Blogs

Letting Go of your farmhouse

February, 2009

One of the key issues of conflict in multi-generational farm families is the farm house, the Grand Central Station of many farm operations. I have seen many different scenarios around this issue and have some tips on getting ready to move.

Why is letting go so hard:
The reason that many 60 something folks can’t move from the farm home is because they haven’t moved in 40 years, and just don’t know where to start. I think the key of letting go of the farm home is creating something exciting to move toward: I also realize that some young couples choose not to live on the main yard to keep their farm life separate from their family life. One family I know lives at the lake year round, and the parents are happy to stay put on the home place.

Do a trial run of living somewhere else.   Test out living in a new location, rent a home in town to try it out, or vacation away for a few months to learn how little stuff you really need.

De-clutter this winter, it might take you two years to get ready to move!  Embrace your garbage bag. Get a marker, tape, and garbage bags so that you can start letting go of stuff. De-clutter.com and the flylady.net websites will get you started. My sister and I started clearing out my father’s attic last year. We made many trips to the burn barrel, and the dump. I had a load of things to give to others at the local thrift store.  He lives in a tidier space now, and might consider moving.

The purpose of getting rid of stuff is to help you feel lighter and ready to move towards the next residence. You also have time to process what is really important to you in your new roles as grandparents, the hired hand, or a semi-retired farm manager. Letting go of your farm home may take a few years, so get started soon!

Make the hard decision to let go, then just do it.
It is a conscious choice to take on something new. It is so important to think about what it was like for you as a newly married couple starting out on the farm. The physical act of taking out bags of stuff and creating more order in your life will give you energy to make new decisions.  In coaching terms, you need to let go of things and expectations, take on new learning, hold on to what is important to you, and move on with the things you can’t change or have no control over.  I know that many farm couples are stuck because the whole process of moving just seems to be too overwhelming, you really need to take the first step and keep going.
Let go, take on, hold on, and move on.

Be gracious about the need for the younger generation to have access to the main yard to raise their family and work together as a strong farm couple team. I once had a very poignant story told to me by the farming son. “Elaine, I want my wife to be holding the flashlight while I load the auger, not my mother. My wife and I need to learn to work as a farm team. Mom and Dad need to leave the main yard. It is time.”

Talk about what a good day looks like to you on the farm yard, and enjoy the new and creative things the next generation does to the farm house.  I know how hard this is for everyone. We lived in our parent’s home for 11 years before we got the title, and before any major renovations were done. When we painted the house blue in l991, my father-in-law was very disappointed…but he survived, and the house is long since another colour.  We are now at a new stage. In ten years we may be living in a condo in town, and coming to the farm to do yard work, and odd jobs. Any renovations now might be better left to our son if he chooses to farm and live on the yard. I am still in the process of helping my father downsize his abode, as his needs are changing, and he may have to move for health reasons.

A client relayed that he has gone from “telling” to “asking”. He will always be the parent, but the roles are shifting, and he is letting go of management decisions, and the right to be the final decision maker. Life is a journey of letting go, and moving on.

What things can you do this winter to start embracing the idea that someday you may have to move off the main yard, and let the next generation have the fun of sitting in the middle of the action?
I enlist the help of my daughter who loves to use a labeler, and is a natural organizer. I also ask for help to haul things to the dump, and I am considering booking my own personal dumpster for a week to really focus on a family purge…we will all chuck things out.

Do you need to have all that evidence junk around you?  Those trophies from high school, the text books from college that you never open, and those magazines that are older than 3 months?
Grainews clippings, okay, file them or scrapbook them, but really, some of us need fire starter.

Find out how great it feels to simplify your surroundings, and explore the place you might like to live next. Try it out. You don’t have to tell the neighbours what you are up to, but please take your spouse with you!

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Elaine Froese helps farm families get unstuck. She feels loved when someone else drives the junk to the dump. Visit her at www.elainefroese.com. Buy her book, and encourage your family to let go.
Watch her on AgVision TV at www.agvisiontv.com.

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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
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N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
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Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
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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
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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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