What Really Matters After 40 YearsThe clouds at 30,000 feet are keeping me company as I write and reflect. My ears hear Celtic tunes of praise while I contemplate the lessons of the last 4 decades. November 10, 1978, marked the first day of my move to Boissevain to serve farm families with Manitoba Agriculture as an extension home economist. Those years hardwired me for gleaning problem-solving resources that would give farm folks practical tools to make better choices for a happier quality of life.

This fall I see Facebook posts of weary faces, dryer fires, and bearded young farmers who have barely had time to sleep, pressing hard to get the 2018 crop off the field, in whatever shape they can “steal the crop.”

So, when you look at the markers in your life, what really matters most?

What Really Matters Most

It matters to me that I am rich in relationships. Just this morning I met a young ambitious Texan who has just landed a sweet dairy genetics job and is happy to be able to spend time with his young family. He was clear about leaving a herdsman position where he once was part of an 18,000 cow operation. That’s not a typo, that’s a whack load of cows. He chose family time over farm stress. He said “Travel safe Ma’am” when we parted.

Yesterday I met researchers who are excited about the trends of innovation and growth for agriculture. They are keen to follow the innovators and independent entrepreneurial farmers who will carve out opportunity and business wealth. These same creative types will be sure to craft a life beyond the farm gate. I can see our next generation doing that with time for fun: hunting, fishing, travel, and marketing clubs in the next town. Make time for fun this month.

[Tweet “What #important things will make your #holiday season better. Consider what really matters to you.”]

As a new grandma, it matters that I have fun play spaces in my home that are safe for my granddaughter to laugh and play hide and seek with me. It’s getting harder to fly away to groups and have plane delays that keep you away from the family supper table. My heart aches for the farm families who have chosen to be stubborn in their unhealthy communication patterns and refuse to let grandchildren develop deep bonds with the farming grandparents. What type of parenting are you modeling for your children? Are you ignoring the wisdom gifts from the elder generation and the time older folks love to lavish on the young?

Christmas gatherings this month will be a time to connect to your family tree and celebrate the branches that are strong and still growing. If you are part of a branch that has been broken off, perhaps it is time to create new rituals and parties with friends who you can adopt into your family. We’ve experienced great delight in sharing time with families who are longing for connection. The local Boissevain Resettlement Committee has shown our community the joy of embracing refugee families who are thrilled to live in our amazing country. It matters that we take care of our global brothers and sisters who are in great need. Beds, clothes, food…we are rich.

what really matters - helping others

It matters to me that the sacrifices made driving through blizzards to speak to groups and light a sense of hope in farm families is a message that will last, even if “Building Your Farm Legacy” is the last book I write. Compassion fatigue can set in at this time of year when a tough harvest ends, and the family feuding over the future of the farm continues. Rest.

Stop Being Prideful and Stubborn

A 44-year-old farmer who holds another off-farm job was desperate to find answers on how to get his dad to let go of power and control. That issue has been brought to my attention for decades. You cannot rule from the grave. Your hearse will not be pulling a U Haul trailer to take stuff with you when you die. True wealth is in good health and rich relationships. The laughter of your grand-child on the video on your smartphone is a gentle reprieve. The best choice is to be building structure and agreements into the next business plan for the farm’s health and the financial well-being of all the families your farm supports. Don’t leave your future to fate.

Two emails today spoke of untimely deaths of fathers, who died with no will and no plan. It’s just the beginning of “Transition angst” season and there will be more stories that need a healing outcome.

Christmas for me is the celebration of the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the light of the World and Saviour to all those who believe. All I need for Christmas is time to worship with other Jesus followers and family who are happy to be together. What matters most in the last 40 years, is that I know God has always been faithful to provide wisdom and direction for tough conversations and hard decisions. He has blessed us with healing for our bodies, protection from more than one fire, and grace to grieve accidental deaths. He gives us life!

When you figure out what matters most to you and what you really want in your life, your intentional choices will be fuel for your light to burn bright. “Someday” will no longer be a day on your calendar. You’ll be ready to get out your black gel pen to mark the dates for family fun and farm meetings. You’ll block off time to re-charge in the sun belt or play cards with friends. When the next decade goes by like the faster rolling end of toilet paper reaching the end of the roll you won’t be the one saying, “Where did the time go ?” You’ll be respected, full of the joy knowing you embraced each new day as a gift and lived your life to it’s fullest.

what matters most - light candles for family time

Light some candles as a family this month and share with each other what really matters most. Poor crops, less cash, fewer expensive gifts under the tree: that ’s an opportunity to live simply this winter, so others may simply live.

Reach out to get the emotional support you need as you reflect on what matters most.

Merry Christmas!

Hey Farmers, Don’t Miss This!

Did you hear the great news? I recently was award the Wilson Loree Award for having “made an extraordinary contribution to advancing agricultural business management practices in Canada.” You can hear all about it here in this interview with Dale Leftwich of the Real Ag Podcast.

Also, make sure you save the date for the Ranching for Profit Conference next year! Registration starts in February, but it is never to early to make sure your calendar is clear! Make sure you don’t miss any of the events I am speaking at. Keeping an eye on my “Where’s Elaine” or bookmark my speaking calendar now!

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
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N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
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Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
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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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