State President, Saydee Longhurst's SAE: Cleo's Cuttings
My SAE is a small hay bale business called Cleo’s Cuttings. I started this business first and foremost because I am passionate about agriculture. I just simply LOVE IT! I want to be a full-time farmer after college.
My dad and I have two horses and we were feeding them big hay bales that my dad produced. We were getting tired of handling them because they were so big. Also, my dad puts up 3x4 bales of hay and he is always getting calls for small bales to feed horses, etc. We thought there might be a market for small bales in our area. We decided to restore an old two-string baler and baled up a few small hay bales in 2015. We loved feeding them personally and they sold out quick! We knew we needed to grow and expand this operation and find a niche. We found a piece of equipment called a Bale Baron that was new and hot within the small hay bale business. It took 18 little hay bales and packaged them into one large bundle. We purchased a Bale Baron from a dealer in Montana and used it this past summer in my business.
This has been exciting to be part of something new to our area and we think it will continue to grow and expand even more in the coming season and we can’t wait to implement even more new technology and new practices in the future. I’m so excited to work alongside my dad, continue learning and loving agriculture and create a bigger and more successful Cleo’s Cuttings.
One challenge I didn’t even realize would be a challenge as a farmer was the record keeping. I was naive in thinking I just had a business and that was it. My mom is the primary book keeper for our family farm so she quickly taught me how vital a good record keeping system is to a successful business.
Overcoming the challenge of record keeping was a learning process. We set up my own ‘company’ in QuickBooks and I started learning the process of entering expenses and income. I am also slowly learning all about assets and liabilities for a company. There’s a lot to learn. My mom continually teaches me and her experience has been really helpful.
An experience I’ve had the opportunity to learn through my SAE is good work ethic. When crops are ready to harvest, everything gets put on hold. That can mean fun activities with family or friends. It can mean missing your own birthday. No matter how long it takes to get the harvest done-that’s how long you work. If bad weather is on the horizon, even longer hours may be needed to get that crop in. One thing I can say about work ethic; after a really long harvest, there is no better feeling than knowing you gave it everything you had. You feel so accomplished and satisfied with all you worked hard to get done.
Something that will stick with for my life from my SAE is learning good communication skills. I have had to learn to speak confidently about what my business is. I’ve had to learn to not be intimidated by questions I don’t know the answer to and how to tell people no in a polite way. I have had to find the balance in communication between texting and voice calls. Sometimes the best way to get information communicated properly, effectively and correctly is to just dial a number and have a conversation with someone. For kids my age, this isn’t always the first or preferred way, but I’ve learned, often times, it’s the best way, especially with adults wanting to buy hay.
In learning to own, run and operate a business, the experiences I’ve learned in being ‘the boss’ have been situations I will take with me in the future. I’ve had the opportunity to learn to use my time wisely and efficiently. I’ve learned to delegate. I’ve learned to say no. I’ve learned to say yes. I’ve learned that I can go without a few extra hours of sleep for the feeling of satisfaction when a job needed my attention. I’m learning to market crops and myself. I am so excited to continue learning more about being the owner and hope to continue making good choices that will grow Cleo’s Cuttings.
In owning my own business, I have learned and grown and become so much more sure of my future. I want to be a farmer. I want to be a female farmer. I want to grow hay like my dad has for 20 years. I want to continue to learn about the markets and the weather patterns. I am beyond excited to study Agribusiness at Utah State and see what the latest and greatest technology and practices in agriculture are. I hope to bring that knowledge back to our family farm to teach my dad as well as continue to grow and develop my own business in the years to come. I’m just getting started and my future looks so bright!