Make sure the farm takes care of Mom

Many women pour their lives into the farm yet have no control over the purse strings or their retirement income

“It would be really appreciated if the opinions of the women on this ranch counted for something,” quips the tired bookkeeper of a sprawling family-owned business. I hear the sadness in her voice because she feels she has no voice regarding the decision-making or management of a business she has given her heart to for over 22 years.

Last month I had the honor of speaking to the National Women in Agriculture Educators Conference in Oklahoma City, and the Women in Agriculture Conference in Wenatchee, Washington. I’ve learned a few things that you might like to share with your Momma on Mother’s Day!

Women initiate the courageous conversations that need to happen for the farm and ranch to stay profitable. If you think you can keep avoiding conflict you are sadly mistaken. Seek to find out what others want, and talk about it with respect!
Women in the United States are about to become 75 percent of the landowners in the next wave of land transfer. The same is probably true for Canada. So if these “granny landowners” have most of the farmland, what impact will this have on your future and your future relationships?

I am reminded of the phone call from Saskatchewan where a distressed older farmer related that his non-farming siblings were suing their mother! Not exactly the kind of Mother’s Day gift one might anticipate. These siblings were waiting for their land inheritance, and mom was living well into her 90s.

We can pull two messages from this story. One, be nice to your mom, she may outlive you! And two, folks are all living longer and you need money to maintain your lifestyle when you leave the farm at 75 or sooner. That takes planning. Perhaps the best gift this year is to take Mom out for a nice meal and talk about your dreams for the future. Then hire some professional advisors to build the road map to get what you want while providing for her retirement at the same time.

There are lots of social security issues for women who have always plowed their savings and income into the black hole of the farm. When you wake up at 65 and realize that your pension income just isn’t going to cut it, I hope you have generous children waiting in line to help you out. Otherwise, I hope you were a smart woman investor who is reaping the benefits of your own personal wealth bubble that generates an income stream, regardless of the financial health of the ranch.

My mom has passed on, but she left me a legacy of love. In the end, that’s what really counts anyway, the emotional bank account that women build as farm leaders and family leaders. My mom also encouraged me to take on any project with confidence. She modeled a woman who definitely did have a strong voice.

While many women are about to be very wealthy due to the inheritances that are transitioning across the wave of boomer children, but they may also crave emotional wealth.
A woman stopped me at the Regina Farm Show last June and thanked me for the best birthday she had experienced in 24 years of marriage. Her husband had been inspired by my encouragement at Grazing School to put effort into an intentional appreciation of your spouse. He showed up on her birthday with a card, flowers, chocolate, and supper out. She was deeply moved, feeling immensely loved and appreciated. Patiently for 24 years, she waited for this amazing inexpensive expression of love!

Mother’s Day is hard for those who have said goodbye to the woman who fed them chicken noodle soup when they were sick. It’s also hard for those folks who face unresolved issues of deep conflict with the keeper of the farm’s purse strings.

Make this year different.

Resolve to face your conflict bumps and show love to the woman who faithfully has served your farm family in good times and in bad.

Call your mom.

Plan to empower your mom to manage her wealth well. Seek out, financial advisors. Celebrate the gift of family and friends by intentionally saying “thanks” to the women in blue jeans who have given you a great opportunity in agriculture.

Don’t get stuck in the muck of fear and regret. You only have today to choose to give a voice, and a listening ear, to the women who have helped you create the wealth on your farm and ranch.

Ride the range together and listen to each other’s heart’s desires. Understand that the way women are wired they don’t expect you to solve their problems. They just would really like you to listen to their story.

Write a word of affirmation to a strong woman who has modeled something wonderful for you and your loved ones. “I love you” is universally understood. “I appreciate all that you have done over the years” will break open the floodgates of renewed relationships.

Draw a support map with your name in the center to figure out “Who is it that really cares about our family farm? Who can I go to to talk about these things?” The answer is likely “mom.”

The open arms of a loving mom are a safe harbor for many storms in life. Extend your reach to a woman in agriculture today, even if your own mom is gone, and strengthen that connection.

You’ll be glad you are part of the chain in giving a “voice” to women in agriculture.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Elaine Froese is a catalyst for creative change in conflicted farm families. As a certified coach and speaker, she inspires folks to “discuss the undiscussable.”

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.


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“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
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Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
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Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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