It’s 2021! Like many of you, I was glad to bid 2020 adieu. It was a long, tough year, and I’m happy to see it go.
With a new year often comes those resolutions. Some of the more common ones are to lose weight or break bad habits in the coming days and months. But what are some of the resolutions farmers and ranchers should make?
Here are some suggestions:
Take some time off for yourself and your family. It won’t kill you to take a couple of days and get away from the farm. Find someone dependable to take care of a few chores and watch over things; give yourself a mental and physical break. Yes, you have things to do, but are they have-to-dos or want-to-dos? Yes, you have to fix that place in the fence where that one heifer always seems to find her way out, but do you have to replace 3 miles of fence? Farmers and ranchers are notorious for not taking a vacation and always having an excuse for staying. This year it’s time to drop the excuses and just go. I’m just as guilty. I often “forget” to take my vacation time from OFN. This year I hope to follow my own advice a little more.
Connect with consumers in your community: Remember, knowledge is power. I have to remind myself not everyone in my rural community has agricultural knowledge. They might see cattle in a field, but they don’t understand how it all “works.” Share your knowledge about agriculture with friends and neighbors, and what you’re doing on your farm. If asked, let a school group tour your farm. It might be the only time some kids ever set foot on a farm or have the opportunity to talk to a farmer. Positively engage with consumers and they, hopefully, will remember the information you provided when they go to the grocery store. Also, listen to their questions and answer them to the best of your ability.
Take time to review finances: A new year is a great time to look at your operation’s financial health. What’s working well; what’s not? Should you consider refinancing? Do you have a financial plan for the new year? Set some financial goals for 2021, and don’t forget to set a little back for that vacation.
It’s also a great time to look at estate planning. Heaven forbid something happens to you, but you have to plan for the what-ifs in life. The farm/ranch you worked to build could go into probate if your wishes are not specifically spelled out. It might also be time to have “the talk” with your kids and/or grandchildren about what you would like to see happen with the farm, and what plans they may have for it. If you don’t have a retirement plan, work with your financial advisor to create one.
Plan improvements. Make a list of improvements you want to make on your farm/ranch in 2021, and list them in the order of importance and achievability. Be realistic in your goals.
Improvements can be as simple as cleaning up some fence rows, organizing your shop/barn or a fresh coat of paint somewhere. Improvements don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming, but it can give you a great sense of accomplishment when you check them off your list. If you plan for two improvements a month, that’s 24 things completed in 2021!
Have a positive outlook for 2021. It’s hard to think positively in the wake of what we have all experienced in 2020, but if you don’t shake the doom and gloom, it’s going to follow you into 2021. No one has ever said farming and ranching is a good or quick way to get rich, but it’s the way of life you have chosen, so try to enjoy it. There are many others out there who would love to do what you do, so cherish it.
We here at Ozarks Farm & Neighbor wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for the farmers and ranchers of the Ozarks.
Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected]