Member Spotlight: Hope Doesn’t Pay the Bills - A Discussion with XA Member Charlie Leager
14 Dec 2344 min 48 sec

Charlie Leager left the Maryland family farm as a young man because there was no room for him in the operation. In 2020 — as a middle aged man and owner of a construction business — he took over the reins of the farm when his dad suddenly passed away. At age 56 and about to embark on his fifth season as a full-time farmer, Charlie discusses the lessons he’s gleaned, changes he’s making, and the business side of farming. As Charlie says, “I watched my father and grandfather farm on hope, but hope doesn’t pay the bills.”

Presented by Loveland Products

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00:00 Talking to Charlie Liger in this episode of Extreme Acts, cutting the Curves Member Spotlight, Charlie came back 00:05 to the farm as a middle-aged guy and went through some hardship. Great lessons to share with you in this episode. 00:11 Welcome to Extreme ags Cutting the Curve podcast, where we cut your learning curve with insights you can apply immediately 00:18 to your farming operation. This episode is presented by Loveland products. When it comes to crop inputs, you need products 00:25 that are field proven to deliver both results and value. For more than 50 years, 00:30 Loveland products has been providing farmers with high performance value driven product solutions designed to maximize productivity on every acre. 00:39 Visit loveland to see how their innovative products can help you farm more profitably. 00:44 And now here's your host, Damien Mason. Hey there. Welcome to another fantastic episode, oft Extreme acts, cutting the curve member spotlight. 00:51 Talking to Charlie Liger. Charlie comes to us from Maryland. That's right. Another one of those Maryland farmers. 00:57 He's a buddy with Temple Rhodes, and he's also a good dude who came back to the farm as a middle-aged guy, full-time. 01:06 See, he actually didn't have room on the farming operation, so he had to go and start his own business as a contractor. 01:12 Then all of a sudden his father dies. He comes back, takes over the thing full term, and then also he goes through some hardship. 01:19 There's a lot of lessons here, and we're gonna talk to Charlie about his journey into, uh, farming, back into farming, I should say, 01:27 from his childhood to today. And also the good things that he's applying and doing on his farming operation 01:33 that he's taken from extreme ag. Charlie, thanks for being here. Thank you, Dean. So anyway, uh, when Temple said, Hey, 01:41 you should talk to this guy, he's got a good story. Um, and, and it's not a good story. It's more of a, it's a good story. That's a hard story. 01:49 I was one of nine kids. We didn't have much of a full size. I mean, our farming operation was a shoestring budget. 01:55 There was obviously not enough living there for, uh, one set of one family, let alone multiple families. 02:01 So that talk that a lot of people had, Hey, there's no room for you here, kid. Go, go, go do your own thing. 02:07 A lot of people have had that over the years. You went away and started your contractor business and you were in construction, then you assisted, 02:15 but you came back full-time. So kind of give us that journey because a lot of people are probably going through 02:19 that still with their own, uh, situation or even their, they're, uh, bringing the next generation back. 02:27 Absolutely. Um, you know, back in the day, growing up on the farm, I helped from a very young age. Um, and then as I was in going through high school, 02:38 you know, the, the times the years got lean, the droughts, the floods, the you, there was multiple people 02:45 from their family that worked together. So I was low man on totem pole. Um, unfortunately I had to leave the farm. 02:53 There just wasn't enough there to support, you know, as I was getting older. Um, so I had to go into the contracting business, um, 03:01 which did me very well. Um, but I always helped on the farm, you know, during the seasonal times, uh, spring and fall after hour 03:11 after my construction job. Um, you know, so on and so on. So from that, my first passion was always farming, 03:21 but I did what I had to do to survive. And I love the construction business. Very good to me. I built some beautiful multimillion dollar homes. 03:29 Um, and, and it goes right back into the, the same scenario, passion of farming. You also have a passion, whatever job you do, whatever 03:37 that may end up being. If, if you're very, if you take and put the, you know, put yourself into that and you put a hundred percent into it, 03:45 good things come out of that. And that's, and that's what I did with the construction. I met some really good people. Um, so it did me well. 03:52 But like I said, my first passion was farming. And then of course, when my father passed, um, in 2020, um, it's kind of threw me right into the, 04:03 the fire per se. Um, I had to make a, you know, I had, I either had to make a move, I was either gonna do it or I wasn't. 04:09 And I, and I really, I wanted to at least try. I knew I could never live myself. I didn't at least try. Still got your con. So here We are. 04:18 You still got your construction business going, right? That's correct, yes. So here's, we're on much smaller scale. 04:24 Okay. So here's what's interesting is that you said, oh, so I had to go out and start this thing. 04:29 Starting a business building homes is not like nothing. I mean, this isn't like, oh, yeah. So I went and got a a a government job. 04:36 I mean, you're talking about you started a business, you were a young guy and you started a and, and so there's, there's a entrepreneurial 04:45 vein in you, clearly. So a lot of people that, uh, are, are our, our farm people have side businesses, 04:54 but this was a full-blown business. You were building million dollar homes and then you came back tag. 04:58 This wasn't like, oh, I sell seed on the side, or I, uh, you know, I also go and do some. So tell us about that. 05:06 Sure. So, like I say, it was very demanding. A lot of phone calls. And the neat part with technology of today, you can actually do two things. 05:14 You know, it's, it's tough on a full-time basis, which has been mentally challenging, needs to say, and financially challenging as well. 05:21 Uh, but you can, with technology of today, you can actually, you can do two things at once. 05:29 Um, which as we say, you know, it's, it's definitely, it's definitely challenging, but it, it can be, it can be done. 05:38 Did you start the con the construction business from scratch With what you 05:43 Started your construction business from scratch? Yes, that's correct. You had a, had a truck and aham, you had a truck and a hammer instead 05:49 gonna come and build a house for you. Well, let, let's hold back. Let's hold back a little bit. There's a little more to the story, 05:55 and like I said, we might have to do a series of podcasts here to tell the whole story of all of it complete to every little tale. 06:01 But I actually went to work as a delivery guy from a lumberyard. And from that I met a guy, um, that I delivered lumber to 06:10 that was, uh, worked by himself. Uh, he was 10 years. My elder, he was an Italian, so he was a little hardheaded. Um, and I got a, took a liking to him. 06:22 He took a liking to me and he said, look, you know, I, and I was asking, I didn't wanna be a delivery driver all my life, right? 06:28 So I asked him, I said, look, are you looking for some help? And he said, uh, I absolutely, so I actually went to work 06:35 for this guy, one-on-one, and then we became in business together, uh, two years, three years after that. 06:41 Um, so I had, so I did have an experience and somebody take my hand and, and help me. And, and he was really a detail guy. 06:50 Everything had to be perfect from the ground up. And that taught me a lot. 'cause I mean, we even did, not to get technical, 07:00 but like the framing part of it, if, if something was an eighth inch outta square, I mean, we were taking things apart 07:05 and putting 'em back together to make it perfect. It had to be perfect. And so therefore, um, that taught me, I learned the right way, 07:15 you know, right out of the gate at a, at a young age. So on the construction side, well, he was 10 years. My elder, I'm a young guy. 07:23 He was one job at a time, was kind of looking at multiple, I felt like as a career path, I need 07:28 to do more than one job at a time. I had to do multiple jobs to make a decent living out of it. So that's where we kind of clashed 07:36 and we ended up, we separated. We basically went through our own little business divorce, but I still talk to him on a monthly basis, even today 07:44 after 23 years of business and for myself. Yeah. So, uh, you know, so it was one of those, but that's where I learned on the trade side, 07:52 on the Christian side, I actually had a mentor that taught me the trade well and how to do it well. And I'm a hands-on guy, so I'm not a checkbook contractor 08:01 where I did, I'm a job with a tool bag. I'm, I'm driving nails just like everybody else. I'm, I'm there. And that's, so that's, you know, so 08:11 that's back through the farming thing where you're hands on. You know what I mean? You're, I I've always 08:15 been a hands-on guy. So when you talk about, uh, having this mentor to, I mean, you're, you're handy 'cause you're a farm kid. 08:22 I mean, all of us had to do certain stuff, you know, uh, I still, I still find it funny. 08:27 People say, I'm surprised you know how to do this. I'm like, well, you think this is the first time I've had to touch a wrench? 08:32 You know, you think the first time I've had to do this. So you were handy, then you became a construction guy. What was the farming involvement with over those years? 08:40 I mean, you're 50, what are you, you're almost my age, like 53 or four years old, right? 56. I'm 50. I'm 56. Yeah. 08:46 So, so you're in your twenties, uh, you know, you've gotta make a living and you've got your construction job going. 08:54 And then you've got your construction business that you've, you know, fused with. Uh, your, your mentor. Where was farming during that time? 09:02 Well, what I did on the, on that was, and I took the pieces anywhere. I had to pick up the pieces, whether it be run a plant 09:08 or run, you know, whatever it may be, run a combine. Um, there's always been, you know, there on the farm, you know, there's always something that has to be done. 09:17 So during the busy time, I would, I would do that. Now at the, at the later years, the last 10, 15 years, prior to my father's passing, I did all the planning, 09:27 I did all the, the technical things. He, he ran the combine. He did, you know, that that was his thing. 09:33 So I, um, um, that was, you know, so, so, so basically in the beginning was a little bit of everything. 09:41 And then toward the end, it was the, the technical stuff that, you know, you had to be really, 09:47 And your dad told you when your dad said, Hey, you like this farming thing, but you're gonna have to go and get a job because there's no room for you here. 09:54 And again, a lot of us have, have been through that. Uh, did, was there another sibling? Was like there an older sibling? 10:03 Uh, was there somebody else that was already sitting there? Yes, I have, yes, I have, I have an older sister. 10:09 And was she involved in the farm? No, she was not involved in the farm And never wanted to be, No, she never, she, 10:18 she had her own path. She had her own path she never wanted to be a part of. Got it. So when you, when you were then running your 10:26 computer, working for somebody else or running your own construction business, you were involved in the farm as a on, 10:32 as an as needed basis. But then was there that time when your, uh, when your old man says, Hey, I'm getting older. 