Off-Farm Income

How many of you find yourselves sitting in your home in the evening after being on your farm all day, tired from physical labor and thinking "this is exactly the life I want"?  I had that experience on Sunday night, and it came on the tail end of a lot of physical work.  This was just further proof to me that work is not the enemy, the wrong job is the enemy.

Sunday night was quite the opposite of the Sunday night's I used to experience.  I used to get what I referred to as the "Sunday Night Blues".  This was the depression and irritability that set in when I knew that once I went to bed, I would be waking up to go to a job that was the wrong fit.  That does not happen to me any longer, but sitting in my living room, looking at my family, feeling physically tired, watching the dog lay in front of the fire and having a feeling of elation come over me is a whole other level.  It is more than just the opposite of the "Sunday Night Blues", it is the next rung up the ladder.

When I first started this journey, I was just trying to get rid of the "Sunday Night Blues".  I never imagined it could reach this level.  Here is what my weekend looked like, and what led me to feeling so good on Sunday evening.

Friday - our kitchen sink had a catastrophic failure.  Outside of chores, plumbing was on the schedule for me this day.

Saturday - all day was spent cutting up downed trees in our creek area, splitting them and stacking the wood for heat.  Outside of our daily chores this took up our entire day.  However, when the day was done and every day since I have been able to look at those stacks of split wood and see the progress that we made.

Sunday - after chores Autumm, Hattie and I got busy removing nose guards from our calves and separating them from their mothers.  Then we started cleaning out a shed, purging things that we no longer need or use and storing some items in a storage shed on our new property.  We have been "slow to grow" on our farm since we bought it in 2011.  Instead of incurring debt for new outbuildings and storage to house our personal effects and the equipment we needed for our farm, we have dealt with the clutter of stuffing too many things into too little space.  This has included doing things like tarping our lawn equipment over the winter to protect it from the weather.

Our patience and frugality has paid off, and now we have expanded.  With the expansion came additional out buildings and a pre-existing pad that allowed us to put a shop up at minimal expense.  This has acted as a pressure release for the clutter and yesterday I was able to treat the gas in our lawn equipment, pull the batteries and put them to bed for the winter under a roof rather than a tarp.  It might seem like a small thing to say out loud, but for me it was a big step in the correct direction.

Just like nine years ago when started my very first business, I still have energy for days.  I realized then and still realize today that your body does not magically need to rest and reboot at the end of an 8 hour work day.  If you are doing something that you love, you can spend all your waking hours working and recharge on just your normal 7-8 hours of sleep.

Yesterday, even after the sun had gone down I was still working.  I had smaller, indoor projects that needed to get done and I was happy to do them.  By the time I put on my sweat pants, sat down in front of the fire and watched a little football we had cleaned out fallen timber in our creek, split cords  of wood, stacked split wood, finished weaning calves, purged clutter, put away equipment for the winter and repaired and replaced small equipment at our home.

As I sat there and looked at my family and my home I realized that this was all I needed for happiness.  I had not spent the weekend walking at a mall, entertaining Hattie at a theme park or taking in movie.  All of that is fine every now and then, but it was the accomplishment of worthwhile activities at home that I was getting my fulfillment from.  And it is this knowledge that gives me the peace and contentment that so many people cannot find.  If you can love your work, you will always have this state of mind available to you.

I hope that in some small way, we can help you get there by listening to this show!

Direct download: OFI_1242_Tuesday_Episode_-_112921_3.45_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Kendra Goplin is a freshman at South Dakota State University, studying ag education.  She is also a national proficiency finalist, which is the realization of a lifelong goal.  If you are just looking at the student who now will stand on the national stage and be recognized for her accomplishments, you will miss the story of the journey that brought her here.  With no disrespect to her accomplishments, that journey is a fascinating part of this story. Listen in to get the details. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1241-Kendra_Goplin-111721.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

Consider cameras at your honor system produce stand

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

More Places You Can Listen to Off-Farm Income And Matt Brechwald:


Direct download: OFI_1240_Rural_Crime_-_112621_4.46_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

If there is an opposite of being artistic, then I am that person.  Therefore, hosting the Off-Farm Income Podcast has allowed me to meet and interview many artistic people that I would otherwise never encounter.  It is fascinating to me the way that an artistic person sees the world and is able to craft that vision into something beautiful and pleasing to their fans.

On today's episode I am featuring once such artist who has taken his love of agriculture, his artistic ability and his skills in jewelry making and combined them all into a unique and exceptional line of agricultural jewelry.  Talk about a value added product!

