Farm Finance Categories From QuickBooks

Farm Finance Categories From QuickBooks

We use QuickBooks accounting software to track our finances. Within QuickBooks the different items that we track are broken down and organized into categories like income, expenses, and payroll. 

When you are starting to farm your financial accounting may be simple enough that all you need is a spreadsheet or even a notebook. QuickBooks is just a fancy notebook that helps you keep track of what you are doing with your farm business finances.

When I started using it I had to learn too things:

  1. It's not as complicated and terrible as I thought
  2. It's best to not make things too complicated
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Labor Hours Calculator

Labor Hours Calculator

Year after year I find myself saying yes to too many projects. Whether it is out of motivation to try and make more money by doing more things, or even just to satisfy the wants and desires of the people I am working with, I somehow manage to be under water in the middle of the season, drowning in a sea of ambition.

I finally created something that easily plans out my whole year and helps me to not get overloaded during my farm season.

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2018 Farm Budget

2018 Farm Budget

Brace yourself, you’re about to see my 2018 farm budget. It’s going to shock you a little bit. You may feel surprise, exasperation, perhaps some jealousy and even a little frustration. You may think to yourself, “Wait, how is this possible?”

Or, you may find yourself saying, “Yeah, that’s about what I expected. I’m comfortable with that. I’d love a little more clarity, but based on what I have seen from John’s channel this is what I am expecting.“

Whatever your reaction ends up being it is important to read this blog post entirely. If you don’t hear me out with what I have to say than I don’t hold your opinion valid. If you skim you’re not going to get the whole picture and that’s potentially troublesome for both you and me. I’ll explain the trouble at the end.

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My 2018 Farm Plan

My 2018 Farm Plan

Camps Road Farm works in conjunction with Kent Falls Brewing Company and Neversink Spirits as part of The Food Cycle, LLC. Camps Road Farm works in a supportive role of the other two businesses while also producing farm goods for sale.

In 2018 we are focusing on the definition of a farm brewery and putting the most effort into agricultural enterprises that add value into the brewery while minimizing the farm's overhead.

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Farm Sales Demographic Shift

Farm Sales Demographic Shift

2017 brought with it one of the most fun opportunities I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. After a couple years of selling chickens off the farm and running the brewery mostly off wholesale we were finally able to open our own tasting room.

This was fun for me for a few reasons. There’s the business reasons like being able to finally pour beer and sell at retail prices (until now it was primarily wholesale). But that’s the boring stuff.

If you remember back a few blog posts, I went to school for scenic and lighting design. Here at my home, the place I’ve been toiling over for the past few years, I got to scratch an itch and help design and build a tasting room and farm store.

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Building Onto a Farm Brewery

Building Onto a Farm Brewery

As I've now looked back at every year leading up to this one something became very clear to me. Not for one season have I ever tried to be only a farm. What I mean by that is I never told everyone else "sorry, I can't do that, I have to focus on the farm."

Granted, that wasn't necessarily the original vision. The farm was always part of a bigger strategy involving two other businesses. However, looping in land and project management along with other odd jobs was just too much. Where we fell short was thinking I could create a viable farm while balancing all these other obligations. Lesson learned.

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Farm Finance Trap, Too Big Too Fast

Farm Finance Trap, Too Big Too Fast

In my 2013 farm season I grossed about $20k which is about what I expected for the year. That number does not support a family of three by itself, especially when you consider that doesn’t account for my farm expenses, but it was the start I expected.

When I moved onto my new farm I took on partners. I was given the goal to gross $100k while also growing two different perennial operations that weren’t going to make any money for a few years. I figured that if I grossed $20k with 1300 broilers and some herbs that if I just took that and multiplied it by five I could hit my goal. Man was I wrong...

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Four Major Milestones On Farm and In Life

Four Major Milestones On Farm and In Life

There are a handful of major milestones that you can go through in life. Being born is a good start, graduating school, getting married and starting a family, buying a house, etc…

In 2013 I was fortunate enough to experience several of those milestones. Now several years later they remain important aspects of my life for one reason or another. For those of you following my story looking for advice, I would advise against trying to cram all of this into one year.

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Apprenticing on Farms Across The Country

Apprenticing on Farms Across The Country

Together, my wife Kate and I traveled 5,500 miles all by pedal power. From New York City to Seattle to San Diego we visited farms and craft breweries across the United States of America. We have dozens of great stories from the road that usually start with “oh man, remember that time we…”. Perhaps those stories will surface in future blog post, but for now I must stay on task.

Today’s post highlights some of our farm experiences from our trip. If pedal power was how we got there, let’s talk really quickly about why we were there in the first place.

