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It’s late August, harvest is in high gear, cattle need to be moved, and you think you cannot stop working.  Your voice is louder, and your sleep is lousy, and you wonder if you are going to stay married with all the demands on your time. In your busy life as a farmer, you might think that you’ll never be able to get time off the farm, but remember, you have choices! If you think getting time off the farm is impossible right now, these words are for you.

[Tweet “Hey #farmer, are you running on empty during this busy time of year? Taking time off the #farm is important, and you CAN fit it into your busy schedule! Here are 11 ideas:”]

Get More Time Off the Farm with These Mindset Shifts

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This blog post will encourage you to consider a new approach and shift your mindset so you can get more time off the farm to devote to other vital areas of your life, including your physical and mental health and your relationships.

1.Track Your Time 

You can use notes on your phone or time tracking app. You cannot change what you cannot measure. You’re not a hero if you are a workaholic. When you compare your time input with your brother, father, sister, mother, etc. then you have data for a discussion.

2. Take Mini-Breaks 

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Getting time off the farm doesn’t mean huge chunks of time. What about mini-breaks? We do this in the field by getting off the combine and on to the tailgate to have a meal together, even if it is only for 20 minutes. Yes, farmers eat fast, and this habit is hard to break even in December! Young children in the box of the truck sharing time with parents is a good thing. You might also go into the house to eat, read stories, and tuck the kids in bed before you return to farm tasks. This calls for intentional choices.

3. Challenge Why You Do Things the Way You Do on Your Farm 

One cattle rancher who works off the farm said, “Elaine, it’s crazy that we are using three tractors; we are not as efficient as we could be!” Does your vet, your agronomist, or your sales rep know your style well enough for you to be open to a different way of doing things? For example, we saved heaps of time by investing in a computer to automate our seed plant. 

4. Talk More, Guess Less  

It is a very good communication skill to ask ‘why?’ Be curious about the tasks laid out and the opportunity for taking some flex time off. “You do not have because you do not ask.” If you feel your farm manager is going to say “NO” to your request for time off the farm, have you asked to have a conversation to explain your need for renewal? Don’t make assumptions. Be curious and approach the time-off conversation with mercy, kindness, and no judgment. 

5. Block Off Important Family Time Events 

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Visiting the in-laws, grandparents, and celebrations are all important family events you should not miss. Let the other farm team workers know well ahead of time what you plan to go to. My daughter-in-law and I use a paper planner to map out the expectations of our time for child care, my work,  and farm demands like harvest field meals. We are flexible to change the master plan, but at least we have clarity of expectations.

6. Use Whiteboards 

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Whiteboards will help you create task lists and make plans for time away. Some folks are forgetful, so it helps their memory by writing things down. The giant calendars from your local credit union or seed company can record days off. Others might want to do this in Google documents. One family told me they use What’s App to communicate as a group, so there are no surprises.

7. Take Baby Steps and Test It Out 

Copy the success habits of friends and Twitter peeps who manage the ongoing polarity of working and finding time to play and renew. Where is it written that you have to leave the farm to have a rest or a date night? Blocking out one hour a week to sit down with your spouse to talk about the state of your union is a key marriage builder. If you do this on the buddy seat of the combine, then you are multi-tasking, but still working on stronger communication and cherishing each other.

8. Hire Child Care 

time off the farm child care image

I recall the farm manager who wanted a nanny but needed a bigger house to achieve that goal. Her husband was a tradesperson. Her dad demanded the same amount of time from her as before the birth of her child. Where is it written that farm families should not have hired childcare?  Grandma may not want a full-time job raising her grandchildren. If you cannot hire care, you may barter it with a neighbour, so you have blocks of time to do important work safely without the kids in tow.  I did this for many years with a town friend as I had Tuesdays, and she had Thursdays; our sons loved the routine and the chance to play together.

9. Examine the Culture of Your Farm 

What do you believe to be true? How do you behave with each other? How do you make decisions? Believe, behave, decide. Everyone gets to choose what is important to them. On our farm, we choose not to work on Sundays, so all employees and families get a day of rest. We still get the work done. Do you expect your successors to sacrifice their bodies the same way you do as a founder? You get the behaviour that you accept. If decisions are made according to roles and responsibilities, and in a collaborative manner, you will be leading a great team that can work independently, is self-directed, and confident.

10. Be Thankful 

Dirty dishes are a sign that there was food to eat. Harvesting together should be a joyful experience and reward for many long hours of crop care. There are going to be bumps and challenges along the way; you know that, so count your blessings and take delight in the things that give you energy. One employee loved the fact that he was allowed to stop to photograph the harvest sunsets. Beauty creates energy. Pay attention to what gives you energy as you work.

I am missing my gladiolas in my garden this year. During the Great Pause this spring, I decided to give them a head start by planting them in peat moss in the warm house. The transplanting of 10 inch high plants did not sit well when the spring winds attacked the garden, so only one gladiola bloomed. Rats. My cut garden flowers on my desk give me energy to appreciate my writing and coaching work. Sometimes we experiment with new ways, and it doesn’t work. So we let go and move on.

11. See a Doctor (Medical or Psychologist)  

Be sure about the cause of your ongoing fatigue—it could be medical or psychological.

No matter how busy you are, you CAN get more time off the farm if you are willing to change your mindset and consider a new approach. A tractor doesn’t run on empty, and neither do you. Allowing yourself time off the farm means you can recharge physically and mentally, and also tend to the areas of your life you might have been neglecting. Choose at least one item from this list and get started today!

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.”
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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
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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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