The Recovering Farmer

Friday, February 28, 2014

Signing A Pre-cup

Yip. You think I just lost it. No worries. I lost it a long time ago. I have had a few interviews over the last couple of weeks. No problem there. I enjoy doing them. However, the one regarded pre-nup agreements. Really? Wondering what I could possibly add to that. I was actually quoted. Talked about open and forthright communication. That is important in any circumstance.

Today I heard a new one. A pre-cup agreement. This situation came about because of the Roll Up The Rim to win. What a ghastly time of year is this? Promises of major winnings. A brighter future. Perhaps a car. Maybe coffee. Worst case scenario? A donut. Okay. I lied. Worst case scenario? “Please try again”. Some may argue that.

The story came from someone that took a friend out for coffee to Timmies. A double double I bet. Doesn’t that sound typical? Apparently one person bought the other a coffee. They rolled up the rim and the one who got a free coffee won a hundred dollar Timmies gift card. So far so good.

How do you roll up the rim? Admit it. We all frequent the joint just to get one of those cups. Don’t you find some irony in the fact that now other donut shops are offering some sort of roll up the rim contest? I have found that using my teeth works best. Fingers don’t work that well. So I use my mouth. Then I got to thinking about how it must feel for the employees to be grabbing these cups with my spit all over it. Not to mention the fact that others probably do the same. So then after having handled someone else’s gob soaked cup the employee grabs a muffin for me. And they never washed their hands. The more I think about it the worse it gets. Perhaps it would be best to avoid these places as long as they have these contests happening.

So the person who had not paid for the coffee won the prize. The person who paid felt that the prize belonged to him. A conflict ensued. I think they needed a mediator. After all. This could become messy. Remember a few years ago. The story out of Quebec? Me neither.

So the donut shop known as Timmies has come up with a plan. A pre-cup agreement. Really. That reminds me of the time we went to the World Curling Championship opening ceremonies in Brandon. We went with another couple. When we finally found our table it became clear that two of us would have to navigate around to the other side. No problem. Me being the nice person I volunteered that my wife and I would go to the other side. At each place setting was a truck key. Long story short is that the seat I first got to was the lucky seat. Because of my kindness I did not win. Should have had a pre-nup. Wait a minute. A pre-cup. No, that does not work either. A pre-truck? Who cares. Didn’t have one.

So in case you plan on buying someone a coffee in the foreseeable future make sure you have a pre-cup agreement. You may laugh. You may scoff. But think about it. You buy your friend, colleague, neighbor a coffee. They win a car. What are you going to do? It could become very unpleasant. Just visit the Timmies website. You can print a pre-cup agreement and have one handy should you feel generous. Did I really say that? Did I really write this? Make it a good one.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Is it okay to use that as a title? It has been an interesting few days. What just pushed me over the edge were comments regarding a certain political party who had their convention this weekend who I will say nothing against because that might bite me in the butt if I was actually concerned about that. Okay, that was a mouthful. I used to have aspirations of being a politician but am glad that feeling passed. As often as I put my foot in my mouth the opposition would have a heyday. Now it is up to you to figure out who the opposition is. Go for it.

Believe it or not I got up at 6:00 Sunday morning to watch hockey. Why?? I have no idea. Never thought that would happen. However there were some folks in this house that thought they should watch the game. Who am I to argue? After all, I just pay the mortgage around here.

So I watched the game. Canada won. It was exciting. Kind of. I called an offside against Canada at one point and got an earful for that. I didn’t know why. It was explained to me that we were cheering for Canada and therefore not calling any infractions against them. I had to make it clear to the others that I am a mediator. I call things the way I see it. I am impartial. I am neutral. (That probably explains why I could never be a politician.)

Then there was golf. From the deserts of Arizona. The more I watched the more I missed my golf outing from a year ago. All the holes looked familiar. Looked like the courses I played on last year. From the cacti to the sand to the rocks and the rock hills in the background. Wish I could go back. I will. Someday.

It was a weekend for match play. That simply means that whoever wins the most holes wins the match. Not a total score game as per usual. Anything can happen and trust me, it did. I was rooting for two players. One made it to the finals. He was up 3 holes going to the back nine. All things being equal, that should have been enough. However the lead slipped away. It went to a playoff. That is when the fun began. To watch a playoff in a match play format is fun. Anything can happen. And it did. Impossible shots from amongst the cactus and rocks to a few feet from the pin. But at the end my guy won. Really that is all that matters.