10:38 Um, you know, maybe it's time for you to be a little bit more involved, or how, how did the be besides him dying, how was the handoff? 10:47 I'm assuming that there was a, a, a little bit before that where it's like, Hey, you know what, Charlie, we need you to be involved here. 10:54 Well, there comes with age, you know, there comes dependency. And it got to the point where, um, you know, 11:01 a full eight hour day on the job and then go there. It was really late in the day. So it got to the point 11:08 where I had enough good help Christian field that usually by lunchtime, one o'clock I could peel out 11:14 of the job site and go. So I was, so, I was earlier and that, that, that transpired 10, 10 years or more prior to his death. 11:23 So that, that, so it seemed like he got dependent on coming there at lunchtime, you know, he was used to that occurring. 11:33 So, so that's where it rolled into that dependency. He also saw the drive that I had to continue the farm operation. 11:42 And that began And that began when you were in your late thirties? 40? 11:47 Yeah, that would've been, that would've been in my late thirties, early forties, yes. Got it. Yes. All right. 11:52 So, uh, from the business standpoint, did you have that discussion back then? Like, Hey dad, I'm going to be involved now, and, 12:00 and here's, here's how we should structure this. Or was it, uh, well, when I die, then it'll be yours. It wa Was there already a handoff going on? 12:09 No, there was, there was no, there was no, you know, the thought in his mind, but it was always like, we'll talk about it tomorrow. 12:17 You know, sometimes the older generation is we'll kick that can down the road. We'll talk about it tomorrow. We'll talk about it tomorrow. 12:23 Tomorrow never came. And that's the tough, I think, I think his, I think his hope was that I would continue the farm operation, 12:31 but we never had that, you know, we never had that deal where he planned for the future. That didn't, that did not happen. 12:39 Yeah. Well, by the way, that's a big problem. And I've been covering that on some other episodes about the business side of Agricul. 12:45 So, and that's a, It creates, it creates a lot of hassle. Big problem. That is a big problem. 12:51 And I would advise anybody if they have a thought of their next generation taking over, they really need to have that discussion. 12:58 They have to have a good plan. Because when that occurred, we know we're talking, my father passed at the end of May, 13:05 and when that occurred, the corn had been planted, the soybeans had not been planted. We're dealing with a harvest season just a 13:12 couple, a few months away. Um, and all of a sudden we're, you know, I'm handed, I had no skin in the game at all as far 13:20 as no control over any suppliers, um, the farm checkbook, no. You know what I mean? So I really got handed a turd per se, 13:30 when my father passed, um, that all of a sudden I really had to take the bull body horns, like really, really rapidly. 13:38 And then not only that, when you're, and we haven't got to the fire yet, but when that happened, that was like, man, 13:45 how much can one person take? How much can one person deal with? Yeah. So, I mean, and I, I wanna be in, 13:51 in all due respect, as, as we always politely say, your dad's a good guy, presumably, but not business-minded. And we've been covering this a lot on other 14:01 episodes of cutting the curve. You said you got handed the turd and you're being very polite. 14:06 You got handed what could have been an absolute disaster. And that's where I keep, I keep in, you know, 14:12 bringing on different guests to talk about that transition and that business thing. This guy had no backup. He was in his seventies 14:19 and had no backup and didn't even have anybody else that, that knew where the, knew where the switches were. 14:25 You know, that that knew, that knew where the, which levers to pull. Yes, yes. 14:31 And that's, and that's, and that's true, but I was one of those kids, you know, I was one of those people that always paid 14:36 attention, always paid attention. Who was coming in the door, who was going out the door of the shop. 14:41 Um, you know, I just paid attention. And I, and I, and there was people that came through the door that I didn't necessarily admire, 14:48 didn't think they were on the same page as my father, per se. I didn't think they were necessarily helpful. 14:54 So, but I paid attention. I was one of those kids that paid attention. And I had a, you know, with some of the suppliers, 15:02 I had a relationship with the managers because I was the guy dealing with the seed, the plant, you know, the, the, the, some of the chemicals 15:09 that were going in it, the starters, the so on and so on. So I did have those relationships with the people. 15:16 I just didn't have the financial part. I wasn't dealing with any of that at that time. Yeah. I wanna get into then the handoff of the business 15:25 and then where you've taken it, because I think it's pretty exciting stuff. And obviously you're doing a good job 15:29 and, uh, temple speaks very highly of you. I wanna get into that. Before I do that, I wanna ask you, dear listener and viewer, are you ready to stand up 15:38 to weather induced crop stress? Of course you are. You know what, it's always Absolutely, yes. 15:43 It's always a, it's always a question. We've got crop stress. So I wanna talk to my listeners here, Mr. 15:48 Charlie, about a product called terramar. Terramar is an innovative bio stimulant technology from Loveland products designed to help your corn 15:55 and soybean crops thrive, even under stressful conditions. Try Terramar terramar exclusively available 16:00 from nutrient Ag solutions. All right, so you've got, um, To add to that, I've actually used the product. 