The Recovering Farmer

Sunday, May 15, 2016


My wife sometimes suggests that I have a touch of Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD). Not to a serious degree but it seems that I get into a certain routine and stick with it. For starters I need to check and recheck certain things I do. For example. I will lock the door and then go back and check it because I can’t remember whether I locked it. Numerous times I have left home only to go back and make sure I actually closed the garage door. I also seem to get into a rut with eating certain foods. I have had Bran Flakes with raisins for breakfast for a long long time. Before that it was carrot raisin muffins. Now I have to have a protein shake every day at a certain time. I also get that way with certain topics I like to write about. Communication. That is what I am fixated on these days.

Texting seems to be the communication flavor of the day. And with texting comes texting lingo which I still have some difficulty always understanding. This coming from someone involved in agriculture for many years where acronyms were used far too often. I remember AIDA and CFIP and GRIP and CAIS. Government support programs where one evolved into another that evolved into yet another and so on. There were trade deals from NAFTA to GATT to WTO to TIPP. There were insurance programs that were administered by MASC called CI that included your IPI. Lenders such as FCC, RBC, MASC, SCU, and others. I could go on but I digress.

Just recently I was exchanging texts with a golfing buddy who likes this texting lingo. She sent me a text that involved a bunch of letters that I to this day can’t figure out. I responded by asking her what she did with all her extra time she had because she used what I call shorthand. She might have saved a few seconds while I had to spend an extra minute of my life trying to figure out what she was actually saying, a minute I will never get back. LOL, which can mean laughing out loud or lots of love or living on Lipitor, is a common one. LMAO, ROTFLO, TTYL, TMI, STBY, and OMG are but a few. Google it. There are hundreds of them. BTW R U sure that you want to say that because me thinks you should CYA because my POV is like OMG, are you serious? When I see gobble de goop like that I just simply respond WTF. That one works for me. It covers everything. From good news to bad news and everything in between.

I had a reminder this week that I have been overdoing it with emails. I sent an email to a client suggesting which day would work for me to meet with them. The evening of the day I could meet I got a response. They suggested that they did not regularly check emails so it would be better if I called and left a message. Touché. I agree. What is this hang-up, no pun intended, with actually talking to people, even if it is by telephone? Is it actually a time saver? Sometimes I think it’s another way of avoidance. A way of not actually communicating but rather sending a message for which there is little accountability.

Ever sat in a restaurant and when a cell phone rang everyone reached for their pocket? Notice how often people in a social setting keep checking their phones and using their phones? It seems that effective communication has gone the way of the dodo bird. Along with it relationships are not being retained or maintained. I think we can improve on that. Next time you are with a group of friends leave your phone on silent and in your pocket. Bet you can’t do it. By the way. .02, the title I used, in texting lingo means sharing my two cents worth. And that is what this is, my two cents worth. Perhaps you feel short changed. Doesn’t matter. TTYL. Make it a good one.

“Actions speak louder than words, but not nearly as often.” Mark Twain

Thursday, May 5, 2016

You Got This

It took a while but I think it is safe to say “Spring is sprung and the grass is riz”. It is a time for optimism. A time for regrowth. This past weekend brought the warmer temperatures, gale force winds calmed, it was downright nice weather. Particularly for golf.

Over the last few days I have also noticed increased activity in the fields. Farmers are getting at it. After months of waiting, planning, fixing, and generally getting ready, they are putting in the 2016 crop. For the most part they too are filled with optimism. Although, metaphorically speaking, there appear to be some storm clouds in the distance. Some issues, particularly financial, have created some anxiety. Commodity prices have softened from the levels experienced over the last few years. It seems that costs keep going up regardless. Forecasts are calling for a hot, dry summer. However farmers prove time and time again that they have resilience. They have what it takes. They are innovative. They adapt. They can do this.

This busy time of year also provides opportunity for thought. What else do you do as you put in countless hours going up and down the fields on your tractors? You think. You plan. I suspect that there will be those who will wonder whether it is time to call it a day and sell out. Many are wondering if it is time to leave it to the next generation. Perhaps there are those who will wish they had started the conversation sooner.