What I learned is that one should never give up. Regardless of what lies in front of us. Regardless of our odds. There is hope. Sometimes we just need to think less and act more. Give it our best. Close our eyes and hit the ball. And if everything else fails we still come in second. In this case second place was still worth in excess of $900,000. Significantly less than the $1.5 million for the winner, but still a substantial amount. Not a bad return for spending time in balmy temperatures, enjoying green grass, gentle breezes, hitting golf balls. It could be worse. You could be mired in a winter that won’t quit near Winnipeg. Need I say more? Make it a good one.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Sound of Spring

As I sit here on a Tuesday morning, just over the half-way point of February, I try to find positives in whatever I can. The weather seems to have taken a break from the relentless onset of cold, wind and snow. There is actually some melting going on. I have been clearing our deck of snow. Not sure why. I had secretly hoped it would collapse. That might move it up on our priority list of projects. We do need a new deck. But we also need new. . . bunch of stuff.

I heard a crow today. At first I thought it was a hallucination. Not sure how that could happen unless I overdosed on coffee. Then I heard it again. That is a positive. A sure sign that Spring is coming. In fact it might be here we just haven’t noticed because of the wind, snow and cold temperatures. Okay. I know that makes little sense. But if you think about? It works.

When I mentioned to my wife that I had heard a crow she gave me a puzzled look. She really was wondering why that was a good thing. Here I would have thought she would be happy about that too. However I needed to explain to her. Today I like the sound of a crow. During the summer? Not so much. In fact I have some memories of those critters, difficult to call them birds with that god awful sound they make, waking me back in the days of camping.

As you know I am grasping at any sign I see. A sign of something better. Received an email this week from a faithful follower who sent pictures from days of old. Days when it was difficult, if not impossible, to warm up a car. Pictures of snow piled on cars, sidewalks, and streets. He sent that as a friendly reminder that with all my complaining I should take things in perspective. He makes a valid point. Perspective is what it is all about.

Chatted with a farmer this week who was berating himself for some of the decisions he made in the past. They had an awesome crop. No place to put it. Piled it outside. Now in the process of marketing it. Prices have plummeted. The system is plugged up. What looked good a few short months ago has changed. He was concerned about certain decisions he had made. He had lost perspective.

So truth be told, I took an extended lunch to watch some hockey. Perhaps that is not entirely accurate as I work out of a home office and who really knows how long my lunches are. I said that just in case my wife reads this. Need to make sure that she thinks I actually work when she is not here. It is the Olympics. Canada was playing. Played against Latvia. Not even sure where that is. However, it was an interesting game. A close game. I suspect they had Canada worried. Shots were 57 to 16 in favor of Canada. The score did not reflect that. At one point the commentator, when talking about Latvia’s phenomenal goal tending, made the comment that there was $150 million of play coming at the goal tender. So, in other words, a game that should handily be won by the Canadians.

The Canadians did win. The Latvians showed an incredible resilience. In spite of the over whelming odds against them they put up a good fight. Life lesson? You know me. Keep fighting. There is always hope. You may not always win but you can still put out a good effort. Just maintain your perspective. As for me? I will keep fighting this winter that never leaves. I will clear more snow to make room for the snow that is coming. I will take heart from the sunshine. I will survive. And I will take a positive from the sound of crows. For me that is a sign of spring. For me that is perspective. And, quite frankly, that is all that matters. Make it a good one.

Monday, February 10, 2014

What Does It Mean To Recover

Sometime ago I wrote a piece called The Recovering Farmer. That was at the outset of my blogging experience. Now I am using the term more and more. Somehow it makes sense. Recently I was on a radio interview. My sister heard it, sent me a text suggesting it was a good interview, but curious what a recovering farmer was. I found myself unsure on how to answer that.

The use of the word “recovering” is normally associated with alcoholics who are in recovery. As in quit drinking. I checked the Encarta dictionary. One of the definitions for “recover” is “to return to a previous state of health, prosperity, or equanimity”. That probably says it all. That tells me that the term recovering could be used in many situations. Recovering Mennonite (do I need to recover from that?), recovering accident victim, recovering cancer survivor, recovering golfer. The list could be endless. All of them refer to a return to something. And for all intents and purposes, something better.