16:08 You've used the product, Absolutely used the product terramar. Yes, absolutely. And you speak highly, Absolutely. Last year. 16:16 And, Uh, I do, I do see where the stress reducers are helping. And because I'm all dryland, I, 16:23 I do not have any irrigated ground. So it's, it's really important for me. I've got to deal with the stress factor. 16:30 And I've seen, um, those stress factor, those stress mitigators. I've actually seen those, uh, work very well. 16:39 Interesting. I wanna talk about the coming back into the farming operation. 16:44 So, um, you always pay attention. Your, your dad didn't necessarily set the table for you very well. 16:50 Um, and that, that's always a challenge. And then you, you're coming in and you're like, okay, and it's, it's, it's still planting season. 16:58 Uh, I gotta bury my dad, and then I got put in the soybeans. I gotta bear my dad and then finish out some crops. 17:04 Um, and then you still also have your own construction business, pretty stressful time. And the good news is you think it's easier. 17:13 Like I, you know, is it easier to do that when you're a middle aged guy than when you're young? When you're young, you have more energy when you're old, 17:21 you don't have as much energy, but you have more experience. Like you can more, almost, almost, 17:25 it might be easier when you're older to compartmentalize. That's what I'm thinking. 17:30 Well, absolutely. And I'm a stress, I'm a stress guy anyway, so I can, you know, so I can handle it because, 17:35 because of the million dollar homes and all that stuff carries a lot of stress, um, because it's not the cookie cutter, cutter houses, you know 17:44 what I mean, where you just come up and move on up the street where the multimillions you, you've gotta have everything thought through the process. 17:51 Um, so I've already been, you know, so I, I was used to the stress of things. Now, when it got compounded the way that it did, 17:58 that was a little, that was definitely challenging, no question. And middle wage definitely helped with the experience 18:04 of the construction business. Um, it, it, it, it allowed me to have that mental capacity to handle that. 18:12 And when to, I don't know, I guess a good way to put, it's when to call spade a spade. You know, you could tell when somebody was blowing smoke up 18:19 your butt, you know, you could say, oh, no, no, we're not doing that. You know, this is the way we're gonna do it. 18:23 This is the way we're gonna handle it. So at, at a young age, it's hard for you to do that. But when you become in your thirties and forties 18:30 and you've been around the block a little bit, you start to realize who's there in your corner and who's not. 18:35 Yeah, it's pretty easy to see. Well, you've talked about your father, you know, uh, and then you talk about this handing things off. 18:42 And then, and I want to, I wanna give a little bit of a pat for what we do here at Extreme Ag. 18:48 When did you come across the extreme ag thing? Because you've obviously used this as a resource for your, you know, going back into being the full blown 18:57 production agriculture guy. What have you gleaned out of our situation? What have you gleaned out of what we're doing? Well, 19:03 You, you've also, to go back to the history sample, where I come from, you know, my, both, both sides of my grandparents were farmers, both sets 19:12 of my great-grandparents were. So, we're multi-generational farmers. Um, so we always, this goes into the scenario, 19:21 what I wasn't comfortable, like I told you, where I paid attention all along the path. You know, we, here on the eastern shore of Maryland, 19:29 w we always had, we never really had our hands available to agronomists. We always had a salesman telling us 19:35 what we should do and not do. Um, and, and as it become corporate, you could tell, and because I was dealing the construction business, 19:43 you saw some of the corporate, the monies, this and that, whatever, you start to realize that when it gets to corporate, that, you know, there's an agenda there. 19:51 They're pushing products, they're pushing things. Well, I didn't necessarily like what, what of 'em, some of 'em had to say or did. 19:59 I didn't. I didn't know if that was necessarily the right. And as Temple and the other guys, Matt 20:04 and all the other said, you know, your dirt is your dirt. Nobody knows your dirt better than you. 20:12 So the salesman is trying to sell those products that as a general, you know, to make profits on their sales and all that. 20:19 And I get that. And I, and I understand that, and I'm not trying to take it away from 'em, but my dirt is my dirt. 20:26 And so I took it, that's where I started to Google research, do research on different things. 20:32 Like, now I could argue or debate my sales, like, nah, I don't think that's the best path for us to take. 20:40 I think we need to try this, this, or this. And then, of course, then the debates start. Well, sometimes they get a little frustrated 20:46 because that's not what they want to hear. So that's one thing, extreme ag and, and the internet has taught me 20:55 or showed me that there is other ways to get to the final, the end result that you're looking 21:01 for without necessarily being told or sold a product that doesn't work for you. Uh, and because everybody's, everybody's dirt is different. 21:11 So you gotta figure that out. You gotta, you gotta, you know, do your research, dig up, you know, we never did Damien, we never dug up plants. 21:20 All years I farm my father, my grandfather, we never dug up look at root structure. We didn't, we, you know, tissue samples. 21:29 We didn't do those things. We, you know, we just went by the salesman drive by and said, man, everything looks great. 