The thought of transitioning from the farm, whether selling or passing on to the next generation, can be frightening. Questions abound. Will my kids want to farm? Are they capable? What will I retire on? What will I do? Where will I live? How will this work? Who can help me? This is but a sampling of questions many ask. It becomes so overwhelming that many just simply ignore what needs to be done.

The challenge becomes to take the process one step at a time. There are many steps involved in a transition plan. That is why it is best to start with the first step without thinking too far ahead. Normally that first step would be to have a conversation. A conversation with your spouse, your partner and your kids. Through the conversation come to an understanding of what everyone’s expectations are. They may be different than you thought. Others may have assumed what you wanted only to find out they were wrong. The conversation will get everyone on the same page.

Not to scare anyone, but these conversations may be difficult at times. Many interests, fears, concerns, and desires may have been avoided over the years. The reality of the farm and all that goes with it may not have been truly understood. What may be equitable will not feel fair. With increased challenges on the farm there may be some who no longer want to farm. All these challenges bring fear to the retiring generation and the succeeding generation. The solutions may not be easy to come by but with the right intentions and hard work a successful plan can be implemented.

The good news is there are professionals that can help with the various components of a plan. There are those who can assist with the difficult conversations. There are those who can help mapping out the process. It is a matter of retaining that help and getting on with the plan. Make it a good one.

“Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You’re strong. You got this. Take it day by day.” Karen Salmansohn

Monday, May 2, 2016

Can I Rely on You

I don’t know about you but I am suffering from election fatigue. I know, I should get over it as the election in Manitoba, which started shortly after the federal election, is finally over. However it feels like a hangover. Perhaps it’s because there is still a constant barrage of election “stuff” coming from south of the border. That in itself is scary enough. I mean the people involved. But I am not going there.

Shortly after I posted my last blog I realized that what I had written did not necessarily apply to all walks of life. I wrote about the fact that everyone makes mistakes, we all experience failures, we all mess up but should not let our failures define our lives, who we are, and who we will be. However, as has again been proven, if you want to be involved in politics past mistakes, errors, or failures will come back to haunt you. Far too often an election boils down to who we can trust the most.

What is it that we, as a society, want? What are we looking for? Trust. Plain and simple. We want to trust others. Our spouses, our partners, our kids, our colleagues, people we do business with, and those that are in power, such as politicians. And equally so others want to trust us.
I like one of the definitions of trust that the Encarta Dictionary has. Trust means to “rely on somebody or something”. It goes further and states that it means “to place confidence in somebody or in somebody's good qualities, especially fairness, truth, honor, or ability. . . to allow somebody to do something, having confidence that the person will behave responsibly or properly”. It does not sound complicated but, unfortunately, can be.

Patrick Lencioni, a management consultant specializing in organizational health, talks about trust being at the very foundation of a team. In his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, he outlines a compelling case for trust being that foundation. As he puts it, “members of great teams trust one another on a fundamental, emotional level, and they are comfortable being vulnerable with each other about their weaknesses, mistakes, fears, and behaviors”. He goes on to explain why this is essential for teams to be effective and efficient.

That same concept can be applied in most any, if not all, relationships we have. How can any relationship thrive with the absence of trust? Lack of trust leads to break downs, break ups, conflict, and lack of commitment. It destroys relationships. It destroys teams. It destroys individuals. Like the Irish saying goes, “when mistrust comes in, love goes out.”

Being involved with others, being able to trust others, requires us to be authentic. And to be authentic requires us to become vulnerable. Open ourselves up. That in itself is a scary thought. We have a tendency to hide behind walls. We are frightened at the thought of others finding out who we really are. But when we practice this we see ourselves and others in a different light. It opens up a whole new world. Yes, at times uncomfortable, but overtime it builds that trust. Trust in yourself. Trust in others. It works. Trust me. Make it a good one.

You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens.” Mandy Hale