Have you ever had your mind set on something and were unwilling to change? Have you ever made a significant decision based on something relatively insignificant? I will give you two examples; a decision in my generation and a decision in my parent’s generation.

The first example:

This is from my generation. In fact, it’s personal. I remember very specifically working out a budget for my small hog operation 25 years ago. At the time I knew I needed to buy about 60,000 bushels of grain for the year. I remember corn prices being around $2.60. On several occasions in previous years I remember purchasing grain at the wrong time of the year. Imagine that! My assumption was during the harvest the grain prices would go down. As a result, I told my wife not to allow me to buy any more corn going into the harvest until the cost was at or below $2.40. I was also an Ag Teacher at the time and I discussed this with my senior Ag Class. I told them to help me.

As the market began going down, it reached about $2.45 but I continually reminded myself I was not going to buy any grain until it was $2.40. One day one of my senior Ag students said, “Mr. Friesen, the ‘harvest low’ is in, you should be buying all your corn right now, just do it!”, I replied, “I have my price set and when it goes down another nickel I will do that.” The student said, “What’s a nickel, buy it all now.” I called the elevator and near the end of that day and corn was at $2.42. I called my wife and I said, “Lisa, what should I do?” She replied with, “Myron, why do you ask me questions like that, you know I don’t follow the grain market that close. I just remember you saying, wait until it is $2.40. If that is what you wanted to do, I suppose just wait because that’s what you said.” So I did. I waited. During the next six months I watched and paid for grain at three, four, and five dollars a bushel. Every time, painfully remembering that I was too stubborn to pull the trigger because of two silly cents. I learned a valuable lesson that year.

The second example:

This one took place a generation earlier. As a child, I remember my dad pricing two different loader tractors. One was red, the other green. They had very similar features, but when it came right down to it, my dad made a decision to purchase the one because it was $500 cheaper and the dealer threw in a radio to mount on the fender. As a kid I really did not understand the money or the colors but having a radio on the fender seemed like a pretty good deal. That purchase became a significant decision because over the next 40 years my dad never did purchase one of those nice shiny green tractors, it was always a different color.

“It is interesting how set we can become in our ways and how we can make very significant decisions based on relatively insignificant factors.”

I find that many farm continuation plans are very similar. Sometimes a mom, dad, son, or daughter will get a number or idea in their head and absolutely refuse to make a plan work, simply because they get stubborn or something does not click. It frequently makes people lose site of the big picture and they become focused on something relatively small and insignificant.

For some farms, I have seen the farm not get transferred because it would take a rent payment of $270 an acre versus $240 an acre to make the plan work. I have seen major squabbles over setting the price of land at $6,000 an acre versus $7,000. I have seen people with no legal plan in place because they were unsure who should be the trustee.

Crazy that we can look at where we are in life and it becomes a path of all those seemingly insignificant decisions that get us where we are with what we have. So has your farm plan come to a stand still because agreement cannot be reached? Are the sides really that far apart or could the deal get done if someone just threw in $500 bucks and a radio?