8 Positive Seeds of Succession to PlantWe won’t have carrots on our farm this summer because I procrastinated in weeding out the red root pigweed and a “helpful” friend hoed the row before I knew it. “Weeds are any plant that are not in the right place,” according to the certified seed grower that I live with.

Procrastination is not only a killer in the garden, it is also crushing the dreams of hundreds of young farmers that I meet. It happened again this morning. The email says: “Elaine we reached out to you last year, and now we wish we would have acted sooner…” Then the parents confess that they have been putting things off, and the tension on the farm has reached a boiling point.

So this summer when you are fishing, skiing, roasting marshmallows around a cozy fire, plant some seeds of ideas that you can bounce off the other generations of your farm team. Have some fun celebrating the rituals of summer, and use the downtime to explore the needs and desires of the rest of your family. When you can have some rest your brain will allow some new ideas to percolate and take root.

“Elaine, we have no time to roast marshmallows!” Seriously? Then you have other issues, like workaholism or labor shortages on your farm. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” shouts the field sign near Crystal City Manitoba. At the end of your time on earth, you cannot take your tractor with you! How about the richness of relationships, and the legacy of love you create now while you also manage a “rock ‘n roll” great farm business?

8 Succession Seeds to Sow:

1. Housing

Talk about where you want to live and why. Our plan has now changed, we bought a lake home to use as a family retreat. We are staying in our farm home for likely the next 20 years. Our successors are likely building a home close by in 3 years. Yes, this breaks my “1/2 mile rule” to live farther away, but like you, my plans can change. Be flexible.

[Tweet “Stop #procrastinating! 8 “seeds” #farmers need to be planting to start planning your #succession.”]

2. Viability

How many families can your farm support at a decent level of income (not slave wages)? As you sit around the fire, start being transparent with the farm financial information with the next generation.

3. Vision

Dreams become reality when they are goals with a timeline. Share your dreams and vision with your loved ones. I had always dreamed of having a waterfront property that we could share with family and friends, and a place to encourage women. When the dream became a reality I could hardly sleep because I was so excited to see all the possibility in the new space. Your vision should be workable as a couple. Don’t reject thinking about the future for fear of getting older, we are all aging!

4. Share Your “Why”

What is your intent for your life, your farm, your family? It is my intent to keep working as a farm family coach for the next ten years and speak to groups in my 70’s. We’ll see how that all unfolds now that I am a grandma! When you say “It is my intent to explore new ways for us to farm,” then people can grasp where you are going. Recently the light bulb of insight lit up for a farming dad who realized that he was thinking of ways to protect his family in his head, but he forgot to use words to explain his intent. The family read his behavior as “controlling” when in reality the dad was just trying to be helpful. Sharing intent is a huge part of being constructive in conflict resolution. Stop trying to read minds, share your intent instead!

5. Share Stories

As a coach, it helps my families to understand that they are not the only ones going through angst and tension about transitions on the farm. It helps us all to know that others have gone through tough decisions and come out stronger on the other side. Tell stories on the fishing boat. Let your family know what life was like for you at their age. Honor the legacy passed down to you by your ancestors. Story-telling is a powerful way to get to know the emotional factors affecting your planning. Make sure you tell “healing stories” not only sad ones.

6. Reach Out as a Good Listener

Reaching out to another is a good way to constructively resolve problems. Listen actively and respond carefully to concerns. You want to move the conversations forward, so be curious. Say “I am just curious…” and then ask for what you really want to find out. You can also start it up softly with “I have been thinking…” statements.

7. Ask More Powerful Questions

Author Marilee Adams who wrote, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, says we should question everything. This might get annoying, so ask  “What do you want..?” or “What if?” types of questions. I like to track my ideas in a notebook. On nights when sleep eludes you, do a brain dump on paper and see if the questions have answers in the morning.

8. Explore Your Money Scripts

It has been a delight to have folks say “I am so happy for you,” when I share news of the lake house. Some folks, of course, will be jealous, silently wishing they could have the same resources to buy a cabin, boat, etc. What does money mean to you? I have been to 4 funerals in the last 6 weeks, which is a great reminder that wealth is not in “stuff” but in your health and your relationships.

I suspect some farm families with older “traditionalists” folks born before 1945 are suffering from money scripts that don’t work well together. The 70-year-old dad who refuses to sell outdated equipment is frustrating the 45-year-old successor and 20-year-old grandchild who have new plans for assets to shift. Are you able to “let go”?

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.


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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