Chris Chaney is the creator of "Agrijewelry", a line of jewelry that began with the creation of a piece that looks astonishingly like a cotton boll.  This is was requested by a customer, and Chris went on a pilgrimage to make it happen.  One thing led to another and today Chris offers jewelry that looks exactly like a multitude of crops from corn, to soybeans, to peanuts to almonds.  And, he has expanded into livestock, wildlife and exotics as well.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1239-Chris_Chaney_REVISED-112021.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I have a lot to be thankful for, and it starts with you!  I hope you enjoy the episode.

Direct download: OFI_1238_Thanksgiving_Episode_-_112421_8.21_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Kaylea Taylor first appeared on the show during her sophomore year of high school in episode #681.  She was just beginning her journey of putting on camps to teach 4H and FFA students better skills in exhibiting their goats.  Over time this became known as "Stepping Up Show Goat Camp" and her reputation has spread.

Today I am proud to have Kaylea back on the show as a national proficiency finalist.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1237-Kaylea_Taylor_REVISED-112021.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

As you all know I was invited to give a keynote speech at the Montana FFA Foundation's Ag Expo at Montana State University which took place two weeks ago.  After the keynote, Trent Petersen, the president of the Red Lodge FFA Chapter from Red Lodge, Montana joined me on stage for his and my first ever, live podcast recording.  It was a blast, and I am featuring it for you here today.

Trent is a very impressive young man with a dream of running his own cow/calf herd.  He is already building that herd, finding land anywhere he can in his area to put a few head of cattle, get his calves, retain his heifers and sell his steers.  He has a vision of returning to the classroom in the future as an FFA Advisor, and this is his chosen method of creating his off-farm income to support this cattle operation that he has envisioned.

Direct download: Trent_Peterson_Episode_1236_-_112221_11.52_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Every now and then in an interview there is so much information to cover that I find myself exceeding the normal length of an episode.  That was definitely the case in my interview with Jeremiah Geise.

I first learned about Jeremiah because he was a national proficiency finalist in the category of diversified livestock.  As they say, that was only the "tip of the iceberg".  Jeremiah is doing a lot more than raising multiple species of livestock, i.e. pigs, sheep and goat.  He is also using artificial insemination to breed as much as he can, and he has discovered multiple niche markets.  He also had set up contracts and direct marketing on all three species.  So, when he has an animal born on his farm, he already knows who the buyer is and that the buyer exists!  This is next level agricultural marketing!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1235_Jeremiah_Geise-REVISED-111921.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

There are multiple crime prevention tips in this article that I think are worth taking a look at:

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

Direct download: OFI_1234_Rural_Crime_-_111921_4.33_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Writing, whether it be as a fiction author, a novelist or a freelancer is one of my favorite methods of off-farm income creation that I cover.  Maybe it is because when I first started this show I interviewed an author and it gave so much credibility to the concept that I was pursuing, or maybe it is because I admire people who can write for a living, but I am a fan.

On today's show Rachel Gabel joins us to talk writing, raising cattle and raising goats.  Rachel lives and ranches in Northeast Colorado, and she has been in that general vicinity all of her life.  Growing up there and ranching there has given her special credibility with the people who read her words, and it has allowed her to write about some topics that only a few people would be accepted discussing.  She primarily writes for The Fence Post Magazine, and she has been doing so since she was a young teenager.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1233-Rachel_Gabel-111321_1.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Jerry Apps is one of my favorite, all time, agricultural authors.  Tomorrow we are featuring an agricultural author whom I have just met that creates her families off-farm income through writing.  I thought this would be a great time to replay my second interview with Jerry.  I especially enjoy reading and listening to him around the Thanksgiving Holiday as his stories evoke those warm, family memories.

Below are the original show notes from episode #668.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1232-Recap_Of_Episode_668-111521.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Brandon Jakobi is a National Proficiency Finalist this year for his custom round bale business in Wisconsin.  He had several things come together at once that were the catalyst for him to achieve at this very high level.

Brandon joined the FFA in the 7th Grade.  It was something that he always knew that he wanted to do, and he made it happen at his first opportunity.  Brandon's father had been in the FFA and was part of the FFA Alumni Chapter in their area, so he knew the ropes.  Knowing that Brandon would need a good SAE, he suggested that Brandon purchase his round baler and start his own business baling hay and cornstalks, etc. for people in their community.  Brandon's dad also knew that Brandon had been inspired by another student from their area who had won a National Proficiency Award.  Brandon told me that the community really celebrated this accomplishment and that made him want to do the same thing.