I asked a colleague what she thought the term meant. She provided me with the following definition. (My apologies to her, I am using this without her permission) “I would say that a recovering farmer is someone who worked tirelessly through blood, sweat, and tears to produce nourishment for the world in spite of the fact that markets, nor individuals, pay tribute to their toil. To recover from farming is to let go of all one’s losses…..while not forgetting their contributions.” (Me thinks she is still in the recovery mode)

I asked my wife what she thought. She commented on the fact that farming, like other things, can be difficult to let go of. People often know that staying in farming is not beneficial to health, prosperity or equanimity. However they fail to see that there can be a better life. Much like an addict who knows, and remembers, when life was better, but, being caught up in their life, they cannot see past the life they are in. My wife also reminded me how I had always been concerned that I did not know what I could do, job wise, if I did not farm. Something I have heard from others countless times.

There are two things that resonate with me when I hear those two definitions or opinions. One is that we become immersed in our situation. We feel we can do it. We find it difficult to admit that things are not working out. The human spirit takes a real blow. Secondly we find it difficult to let go. Letting go creates a certain vulnerability. And we hate being vulnerable. We don’t want to be viewed as weak. As failures. As someone that should have known better.

Inevitably a person hits bottom. They have nowhere to turn. They desperately want something better. Often times that initial first step can lead to regrets. Often times it is those first days, months and, sometimes years, that can lead to second thoughts. If only I had. . . , I should have. . . , I didn’t. . . . However, with the right plan in place, utilizing supports, talking about it, and a ton of positive energy, people can, and have moved on to a positive life, a life of fulfillment and satisfaction. A life where you can return to health, prosperity and equanimity.

As for myself? Health has improved since I moved on, both physically and mentally. The prosperity piece I am working on. Finding work but buying lottery tickets occasionally for my retirement package. Equanimity? Look it up. Means a more balanced frame of emotions. I am working on that as well. There is hope. And that, quite frankly, is why I call myself a recovering farmer. I am recovering. And thank you to all who are helping me recover. Make it a good one.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Superior Mirage

Two headlines this morning that really bother me. “Coldest Winter In 64 Years” and “Wiarton Willie Predicts Six More Weeks”. I am desperately looking for positives as the weather keeps being miserable. And with miserable I mean really, really miserable. We seem to be stuck in this Arctic Vortex that is not letting go. Hang on. Willow, Manitoba’s own groundhog, says spring is right around the corner. Do I believe that? If I start basing my future on some stuffed animal tossed into a snowdrift I may be more desperate than I realize.

As I drove into Winnipeg early this week I was again mesmerized by what I saw. It seemed like everything was closer. Before I reached the perimeter I could already clearly see the downtown Winnipeg buildings. It seemed surreal. As I looked around me I saw other sights that are not normally seen from the road I was on. It was amazing. Postcard like.

A few years ago I was traveling into Winnipeg from our home in Wawanesa. It was a bitterly cold morning. I left home before the sun came up. As the sun came up I noticed that the horizon looked different. Almost appeared like a mirage. I had never experienced this before and found myself being mesmerized. Perhaps you know where this is going. When I got to my meeting I excitedly told people what I had seen. I saw a few strange looks. I was told that this often happens when it is really cold.

How about a science lesson. You in the mood for that? I decided to do some research. I googled mirage and came across the following information.

“A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky.”

“Mirages can be categorized as "inferior" (meaning lower), "superior" (meaning higher) . . . one kind of superior mirage consisting of a series of unusually elaborate, vertically stacked images, which form a mirage.”
“An inferior mirage is called "inferior" because the mirage is located under the real object. The real object in an inferior mirage is the (blue) sky or any distant (therefore bluish) object in that same direction. The mirage causes the observer to see a bright and bluish patch on the ground in the distance.” Remember what you learnt in school? Trudging through the desert and thinking you see water?

“A superior mirage occurs when the air below the line of sight is colder than the air above it. This unusual arrangement is called a temperature inversion, since warm air above cold air is the opposite of the normal temperature gradient of the atmosphere. Passing through the temperature inversion, the light rays are bent down, and so the image appears above the true object, hence the name superior.”

The information, directly from Wikipedia, goes on describe how this phenomenon works. It certainly is beyond my comprehension. When I read about or hear about the effect of cold and heat on light rays my eyes kind of glaze over and I go, “whatever”. But I will admit that the superior mirage concept is quite fascinating. At the same time, I will add, only if you have seen it.

So there you have it. A science lesson. Sounds impossible really. Next time you are out and about in very cold temperatures check it out. Based on the forecast you should have some opportunity to see what I have talked about. It truly is a sight to be seen. Perhaps the beauty of that can help you survive another few days of this blistering cold, or as some groundhog is telling us, six more weeks. Then again when it isn’t cold we have snow and wind. Which one do you prefer? And, yes, I am basing my future on Willow. Make it a good one.