Lawnmower got 34 hours of use, and the Gator, 50 hours and 241 miles, which equals 7 MPH which seems pretty slow on average. The 4-wheeler suffered as we drove the gator so much more. It only got 17 miles of use.

Let’s talk about money. Subsidies to farmers have been in the news lately and I thought some of you may have questions. It’s complicated and I won’t pretend to know all the answers or understand all the political maneuvering that may be going on (who does??) but I’ll tell you how it works for our farm.

Easy stuff first. I’ve talked about having land in the ‘CRP program’, The Conservation Reserve Program. I was working for the Farm Service Agency back in the 1980’s when this program was first created. Its point was always to take marginal land out of traditional row crop farming and get it into some sort of soil conservation program. The trick was, if you were already a fairly responsible farmer and keeping marginal land in grasses or hay, it wouldn’t qualify for the program. So it was sort of only benefiting the, shall we call them the ‘aggressive’ farmers, or the ones using poor soil practices. I don’t want to lump everyone in the same category, but that’s how it worked. The applying farmer would suggest the payment / acre he wanted in return. Maybe $200/ acre / year he would get back in return for not farming this land. And then the government determined what it could afford of the acres submitted and everything under, say $180/ acre was accepted. It was a pretty popular program with good intentions and millions of acres were accepted over the years. I think it’s been pretty popular and well done.

It was 2010 when I offered 14 acres to the program. By this point the rules had changed a bit. I enrolled 14 acres of really prime, flat, farmland. Some of the best on the farm. But it is low, next to Silver Creek, and some years it would be too wet to get planted, or planted late, or flooded out after planting, so I just never knew if it would make a crop or not. Putting it in CRP at least guaranteed a payment of $130 / acre. (The program had a preset price at this point) Less than a good crop, but more than it flooding out. And with no input costs (fieldwork, diesel, seed, fertilizer) it comes out alright. There are some maintenance costs; it’s the field we had burned last spring, and I mow it sometimes in the fall. I took out 3.5 acres when I renewed it for another 10 years.   In 2020, I got $1,824 in CRP payments (14 x 130) and those come from the Federal Government.

Last year, 2020, I got $5,419.77 in subsidies (in addition to the CRP). It’s based on the acres of corn or soybeans we have reported to the FSA that we planted. (Not every crop gets a subsidy. Wheat might. Oats doesn’t) That was the year the former President cut soybean sales to China and crop prices all took a hit. There were several extra payments to make up for that. $5,400 is a lot of money and it really helped my farm cash flow and I’m a small farmer. It would be easy to see bigger farmers getting $54,000 dollars, however their expenses all have that extra zero on the end too. I’m sure there are people taking advantage of the system, but I don’t know how they do it.

I got $1,313 for CRP payments in October of 2021. I added a couple acres this year and all together, it’s paying $137 / acre / year. AND I got $17 as a signing bonus! Subsidy payments this year was $2,080.60. (Plus the CRP payment. AND the $17!) That money came back in April. Honestly, I’m not sure what it was for. They’re based on expected crop prices and usually come in two parts. I think this was part two of last years. Crop prices were better this fall so there wasn’t any extra payments.

The co-op prepared a spread sheet of next years expected prices on fertilizer and chemicals. It’s up significantly from this year. I’m prepaying everything to lock in prices now as they expect more instability and price increases come spring. (Normally I just prepay a few things) I paid $1000 for anhydrous nitrogen in 2021. It’s projected to be $7,000 for 2022. A few chemicals are down a bit, but most are way up. My total projected costs, including the coop doing all the custom applications will be over $26,000. About twice of other years. Again, I’m a small farmer. Add another zero or two for the big guys. And their $54,000 subsidy doesn’t look like so much anymore. I’ll remain optimistic crop prices will stay up and it will rain at all the right times, and I won’t go taking out extra loans for anything.

Not complaining, just telling you how it works.

Pheasants have just started coming to eat corn with the ducks.

Had a bald eagle flying over the farm the other day.

The ducks chose to eat at a new place Friday.

We bought a new heated water bucket for the chickens since we have this bitter cold spell coming on. I’ve used heat lamps before and I’ve used a heated pad the water buckets sit on. Both work OK, but below zero is pretty tough to keep the water open. The coop is an enclosed pen inside another building. When I built the pen I had Styrofoam insulation on the walls. The chickens pecked it all off and ate it. Huh. Didn’t know they’d do that. The heated bucket says it has a 6’ cord. I cannot get it out of the bottom; it seems to be jammed inside, stuck around the supports inside. It was really frustrating me! I spent 5 minutes trying to see in the little opening at the bottom and threatening to cut a hole in the bottom to get the cord out and I got frustrated and headed to the house with it before I realized it’s a bucket within a bucket.  Oh.