Knowing that a national proficiency award was the goal, Brandon and his father thought this business could be the perfect fit to help him achieve this.  Brandon Jakobi's Round Baling was born.  Since that time Brandon has continued to build his client base by using such marketing methods as hanging fliers in stores and pulling his round baler through parades.  Today his business supports him financially, and when he is not baling hay he is working on his families farm or a neighboring dairy.  Brandon is still living in the surreal knowing that he is this close to accomplishing his goal and realizing just how far he has come.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1231-Brandon_Jakobi-111521.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I just returned from an incredible three days in Montana, the genesis of which was the greatest professional honor bestowed upon me in my life - presenting my very first keynote address at the college that I received my agriculture degree from to an audience of FFA students.  On Thursday I presented a keynote and did my first ever podcast interview in front of a live audience at Montana State University.  You all know how much I love my former university and the small city that adopted me for three years.  In today's episode I get to tell you all about it!

Direct download: OFI_1230_Tuesday_Episode_-_111521_7.34_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today has a really amazing story of growth and development.  To preface this, Case Edwards is one of four national proficiency finalists in the category of Ag Mechanics Repair And Maintenance.  But to hear him tell his story, when he was a sophomore in high school if you had shown him a spark plug, he would not have known what it was.

Case's story really starts with joining the FFA, but it takes a big turn during his sophomore year when his friend Terrence started small engine team in their chapter.  He talked Case into being part of it, and soon Case discovered an aptitude that he did not know that he had.  This led to the idea of fixing up old lawn mowers and flipping them, and things just kept snowballing

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income-Episode_1229_Case_Edwards-110821.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

Listen to what I have been saying about catalytic convertors…

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

Direct download: OFI_1228_Rural_Crime_-_111221_5.54_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

The purpose of this show has always been to help you find ways to create the revenue that you need so that you can sustain you farming or ranching lifestyle.  I have always picked entrepreneurship as the way to do that because of the many benefits that come with it such as making good money where few jobs exist and being able to be on your farm when your livestock or crops need you to be there.

In today's episode we are profiling another such opportunity that accomplishes both of these goals.  I will be speaking with John Hansen, the landowner profitability manager for Land Trust, a business based in Bozeman, Montana.  Land Trust thinks of itself as the "airbnb of hunting, fishing and agri-tourism".  This service works like Airbnb in that it allows a land owner to sign up and then market their land to potential customers for the purposes the landowner is willing to allow.  This could be hunting, fishing, agri-tourism, bird watching or whatever!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1227_John_Hansen-103121.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today is a replay of an interview I did on how one entrepreneur took his time in educating himself before he started his business. He had a passion for hunting and the outdoors and he combined it with his desire to want to improve farm ground all while building his business. Listen in the learn more about Al Wisnefske and his wildlife consulting company, Land and Legacy Group, LLC. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1226-Recap_Of_Episode_008-102821.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is very involved in her families dairy and dairy business, but it hasn't always been that way. Along the way to Maggie Mathew's nomination as a National Proficiency Finalist there were some bumps in the road. In some ways her childhood has been very similar to mine, starting with the divorce of her parents.  At that point she was exposed to agriculture and livestock, but at a smaller level.  However, after her mother remarried she was brought into a farming family and she took flight from there

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1225_Maggie_Mathews-110121.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I am brining on a new advertiser on November 22nd of this month and am very excited about the new contacts in the industry, the affirmation of my show that they are giving me and the fact that the business is growing.  However, what has got me the most excited is the fact that I have stayed true to the advertising model that I committed to for this show, and it is working.

Today, I want to touch on my philosophy once more and get you all ready for what is coming.

Direct download: OFI_1224_Tuesday_Episode_-_11821_2.51_PM.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

The story of today's guest could be a recruiting poster for the FFA, if the FFA actually needed recruiting posters.  I found out about Francisco Rocha because he is a national proficiency finalist this year.  However, that is the current version of his story.  What is so compelling here is the "rest of the story", to quote Paul Harvey.

Francisco grew up in Heber, California, which is right next to the larger city of El Centro.  When he started high school he was placed in an introduction to science class, and this was taught through the agriculture department.  The next thing that Francisco knew, he was an FFA member, and he embraced the group.  He continued to get more involved, even though he had not grown up on a farm.