21:34 Corn looks green. Well, okay, well, it's green. Does it really? Is it healthy? Is it really good? So, and that's where we're taking a little stepfather 21:42 and really, really, really looking. And I look, I've met some really, really extreme mag. I've met some really, really good people that, 21:49 and I went by the philosophy in construction, all if you surround yourself with good people, good things will happen. 21:55 So that's my take on what I've learned from, from Extreme Mag is now I can debate my salesman. Yeah. You know What I'm talking about? 22:06 We did a recording with Temple, uh, a week or so ago, and the topic came about taking back your farm. And, uh, we're gonna do more on that topic, 22:16 but it's not that you are getting screwed. It's not that you're being taken advantage of, it's just that you've got a lot going on. 22:24 In your case, you've got a construction business to manage. You've got a farm to manage. 22:28 You know, you've got a lot of stuff you're taking on. It's not unreasonable that you then utilize the services of a sales rep, uh, an agronomist, a consultant, uh, whatever. 22:40 But the problem is, after 1, 2, 5 years, you almost get it on cruise control where, well, Joe told me this, and Cindy told me that. 22:50 And it's almost like, wait a minute, maybe it's time to reevaluate. And that's kinda what I'm hearing is that you, you like, 22:58 you like to look for different angles on stuff to say, um, why are we doing that again? I mean, that's, it's questioning 23:05 and it's not, it's not questioning just to be, um, uh, obstinate. It's questioning because you want to a better outcome. 23:13 Well, that's true. That's absolutely correct. But also, you gotta understand, I watched my father, my grandfather, I watched them farm on hope. 23:20 You know, we put it out there and we hope for the best. We hope it all works out. Hope doesn't pay the bills. You know, we gotta be methodical. 23:29 We gotta be methodical and have a plan. Now, mother Nature might have a different, you know, outset all, you know, from that. 23:37 But, but we have to have a plan. And I think if you can, if you can make your plant as healthy as you possibly can make it, 23:44 and that's where the extreme ag to take it, a step follow. This is where, you know, we used, we used 23:49 to always front load or or crop in a lot of our soybeans. We used to front load, put a lot of money out. 23:54 And once again, back to hope, and hope it all worked out well. Now with the technologies of today, now we're trying 24:00 to figure out how we can do as little as possible to get it a good start, but then spoon feed that crop as we go along. 24:08 Of course, you know, as Temple, where we're, you know, we're on the Chesapeake Bay watershed, so we gotta be careful nutrient management plans. 24:14 So we can't, we can't just do crazy stuff anyway. But we're trying to learn, you know, how we can spoonfeed this along as mother nature cooperates. 24:24 Yeah. Especially on dry land. How can we get the best bang for our buck, the ROIs, you know? 24:30 I mean, and look, Damien, these are all things that, you know, gdu and pgs, these are things three, four years ago you asked me, I'd be, 24:38 what hell is that? Yeah. I didn't Know what it was now, now it's everyday conversation about which, which extreme ag and all, all the guys have been very full with that. 24:49 'cause I throw in questions, you know, and I get answers and replies and, Hey, that's, 24:53 it's been, it's been, it's been good. I didn't, I didn't know what a plant growth regulator was until I, uh, started working with these guys. 24:59 And there's a lot of other things I didn't know. Um, you know, I, I'm gonna throw this out there because there's a couple things. 25:06 First off, farming has that family connotation. And, and you're expected, whether it's going to church, going to, uh, the local ag meeting 25:18 or going on social media, we're supposed to be all about, uh, the family side and the, and the, and the beautiful sunsets. 25:28 And that's all great. I love that stuff. But I get that in talking to you, you're, you're a business guy. 25:36 And that's why, um, you just said hope doesn't pay, doesn't pay the bills. You said your dad died and left you a hell of a mess. 25:46 And you said to everybody, get your stuff set up. Get that, get that transition thing set you, were you a business guy? 25:54 And then came back to the farm, or to this whole, you know, how, how did this thing, because you're, it is not that you're unemotional, 26:01 but you're almost like, Hey, dammit, this needs to be done. Like, I get the, I get the idea 26:06 that you're very pragmatic and business-minded. Well, And so am I, by the way, I get, I get bashed on, I get bashed on about that. 26:16 Also. Like, Damien, your business, you, you, you don't, well, I came up, I came up with a bunch of non-business minded people. 26:24 My parents were not business-minded people, good hard workers. But, and I'm like, 26:29 why are we working this hard instead of working smart? And that's where, I guess I'm going with this. Yes. And that's, that's where I, I know, you know, look, 26:38 the farming is very challenging. Anything, construction business, the contract, it's all very challenging. 26:44 And you've got to watch the pennies because, you know, the dollars take care of themselves. I had an older gentleman tell me one time, 26:52 the dollars would take care of themselves, watch the pennies. And that's, and once again, I listened to, I listened 26:57 to the older generations and I always admired what they had to say. 