They pulled apart and the cord came right out. You gotta be smarter than the bucket, Ben.

Ever kiss anyone special on New Years Eve? Tell us about your favorite Kiss?

80 thoughts on “Money, Money”

    1. That song seemed so out of place for KISS.
      The band KISS played the civic center in Rochester a couple times when I was a stagehand there. It was one of the loudest shows they had there. What I remember was a stagehand named Pete. He and another guy were up in the truss during the show running spotlights overhead. I was running a spot out front. There was a warning to the truss guys that there would be a loud bang coming. And there was a flash of light and BAAANNNGGG and it scared the jeepers out of Pete. He talked about that for years and it became a running joke.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. I have to channel my farming ancestors here and say,
    “I hope you didn’t spend that $17 on something foolish, Ben”.

    Really and truly, thanks for spelling it all out here Ben. I do have to say that when those bonuses for getting your shot were being given out long after I had gotten mine, I did feel a lot like those farmers who were already good stewards of their land.

    Happy New Year, Baboons! I’m giving this one the benefit of the doubt for now.

    Liked by 7 people

        1. Thanks, Jacque. For some reason, that bottom section of the photo is blocked out by this heading on my computer: ” 2022, animals, Business, Farming Update, Nature, Seasons, Uncategorized.” I can never see that bottom center of the header photo. Hope I’m not missing out on a bunch of subtle stuff.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Not sure I’m prepared to start off 2022 by revealing my kissing history. Let’s just leave at this: I’ve kissed more than a few toads.

    Apropos money:

    Liked by 7 people

  3. It was -3° here this morning and I’m pleased to say the heated water bucket was still open. I think the chickens are pleased. Of course two early laid eggs had already frozen in the nest boxes.
    About half the ducks pond is frozen, the ducks just stay in the water at these temps and the ice is a good place for me to dump the corn. A win-win for everybody.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Except that you have to go outside to throw the corn onto the ice. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could put out a whole bag and the ducks would self regulate? (I’m laughing as I say this into my phone.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve been thinking about this VS. This morning it was -12, water bucket was still open. And only one frozen egg. So if the ducks could feed themselves, I also need the eggs to come to the house and if I’m going to have a remote starter on the car, I would like the car to bring itself over to me too.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Rise and Shine, Baboons and Happy New Year,

    I think that the question of the day will be, “What is the bucket in your life?” Nobody is talking about kissing. These days my bucket is my own forgetfulness. I have to outsmart myself—I set timers, and I leave notes on the coffeemaker where I will see them immediately in the morning so I remember things. If I put out the dog on a cold day I have to set a timer to remember to bring her back in before she gets too cold.

    I am looking at the temperatures in Minnesota today. It is Renee’s cold weather from yesterday. Uff Da.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You need a dog with a built in alarm. Bernie will let me know immediately when he wants to be let back in, and in this cold, that took less than two minutes. It’s -8º F here, Brrr.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. First kiss at 16 on a bus of Spanish Language students headed to Mexico City. The sun was just coming up over the desert, lots af gorgeous colors. A lovely boy from Arkansas.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. OT – I wonder if any of the baboon bakers will be be making genurkenflurken cake and sperheoven krispies in honor of Rose Nylund’s (perhaps better known as Betty White) passing?

    We’re off to our New Year’s luncheon. See ya all later.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. Some of us think it is all gutter lefse—I never developed any taste for it. I have told this before, but I will tell it again. At the Volksmuseum in Oslo, a lovely young woman in a regional Norwegian costume demonstrated making lefse over an open fire on a baking slab that looked like it was made of clay. That lefse I did like. It tasted like it had buttermilk in it, was slightly leavened, just a little sweet, and was served with freshly churned butter. I never have tasted anything like it in Minnesota or Iowa which is where my “lefse career” has played out. 😉

          Liked by 3 people

        2. Our Nordic Baking book has several kinds of lefse in it, only one of which is like the lefse made in the Midwest. The author calls it mjukbrod. Some have no potatoes in them at all, some are filled or have anise and fennel in them. Some have yeast or other leavening in them.

          Liked by 2 people

        3. What I had tasted like it had yeast in it—it was so good. But with freshly churned butter how could it go wrong? Every region has its own lefse recipe, in the same way it has its own lace design, and its own regional costume.

          Liked by 2 people

        1. Mine is potatoes, lard, flour, cream, sugar, and salt. It is a recipe from a former parishioner who got it from a Jewish woman married to a Norwegian-American guy, who got it from her mother-in-law in California.


