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Sunday, September 12, 2010

I lose my farm at Gopher Valley and thus I am no longer a farmer, but I'm still lazy...

 You should always have a rental agreement! I have rented this farm for 20 years. I am sure the owners once sent me a letter detailing their desire to have me farm it forever. They even set up a trust with this in mind, they said 15 years ago. But, Mr. Allen passed away a few years ago and now the grandkids want to farm.

But here is the rub..

Five years ago I found I needed to replant the hay field as yields were slipping. I talked with my landlady and she wanted me to keep farming forever. As in, "what would I do without you," sort of thing. My first replanting was a failure as the grass drowned out over the winter.

I then made an agreement with my neighbor to replant the farm and in turn he would get the crop for several years as he had a long time customer who wanted timothy hay. He plowed and reseeded farm and planted it to timothy and fescue hay.  There is a really good stand of hay there and over the next few years it should yield very well.
So we have like $120 per acre invested in farming and seed costs. For a total around $5500. Not to mention four years of rent at $2500 per year. The first year of our agreement he received no income as this was the year he planted the field. The second year the yield was quite low as the grass was still being established. This year would be the third year and is the only year in the past five that a good crop was harvest off the farm.

There is more to the story in that he lost his customer this year and so I harvested the crop of hay. I was not real happy that he planted fescue with the timothy and it has made it harder for me to sell the hay, but,  I still have a lot invested in the farm and was counting on harvesting the crop for at least a few more years.
No rental agreement. But it was only 45 acres. My 45 acres...
And of course there is the same problem coming up with another 20 acres that has my hay storage. And the other 20 acres across the road.
I'm not a businessman...


  1. Aarrgh! People who give you a gentleman's agreement as legal tender forget that honor is not necessarily inheritable.

  2. Sorry to hear that Budde. I guess I am fortunate in only renting land from close family members where a verbal agreement is all that we need. Well, maybe something better will come along for you.

  3. As you know, if it ain't on paper, it ain't so. Better get those others in black and white and check with your attornry to see if you've got a snowball's chance of getting your investment back.

  4. uDon't just give up. Do you have a lawyer? Verbal agreements do have legal standing. You obviously would not have invested the work and money without some assurance that you would have long term stewardship of the ground. Comes down to your appetite for going to lengths to defend the farmer part of lazy farmer. Anybody know a good lawyer who,d trade his services for a supply of hay?

  5. Well folks, I'm not really mad about it. I'm mostly rather depressed. I did not have a written agreement. I knew I needed to do it and I didn't get it done. The statement that I could rent it as long as I wanted it meant nothing if it was not written down.
    Actually, she should have her family farm the place.
    I needed to communicate exactly the money I spent and what I had done and what I expected.
    I just needed two more years to pay for the planting.
    You can never make mistakes. Attention to detail is the key.
    As for the other farms I'm not sure what I will do. The elderly folks I rent from will not be around much longer and I have no relationship with their grandchildren and I'm not sure I really want that sort of a farm anymore. Without the 45 acres of good hay there is not that much point in doing it any longer. Plus, hay prices are crap in our area. I doubt they will improve for a couple years.

  6. Also, I'm not really the one who is losing money. My neighbor is the one who spent most of the money on establishing the hay and he was pretty upset. I asked him if I would refuse to give up the farm would he rent it or would he buy the hay from me. He said no. So I said, well then what is the point?
    I personally am pretty tired of throwing good money after bad...

  7. If rat holes paid interest on what you've thrown down them I'd still be farming.


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