Protect Your Assets: Common sense starters

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The value of buildings, equipment, livestock and crops is immense.  I grew up in an era, and area, where we felt safe and the spirit of neighbourhood watch was alive and well.  We didn’t often think about protecting our assets from man-made threats; Mother Nature was our biggest concern.

Now, I still believe in the principle of neighbourhood watch, and I do not want to live with a mindset of fear.  However, I also want to be realistic about the value of assets and potential threats to these assets when they are in rural locations.  This week, we will be talking about protecting your assets from a number of different technology perspectives. However, today addresses the low-tech, attitudes and behaviors that we can shift to keep our assets safe.

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  • Lock your equipment doors, or at least remove your keys.  (There a number of lock-box options if you want to keep your key with your equipment and still be able to lock it.)

  • Lock your bins and keep your keys in another location.  

  • Lock your fuel tanks and keep your keys in another location.  

  • Don’t just check the fence:  Check your livestock in pasture regularly and include a head count.  

  • Maintain a well-lit site.  Lighting can reduce hiding spots and ensure that your other higher-tech solutions, like cameras, can do their job properly as well.

  • Communicate with your neighbours.  Let neighbours know if you plan to be away, if you see suspicious activity or if you experience vandalism or theft.  Do not assume that they know or have heard from someone else; communication is key in a neighbourhood watch system.

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These steps are small, and large, at the same time.  For many of us, they will require a change in routines.  Just after switching to a key-pegboard in the house, there were many many times that my Dad arrived at a tractor without the key.  For the record, these were not happy times!

Each farm and farmer will have to find a balance that works for them.  However, don’t wait until you experience a loss to think about protecting your assets.  The investment of money, time and effort will be well spent. At the very least, take the time to make sure that you are weighing the risks and making an active decision about the common sense prevention strategies that you choose to put into practice.

P.S. My girls are lobbying hard for “get a dog”, which, to be fair, is also a legitimate way to protect your assets.

Global Markets | Local Impacts

We receive a lot of questions from our off-farm friends like ‘really, trade with China affects you?’, or ‘why do you seem to track NAFTA negotiations like a ninja?’. So, this post is answering by rolling a number of questions into one answer.

2018 has been UNCERTAIN, and that uncertainty impacts not just farmers, but entire communities.

You can feel the impact of the uncertainty if you live in a farming community, but since this week we’re focused on reaching out to our off farm friends we want to explain what the uncertainty of 2018 means and looks like.

Let’s start with some facts:

  • Net Farm Income in the United States is projected to decline by 13% this year (9.8 billion USD) [Source: USDA August Farm Income Forecast]

  • NAFTA, the trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that has been in place since 1994 and controls tariffs on exports/imports making up almost a third of trade, was re-negotiated to the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement which will be up for congressional vote in 2019 [Source: Council on Foreign Relations]

  • The trade negotiations with China represent over $19.6 billion USD in agricultural exports from the United States, with the change in soybeans markets meaning significant shifts for US growers, and trade changes for other soybean producing nations as the demand is fulfilled elsewhere [Source: United States Department of Agriculture]

What does that feel like if you’re in a farmers shoes?

  • Imagine losing 13% of your paycheck without any warning and you can’t change your expenses this year for your inputs…. If you are making the national average of $50k a year, you now make $43,500.

  • You have $6,500 less income to make do with this year…what do you do?

    • You stop buying and the rest of the community feels the farmers impact

      • Car dealership: Vehicle upgrade is put on hold, can’t have a car payment and hopefully no repairs

      • Sports store: Kiddos sports equipment, look for hand-me-downs from neighbors or friends

      • Appliance store: Hold off on buying the matching dryer for your washer you have to replace because it isn’t working

      • ….the ripples of the uncertainty on the farm impact the health of the entire community

Uncertainty is hard on anyone. Not knowing the impact to your individual income and knowing that the outcome is beyond your control is especially hard. Bottom line is, uncertainty has been the theme of 2018 in ways beyond the usual weather related concerns and it will impact the decisions made by farmers, their families and their communities into 2019.

We do appreciate your questions, knowing a farmer and letting us explain what this feels like is part of the privilege of Farm Femmes as a platform to share. If you have questions we really do want to help, so please feel free to comment, or reach out to us directly at teresa@farmfemmes.com or karen@farmfemmes.com.

Does equipment cost more in Canada?

We get a lot of questions about if farming is more expensive in Canada or not. Since land prices vary dramatically, we’ll answer this similar to yesterday’s post, with a fun game of ‘Guess what this costs’.

Today’s version is in Canadian $. As of when we are writing this the exchange rate is $1 Canadian = 0.75126 USD. If you want to do a quick exchange to your currency you can use the currency converter for the Royal Bank of Canada here.