'cause you could learn a lot from them. 27:01 So, and this farming is so, so critical on watching, you know, you've got watch dollar and cents, you know, and then comes the, you know, you know, 27:13 I'm trying to pick up, I'm fighting for pennies. So anything I can do, and look, I'm not afraid to spend the money 27:20 if I think I'm gonna get a return on that money spent. So I, I guess that's where the business comes in. I'm afraid to spend it, 27:29 because you can certainly be too tight in this game. And we're back to hope again. Put a little bit in hope for the best. 27:34 Well, uh, once again, hope doesn't pay the best. I just send to the power company. I love you and get, expect to get my electric bill, 27:43 you know, funded or taken away. So, you know, so I, so we gotta be methodical. All farmers have to be, 27:51 nowadays be methodical in the process. 'cause if not, it's gonna chew you up. Mean there's a lot of dollars traded 27:57 in the farming industry. You can be respectful. You can be respectful, but also, um, critical about the things, 28:06 the people that were before you. And what I'm hearing is when I said I was raised by hardworking people, but not business-minded people, 28:12 I'm almost getting that same thing from you. That you're, you're respectful, but you also are critical saying, 28:19 should have done this, should have done that. I'm going to do better, and here's how I'm gonna do it. And that, that, that's 28:25 how I think businesses evolve and improve. Uh, absolutely. I'm not trying to dish what my predecessors, my father, you know, 28:35 'cause he survived that long, you know, I mean, in the, in the ag industry, he survived that, you know, that long. But I just, that things have changed 28:46 as, as time goes on, right. Mother time takes care of, you know, it's different farming in the 2000 twenties than it is in 28:53 the 1980s, 1990s. It's, it's different. It's just different. A lot of, like I say, once again, a lot 29:00 of money exchanging hands. A lot of money. Yeah. A lot of money. So, by the way, let's talk about your operation. 29:05 Incidentally, and we're not gonna gloss over this, but there was other hardship. A couple months after your dad dies, 29:10 you're thrown back into the operation and you're, and you're doing it. Uh, you also had a fire and lost all your equipment. 29:19 Yes. Two months. Two months almost to the day, um, of, of, of my father passing. 29:26 I got the phone call at two 30 in the morning. That or shop was on fire. And don't be in a hurry to get up the highway. 29:32 I'm about 20 minutes away. And, uh, said, you're not gonna be able to save anything. Well, needs to say, as I'm driving up the highway 29:40 about 80 miles an hour or 85, um, I'm, I'm looking up in the sky, like, how much more can I take? 29:48 Is this a sign? You know, is this a sign from my father? Like, you know, are you sure you want to do this? 29:55 Are you, you know, so that, that was completely devastating. And that was one of them. The the shop was, 30:03 was a secondary farm. Um, that was like home base. You know, that's, I assume that building, that those pieces would always be there. 30:13 You know, the heritage of my grandfather's father's, um, wrenches tools. 30:18 Right. You know, we had multiple service trucks in there. You know, I just assumed that stuff would be around forever. 30:26 And for, and, and never in a million years did I ever think I'd get that phone call that, um, 30:31 you've lost about everything. So, um, that's, that was, that was really, that was like at that point, like, wow, where, right. 30:43 You know, how many years ago was this? What, what, how many, how many years ago was this? What's that? 20 Years ago? Was this, 30:50 This was in 2020. It's three years ago. Three years ago. Little three years. So where are you now? Where are you now? 30:56 Three years later? Where are you, uh, you know, you're in your third, you're in your fourth season of, of, of calling the shots. 31:04 Uh, where are you now? Well, actually I'm in a very, like I say, I'm in a really, wow. 31:10 I'm in a good spot because, you know, the commodity market's done well. Um, so, and our crops have been phenomenal. 31:17 So, you know, I'm really, I'm really comfortable, but unfortunately I need a few more good years under my belt before I get comfortable, 31:26 because like I say, it was basically like starting over again. Uh, the ground, the, the relationship with the landlords, 31:34 um, was there. So that's why that was a big plus, you know, after my father passed, um, that I was able to keep, 31:42 you know, 'cause that's the hard part is acquiring land to till, as we all know, that's, that's a battle. So that battle was already taken care of, you know, 31:52 so alls I had to deal with was the equipment. So after the fire, you know, I reached out to, uh, about all the suppliers and, 32:00 and I'm back to that, you know, we were, we were case ih. My father was loved, my grandfather. 32:06 Um, but I put it out there to all of them. You know, how can you help me in this situation, what I have? 32:13 I've been thrown a turd here, you know, what can, what can we do? So, um, and, and the majority were, were, were helpful, um, 32:21 because they were, you know, a lot of 'em were, what do you have to have for the fall harvest? 'cause once again, the fall is in July. 32:29 We're starting harvest in September. Yep. Um, and, and, you know, and needs to say the insurance company from the fire, uh, 32:38 which that's a whole nother podcast, um, that battle. But, you know, they, they send a check for, it's, it's an over a million dollar claim, 32:47 and they're sending a check for $10,000. Like, well, this will help you fall. That really doesn't do me a whole lot of good. Right, 32:54 Right, right. You gimme 10, you gimme $10,000 to help me along to get to fall. Um, I, I can't rent a combine for the fall for 10 grand, 33:06 For 10 grand. So that's where, that's, that's where I had to lean on, um, some machinery dealers, like, you know, 33:13 this is, this is what I got. What can we do? How can we do it? Um, so on and so on. So trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. 