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Getting further into the farm business

A visit to the accountant leads to a new name for Toban Dyck’s old farm

Twitter was helpful the other day. I feel like that sentence uttered in earnest is so surprising and powerful that I could just drop the mic and walk off the stage. But, alas, I will stick around for a few more words.

Jamie and I have reached a milestone (of sorts) in our farming story. I’ll get to all of this. First let’s talk about taxes.

Taxes are a difficult phenomenon to make peace with. Mortality and our unavoidable march to the grave seems easier. Anyway, I’m now sitting in my accountant’s office discussing last year’s taxes and our recently acquisition of 80 acres.

He poured me a cup of coffee. I, of course, said yes. I don’t know if I have the willpower to say no to coffee and to be honest I don’t really want to test the theory.

We’re friends with our accountant so we chatted about camping and life before getting into it.

We opened up a farm account with the express purpose of keeping whatever money we make in it for when we’d have to start buying more land and equipment.

This money, we learned, is taxed at a high percentage, despite our intention to not use it until the farm requires it. Last year was our first exposure to this. We were shocked. We paid it and promised to come up with a plan before the end of the next tax season.

My coffee was long done (my knee was chattering like a wind-up toy) and another tax season had come and gone.

Changing structure

If we incorporate and the money we make on the farm largely stays on the farm, our tax bill will be smaller. This was the message. I had just shipped the remainder of my soys to market, so we were expecting a cheque. It was suggested that we hustle. It was suggested that we quickly incorporate, so that cheque could be written in our corporation’s name and not taxed at one million per cent.

Oh boy, we thought. It’s that time. This is a big deal. We just finalized our 80-acre purchase and the reality of what all of that means was just starting to grip us.

We had brief conversations this. The concept wasn’t foreign, though preferred shares and common shares remain relatively elusive things to me. We were consumed with what we’d call our farm.

Our farm is old. It’s an operation I’d call historic. I’m sure you can relate. We wanted our name to reflect that. Our farmyard is situated along the Dead Horse Creek and near a forest locally known as the Burlwade Woods.

I decided to ask my 1,100 Twitter followers what we should name our operation. This was a risky move, given our controversial last name. There were a few jokes. Some of them made me laugh; others smirk; some cringe.

Enter University of Saskatchewan historian Matthew Neufeld, whose suggestion was nothing short of genius. Matthew is from Winkler. He knows the area and he knows our farm. He’s a friend.

“You could Anglicize Burwalde into Burr Forest,” read the tweet.

Indeed, we could. And we did. We incorporated under the name Burr Forest Acres. It’s both unique and specific to our geography. My family’s history takes place in and around the Burlwalde Woods and we want that to remain a significant element of this farm’s story.

These moves, as usual as they may seem, are significant for us. They further commit us to this whole farming thing. There’s still a whole heck of a lot to figure out, but we’re staying afloat for now.

Thanks, Twitter. And a special thanks to Matthew! It was worth wading through a few off-colour jokes.

These photos of the newly named Burr Forest Acres were taken from the air with a drone.
photo: Toban Dyck

About the author

Columnist

Toban Dyck is a freelance writer and a new farmer on an old farm. Follow him on Twitter @tobandyck or email [email protected]

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