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At January’s Farm Tech 2010 in Edmonton we were treated to a very heartfelt portrayal of thankfulness from a Newfoundlander who was grateful for prairie farmers. Rex Murphy, host of Cross Country Check-up was the guest story-teller on the podium. He admitted he was feeling under the weather, but another audience member who had heard Rex speak before said this story was his best performance, because he let us into his soul.

Rex told of the 31,000 cod fisherman who were 10th generation fisherman, suddenly out of not just a job, but a complete way of life, a culture that supported the way Newfoundlander’s built their out ports, and even share their lilted language. These resilient folks were taught to go miles out to sea without GPS and do the tough jobs of hauling in the cod fish, and many of the things they learned were handed down by experienced mentors, the captains of the ship. The skills and character cultivated on the high seas were not things one could learn from school books.

“How we live here (in Canada) is deeply connected and conditioned by the virtues where men and women had beneficial contact with the land and sea.” says Rex Murphy. Then Rex spoke of the outpouring of Prairie letters that hit CBC Toronto after Murphy’s documentary of the demise of the codfish industry. He got the historical connection later on a farm near Redvers Saskatchewan where an old timer, the grandpa who had survived the “Dirty Thirties” explained the hope that arrived in the salted codfish barrels through the generosity of the “people of the rock,” the Newfoundlanders.

Fast forward to the economic upheaval of the end of cod fishing in Newfoundland and the great migration to find oil patch jobs in Alberta. Alberta’s economic hunger for skilled workers on the oil fields was fed by “Newfies” who were hard-working, resilient, and ready to commute to another province that could keep the debt hounds at bay. Murphy used the opportunity before the Farm Tech 2010 audience in Alberta to say a heartfelt “Thank-you.”

Good stories that cause us to pause and reflect about the character of Prairie producers are the fuel to kindle hope for the future. The things that you are teaching your children in the fields, the barns, and the farm yards are likely skills that you take for granted.

My sister and I have no fear of driving across Winnipeg, or the bald prairie in winter. Yet we notice that our peers are not willing to take these risks. We think nothing of checking our own oil dipstick, or the tire pressure. We don’t need make-up in layers to help make us feel secure when we go out in a crowd. We can pull off long hours of work when necessary, if self-employed folks don’t work, they don’t eat!

So what character traits do you have as an honest, hard-working farmer? Your ability to bounce back from stress with resilience through communication and connection with the community’s support is somewhat of a rural marvel. I have tons of support in my small town I could call on at any time of day, and someone would be at our door to help when asked.

I have written previously about my faith community where folks are loving, caring, and encouraging. The folks in Newfoundland understood the plight of the prairie farmers in the dustbowl years, and the favour of economic support went in the opposite direction years later. As Canadians we need to be more grateful for the way we are willing to share, care, and show up for support.

Let’s start telling more good news stories about what is happening in rural Canada. Let’s invite lone eagle innovators to move to our towns boasting high speed internet and slower paced main streets that invite coffee pauses and story-telling.

Our community has been blessed with a home that invites musicians to share their stories, and helps us feel a bit more cultured as we laugh, sing, and share cookies while checking in with each other.

When Rex Murphy was telling the codfish barrel story in a school in rural Saskatchewan, a confident young girl in his audience had a burning question. She knew her grandpa had received a barrel of fish, but he didn’t know what to do with it, so he buried it in a location known to his grand-daughter. The grand-daughter wanted to know if the fish was good over 60 years later, and Rex said “It sure is!”

Good stories last longer than salted codfish. I encourage you to start telling more family history tales around the kitchen table over dessert, nuts or popcorn. Shut the TV off for the night, and listen to each other’s observations and gleanings from the week’s activities.

Every person has a story. Sometimes we need urban folks with a different context to help us see our common sense, grounded character and closeness to the nature, life cycle, and seasons we embrace.

I hope there are lots of people at your funeral. Folks who come from a place of respect for a life well lived. I hope that you tell your loved ones how much you cherish them, before they die, and don’t let those fabulous vignettes of life die with them. Get out the digital recorders and do some oral history recording. Get the photographs organized and labeled. You don’t want to be the one who gets to throw out heaps of un-identified relatives after Mom passes.

Sharing story can also be a healing process for the cocooning phase of the cycle of renewal. This is a time of inner reflection and healing to work out what the next chapter of life holds for you. Journaling, asking questions, and connecting with nature can help you focus on what gives you purpose.

As farmers who are working a frantic schedule some weeks to put a crop in, protect it, and then get it in the bin, we sometimes forget to pace ourselves, and share a good laugh or story to re-energize the workload. The year that Bill had his “lucky leak” still makes us laugh. Bill, a retired farmer helped us with harvest because his goal was to drive a combine with a cab – his farm didn’t boast the latest equipment. Bill could smell smoke from his perch in his combine’s cab, so he decided to stop and relieve himself. Seeking some privacy at the back of the combine he spotted the stubble’s source of the smoke, and quickly extinguished the fire… thus “the lucky leak” story.

Sit awhile and spin some tales this month, before the busy season starts up again. If you have the constant demand of livestock at your place, you have huge fodder for great stories. One of the most animated stories at my mom’s funeral was my brother’s cow-chasing story, (sorry, you had to be there to appreciate it!)

I have to go now to have tea with my friend Ralph Clark. He knows my story as a teenager, and I have some more questions for him about what he perceived being cultivated in my youth.
Pick up the phone, write the email, and post the letter. Share those great stories and be proud of your farming roots.

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.

$15

Rave reviews

“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
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
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
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
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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