For the sake of fairness, we are using the ‘posted price’ from GVE for used equipment.

  1. 4 wheel drive tractor - 9470R - 2015

  2. Combine -S680 - 2016

  3. Air Seeder - 1890 - 2014

  4. Self Propelled Sprayer - R4038 - 2016

  5. Elmers Grain Cart - 1600 bushel - 2017


—Below this line is the answers, so don’t scroll down until you’re ready :) —


  1. $346,500 - 4 wheel drive tractor - 9470R - 2015 (approx $260,311 USD)

  2. $453,200 - Combine -S680 - 2016 (approx $340,471 USD)

  3. $186,800 - Air Seeder - 1890 - 2014 (approx $140,335 USD)

  4. $435,800 - Self Propelled Sprayer - R4038 - 2016 (approx $327,400 USD)

  5. $126,000 - Elmers Grain Cart - 1600 bushel - 2017 (approx $94,660 USD)

So, while the actual pieces and condition of used equipment varies, along with key variables like engine hours, the exchange rate is fairly favorable towards the price being lower in Canada. The notable exception would be the self-propelled sprayer, which seems to be more expensive in Canada, so we did a little more research and that seems to hold true.

Hope you had fun playing another game of ‘how much does it cost?’, and also learning about the impact of exchange rates on equipment cost.

If you have any questions you would like us to answer, or you’re curious about how to answer a question you always are asked as a farmer let us know. Comment below, or send us a message on Instagram or Facebook - we love hearing from you!

That equipment costs what????

The great thing about being Farm Femmes is that we get a lot of questions from all ages in all kinds of different places. The one we get asked most consistently when sharing pictures in the classroom or as DM’s from out Instagram posts is ‘how much would something like that cost?’.

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It is always more fun to make this into a game, so you can play against your friends, family, kids etc. Below are the pictures of 5 pieces of farm equipment. These are all used pieces of equipment, and the model and year are included. Take a guess at what each piece of equipment costs. We have taken the prices ‘as listed’ from Langdon Implement of Langdon, North Dakota, and the prices for today are in USD (tomorrow’s post will be in Canadian $ if you want to challenge yourself). We will never know if you cheated or not by looking at the website, so that’s totally on your own conscience.

Answers are at the bottom of the post.

  1. 4 wheel drive tractor - John Deere 9470 - 2016

  2. Combine - John Deere S690 - 2016

  3. Air Seeder - John Deere 1830 - 2010

  4. Self Propelled Sprayer - John Deere R4038 - 2015

  5. Cultivator with Harrows - John Deere 2210 - 2004

Machinery is a costly part of the farm operation. The game above assumes used equipment, bought over time with a number of different model years, much like what a farmer would have. These are just the basics of what a farmer would need for equipment to operate a crop farm.


——————Here are the answers ———————

  1. $330,000 - 4 wheel drive tractor - John Deere 9470 - 2016

  2. $385,000 - Combine - John Deere S690 - 2016

  3. $95,000 - Air Seeder - John Deere 1830 - 2010

  4. $260,000 - Self Propelled Sprayer - John Deere R4038 - 2015

  5. $45,000 - Cultivator with Harrows - John Deere 2210 - 2004

Total for 5 used pieces of equipment…. $1,115,000

Hope you had fun guessing the cost of the equipment!

Grain Bin Monitoring - Another Green Book Find

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There are a LOT of options for monitoring your grain once it is in the bin.  Rather than re-write the book, today we are sharing some links to give you an overview of the options available to you.  In reality, it is highly likely that there may be a combination of monitoring options that are right for your operation, depending on factors like if you use bins or bags and if you rent or own.

Check out these articles, which summarize some bin sensor technologies:
Top Crop Manager:

https://www.topcropmanager.com/storage/new-tools-for-grain-bin-monitoring-21071


Western Producer:

https://www.producer.com/2018/04/grain-bin-monitoring-3-d/

Also, Green Book 2018 pg 232 and 249 show two examples of bin monitoring options.


As always - leave us a comment if you have had an experience, positive or negative, with bin sensor technology.  Or email us at Teresa@FarmFemmes.com or Karen@FarmFemmes.com



Bin Innovation - Another Green Book Find

Grain storage is top of mind as we plan our storage strategies.  For some farms, this fall has felt more like winter, with early snow making harvest difficult.  For other farms, harvest seems to have been finished long ago and now bin site management is top of mind as they monitor the conditions and locations of their stored grain.  Either way, on farm storage plays a key role in the workload throughout the fall and winter months. Here are two grain bin gadgets to check out:

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  • LevALERT (pg 226)  This visual indicator allows you to monitor the amount of material in your bin without worrying about dust build up on a viewing window or having to climb a ladder.  It operates mechanically and can be used to indicate both when bins are getting full or empty. Strategically placed indicators can allow the lead time necessary to plan your next storage-related actions.  Check out http://levalert.com/ for details.

