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You are not alone

As we flipped the chart of papers from the young farmers’ seminar in St. John’s a phrase caught my eye. A young producer had shared that one of the key insights of the day was “I am not alone.”

Farm families are quite surprised to hear me affirm them with the words “you are not alone” in their journey of conflict. Many families across the country are quick to hide what is really going on inside the farm kitchen door. They are proud, independent, self-sufficient entrepreneurs who have no desire to “air their dirty laundry.”

The funny thing about iconic Newfoundland pictures, is that you will often see an artist’s rendering of the laundry being strung out to dry with the sea winds.

As the seeding season overtakes the brain power of your family and causes the stress of planting the crop in a timely fashion, I encourage you to process your thoughts as you let the auto steer guide you down the field.

In January I heard from a Colorado farmer who was applying fertilizer, while auto steer gave him the opportunity to view my webinars, and read my blog on www.elainefroese.com.

Don’t let your family issues go on autopilot and drift. Use the thinking and reflecting time on the tractor to set up a game plan to embrace your farm team in a great strategic vision session. Call your advisers, maybe the chemical rep, who today was cited as the one who actually acts as an emotional support to the lonely farmer. The reps have seen lots of scenarios, and because they are deemed to be a “perfect stranger” type who won’t share the real issues, they are trusted as confidants in some circles.

Who is your emotional support group beyond the farm?

I challenge you to drop your pride filters, and reach out to folks who can help you facilitate solutions to your conflict and communication barriers and blockages.

Misery does not love company. Knowing that thousands of other farm families are also trying to get their act together to do great business continuance, and work with family should give you hope that you can copy others’ success.

We need to hear more happy endings and success stories. I guess that’s why I am such a big fan of Country Guide magazine and Farm Management Canada stories that show us real folks who have embraced change and innovation to create a new chapter for their profitable farm business.

The assistant deputy minister of agriculture for Newfoundland, Keith Deering, is concerned about the future food security of the “Rock,” since in l951 there were over 19,000 farmers on the island and now there are less than 1,200. Mr. Deering would like to see 100 young farmers at next year’s Newfoundland Young Farmer’s Forum. Each region of our country has its unique challenges, but we can create a common bond of understanding and share resources across the miles.

Can you reach out and ask for help? When you get really badly stuck with the four-wheel drive during seeding, you quickly ask for help, because time is of the essence. This year dust is more likely an issue than muck, but recall what it feels like to be stuck, frustrated and feeling helpless to get out of the mess you are in.

Conflict is not bad. Being lonely and isolated is bad. Embrace outside advisers whom you trust to help you facilitate powerful conversations. The professional code of ethics that the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors adheres to ensures that your family business will not become public knowledge. Ask your professional adviser to explain what confidentiality means to them, and how they practise it.

Pretending that all is well on the farm to protect your image and feed your pride is not helping you craft the healthy legacy that will sustain a profitable farm.

As agriculture producers, we are now less than two per cent of the Canadian population, which makes us a very unique culture… and a minority.

Don’t whine about the “good old days,” create the great new days of 2012, and make this your best farming season ever with all the support you need to embrace the continuing change on your farm.

You are not alone. Help is a cellphone call away, and a click on the Internet. Make the call.

Remember, it is your farm, your family and your choice. †

About the author

Contributor

Elaine Froese is a certified farm family coach and farm partner. Seek her out at www. elainefroese.com or call 1-866-848-8311. Buy her books for your mom. Share your stories of how these phrases have impacted you. Elaine wants to hear from you on Facebook at “farm family coach” or Twitter @elainefroese.

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