Who's at Your Farm Easter Table?Watching the snow fly and hearing the wind howl is great motivation to have visions of Easter bread, tulips, lilies, and folks gathered to celebrate. I have written about Easter at least 20 times in the past 22 years. What more can I say?

I attended a gathering last weekend where we were reminded again about the importance of hospitality to draw folks together and build understanding.

A farm transition consultant has the habit of asking clients what kind of Christmas they are envisioning after the transfer of the farm has been executed. It cuts to the heart of strong farm families. Strong families celebrate. Anxious families phone me the week before the big three: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.

Are you longing for a better experience around the ham and scalloped potatoes this year? So am I.

Breaking Bread

Our family is very small since siblings live in other provinces, and few are close by. The ham is always too big, so I invite folks to join us at our table. The circle in our kitchen can grow larger as we feed hungry souls and those who are shy to admit their loneliness.

Breaking bread together is a great way to really get to know what is happening in the lives of others. I much prefer to host folks after church in my home rather than at a restaurant. The young kids enjoy playing Legos while we visit and share life stories over tea and simple fare.

This winter has been long, interesting, and very full. The common theme from young farmers is a heart cry to ask for magical solutions to draw the older generations to the table just to talk about change and creating certainty for their futures. Separating the celebration side of the family with the chores of the farm is hard to do. Perhaps this is the year that you invite a few more folks to the table to create a more festive fun group, and the conversation will be kept light due to the mix of family and friends.

I am not asking you to avoid having the tough conversations, but perhaps you need a “warm-up” party where the clan gets used to the idea of sharing a meal together without any agenda except to enjoy each other’s company. Maybe the theme for your family this year is to build bridges and reach out to each other to create a better atmosphere for sharing expectations of your future.

Learning to Forgive this Easter

Easter is a season for transformation. Jesus rose from the dead and his resurrected body signals to Christian believers that eternal life is real, death has lost its sting.

  • What transformations are you hoping for this Easter?
  • What incidents or stories are you carrying around that you take responsibility for?
  • What can you learn from what you are feeling for your family right now?
  • Do you sense that the time is right to extend the olive branch and ask for forgiveness of past wrongs?

Sometimes during a family meeting as the coach, I will ask “What is your model of forgiveness?” The family may be dumbstruck with no answers to that question. Or they may say, “We don’t know how to do it, or where to start.”

[Tweet “Learn to #forgive and enjoy your #Easter on the #farm this year with these great tips.”]

Gary Chapman’s book “When Sorry Isn’t Enough” is a good read for practical ways to apologize, change behavior, and make things right.  You can also read my blog “How to Say ‘Sorry’ at Harvest.” The Bible is the best resource for learning more about forgiveness.

New Growth for Plants and Relationships

Spring is a wonderful time of year as new growth pokes through the tired winter ground and the air smells fresh and invigorating.

I encourage you to enter this new season with hope and expectation that the climate of your farm’s culture can change for the better. We all get to choose our responses and we do not have to just quickly react without thinking.

Ask yourself, “What’s the main thing we need to focus on this spring to have better relationships?” It might be addressing the topics or issues that people are avoiding talking about, what I call the undiscussables, Or is it asking for help to create more certainty for everyone’s future and the farm’s legacy?

The first step is to call people to the table.

The second step is to have a process for sharing without interruption and to listen well.

The third step is to note what the key themes are, and act on creating solutions for the problems exposed, and the opportunities in front of you all this season.

Lastly, keep a positive attitude. Don’t cloud your thinking into a downward negative spiral.

I enjoyed reading Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Advantage” where he talks about the importance of culture and good organizational health. He has some key questions to consider as you take the pulse of your team.

  • Why do we exist?
  • How do we behave?
  • What do we do?
  • How will we succeed?
  • What is most important right now?
  • Who must do what?

These are great questions for your family to focus on as you approach seeding and the intense times of work ahead. You can also give the questions a spiritual filter and ask yourself if you are following your passion and purpose in life, the way God has wired you. Easter’s message is about the unconditional love of God, given to us as a gift in His Son Jesus. Jesus models for us the way of forgiveness.

My definition of success includes richness of relationships with people and with God.

I hope there are many gracious and joyful folks sharing the Easter bread and chocolate at your table this year. What are you going to do now to make sure that spirit of engagement happens?

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.


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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
“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
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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
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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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