33:20 And some were, were extremely, some were very, very helpful. So, and they said, look, we'll, we'll, 33:26 we'll get you what you have to have. Um, and that's, um, and that, and that worked out. So, um, and then, so like I say, I put it all out there, 33:35 and then whoever could, once again, whoever could work good with me, you know, the good people around you. 33:42 So on and on. Um, I said, uh, that's where I went to purchase a lot of the equipment for after I got through the fall. 33:52 And I kind of saw cleared through the mess and through the hurdles and, and, uh, it was, like I say, it was, you know, we're, 34:00 we're talking a whole different storyline there with the insurance name of that magnitude. So you had a, um, you, your, 34:06 you got obviously some, your mom's still alive. Yes. Mom is still alive. That's correct. So it's not as though you just inherit, uh, everything 34:16 because the truth is some of your father's assets, or many of them, most of them probably go, go to her. So from a business structure That's right. Standpoint. 34:24 Um, are you comfortable with the way you're structured now? I am comfortable, yes. 34:31 I, I am comfortable if, if, if it had to, if all those car, those line of events had to happen, it couldn't, if it had 34:39 to happen, and look, I didn't want it to happen, none of it to happen. But if it had to happen timing wise, it worked out 34:46 to my favor only because Covid hit after that and then used equipment become hard to get your hands on. It become extremely more valuable if all 34:57 that things had happened two or three years after it actually did happen, I don't know that I could have continued to form Mm-Hmm. 35:04 Because those things became outta reach at the time it all occurred. It was within reach. 35:09 You could actually make it work on paper, it penciled out. So that's where timing plays into all this as well. 35:16 You know, it's, it's all goes into timing. So, uh, are you buying, or did, did your mom say, man, uh, you're gonna take this? 35:25 I mean, is it, is it work on paper? Are you talking about making it work on paper? Technically, uh, it, it, it's, there's still a lot of, 35:33 there's still a lot of things to be worked through. You have a sibling, you have a mom, and you've got this farming operation. 35:37 You've got your construction business. This could be a lot. This could be a little overwhelming. 35:42 Yes, absolutely. And, and the thing with the, uh, after my father's passing, you know, I began to take pictures. 35:50 I assumed there was gonna be a buyout. I was gonna buy my mother out of the farming, the equipment and all that stuff. 35:55 So I began to take pictures of serial plates, pictures of the equipment so we could get appraisals done on the equipment. 36:01 Did I, I did not know I was gonna use those for the appraisal for the fire. Right. You know, I'm, I'm considering I'm taking those 36:09 as the appraisal to buy my mother out of the business. So it kind of, that part kind of worked out now that I think that would've been easier to do 36:20 to buy my mother out, buy the equipment from my mother. But unfortunately, with the fire, the insurance money became, that was hers. 36:29 Yeah. That was her, my mother's money, because that was my dad's equipment. So now I had to go buy equipment. 36:37 So, cleaned all that up, but yet it made it more complicated because it'd probably been financially easier to deal 36:44 with my mother buying it out than it was now I'm going, you know, sold to buy the equipment. So that's where, that's like I say, it was, it was a lot 36:54 to process and a very short window as, as you can imagine. But you know, I say if it happens to anybody, you know, 37:01 just, just hold your head high and just keep plugging trudging forward and you'll get through it. 37:05 Get to the other side because it is worth the fight. Yeah, that's, that's really good. Uh, parting advice, do you have any other parting advice, 37:13 uh, incidentally, the, the, here you are, three, you're in your fourth crop season now. Uh, you still excited? 37:21 I am. I'm still excited. Yes. And I, and I'm always looking for that next, that next product. 37:27 It's gonna be, you know, it's going to be the next one that we try do. 'cause we're doing a lot of trials. 37:32 We're, we're, we're, you know, we're, we're trying things as we go to, to see what benefits us. 37:38 And, uh, and I have a son that's 29 years old, so that's very helpful. He's, he's on the farm with me as well. 37:44 So that's, that's been, you know, so you're seeing that. And I tried to, everything that I'm doing, I tried 37:51 to explain to my son, um, my father and I didn't have necessarily have the best communication skills. 37:56 We talked, but he didn't necessarily tell me why he was doing what he was doing. I tried to do that with my son. I tried to walk him through. 38:03 So God forbid he's not blindsided, kind of like I was. So I involve him and I involve him in, I, I question and answer, you know, what do you think about doing this? 38:12 What do you think about trying that? You know, so, and that's been, and that's part of the reason 38:16 that keeps me the drive keeps you going too, you know, for the next to get through the next year, get to the next year, get to the next year, 38:23 you know, so on and so on. So hopefully, if it all works out we'll, We're recording this in November of 2023. 38:30 Looking to 2024. What's, what's, gimme a gimme one big initiative. One big thought, one big idea for 2024 that you're, 38:38 you're rolling around. Ooh. Uh, that's a trick question. 'cause there's so many thoughts bounce through my head. 38:47 Um, I have a lot of voices in my head, but, uh, I would say, um, what scares me at the commodity, you know, you're starting 38:55 to see the commodity market go down, kind of spiral down a little bit here, becoming more challenging. So how can you, how can you get the good crop? 39:06 How can you grow that crop and produce enough to, to make it through, you know, get to the next year, I guess. 