  • After market bin lids (pg 224)  Adjusting bin lids without climbing ladders saves time and improves safety.  After market options can transform your flat bottom bins and allow you to stay on the ground as you close, fully open or partially open your bin lids.

Every farmer wants to get their grain (or other materials) into the bin.  While it can be a huge relief to get crops out of the field and into a safe home, this isn’t the end of the story.  Having the right tools to help with storage can save time and money and keep you safe.

Let us know if you have used the LevALERT system or have a favorite after market bin lid… drop us a comment or email Teresa@FarmFemmes.com or Karen@FarmFemmes.com


Stay tuned for a look at bin sensor technologies tomorrow.



Sprayer Lighting - Another Green Book Find

Spraying is a common task on many farms.  Sprayers can be used to control weeds or pests, and they can also be used to feed crops as they grow.  Regardless of what crops or products you are spraying, it is essential to monitor the spray pattern and spray nozzles.

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Recently a number of companies have begun to promote boom lighting.  Lights on the boom help farmers to get a better view when spraying in reduced lighting or at night.  If you are wondering why night spraying is necessary, here are a few possibilities:

  • Chemicals may evaporate more slowly

  • Plants may be less stressed in darker, cooler conditions

  • Wind conditions may be more favorable in early morning or evening conditions

  • Time pressures require farmers to operate past daylight hours


Here are a few things to consider when shopping for supplemental sprayer lighting:

  • What kind of light is used: White or blue light and box or strip

  • Where is the light (or lights) mounted? Cab or boom

  • Are mounting brackets and/or harnesses included in the price?

  • If portable, how easy is it to move from one cab to another?

  • How are the lights maintained and cleaned?

  • What is the warranty?


Let us know if you have a system installed, if you have a favorite brand of lighting and what you see as the pros or cons.



The Green Book Finds

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The Green Book is a staple in our house. We keep copies from year to year, just in case we need to compare some product from five years ago?!?!?!  But seriously, it is the Sears Christmas catalog of farming. (I date myself with that reference, I know.)


It is fun to go through the catalogue to get new ideas of interesting technologies and innovations.  Some advertisers and products are multi-million dollar investments, but others represent a handy gadget, tool or technology that would be easy to implement without breaking the bank.  


To get us started, we have picked three items that we have tried on our farms.  If you have the 2018 Green Book and you want to follow along, here we go:

  • Hopper Dropper (pg 200): mounts to the bottom of a hopper bin to funnel grain into the auger

  • Bushel Plus drop pan (pg 188): mounts to any combine to help check for loss

  • Crop Catcher (pg 189): mounts on the combine header in front of the cab to deflect seeds back into the header


All this week we will feature some of the technologies that we have tried, or are going to test out soon.  If you have any great Green Book finds, please let us know. Drop us a comment or send us an email at Teresa@FarmFemmes.com or Karen@FarmFemmes.com

Happy Thanksgiving!

We enjoyed a weekend full of Thanksgiving celebrations and I hope that you did too. I hope that everyone takes time to think about what they are thankful for. And, perhaps most importantly, take time to think about WHO you are thankful for - then tell them!

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One of the best things that I learned in my years as a teacher is the power of being specific with your positive comments. It is great to shower your loved ones with kind words, words of thanks and words of appreciation. It is even better when you take the time to include a specific example of when or why they are a great organizer, someone who can make you laugh, a wonderful cook, a thoughtful gift giver or a supportive motivator.

Happy Thanksgiving!



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Thanksgiving Food: Manitoba Harvest Report

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Recent weather pressures (snow!) have slowed harvest in Manitoba.  The provincial crop report highlights the overall harvest progress, as well as region by region summaries.  As we get ready for Thanksgiving weekend we can choose to read this report in several ways; we can be thankful for all of the acres that are complete or we can be disheartened that those acres are not our acres.  In the big picture, we want all farmers to succeed in getting off their crops in good conditions. However, in light of your own operation, it can be of little comfort to know that others are done when you are still waiting to get your crops combined.  Thanksgiving can be a happy time, but also a time of stress if your harvest progress isn’t keeping up to your timelines or goals.

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In the midst of the planning and preparations - both for continued harvest or for Thanksgiving celebrations - be sure to remember these different positions and perspectives.  If your family gathering involves more than one farming operation, be sure to be sensitive to everyone’s harvest progress. It is important to celebrate each other’s successes and to commiserate together - and then make an action plan to help get things done.

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Here are the highlights - by the numbers - as we get ready to give thanks for the fruits of our labours this growing season.