Achieving equity growth on your farmer mind/body balance sheet (aka self-care for farmers)

Ahhh, the balance sheet– everyone’s favourite topic and the sexyest of farm financial statements 😉

Equity=Assets-Obligations… remember?

As a farmer, your biggest asset is yourself.

Your mind, your spirit, your body. (Hereby referred to as your mind/body; alluding to the fact that separation of mind, body, and spirit (the holy trinity?) is an illusion)

And yet…

And yet it’s the farm asset that we most often neglect and fail to maintain and care for.

We do oil changes on the tractor, we repaint our houses, we fix leaks in the roof of our buildings, we grease the zerks on our machinery, we install drainage and level our fields…

Similarly there are simple actions we can take to care for our mind/body. It doesn’t have to take much time! Just 10 minutes per day makes an enormous difference!

Stretching, a quiet walk, listening to the birdsongs with a nice hot beverage, yoga, a quick swim in the pond, meditation, dancing in your pyjamas, prayer, reading a couple pages from an inspiring text, massage (self massage or with a partner), the list is endless.

The point is that this is such a personal topic– I can’t tell you what you need, but your mind/body knows! Create a 10 minute break in your day to look within and see what would just feel great to you.

What are you doing to maintain and nurture your mind/body?

How’s your mind/body balance sheet doing?

What are the major ‘obligations’ (debts) that are putting a strain on your mind/body?

What would it be like to set aside 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening for self-care?

Look within… what would just feel great to you?

Firing farm employees with clarity, focus, ease, and grace.

Firing an employee is one of the hardest things about being a business owner.

No one likes doing so. As if it were somehow bad or insulting or hurtful.

The truth of the matter is that it’s perfectly normal. It’s a normal part of being in business, and it’s normal to feel these emotions.

But what if there were a different way of seeing it?

What if it wasn’t about ‘firing’ anyone?

What if it were about being intentional about the relationships we choose to cultivate and maintain around us?

The fact of the matter is that our employees are the people we spend the most time with in our life.

When I look at it from the perspective of cultivating a relationship, I see how important communication is. Way before even getting to the point of ‘firing’ someone, it is so important to clearly communicate expectations and to create the space to regularly check in. If you see there is something that is not working, you need to let them know ASAP! People fundamentally want to succeed. Take the time to sit down and clearly communicate what is and isn’t working for you and what needs to change to correct the situation. Be clear on the time frame… 1 week, 2 weeks?

Oh… and by the way, you aren’t fooling anybody by not talking about it! Body language and attitude are so obvious and we humans are hard-wired as social animals to pick up on these subtle forms of communication. If there is something that is bothering you, you can be pretty damn sure your employee either already knows about it, or at least has a sense that something ain’t quite right.

I know it can seem like you don’t have the time for communication. I’ve been there. I know how there is always something more urgent to do than take 15 minutes for an employee check in– but it is soooo important. You don’t have the time NOT to do it!!

And be truthful– truthful with yourself and truthful with your employee. Embrace the truth of the matter. This can be challenging given the tendency of the mind to obsess on either guilt, judgement, or condemnation (thoughts like either ‘geez why am I thinking this, it isn’t that bad.’ -OR- ‘that person is such a ……’ -OR-   ‘I’m such a ….’)

What is more interesting to you, these ‘monkey mind’ thoughts, or squarely looking at whether or not this person and your business are a fit?

If it becomes clear that someone is in fact not a good fit for your business, let them know as soon as possible in a respectful, clear, and compassionate manner. As Chris Blanchard used to say ‘Hire slow, Fire fast’. It’s better to be short staffed than to have someone on board that’s not a fit for your team. I know it can be scary, but in my experience that person is probably slowing down the entire team and contributing to a tense and unenjoyable work atmosphere–and it’s amazing how often the right person appears once you create the space for it.

The key question is always: Am you more interested in what is missing, or in what is seeking to emerge in this situation?  

Weeding your 2020 and 2021 vegetable fields NOW!

When’s the best time to weed your crops? 2-3 years ago!! (Yes, I know, the real answer is when the weeds are at the white thread and cotyledon stage….)

This is the kind of Important yet Non-Urgent action that easily slips to the wayside when things get busy… especially while playing catch-up after such a wet, late spring as we’re currently experiencing.

I would like to offer a couple of simple questions for your reflection that can lead to some high impact, high leverage actions.

Where specifically on your farm are next year’s weed sensitive crops going?

The act of defining where your most weed-sensitive crops will be planted next year is surprisingly powerful. It is important that once you answer these questions for yourself, that you also communicate it to your farming partners and crew.

  • What crops are the most susceptible to weeds? (Ex: Carrots, Salad mix, onions, Insert your personal answers here)
  • What area of weed sensitive crops do you anticipate growing next year (approximately)?
  • Where specifically will those crops go?

What’s your plan to reduce the weed pressure in those areas?

Once again it doesn’t have to be complicated but as I learned as a Boy Scout when I was a kid: ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’

  • What are your most troublesome weeds? What is their lifecycle?
  • Can you set aside some land for the whole season to focus on reducing the weed seed bank?
  • If not, what actions will you take to ensure 100% no weeds going to seed in this year’s crop on that plot? What actions will you take to optimise post-harvest tillage to set the stage for the weed-sensitive crops next year?
  • What methods and technologies are most appropriate to your scale? Silage tarps (occultation), bare fallow, mechanical cultivation, fast growing green manures, etc)
  • What are the key dates that you will need to hit?

What systems or tools would best support you to actually implement your plan this summer?

This is all well and good…. but it ain’t worth a rat’s ass if it’s not implemented.

  • What systems would support you to carry out your plan?
    • Scheduled in your calendar ?
    • Automatic email reminders and alarms? (Using the nw what nw ? do you mean no ? snooze function in gmail)
    • Delegating the plan to a crew member?
  • What tools and materials are necessary?
    • Do you have the cover crop seed on hand?
    • Is the necessary information clearly available to crew members in the form of reference charts etc?
    • Is your tillage equipment capable of tilling just 1 or 2 inches deep for stale seed-bedding?

For more on weed control, check out this blog post from last year on the subject.

Have fun!!

Let me know what you see in this for yourself in the comments section below or by email!

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Farm paradigm shift: From Management to Leadership

Hi Folks!! I’m gonna keep it short and sweet this week.

First off, I just wanna acknowledge the heck out of you for taking the time to read this blog. I know how busy you are so I appreciate your readership. It’s what makes this work worth it for me… Thanks for being here!

I wanted to offer a couple of follow up thoughts on last week’s blog topic: The paradigm shift from efficiency to effectiveness.

Last week’s blog was very much focused on effectiveness from a management perspective.

Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things’

Both Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis

From a leadership perspective, effectiveness implies that your actions and goals are coherent with your vision for what is most important and meaningful to you. How heartbreaking it is to successfully reach your goal, only to realise that you sacrificed that which was most important to you along the way.

Your turn

What are those things that are most meaningful and important to you?

What are your core values?

Do your current goals and actions include and cultivate these elements in your life?

May the force be with you!