Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fun and Transitions

Over the past few weeks, a lot of folks have asked us about when and how we planned to transition to our new farm. Since we bought the property in late January, Melissa and I have run the gamut on this; we've literally talked through and thought about every option possible.

Melissa and I are in this business for the long term and we are financially committed to it's success. It is a major part of our living, our lifestyle, our savings and our nest egg all wrapped into one big package.

It's a sad truism that most horse businesses that sink do so because of poor (and often grandiose) financial planning. We've taken every reasonable step possible to ensure that we won't fall into that trap. For almost six years, since the day we got married, we have chosen to live in cash on a small fraction of the income we earned, and we've diligently saved and invested the rest. We are both risk averse from a financial perspective, so other than a small mortgage on the land (which we mostly did for tax reasons), we decided early on that this new farm will be built out and equipped strictly with cash and that the money would come from a combination of our personal savings and cash flow provided by the business. When the property is built out and complete according to our vision, we will have close to two million dollars invested in it and we will owe nothing against it. We believe that the first thing we owe to our clients and to ourselves is the safety of continued financial solvency.

In order to achieve building out this property in a reasonable time frame under this methodology, we decided some time ago that we needed to move in stages. Stage one was quitting my corporate job and focusing my efforts full time here on the farm. I did that about three months ago. Stage two is nearing completion and we're excited about it ! After finishing the barn and doing a little bit more fencing we will almost be ready to move our first group of lucky horses down there. We have been clipping pastures to thicken the grass sward in preparation for this event for the past five months !

Melissa and I have managed to hire and retain excellent help at our current location. We need to repeat this experience at our new farm and that is the next thing on my agenda. In fact, we need two people; one to act as competent horse help under our close guidance and another person to act as competent caretaker during the (very few) hours Melissa and I aren't there. Neither Melissa nor I feel comfortable entrusting our horse care to hired help no matter how good they may be. Nobody is invested in the success of this venture nearly as heavily as we are, and we're both "worriers" and perfectionists to boot.

Fortunately, the two farms are close enough to permit one or the other of us to be at either farm all day, every day and we will continue to do most of the hands-on horse care ourselves. This was the primary reason we wanted to buy something reasonably proximate to our current location and I am SO GLAD we did ! Excepting that the location is different, our goal is to ensure that the horses and our clients will notice no change to the level of their care.

We are at a very exciting stage; one which we have been working towards for a very long time. When all our friends were buying fancy new cars, big new houses and going on amazing vacations we chose to live very differently, and I believe our decisions are starting to pay off for us in a very big way. I'm not trying to sound smug when I say this but it's (finally) beginning to be fun to be us right now !
Lily, I like her soft expression in this picture
Levendi enjoying his afternoon siesta

some of the Big Boys surrounding the Kubota; they always find the Kubota of extreme interest

Elfin says "If I had opposable thumbs I would so be running that chainsaw right now."

Cinnamon and Bonnie grazing in the shade

Lucky and O'Reilly

Slinky let the fence hold his head up while he napped
B-Rad and Alex
Harmony and Missy
Spike, Slinky, Lucky and O'Reilly


Laura said...

well done on the planning/saving etc. for your new farm. Most people aren't that cautious about their personal finances,(myself included) let alone horse business owners. My current barn owner is being presured to take out a huge line of credit against her farm to keep up with a couple of neighbouring stables. I hope she can resist...

SmartAlex said...

It sounds fun to be you! I began following this blog because my husband suggested I make a business out of my horse addiction, and my mother suggested I use my 70+ acres as a horse retirement farm. I love watching you develop the new farm, and yes, all the hard work actually sounds fun.

Jason said...

Thanks to you both for your kind comments !

Laura, when they saw how we were living, (small loft above my in-laws farm shop) a good number of folks thought Melissa had made a bad bargain when she picked me if this was the best we could do after years of marriage ! A few of MY friends and kin asked me point blank if we were doing okay, and I'm sure they didn't believe me when I said we were doing great. It's been my experience that keeping up with the neighbours is mostly either based on fear or ego, and neither one is a great way to run a business or live one's life. Most of the time we find it challenging enough to keep up with ourselves ! :)

SmartAlex; It's as fun as you make it, and that is as true a statement as exists in this world. I'm delighted with today because the humidity broke, the high was 85with a nice breeze and pretty sunshine, and we're going to eat supper an hour before dark for the first time in a week and a half !

If you are interested in brainstorming out of the box ideas, I urge you to read Joel Salatin, You Can Farm. He provided me with a whole heap of ideas and his book helped light a fire in my belly !

Valentino said...


I just checked out that book you mentioned - You Can Farm - on Amazon where you can read a few pages online. Holy cow! Ordering it immediately... so what I need to read right now after just having bought my few acres.

Thanks for the timely recommendation and congratulations on you and Melissa's success - you two have earned it :)

SmartAlex said...

I'll put it on my next book order. It also looks like it would be an excellent gift for my stepdad.