39:16 I guess that would be my biggest take on what's coming up for the following year. You know, how, how can we keep the good production going 39:24 and we, we're not gonna have the monies available to throw at it like we have in the past, because the commodity market the way it is. 39:32 So markets, markets are challenging. That's, that's what I see. Well, I, I think that that's accurate. 39:40 Uh, one big thing you're gonna try though, you got anything you're excited about that you're like, Hey, you know, one thing I'm gonna do, I've never done before. 39:49 Uh, New product, new practice, Um, new products. Uh, I can't, I haven't, I haven't done enough research yet this fall to go through my analysis of all my data 40:05 to say what, what that, um, what new product, um, would be in my, I knew Terramar is definitely one of 'em that I'm definitely considering as a, 40:15 across the board product. Um, I like, I like that and every pass. I like that. Um, 40:20 And only another, and another thing that I, you know, that I did, um, is the very first piece of equipment that I bought was a sprayer before I bought a tractor, 40:29 before I bought a combine, because I needed to learn the chemistry of what we're trying to do. 40:36 And that's been so far, Damien, I haven't killed anything yet, um, that I'm not supposed to kill. 40:41 So, uh, um, but that's, I know what I'm putting in that sprayer on what I'm dumping in there. And that's what's really been a beneficial to me is, 40:49 is I'm seeing the result. I got clean fields, um, and, and, and everything is, is growing well and healthy. 40:56 So, um, I I, that was, that was very, very helpful for me to learn that side of the farming. You know, 41:03 It's interesting, uh, you talked a lot about learning and, and, and, uh, whatnot, and that's what we're all about here. 41:11 So I think that's kind of cool. And you're 56, there's, unfortunately, there's people that aren't listening to what we do, and they're your age 41:19 and they think that they know everything. And I feel bad for those people because here you are saying, I'm, 41:24 I'm still learning and trying. Yeah. And you gotta, you know, it's, it's back in the day with, with the, uh, other equipment. 41:34 You know, you, you were lucky if you got one new piece a year or one new piece every three years. 41:39 Well, you gotta, you've gotta keep in mind that fall that year, uh, after the fire, I'm dealing with all new equipment, 41:47 sprayer planter that's auto shutoffs, uh, row shutoff, you know, the tech and all that. I had to learn that in one year. Yeah. 41:55 You talk about challenging. There was days that I'm like, man, is it worth all this crap? 41:59 Holy moly. You know, little, little tricks that, you know, one piece was bad enough to learn, 42:04 but when you had to learn multiple pieces, that was really tough. That was, that was, 42:10 that was make you, uh, yeah, Jump, jump. Jumping off the high, jumping off the high dive, uh, no flows. 42:16 Yeah, that's what I was, yeah, I didn't wanna say that out loud, but yes, definitely. Uh, it was def uh, it was definitely challenging. 42:22 It was, it was tough. It was tough. All right. But hey, we got through it. We got through it. We're moving on and, and, uh, hey, 42:29 We're good. I want you to come back in a couple of years and tell me, you know, almost like five years, 42:35 six years into reassembling, uh, and, and re uh, joining the farming operation and tell us what the next thing is. 42:43 'cause I get the impression that you're doing a lot of things and you're excited about it, and you probably are gonna say, geez, in just in two years, 42:50 I realize making mistakes over here. So I want you to come back in a couple years. His name's Charlie 42:54 Ger, but it might be one of those things that told you how stupid, but I was two years ago too. We're thinking, you thinking what? I was thinking? 43:01 You know, you know, we, we don't, we don't know, but Successful people admit that they, that they were doing stuff wrong in the old days. 43:08 And that's, uh, why they, that's why they're successful, right? Yeah, absolutely. And 43:14 that's the only way I learned is by doing dumb stuff. And like, that was stupid. Don't ever do that again. So I'm, I'm, I'm a hands-on guy 43:21 for that crap. That's for sure. I like it. He's a business guy too. All right. His name's Charlie Liger. He is a member of Extreme Ag. 43:28 If you are listening to this and you wanna be a member of Extreme Ag member, just seven 50 bucks a year, it's a very, 43:33 very small down payment on all the, uh, return you're going to get from the lessons, the trials, the 43:39 also the, the interaction, right? You know, even Charlie talked about you can go in there and type in a question 43:43 and get feedback from the extreme ag guys. So it's a, it's a beneficial thing. He's one of our members, it's a member spotlight. 43:50 He's a Maryland guy. If you're, uh, wanting to look up Charlie Liger, uh, if they wanna find you, how do they find you? 43:56 Somebody says, Hey man, I got a question. Yeah, man. Just, uh, email me cj Cj Hope doesn't pay the bills. 44:08 I wrote it down, and the dollars will take care of themselves. Watch out. Watch the pennies. I love it. 44:13 He's got some wisdom. Anyways, his name's Charlie Liger. My name's Damien Mason. Thanks for being here. 44:16 Till next time, this extreme acts cutting the curve. That's a wrap for this episode of extreme Ag cutting the curve. 44:23 But there is plenty more available by visiting Extreme Ag Farm. For over 50 years, farmers have turned to the proven lineup 44:31 of crop inputs offered by Loveland products, from seed treatments, plant nutrition, adjuvant, and crop protection products. 44:38 Loveland has the complete lineup to keep your farming operation productive, and most importantly, profitable. 44:44 Check out loveland to learn more.