I might be a bean counter, but I never thought I needed a course in accounting. I am discovering that I need to have a much better understanding of how business taxes work verses personal taxes. Something as simple as how expenses are accounted for makes a gigantic impact.
In Robert Kiyosaki’s book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” he explains the basics.
As part of your overall financial strategy, I recommend that you learn about the protection that large legal entities can provide for businesses and assets." (page 120)
This overview was highly enlightening for me, so I decided we needed an accountant to start our education. My husband and I met with one this week and hired him to help us with our personal and business taxes. He was incredibly helpful in explaining things we should be aware of when tracking business expenses and gave me some insight into how Stone Coop Farm’s Operating Agreement is impacting our personal taxes. I am looking forward to working with him and to learning more about basic accounting and tax law. It will definitely make me a smarter and more profitable entrepreneur.
BOUNDARIES I couple weeks ago I talked about boundaries and outlined multiple things I needed to accomplish. I am proud to say 4 of the 5 goals are done!!!!
Recommended Viewing: Here's a fun video done by the Peterson Brothers who are farmers in Kansas.
Did you know that according to the 2012 USDA Farming Census, the average age of a farmer in the U.S, is 58 years old? More than 1/2 of all our farmers will retire in the next 5 years. This is such a problem that it has the attention of the U.S. State Department. We need new farmers and we need the farmland of the retiring farmers to continue to be used to grow our food, not sold for development.
What can you do to help? Support local farmers, help train new farmers through great programs like Michigan State's Organic Farmer Training Program. There are several farmer training programs around the country. If you own farmland, look for a young farmer to lease or buy your land so it can continue to be farmed. You can also look into preserving your farmland buy selling the property development rights. This option is available in many places in the U.S.
This month for the A3 Program we are working on our relationship with money. Our reading is “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. I have been reading his book at night before I go to bed which is a huge mistake. His concepts on money are different that what I grew up learning about money and I like what he has to say. My conundrum is I am having a hard time wrapping my head around how to apply his concepts to me. I want to, but it is taking a lot of brain power to try to figure it out. I’d highly recommend everyone read it, but read it in the morning so you can ponder it all day, not at night when it makes your brain go haywire.
I was walking around the farm this morning checking out our fruit crops and doing a walking meditation. I realized as I started to see more and more flower buds on our berry plants that these are also a form of money. Farmers do a lot of long term investing – in the soil, trees, fruit, animals, land, etc. Farmers are there for the long haul and do a lot of long and short term investing. Some of the investments have high risks (late frost kills all the fruit buds). Others require care for the first year, then a little annual maintenance that will result in big returns in a few years. Our berries are a great example of this. We planted them all in 2012. We got a little fruit in 2015, but the 2016 flowers buds tell a story of lots of delicious results that can be sold at a premium price.
In Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki says “A person can be highly educated, professionally successful, and financially illiterate.” I feel financially illiterate, but that’s gonna change. My brain has been processing what I am reading and translating it into terms that I can understand. I am also going to get more financial training. I asked one of my financially savvy friends for a recommendation for an accountant and I have my first meeting on April 28th. I love to learn, so now is my chance to learn more about how money works and how I can make my money work for me! I will be including my husband and my sons on this journey to financial literacy.
Recommended Viewing: Robert Kiyosaki has a YouTube Channel with several videos that are worth watching. I will be spending more time going through them.
Did You Know that this young man, Birke Baehr, does an excellent job of explaining what is wrong with our food system? I saw this Ted Talk video when I was in MSU’s Organic Farmer Training Program.
What makes me happy? Bullfrogs, flowers buds on my fruit trees, the smell of tomato leaves, rhubarb popping up out of the ground, sunshine and so much more. Walks with my husband holding his hand. Conversations with my sons. Interactions with friends and family. All the wonderful and joyful people that work at the farm and the others that support what we are doing. And time alone to relax.
Part of the A3 Program this year is to focus on my happiness. I outlined my ideas of things to do each month in January and here is my progress report.
I have now defined to myself that my journey with A3 is about me as my own masterpiece. The benefit is that it will help my skills and abilities as a business owner and farmer too.
