Connected, Protected, Respected

If you have been following us for a while you know that we have written about Connected, Protected and Respected before, and each time has a bit of a different twist, but the main message is the same: relationships are key to a successful family farm and people feel safe, physically and emotionally, when they are Connected, Protected and Respected.

In concrete terms for harvest time, what does that look like?

Connected (physical and emotional safety)

  • Everyone in the team has a way to communicate with the other team members as they plan the day and as they work. This can be high-tech, low-tech or anywhere in between (morning meeting, group text, CB radio, whiteboard, supper meeting).

Protected (physical safety)

  • Everyone in the team knows how to do their job safely and what to do in the event that something doesn’t go as planned.

    • Discuss any dangers or special considerations for the location(s) where you are working each day as well as along the routes to and from the location(s)

    • Have access to and know how to use the fire extinguishers and first aid kits

    • Keep your phone with you when you exit equipment. Know who to call for help and how to tell them where you are (emergency sign number, legal land description, latitude and longitude)

Respected (emotional safety)

  • Everyone in the team feels that there is a culture where questions are encouraged. Asking a question is better than proceeding when you are unsure - it is safer, and generally more efficient, which means it is more profitable to be sure of the answer.

Wishing you all a harvest where your family relationships are strengthened as you work together, feeling Connected, Protected and Respected.

Read past Connected, Protected, Respected posts: March 2017 May 2018


The 3Rs - Farm Family style

DeerCreekSemi.jpg

Roles - Responsibilities - Relationships

Harvest is a time when farm families need everyone to help out in order to get all of the jobs done.

Roles: Roles can be tricky to define as they can be less concrete than responsibilities. Roles might include things like, advisor, consultant or final decision maker. Family farms typically involve multiple generations, and harvest is often the time when people are asked to step into new roles. This also means others may need to step back to make space for these changes to happen. Navigating role changes can be complex and there is no one, best or right way to switch roles.

Responsibilities: Responsibilities refers to the tasks that need to get accomplished - cleaning combines, making meals, ordering fuel, paying bills. Harvest time challenges even the best organizers and time-managers. The time-sensitive nature of harvest dictates that families need to decide which tasks are put on hold and which tasks need to become a different person’s responsibility during the harvest crunch time.

Changing roles and responsibilities can lead to stress in relationships!

Relationships: In farm-family life business and personal life lines are sometimes blurred. Changing roles and responsibilities can lead to hurt feelings or misunderstandings - especially if these changes happen “on the fly”. A pre-harvest meeting can help to set expectations for the season and ensure that everyone is aware of what their roles and responsibilities will look like this year. Open communication reduces assumptions that things will remain the same and ensures that everyone understands any domino effects of shifting responsibilities. Pre-harvest meetings may be one-on-one meetings or involve the whole team at the same time; they can be formal or informal. No matter how they happen, doing the hard work up front helps to set farm teams up for the most successful harvest possible.

Thanksgiving Food: Manitoba Harvest Report

DJI_0011s.JPG

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.

GOPR1201.JPG

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.

Harvest Numbers for Manitoba.PNG

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



Thanksgiving in Action

Canadian Pride.jpg

Canadian Thanksgiving is fast-approaching. Many of us have just finished our harvest, either in the fields or gardens, or both.  This is a time when the cupboards and bins should be full. Yet, for many Canadian families this is not the case. Every day many Canadians live with food insecurity - this means that they are uncertain of having, or unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all family members.


  • 2.19 million people in Canada aged 12 and older lived in food-insecure households (2011-12).

  • In Canada, the overall prevalence of food insecurity was higher in households with children (10.2%) than in households without children (7.6%).


https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/nutrition-science-research/food-security/household-food-security-statistics-2011-2012.html#s4


We can help - this is a call to action.  This week, contact your local community food bank or food shelf and see what they need.  Ask if they accept donations of farm produce, if you have some to share. Or purchase the top three items on their wish list.  Or, give a monetary donation and use their partners to stretch the dollars even further. Or volunteer. Food-security issues cannot be solved in a single day or with a single action.  However, we each can make a huge difference for one family, so lets start there!


Thanksgiving is a time of celebration for those of us who are fortunate enough to be food-secure.  We celebrate many blessings, and often take our own big Thanksgiving meals for granted. This year, we encourage you to continue to celebrate with family and friends and good food - but we also put out this call to action.  Help others to be able to celebrate as well, by supporting your local food shelf.


Don’t know how to connect with your local food shelf? Connect with Farm Credit Canada! FCC Drive Away Hunger - runs through October 18, 2018. Click here to learn more

Record yields?

It’s always fun to learn something new, especially when it shows you good news!  This year, that meant looking at the farm data differently, and what a great year to choose.  While last year Deer Creek Farms had 100% hail damage, this year we are able to see what a great harvest looks like!

This is the farms first year using myJohnDeere and the JD Operations Center, but the data has been being collected since 2013 for seeding.  Yes, that means for 4 years, I was slacking off on helping to get this working!

But hopefully this makes up for it!  This year, my Dad handed me the data stick and said “go figure it out” after a brief visit to Green Valley Equipment in Morden, Manitoba.  With a 3 hour investment his field data is now uploaded and available for analysis.  He was particularly excited to look at his yield maps and how specific they were.  

pasted image 0.png

There is still plenty left to learn and explore, but for a 3 hour time investment seeing the extent of the information available and the impact it can have to farming operations it was time well spent!

If you would like to learn how to make Operations Center work on your farm message me, or e-mail me at karen@farmfemmes.com.  If there is enough interest we’ll look into doing a few clinics around the topic to help you get started!

Where is the Wheat?

If the wheat production forecast in the  September USDA-NASS Crop Production report holds through the US harvest which is nearly complete the wheat harvest this year will be the lowest in 44 years.  That is -15.5% when comparing to the 2016 US harvest.

It’s not a story of acres which remain unchanged at 38.1M acres, the yield is down to an average 38.3 bushels per acre which is 9 bushels per acre lower than 2016.  Using the closing data for 9/13 for spring wheat and some simple math of $6.40/bushel that’s $57.60/acre less this year than last.

So what’s that mean for profitability?  

Variable input costs - what does $57.60 mean?

~100% of your chemical cost could have been covered

50% of your land rent could have been covered

75% of your fertilizer bill could have been covered

I put together a quick Google Sheets spreadsheet to illustrate the profitability and breakeven point using the following data:

Price Per Bushel: $6.40

Fixed Per Acre Cost (Rent, Machinery etc.): $130

Variable Per Acre Cost (Seed, Fertilizer, Chemical): $125

Based on these inputs, profitability sits at the 41 bushel per acre point.  

If you’d like to use this simple calculator to do some “what if” scenarios using your own price per bushel, fixed and variable costs you can access it here.  We had fun inputting price per bushel of currently contracted wheat and taking a look at increased fixed cost per acre (new combine) to check out profitability.

If you have any questions using the calculator, comment below or e-mail me at karen@farmfemmes.com.