Blogs

Downsizing the farm - the help you need for movingThe number 2020 stares at me from the flipchart paper on my kitchen wall.  This farm coach is being coached to set timelines for moving off our farm yard to make room for our successor to live on the main yard. I have four harvests left to get things chucked, sorted, and packed for a new home.

Sounds daunting to some, to others, it is a great relief to have a target date to make changes. Michelle Wright of www.wideopenspaces.ca has crafted a niche business of “heirloom rescuing” and “money wrangling” helping farm folks in northeastern Alberta make the transition to a new lifestyle.

Here are Wright’s tips:

1. Get started by focusing on the farm piece.

In our case, the farm is staying in the family, just new faces in the yard. For farm folks who are vacating and selling, they have more layers of issues. Finances, organization, and making transitional plans. Wright has a background in stakeholder relations in the oil patch, so she uses those skills to help folks focus on one piece of the move at a time.

2. List out the many things that you want to accomplish.

Wright works at the kitchen table and builds relationships with the landowners. She can remove firearms since she has her firearms safety certificate. She is on a first name basis with the landfill folks and has trained to remove hazardous materials and dangerous goods. She know the correct disposal for lots of stuff and has metal guys who clear up bush loads of steel and iron and take it away. Their fee is usually the value of the load on the trailer.

3. Know your social service network.

Many adult children live far away from the home farm that is up for sale, and they don’t want to be driving or flying “home” every weekend of their precious summer to be dealing with all of mom and dad’s possessions (a.k.a. junk)! Wright lines up social service connections and food banks locally who can benefit from the household effects. She gets called in when the dad starts giving away boxes of stuff while he promises to get things cleaned up, but somehow “dad” never gets the de-cluttering job finished.

4. Have realistic expectations.

Farmers rarely move. Over the course of 40 to 60 years, they can accumulate a pile of stuff. You’ve probably watched the picker shows on TV where guys hunt for treasure, but you don’t have time for this. Wright feels you need 18 months to downsize. She coaches her families gently over and over again saying, “Let go.” Letting go is a coaching strategy. You need to be able to let go of things so that you can create new space for a new chapter in your life. Wright is careful to ask “Where are your treasures?” and learns the story about the objects. When the clients say “I am not ready to let go”, then Wright asks, “What are you ready for?”

5. Get another perspective on your stuff.

Wright has downsized a grain bin full of used washing machines. The objection from the hoarder was “if something breaks I might need a part!” Imagine all the generations of stuff in layers in the farmhouse Give treasures to grandkids, and share the story of that treasure while you are alive.

[Tweet “Your succession plan is in place, and now it’s time to leave the #farm. These tips will help.”]

As a home economist who enjoys practical re-purposing of found objects, I am drawn to de-cluttering articles and books. The hot one on the market these days, which I have read is “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo.

Kondo starts with clothes first, by discarding all at once, intensely and completely. I know that when my aunt died, my uncle could not move a thing, even 5 years later when it was his turn to move to a new home. Do your family a favour by making large donations to the local thrift store.

Have a picture on the fridge of your new home or ideal new location. A vision of what you are moving toward can inspire you to keep throwing away or giving away the pieces of your old life chapter that you don’t need to carry along. My mother-in-law set up an 8-foot table that was the FREE zone, and each time she had visitors, they had to scan the table for treasures to take home with them. Her large book collection was a great gift to life-long learners who appreciated her generosity.

Keeping up the energy for sorting, tossing and giving is hard. That is why we have offered to help elderly women in our community. You could do this in your rural community to help folks move on.

I have deep emotional connections to stuff, my age 5 black and white oxford shoes are in my freezer room on a rafter. UGH. They don’t bring me joy, but a photo of them would likely be more realistic to keep. Don Aslett, author of “Clutter’s Last Stand” says we keep too much evidence junk, like old university papers or textbooks.  I donated old trophies to the local school to repurpose. It takes time and effort to give things away!

Kondo suggests that “during the selection process, if you come across something that does not spark joy but that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, stop for a moment and ask yourself, “Am I having trouble getting rid of this because of an attachment to the past or because of a fear for the future ?”  Our ownership patterns reflect what we value. My sister is a minimalist, and when she moves, I, the older sister get a lot of furniture, pillows, and mirrors that she no longer cares about. Why does my house become the holding tank for deceased relative’s possessions and my sister’s former things?

Borrow Kondo’s book from your library and be inspired to start downsizing. Leaving a tidy estate is a great gift to your heirs. Taking the things with you that bring joy will bless your new home in town and give you a fresh start for the next chapter beyond the farm.

Let me know how it goes. I need tips and action to get stuff sorted. Four years are going to fly by, and my daughter-in-law will appreciate a clean slate in 2020.

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