Recommended Viewing: It’s time to starting planning your garden. Gina shows how Stone Coop Farm pots up our plants so they will be big and beautiful when you are ready to buy them from us.
Did you know that rhubarb leaves are considered poisonous but the stems are tart and delicious? Rhubarb is one of my favorites for fruit pies and rhubarb sauce. It is also a perennial that emerges early in the spring. It can be harvested in May and June.
My husband and I went to an insightful workshop this weekend put on by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote the book Eat, Pray Love. She had us write letters to ourselves on six topics and one of them was persistence. After she explained that our letter should focus on everything we have accomplished to show that we are persistent and not a quitter, she explained that sometimes having persistence is knowing when you should quit and knowing when you should say “No”. She explained that we each have limited energy and we should conserve some for ourselves.
That really hit home with me this Tuesday. I was tired, had no energy, and the day had not even begun. I started to think about how can I get myself out of burnout mode? The busy season hasn’t even started yet. If I’m this fried now, how will I manage in July and August? I was trying to figure out how to get more energy when I realized I needed to figure out how did I get here in the first place.
My family and I live on the farm. The water lines to the barn froze last winter. To avoid the possibility of more broken water lines, we shut off the water in December and started using the bathroom and mudroom in my house for farm operations. We also moved the farm’s office from the barn to my kitchen table. Did I mention the house is the second smallest structure on the farm, only the chicken coop is smaller? Over 70 people work at the farm each week. Folks use our bathroom and laundry sink to wash eggs seven days a week. I can’t sit in my living room in my pajamas and our dogs bark every time someone enters.
On top of that my personal cell phone number is the farm phone number so I get farm calls all day, every day, on weekends and evenings. No wonder I can’t stop thinking about the farm. I need a sanctuary!
So I decided to set some boundaries:
Recommended Viewing: All our working share members are wonderful people. We ambushed lots of them and asked them to step outside their boundaries and dance for us. Of course we provided no music, we just put them on the spot, as soon as they got here, and asked them to dance. Man, they put up with a lot from us!
Did You Know that many farms have acreage that is in 40 acre increments? Why 40 acre parcels? According to the U.S Geologocal Survey “The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) is a way of subdividing and describing land in the United States… The PLSS typically divides land into 6-mile-square townships”. The 6-mile square township equals 640 acres. “Townships are subdivided into 36 one-mile- square sections. Sections can be further subdivided into quarter sections, quarter-quarter sections”. So a quarter-quarter section equals 40 acres. “Originally proposed by Thomas Jefferson, the PLSS began shortly after the Revolutionary War”. Stone Coop Farm in located in Green Oak Township in Section 19.
New life surrounds me. We got 50 baby chicks on Monday and they are adorable! We surprised several of our Working Share members and it was a pleasure to see them holding the chicks and introducing them to their new home.
During my walk this weekend around the farm I saw tree buds bursting, patches of grass reemerging, and the birds building their nests.
Inside our hoop houses we are transitioning the beds from winter crops to spring crops. We are also finding beneficial critters (toads and salamanders) and pests (aphids and cabbage looper moths).
New life is also being created at Stone Coop. We are revamping the website, improving our farmers market, evaluating our crops, and expanding our customer base. We are also being more active with our Facebook page and YouTube videos. This ties in with our bottom line. We finally have a realistic budget, solid QuickBook's information from 2015, regular employee meetings, and designated management responsibilities for our hoop houses and fields. And our crew is stepping up to the tasks we need to get done.
The next step is to give myself some of this new life juice. I just realized that I have scheduled classes, dinners, and markets for myself 7 of the next 8 weekends. Why do I do this? I promised myself 2 whole days off, 3 weekends a month but I didn't schedule these days off, so they got filled up with commitments. No wonder I am not full of spring energy. I never got my time to hibernate, rest and fully relax. So it looks like the farm's schedule also needs to include scheduled weekends off for me.
Recommended Viewing: Nydia shows us how to make soil blocks and explains why we use them instead of using cell trays.