I try to take care of my leased land the same as if it was my own, and I've had most of my leases for many years, but for the most part, they've always been on a year to year basis. I will say, on one that I am hoping to buy someday soon (it's contiguous to my land)..., if it was mine already, I'd be working harder at clearing brush, etc. (it was badly overgrown when I took it over, and I've cleared maybe half of the worst brushy areas so far). I first started renting most of it about 8 years ago for cropland coming out of 20 years of CRP, lots of rocks, trees grown up in the field portions even, was pretty rough. Over time, I got the cropland much improved, spent about $3000 burying rocks, cleared a bunch of trees and leveled out the worst spots so it could be worked much more easily, then converted about 1/3 of the cropland to pasturing, including then some brushy wooded area that hadn't had anything done to it for 40 years. Cleared out the old fenceline, cleared an opening through the woods/swamp on the property line along DNR land (yeah... let's call that "completely abandoned land"), and put in all new fence, now working at clearing overgrown brush in/around the woods. But the more I do over there, the better it will look to "the competition" that I will have to compete with to buy it. So I'm not spending TOO much time on that clearing. We're kind of in negotiations on it though, so hopefully it will come through for me in the near future.We also have gotten to the point of not catering to landowners that seem to think we are a bottomless well and their land is just the very best...... if they keep wanting to go up, go right ahead.... find someone else. We try to give them a fair price and do what we say in upkeep. Not going to do all this extra and then lose it the next year when someone tries to lease it out from under us and offer more money. We have adjusted our numbers to what we have to graze, and a few less cows gives us longer/more grazing if we have a good year. Have had a few places that we lost, the owners come back after a few years and practically beg us to come back.... most we refuse because they would require way too much time/money to bring it back to where it was. 20 years of taking care of a place can get run down in a few years of not feeding the ground....fences not taken care of, bush hogging the weeds off yearly, and things like that. Tired of trying to take care of people's land that only see the $ they get paid. We also had one come back, that the place had been leased, overgrazed, then no one put cattle on it, and the new people to lease it never signed their land use papers required for the tax breaks. Told them that the only way we would come back would be that we wanted a 20 year lease this time, and that we would use chemicals to try to get the autumn olive and weeds back under control. They were die hard "organic nuts" ..... and I am a big believer in as little chemical use as possible..... and they agreed because the place had gone to he// in 3 years of overgrazing, then no grazing, no bush hogging, nothing. Ridiculous.
Would really not be much fun to have "paid" to do all that improving over the years, and then to have to PAY for it all again when it comes to buying the place! I could be working myself right out of it!