Resolutions for the Farm by Cassie LeMaster

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With the new year upon us, many begin to declare resolutions for themselves such as becoming more organized or losing a few extra pounds, but what about your farm resolutions for 2024? Have you had time to reflect on your farm successes or failures that you’d like to improve upon for the new year? If you haven’t yet, here are some suggestions that may help you reach your farm goals in 2024.

1. Keep better records. Whether you’re tracking finances for tax or farm income purposes, time spent on management tasks or animal health inputs, make a plan to write more down this year. Knowing where your money or time is going when it comes to farm management can help identify improvement areas and aid in future decision making. Spending more time than ever on a specific task? Maybe a piece of equipment to make that task easier would pay for itself quickly. Spending more on feed or hay than you’d like? Invest in your pastures to increase available forage and reduce feeding costs.

2. Collect more data. It may sound redundant, but you can’t record it if you don’t measure it. To track changes in soil health, you’ll need to start with a soil analysis. To balance your horse or livestock’s diet, you’ll first need to have your hay analyzed and record body condition scores. To improve feed efficiency in your livestock, you’ll need to track body weights. It may sound time consuming, but your Extension Agent is available to help collect this information and then assist with making valuable, often money saving, decisions based on the results.

3. Make efficiency a priority. A little early planning can help you spend more time enjoying your farm rather than always feeling like you’re working. What is the farm task that takes the most time or that you enjoy the least? At our farm this year, we made improvements to how we feed our animals, making the task far more efficient than it used to be. For us, that meant investing in a feed truck to quickly feed cattle without manually hauling buckets and cutting windows in the horse barn so feed can be poured without entering the stalls.

4. Learn something new. There’s nearly limitless amounts of information available today on any given topic. If there’s something you’d like to know more about, your Extension Agent is a source of unbiased, research-based information. The 4-H motto “learn by doing” extends beyond our youth, as we can also coach you through the “how” to do something. Want to know more about weed control? Extension can teach you how to identify the weeds, their growth habits and toxicity potential, as well as the best control methods and even how to calibrate your sprayer.

Whatever your farm resolutions are this year, I hope Extension can help you reach your goals and enjoy your time spent on the farm more this year.