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A heatwave is looming. Drought on the prairies is keeping folks awake at night. Farming folks are trying to cope with their brains on overload.

Where is it written in the farming book of rules that you always figure things out on your own and never ask for help? Where is that written in your family rule book? “Where is it written” is a phrase that pays to get clarity and challenge the status quo.

I was standing in my garden pulling quack grass when a distraught woman called me. Her lending institution gave her my number. “Elaine, I feel very humbled. I don’t like to ask for help.”

Her story is mirrored by many others. She trusted her in-laws to fulfill the promise of owning the farm. Death happened. Foreclosure followed. Finances were not paid attention to. This woman knew in her gut the lack of written agreements for farm transfer was not a good thing. She could not convince her spouse, her in-laws, nor her lender (!) that things needed to change. Now she is in a very sad spot.

Here are 3 key questions to start organizing your thoughts:

  1. Who is your emotional support group beyond your immediate family? If your parents and siblings cannot help you, then who can you turn to? Manitoba’s www.supportline.ca (1-866-367-3276) is a good place to reach out and start to have a sounding board. I also recommend that you contact your medical clinic, public health nurse to find out the best way to connect with a mental health worker. The Do More Ag Foundation has been hosting bi-weekly events which run until the end of July. The leader is Lauren Van Ewyk, a social worker and farmer who is a great help. This happens on zoom. Thanks to the FCC for sponsoring this great project. I have really enjoyed the sessions that I have booked on my calendar.
  2. What is the key issue keeping me anxious? Farm people are trusting folk. Sometimes that trust is not warranted, so I bang the drum of “get it all into written agreements.” I also talk a lot about managing your finances well and knowing your secure income streams. Many Canadians are taking advantage of the income supplements from the federal government, which requires that your tax filing is up to date. If you have been ignoring the obvious things that you should be paying attention to, then reach out to your local bank or credit union for a financial reboot with their financial planners. Don’t be afraid to talk about how hard it is to pay bills or pay debts. The Farm Debt Mediation Service was created for farmers to communicate in a safe respectful fashion with creditors. If creditors are calling, then find ways to have better communication with them and don’t ignore your financial stress. The western Canada TOLL-FREE number is 1-866-452-5556. I was a FDMS mediator for 10 years. The most awful meetings were the ones where a spouse was shocked to find out the true financial reality of the farm. No secrets. No surprises. Money needs to be managed. You can also reach out to www.cafanet.ca and find an advisor near you that cares about agriculture’s success.
  3. Why am I not taking action? Hope deferred makes the heart sick. You likely are sick about your current circumstances. Doing nothing is not going to bring different results. Procrastination is killing agriculture. Talk to the widow who has buried a spouse who did not get around to getting a will done or a power of attorney. Fear can be paralyzing, but you have just read above that there are people and resources willing to help you get unstuck. Depressed people don’t make rational decisions, so maybe a visit or telehealth call with your family doctor is a good starting point. Ask them to test you for depression with a list of questions they are trained to use. Stop accepting angry behavior, which is really a reflection of fear, hurt, and frustration. You get the behavior you accept. One farm woman opted for a “redemption separation” where she left the farm home for 3 years, waiting for her spouse to get healing from addiction, and then she returned to build a stronger marriage. Her intent in leaving “for a while” was clear. She did not intend to see the dissolution of her marriage, she intended for everyone to be healthy. Divorce did not become the outcome.

Decision Making 101

  1. Identify the problem.
  2. Research and reach out to find options to solve the problem.
  3. Pick the best option.
  4. Act.
  5. Evaluate how it worked. Make adjustments.

All of us during this Great Pause need to practice good self-care to be mentally resilient to the many degrees of uncertainty we are navigating. What gives you energy? Who can you call to connect within an emotionally healthy way? Would your local church have a benevolent fund that you could access?

You have 6 key roles to manage in order to be a self-renewing person:

Your self, your partner/spouse, your family, your farm, your friends, and your community. Sketch out 6 boxes and label them with all those roles. Plunk your 3 best ideas for keeping strong in each of the roles you navigate this summer. I’m planning to do more kayaking and have more campfires with chocolate. I make good use of my smartphone as a phone, not a texting instrument to stay connected to friends when we cannot visit in person. I connect to my faith community after YouTube virtual church (www.mbchurch.ca) on zoom.

There is no shame in asking for help. Be sensitive to the body language and facial expressions behind the masks you see in the local grocery store. Instead of asking “How are you?”, it is more helpful to ask “How are you doing ?” and wait to engage with the answer.

Separation and divorce on farms are amplified in this season. I’ve just met Sara McCullough, a Certified Divorce Analyst, a great fee-for-service planner, and I’ll be sharing more about her unique approach in a future article. Visit www.wddevelopment.ca to find out more.

Asking for help in these trying times is a good thing.


Elaine Froese, CAFA, CSP, CHICoach is wired to help farm families find harmony through understanding.

Did you enjoy It’s okay to ask for help? You might want to check these articles out too:

Resources and Tools to Help Your Farm and Business
Why Founding Farmers are Hanging On and How to Help Them Let Go
How to Help Farming Fathers Be Really Happy

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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+1-204-534-7466 | elaine(at)elainefroese.com

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