In Francisco's junior year of high school, he took a job with his father a produce packing business in El Centro.  There, he tagged boxes of produce grown in his area of California as well as produce that had been shipped over from Mexico.  After these boxes were tagged they were shipped all over the U.S. to grocery stores and restaurants for human consumption.  During this time he was learning about food safety, the supply chain and customer service.  At the same time, his FFA advisor encouraged him to make this job his supervised agricultural experience, and he took the advice.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1223-Francisco_Rocha-110121.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tip Of The Week

Be careful with lock combinations

Rural Crime In The U.S.

Across The Pond, Down Under And Up Above

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys

Direct download: OFI_1222_Rural_Crime_-_11521_12.01_PM.mp3
Category:rural crime -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

All of the concepts that I teach and much of what I went through as I was transforming into an entrepreneur is covered in today's episode.  It is amazing to me how often I interview an entrepreneur who has made the same transition that I have, and when they tell their story there are so many common themes.

Julia (Julie) Jacobsen went to work in her local county office when she was 19 years old.  During that time she married a rancher, started having a family, and devoted nearly two decades to that position.  However, her presence was being demanded on their ranch more and more over time in addition to the demands that were being placed on her by having a toddler running around the house.  She knew it was time for a change, and she left her county job to be on the ranch with the kids full time.

Julie and her husband had budgeted for this, but with the loss of her off-farm income, the margins were extremely slim.  So, they knew that at some point Julie would have to start bringing in an income again.  Julie knew one thing for sure.  She wasn't going back to work for an employer again.  She had creativity and "outside the box" thinking boiling over in her soul, and her experience in the workplace was not one that embraced that part of her spirit.  It was one that attempted to smother it out!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1221_Julie_Jacobsen-102321.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today is a special replay of a show featuring an interview I did with Andy Dyar, who followed his entrepreneurial dream and started a T-Shirt company. He did extensive research and learned that professionalism was key in building his business, Farm Heritage, Inc. 


Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1220-Recap_Of_Episode_028-102721.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is just a junior in high school, but his achievements suggest someone who is well beyond high school.  Ethan Lulich is a National Proficiency Finalist already, for this his supervised agricultural experience restoring and selling antique tractors.  In addition to that he has two placement SAE's and another entrepreneurship SAE.  He is also serving as his chapter's president already.

Needless to say, Ethan is busy, and that means that he has to be well organized.  As I conducted this interview with Ethan one theme that kept coming up was goal setting.  He is achieving so much in such a short amount of time, there has to be a way that he is getting this done.  It turns out that Ethan is very good at setting significant goals and then sketching out a map to follow to help him get there.  Between his ability to set these goals and his discipline to follow the plan to achieve them he is seeing great results. Learn more by tuning into this podcast today. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1219_Ethan_Lulich-102321.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Last Saturday night at about 11pm my wife and I touched down at the airport, exhausted from an incredible but very active week in Indianapolis.  We had been at the National FFA Convention all week, walked dozens of miles and met hundreds of incredible people.  We had seen the future leaders of our country, with all of their hope and promise, talent and work ethic, on display for the whole world to see.  And then, just like that, it was over.

After the plane came to a stop at the gate we walked through the empty airport, retrieved our bags and found our car.  Driving through the night we found our way back to our farm, back to our normal life and the last little bit of travel adrenaline wore off.

Our daughter had flown to and from the convention with her FFA chapter, so she had beat us home.  She was already in bed, and there was no waking her.  My wife made her way to bed and to sleep as quickly as possible, but I wasn’t quite ready.

I had been gone for five days, and I missed the farm.  It was a beautiful night so I decided to take a walk and check a few things before heading to bed.  The chickens were all locked up, the pigs had feed and water and the cows and goats were bedded down where they should be.  Nothing was amiss, and from the perspective of our livestock it was like we had never left.

The night was quiet and clear, and I stood looking at the stars.  As I stood there thinking about the great week that we had just concluded I heard a train blow its horn as it approached town.  I couldn’t help but smile.  Just six hours earlier I had pulled off the side of Interstate 57 to take a picture in front of the Kankakee sign as we drove towards Chicago.

We had flown in and out of Chicago and rented a car so we could get a look at the “houses, farms and fields” of Illinois and Indiana on our way to and from the convention.  I had purposefully chosen this route on our way back so I could see this town with the funny sounding name that Steve Goodman wrote about and Willie Nelson sang about in the great song, “The City Of New Orleans”.

Coordinated Inspiration

As I stood there a thought entered my mind and my smile began to grow and grow.  At the same time that we had made our way back to our farm, tens of thousands of American youth were making their way back to theirs.  All across the country FFA students were making late night arrivals at their family farms, ranches and rural towns as they returned from this great convention.

