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Climbing a large rock pile and checking the chicken coop are two fond memories of my childhood playtimes in Grandma’s farm yard. Farm families have a hard time saying goodbye to the memories held with the “home place”. Letting brother take over the yard, or selling out evoke tears, and a deep sense of loss in some folks.

The loss is about the change of ownership and control that begs the question “where are my roots now? Where is my sense of place?” The sadness comes with a loss of connection to your family of origin and wondering if the new owners will respect your need to visit now and again.

In our farming culture, we have rituals like auctions sales, fall suppers, and fairs to mark certain seasons or events. I think it is time to create some traditions that work for families to mark transition and change in moving from the home place, with positive actions. I’ll call it talk, walk, and mark.

TALK. Avoid the “nobody asked me” syndrome. This typically happens to the non-farming children, usually girls, who aren’t invited into the farm family discussions about the future of the home place. My friend, a professional  who works with families, shared the hurt feelings she felt when her family overlooked involving her and her  sister  in a family meeting . Tears may be mixed with the talking, but that’s okay.  Share feelings and expectations about how to honour childhood memories, and a deep connection to the home yard. The next generation may want access to share the sledding hill, walk in the bush, or skate on the dugout, even if the property has been transferred to a sibling or new owner.

WALK My elderly friend found a lateral branch that he had bent 60 years ago to make a frame for a play tent for his younger sister. The branch was fixed by the growth of the tree, and he was amazed by  the memories that flooded back! Walking around the yard as a family or gathering for a picnic can create a special sense of connection. Our siblings dashed through the snow in our backyard at Christmas, and re-lived the fun of the tire swing, forts, and a game of fox and geese. If you are selling to new owners outside of the family, you might like to get permission to walk the property in the future.

MARK. Someone once said that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. On our yard special trees mark the death of my sister, my mom, and my father-in-law. Yet a large Scotch pine also marks the date of our marriage. Trees are symbolic growing markers of special times.  When we levelled a vacated yard site, I asked for 3 large cottonwoods to be spared as a marker of “Primrose Farm”. These trees are a curiosity to the neighbours, but I don’t mind them being called “Elaine’s trees.”

You might want to keep a scrapbook of memories of the home place. Use a digital camera to capture your fondest images, and mount them on foam core board inside an old window frame. Weld a sign that recognizes the date of the homestead with the family name. Collect horse shoes, rocks or farm tools that will remind you of your roots.

We sent a digital photo of a coloured large photo of the farm circa l960 to be re-produced by an artist on a cream can for our urban sister. She was thrilled to have a keepsake of her family home. Quilts with photo pieces and sacred stitches can also capture the family’s ties to their childhood home.

Saying goodbye to the home farm can be done in a myriad of ways. Help the person grieving the loss find a special way to keep a connection to their roots. If a garden full of flowers is about to be desiccated, call family members first to see if there are garden treasures that can be transplanted. Save pieces of barn board for special framing projects. Photograph special sites or objects before they are sold or ploughed under.

I entertain my husband’s family at the home they were raised in.

I have to view my Granny’s rock pile from a distance, as a stranger owns that yard.

Find ways to talk about, walk about and mark the special connections you have to your home farm, especially if you are preparing to say goodbye.

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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