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GFP093: 2017 Farm Plan

2017 Farm Plan - Camps Road Farm

With each new farm season there are adaptations based on what you have learned from previous years as well as adapting to what your goals are for the coming year. We are making some big changes on our farm this year and I am really happy to be able to share them with you through the Growing Farms Podcast.

I am using the Farm Marketing Solutions website to take notes this year. I am organizing my thoughts, my research, my production numbers into the Resources section of the website.

On the resources page you will find more information on:

...and in the works are sections on:

  • My equipment
  • Marketing Strategies
  • Writing a farm business plan
  • Whatever you ask me about in the form below

Have a question that you can't seem to find an answer for? On the main resources page you'll find a simple form to submit your question to me and I'll create a piece of content around it. You should drive the direction of this website as much as I do, after all, I'm sharing this stuff for you.

 
 

Growing Farms Podcast "Plan" Going Forward

The podcast is back for a while by popular demand. Having taken some time off from podcasting to publish not one, but two books, I'm coming back with simple, straight-forward, and honest podcasts about my farm journey.

In a more rapid succession than my usual pace I'll have episodes on the operations listed above. We're going to cover what I'm doing on all areas of the farm so that you have a good idea of where I am at and what I have learned to date. After we're caught up Kate and I are going to do updates throughout the season so you get a taste of farm life, share in our successes and failures, and continue to grow the community.

Final Notes

It's good to be back. I had a blast recording with Kate for this episode. It's a busy and kind of stressful time on farm right now but at the same time it is really exciting! Thanks for supporting FMS through the years. If you're new here, welcome! 

Let's all work to grow personally, professionally, and as a community. Thanks for stopping in and until next time I will see you out in the field.

Cheers,

John

Why get into pastured poultry farming?

It was an emotional roller coaster this morning over my AM cup of coffee. It started with revisiting a state of depression that almost sent me sulking on the couch for the rest of the day, and ended on news so great that I did a complete 180 and shed a few happy tears. In one morning I felt the range of emotions that started me in chicken farming in the first place.

I started farming because I wanted to be a part of the alternative to our conventional agricultural system here in the United States. Once I became focused on my own nutrition I realized that we are producing calories but not food. We have a lot of things that look like food, but are so void of nutrition that diabetes, heart disease, and other food-related illnesses are now common place. 

Put aside nutrition for a second and think about the farmers producing this food. I don't believe that there are evil farmers. No one gets into farming to treat animals inhumanely or to pour chemicals on the ground. Generally folks get into agriculture because they grew up with it or answered a call back to the earth (or both).

The Sad

This morning two things I enjoy aligned to bring me the video I am about to show you. Part of my morning routine is to check YouTube for new videos from the channels I subscribe to. Part of my evenings are to watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO.

Even though HBO is a paid subscription, Mr. Oliver puts many of his segments on his YouTube channel. This morning I came across an old segment on poultry farming.

That was the low point. Imagine waking up to watch something that intense. Yeah, sad morning coffee. But then this happened:

The Glad

With a little extra gloom in my heart I left YouTube for the vast unknown, my email inbox. You just never know what might be lurking in there. A recent email caught my eye, so for once in my life I opened an email.

The email was from Rhonda Tomko of TBS Micro Farm in Southern New Jersey. Rhonda did not write in asking for me to solve something for her, she wrote in having solved a problem herself, she just wanted to make sure I was OK with her using my content.

Backstory

Rhonda has chosen agriculture as a second career. Second, third, or fourth, it doesn't matter. The point is she left a desk job to pursue a life connected to her food.

In her area of Southern New Jersey there are no options that she can find for processing pastured poultry. No State inspected facilities, no USDA facilities, there was nothing for her to use. So, she took matters into her own hands.

Rhonda is launching her own mobile poultry processing facility this April 2017. Like a good business person she's not only working on setting up her facility, but she's already starting to market to potential customers.

This April Tree By Springs Micro Farm is launching its' poultry processing facility. You can see Rhonda's advertisement for whether or not pastured poultry is profitable by clicking on the picture above or on this link. For information on her fee structure click here.

The Takeaway

This morning was a win for me on a couple levels. I have specialized in chickens because I like chickens, and I don't like the way they are being raised in the United States. While I am doing what I can to fight the system I don't think about it every single day. After all, I have a life to live.

To be reminded of how bad our food system is can be a downer. My momentary sadness was replaced by the joy in knowing that I am doing all I can to fix what I see as wrong.

Then to get such a lovely email as the one that I got from Rhonda just made my day. Here's someone I never met in person, working for the same change I want to see in the world.

The whole purpose of publishing information on Farm Marketing Solutions is to have other people learn from my successes and failures and build on what I have done. "Standing on the shoulders of giants" as the phrase goes. 