I imagined these students looking up at the stars in their own hometowns, inspired by the time they had just spent in Indiana and dreaming of what their futures would be.  There is a big world out there and it is filled with opportunities.  However, if you are never exposed to those ideas or nobody ever tells you about them, you don’t even know they exist.

For the 55,000+ FFA students who were able to attend this great convention they couldn’t help but be excited.  This whole world of opportunity was brought to them and placed at their feet, all under one roof.  Whether their path is in the military, the trades, college, niche farming or production agriculture, everywhere they turned there was somebody who was eager to have them join them in their vocation and call to service.

I could not fathom how many thousands of students at that moment were telling themselves, “I didn’t know you could do that for a career” or who had received the spark necessary to light the fire in their souls that had just been waiting to burn.

If all the adults in the expo hall reaching out to these youth by metaphorically saying “follow me and serve your fellow man” weren’t enough, there were the general sessions.  The folks at the FFA are experts at creating an environment that first gets you very excited, followed by inspiration after inspiration in each of these general sessions.

No Excuses

The best thing this convention does, whether or not this is intentional, is that it removes all excuses.  In every session there are FFA students on the stage that are achieving at a very high level.  From the National Officers who run the show, to future professional musicians, to American Stars and Proficiency Finalists, you are shown the best of the best.  The stories of these students and how they made it to that stage are told to you, and every student sees what is possible.

For example, if a student had just found out about a dream career in the expo and told yourself, “that’s for other people, I could never do that”, in the general session they would get a metaphorical wake up call from the stories of the students on the stage that would leave them with only one answer - “If they did it, I can do it too, the only thing holding me back is me”.  That is a sobering thought, but it is also freeing and it is just what these students need to hear to be able to unleash their greatness.

Student after student walks across that stage.  Some receive the highest awards, others do not, but every nominee has achieved things that even adults only dream about.

Whether it is the agriscience research finalist whose research began during his freshman year of high school and has now taken him around the world.  Or the agribusiness finalist who saw a need at livestock shows that was not being filled and at 19 years of age flies all over the country fulfilling this need for his clients.  Or the agricultural placement finalist who had to find a way to fill a major void on his families farm and continue high school when Covid decimated their employee staff.  Or a star farmer candidate who started leasing land at an early age and building their own herd to now find themselves in a position to farm for their living.  Student after student and story after story erases excuse after excuse and replaces them with inspiration.

Neither a student nor an adult can leave a general session without a sense of inspiration and a renewed vigor that makes them believe they can go conquer the world!  Every student and every adult takes a lot more home with them from the convention than they brought.  I bring home so much energy and inspiration that I almost feel selfish.

Organizational Success

To go the FFA’s National Convention is to see unbelievable stories of individual success.  However, it is also to see an incredible example of organizational success.  The 2021 National FFA convention is the 94th iteration of this great event.  Since 1928 the National FFA has been chasing a vision of unity, fraternity, education and inclusion in agriculture.  The result has been unbelievable growth in the number of chapters and students who choose to be part of this organization.

In the midst of the activities, music, lights and competitions of the National FFA Convention one tends to see the individual achievement only.  However, if you sit down and watch students walk by, reading the names of the states that they are from on the back of their jackets you see how this kernel of an idea that sprouted almost 100 years ago has transformed agriculture and the lives of millions of American youth since that day.

There is no hall of fame for youth organizations or non-profit associations.  When one is finally created, the FFA will be a first ballot, charter member.  There is room in the FFA for everyone, whether you live in a neighborhood or on a farm.  The FFA will teach you the skills you need to succeed and expose you to a career or aptitude that will allow you to thrive.

Find your inspiration, find your purpose and find it in the FFA! 

Direct download: OFI_1218_Tuesday_Episode_-_11121_6.03_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

So, what's in the water in Slaton, Texas?  Is it some sort of magical elixir that produces national proficiency and American Star finalists?  This is a question that I am pondering more and more.

Today's show features a repeat guest, Rachyl Kitten.  Rachyl first appeared on the show just over a year ago on episode #895.  The way that I initially found out about Rachyl was that she was a national proficiency finalist in 2020.  Well....she is a national proficiency finalist again, this time for 2021!  She has great entrepreneurial instincts, a great business, and a great supporting cast at Slaton.

What is incredible about Slaton?  Tune into this podcast to find out!

Direct download: Rachyl_Kitten_Revised_Episode_-_102921_11.25_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT