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Some Good Advice?

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CattleAnnie

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An article that may provide some insight for those that are under too heavy a load due to BSE related farm/ranch financial/family stress.

~

How Can You Tell When It's Time To Quit?

Noel McNaughton The Western Producer
this document web posted: Wednesday March 2, 2005 20050303p33

One time when I was a news reporter, I was sent to the Peace River country in northern Alberta to do stories on the harvest.

It was late October, it had rained a great deal and much of the harvest had not been taken off. I figured the stress of the situation would show up in the doctors' offices pretty soon as they saw more patients with stress-related illnesses, so that's where I went.

I talked to a doctor who said he was already starting to see the women, but wouldn't see the men until spring when it was absolutely clear there was no chance of getting the crop off, even after the snow melted.

He told me a scenario that he saw repeatedly.

A family would move into the area and buy a farm. They were often undercapitalized and after a few years the wife would find a job off the farm to help them survive.

After a few years she would get tired of seeing her wages poured into what was starting to look like a black hole.

She would tell her husband they were not making it and that they should get out while they still had some equity.

The husband would not listen because he was sure next year would bring the great crop or the high prices that would pull them out.

The wife would get tired of not being heard and after many attempts at getting him to talk realistically about their situation, she would finally give up and leave the marriage. The husband would stubbornly struggle on and eventually lose the farm after he had lost everything else.

The sad thing is the family could have stayed intact and they might have even had another chance at farming, if they wanted to, if the husband had been willing to have a meaningful conversation with his wife.

The BSE crisis means many farm and ranch families are now on the edge. Many couples are in their 50s and beyond, which means it will be difficult, but not impossible, to restructure or start over in some other line of work if the decision is made in time. The trick is knowing whether it is truly time to quit.

Having led hundreds of farm families through an intense process of goal-setting and management planning, here are some of the keys I have found to making the big decisions:

• The first thing to do is talk and listen to each other about what is truly important in your lives.

What do you want your relationship with each other to be? How do you want to support each other in your personal goals? What do you want your physical surroundings to be like? What kind of community do you want to be part of? What other conditions are important?

It's important to remember that this is not the time to be thinking about how to get these conditions. That comes later, through thinking and planning. For now it's just what.

• Conduct a financial analysis of your farm business and a projection for the next year. You can get up to five days of a farm consultant's time to help you with this for $100 through the Canadian Farm Business Advisory Service.

• If the situation looks salvageable, write an in-depth plan to carry on. If it looks as though it is not worth the time and struggle to build the business back up, be honest with each other about whether you want to carry on.

I suggest writing your thoughts down, then sharing them with your spouse. It is easier to "talk about it" this way and your spouse can read your thoughts more than once to make sure he or she understands what is being said.

• If you decide it is time to move on, expect to feel relief, sadness, anger, guilt and fear. The critical thing here is to talk to each other about how you are feeling.

If you have children, keep them up to date and let them know you will always love and support them and they will be safe. You might even ask them to talk about how they feel about leaving the farm so that they don't have to hold it in and be stoic.

Some life decisions are hard no matter how you look at them, but putting them off only makes your next situation harder.

~

Take care of yourselves. Life is short.
 

PPRM

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Cattle Annie,

Good advice for folks in a lot of different places. My best wishes especially to those who have and continue to face uncertain outlook in Canada,

PPRM
 

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