Blogs

As I write this, we are in the final stages of seeding the crop. As you read this, I hope you are camping with family, or relaxing after a full day of haying or spraying. The busy season on the farm gets interrupted when someone is critically ill or dies suddenly. I am not trying to be morbid, just real. In July of 2011 we took my failing father for one last tour of his shop, farm, and fields for his 85th birthday. Unknown to us, he would not be here for Christmas 2012,  and we as a family are going through our years of “firsts” without Dad. Mom has been gone for 14 years.

I have been sorting cherished possessions for the grandkids and siblings,  and it strikes me that there are many things I am thankful that I did while my folks were still around. I am also not thrilled with some of the ways the non-titled articles were dealt with. I wish I could ask my parents to tell me about the gold cuff links with my grand-dad’s initials. I never knew they existed until cleaning day came.

As the family archivist and estate stuff holder, my home has too much in it. I started giving away Mom’s jewelry to my cousins who chose pieces that they liked. They also said it was an unexpected treat to get to pick something from my Mom’s box that reminded them of her kindness to them as new brides. The things that are hardest to let go of are the mementos that hold the story of a special trip. I have a Paua shell in my bathroom that Dad brought home from New Zealand in the fifties. It has more meaning to me now since I just visited New Zealand in December, after Dad died. I was also looking for a special Maori box of his, but it has been lost.

What does this mean to you ?

Well, if you google “Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate” you will find the University of Minnesota’s great resource for dealing with non-titled property.

“Who gets personal property is an issue frequently ignored until a crisis occurs. Decision making becomes challenging when people are grieving, selling the home they grew up in, and facing the increased dependence of an elder,” says University of Minnesota professor Marlene Stum.

Your farm shed, shop or garage might be storing some of those personal items that don’t come with a title or deed (thus they are called non-titled items) to indicate who officially owns them. I’ve heard folks talk about buying the home place “lock stock and barrel” only to discover that siblings have been sneaking away wagon wheels, lanterns, and other antiques. Toys, tools, jewelry, musical instruments, linens, needlework, furniture, dishes, pets, collectibles, books, and sporting equipment are all examples of non-titled property that can be disputed.

Okay, who gets the dog ?

So what do you do ?

Professor Stum recommends making a list of your personal property wishes:

-share the story that goes with the item, and relay the family history. I just gave away a rusty lantern with a glass in great condition. This made a garage sale hound very happy, and I let go of it, because I did not know its history.

-personal belongings hold sensitive feelings and memories. It is curious to me that both my son and nephew were keen to have grandma’s candy dish. Don’t assume you know the memories attached to certain items. Ask !

-fair is defined differently by different folks. In the TV show Storage Wars, the buyer gets the contents of the storage container, and hopes to find treasure. When farm families start taking things out of a family home while the owner is in a personal care home, or  antiques start disappearing from the farm shed, there is lots of fuel for conflict. Oldest son gets this, or oldest daughter gets this…is not really a workable formula for 2012. To prevent family fights, it is best to talk about what you want to do with your possessions, and make   a list of who gets what and when.

-ask each person in your family what is special to them, and ask them to explain why.  The best practice is to have a family meeting and discuss what each heir is interested in and  why. We did this with my father before he became ill. It was helpful to the executor to know what the other siblings were thinking and wanting.

– make a list. With laptops , it is easy to take notes, minutes, and have a emailed list to all parties for future reference. You might also want to take this one step further with the adult grandchildren. Your list of preferred destinations of possessions upon your departure from earth can be filed with your executor. I am still of the opinion that gifts given by you with a warm hand, and the story of the gift are way more meaningful than gifts given by the cold hand of the estate.  Be a trend setter in your community and start down-sizing your collectibles and shed stuff while you are mentally and physically able to make a difference in how you dispose of your possessions. Put unwanted items in a consignment auction sale. Use the proceeds to celebrate a special time with your family.

-when there is conflict, use straws or draw names in order to take turns picking who gets what. One family used monopoly money to bid on items that were in dispute.  I also know families who wanted very little in terms of “things” because they were rich in relationship with their parents. In that case, the local MCC thrift store got a lot of treasures to sell .

-Take digital photos of special items, and then give them away for someone else to dust. You will still have the memory, no one can take that from you.

Disposing of the contents of the farm is a long process, so start this summer.

Call the steel guy and find out what a trailer load of dead augers and cultivator shovels might be worth. Our three trailers fetched $500 each a while back.

Think about being charitable, one family’s RV went to a camp and they received a charitable receipt.

Feed the burn pile with junk that is no one’s treasure. Ask permission to give away things after you’ve consulted with all possible owners. I am still not popular for giving away a special fishing rod without permission !

Have a spot for hazardous waste and things that need to go the refuse/landfill site, ie. the dump! Our dump has a “free store” area where folks can scavenge for treasure. Make sure you come home from the dump with an empty pickup.

Someone once said that clutter is energy constipation. I suppose there are a few farm sheds across the prairies that are bulging with stuff. Think of the new energy you’ll have when you walk into the old barn, shop or garage to see things tidied up, and all the treasures passed on to those who will actually appreciate their value.

Do the work of shedding your stuff. Celebrate a job well done with a day at the lake.

Happy Summer. Happy Family. Happy memories.   What a great legacy

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

Book Elaine
for your next event

Contact Elaine to start the conversation.

+1-204-534-7466 | elaine(at)elainefroese.com

Contact Elaine