  7. Hmm… Like pj I have kissed my share of toads. I think they might all have been toads.

    It’s interesting to hear about the business parts of farming, Ben. Thanks for explaining all of that. I’m quite familiar with the CRP program and I agree that it’s a really good program. I thought it was getting scrapped by the previous occupant. I’m glad to hear that it wasn’t. Sometimes as you drive around in southern Minnesota, you might see a steep hill with darker soil near the bottom and much lighter colored soil near the top. I think this means that all of the fertile top soil is at the bottom of the hill leaving only clay at the top. It’s certainly marginal land for farming and all of that good fertile soil has washed down. That example, and buffer strips near lakes, wetlands, rivers, and streams, are good places for CRP land. There are countless reports on soils and how much is washed into the various watersheds, then downstream to the Mississippi and out into the Gulf of Mexico. I’m really glad to hear that this program is still available and that you’re able to get some small benefit from it for your acreage.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Kid gave Sandy fun piece of tech. We cal all upload pictures to it via internet. Then it shows pictures in random order on 10 by 12 screen. She loves it.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Called a Frame. I just sat here and sent over pictures of our various dogs and cats and of our two kids togther from birth to adulthood. Only with both iof them. Tomorrow the individual shots. So simple!

      Liked by 3 people

  9. who knows Excel? My spread sheets have started doing ”Subtotal” rather than “Sum” when I use the shortcut ‘autosum’ icon at the top. Anyone know why? Google isn’t helping me put it back…


      1. I’ve tried that. Something changed in part of the spreadsheet that some of it is giving me SUBTOTAL, but some of it is still giving me the SUM that I want. But I can’t figure out why.


    1. Yes, you can use the frozen eggs, they are better for baking than trying to fry because the texture gets a little messed up, but they are still OK to eat. Sometimes I save them, sometimes I don’t.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Oh, I was thinking of hard boiled. did not know you can freeze uncooked. Our chickens sepnt the winter in a large room next to the space where the animals were. Nover got near freezing

          Liked by 3 people

  10. It’s another frigid day in the heartland. With the temp at -11º F in St. Paul, I needed something other than tea to warm me and found Amanda Gorman’s New Year’s poem just the ticket. I’m sure most baboons have already read it, but here it is for those who haven’t”
    ‘New Day’s Lyric’

    May this be the day
    We come together.
    Mourning, we come to mend,
    Withered, we come to weather,
    Torn, we come to tend,
    Battered, we come to better.
    Tethered by this year of yearning,
    We are learning
    That though we weren’t ready for this,
    We have been readied by it.
    We steadily vow that no matter
    How we are weighed down,
    We must always pave a way forward.
    This hope is our door, our portal.
    Even if we never get back to normal,
    Someday we can venture beyond it,
    To leave the known and take the first steps.
    So let us not return to what was normal,
    But reach toward what is next.
    What was cursed, we will cure.
    What was plagued, we will prove pure.
    Where we tend to argue, we will try to agree,
    Those fortunes we forswore, now the future we foresee,
    Where we weren’t aware, we’re now awake;
    Those moments we missed
    Are now these moments we make,
    The moments we meet,
    And our hearts, once all together beaten,
    Now all together beat.
    Come, look up with kindness yet,
    For even solace can be sourced from sorrow.
    We remember, not just for the sake of yesterday,
    But to take on tomorrow.
    We heed this old spirit,
    In a new day’s lyric,
    In our hearts, we hear it:
    For auld lang syne, my dear,
    For auld lang syne.
    Be bold, sang Time this year,
    Be bold, sang Time,
    For when you honor yesterday,
    Tomorrow ye will find.
    Know what we’ve fought
    Need not be forgotten nor for none.
    It defines us, binds us as one,
    Come over, join this day just begun.
    For wherever we come together,
    We will forever overcome.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. PJ, this is so lovely. This morning I awoke a little bit sad about missing Steve on this blog and about my family situation causing conflict. This poem is just what I needed. She names the comfort as solace which is the exact right word.

      I have started a jigsaw puzzle here which makes me strangely happy. Soon I will be off to the gym to move and stretch. Yesterday my dog suffered her gastric upset that she gets every year after we make this trip to AZ (anxiety, I think). Today she is put right with Pepcid, rice and chicken broth. It is 32 degrees here this morning which is considered cold in these parts, but compared to the -16 you are experiencing, it hardly registers.

      Last night I tuned in for several minutes to the outdoor hockey game at the Target Center just to witness the spectacle. I was surprised to hear that there were 38000 people there in -6 degree weather. It was fascinating to me to see all the steam rising from the ice and from the crowd

      Liked by 4 people

      1. A few days ago when it was 7degrees with light winds. The weather bureau cautioned “No prolonged Outdoor Activity.” Sheesh. What wimps they want us to be.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Perhaps they are trying to limit the number of visits to the ER caused by excessive exposure to extreme cold now that the ERs are overflowing with Covid cases?

          Liked by 1 person

  11. I have been thinking about this. I believe Sandy is the only woman I ever kissed on New Year’s Eve.
    If all show negative I can start kissing her again tomorrow.

    Liked by 6 people

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