I am standing on the shoulders of people like Joel Salatin, Jeff Mattocks, Harvey Ussery, and all the folks involved with APPPA. My hope, as I get better at sharing information, is that you reading this, you, go out and take action like Rhonda. Not just talk about it, not just start a food-related Instagram feed, but to go actually take action toward a better food system.


Want to get started with pastured poultry farming?

Chicken Tractor Plans

Build a chicken tractor to raise broiler chickens on grass. Raising a chicken on grass gives them a healthier life, makes for tastier meat, and works toward a better food system.

Pastured Poultry Packet

Make sure raising chickens is going to work for you. I will not sell you on whether broiler chickens are going to make financial sense for you. I will however show you how to define your own number.  

Through PPP#1 you will calculate your start up costs and determine how much it will cost you to raise each chicken. Use these numbers to plan your farm or refine your operation going forward.

Buy the Books  |  Free Broiler Resources

GFP089: How to Raise Pigs on Pasture

Raising pigs has to be one of the most fun things that I do on farm. I truly enjoy almost every part of it. I mean, don't get me wrong, they could smell a little better every once in a while but who can turn their noses up at their floppy ears, curly tails, and curiously happy demeanor?

I get my pigs for the season in less than a week. I'm raising 20 pigs this year for various different markets. It's a step up for me. A far cry from big production, but big enough to feed some serious people. I plan to market and sell through:

  • Whole and Half Hog
  • Pig Roast
  • Retail at Famers' Market and Farm Store
  • Restaurants for Beer and Spirits Dinners

You can see how I raised pigs last year with this YouTube Playlist:

 

Resources from this farm podcast:

Farm Quote of the episode:

"Never wrestle with a pig. You'll both get dirty but the pig will love it..."

 

GFP088: My Background

No matter what you've done before you got into farming, it applies. It all applies!!! Granted some of us are going to get into farming full time and run our own farms and others are going to be happy with a backyard garden. The important thing here is that we're all willing to get our hands dirty.

I take a small amount of pride in that I've worked hard over the years to make my life interesting. It sounds a little egotistical perhaps, but I'm alright with that, because it's been fun.

In past years I've biked across the country, worked with Howard Stern, put on plays, worked as a food photographer, web designer and programmer, and so many other odd things. Through it all I have finally learned one important lesson.

That lesson: enjoy the process! Nothing is going to go according to plan and it is certainly not going to happen as quickly as you want it to. And that's OK. If you learn to love the day to day tomorrow will eventually come. Find something you love to do, pursue it, and enjoy "getting there".

That was a major hurdle for me to overcome. I still get stressed. I still get down sometimes. But the majority of my time is spent appreciating what I have and wondering how I can make it even better. If I work to make it better, it usually happens, and guess what? It's even better!!! It all sounds so silly to put into words, and a few years I might have even made fun of the guy I've become. But on the other side of my freak out, I feel good, and I'm ready to get my season really moving.

GFP087: Urban CSA and Apothecary

I have been in love with the idea of more farms appearing in urban settings. That is how we bring food to the masses and help wrangle that ugly beast called food security. Clever uses of otherwise untapped resources.

On today's farm podcast episode we visit one of those urban farms to see how it all fits together.

Items covered or mentioned on today's farm podcast:

Farm Quote of the episode:

"Don't worry. If plan A fails there are 25 more letters in the alphabet." - Anonymous

Thanks for taking the time to listen in, and let me know what you think. You can leave a comment below, send me an e-mail, reach me on Facebook , or leave a 5 star rating in iTunes if you liked the show.

GFP086: It's My Birthday

I'm a day older than I was yesterday, but today I got to use a whole new number. I've made it to 31 and I'm pretty happy about it.

In this podcast episode I talk about what my plans are for the farm this year and why they are that way. Then I go over what's happening on Farm Marketing Solutions and content for the year and I ask you for help.

Ya see, I cannot do this without you. Talking into the abyss of the internet means nothing if there is no one to listen and interact. That's where you come in. I share some of my thoughts for how I think the podcast should go this year but I would much rather do something that you guys and gals are going to want to hear rather than just guessing and hoping to get it right.

That's where the comments section of this post comes into play. Get on there and let me know what you think I should be doing this year for Farm Marketing Solutions. I'm trying to keep it simple so that I can do a little more than I've done in the past, but I don't want it to lose any value to you.

And now, a fun YouTube video:

 

Thanks for taking the time to listen in, and let me know what you think. You can leave a comment below, send me an e-mail, reach me on Facebook , or leave a 5 star rating in iTunes if you liked the show.