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How 'normal' is your farm family?

For me, the word "normal" commonly comes up when talking with a family. People usually say something like, “We’re kind of a normal family,” or “We’re not really a normal family.”

An older man dressed in blue with tan suspenders, to the right, talks to a young woman in a t-shirt and jeans and a young man holding a small child. In the background is a red Massey Ferguson tractor pulling a grain cart.
A farm family talks in front of a tractor during soybean harvest.
Erin Ehnle Brown / Grand Vale Creative LLC
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Normal is kind of a tricky word. Normal may almost seem similar to average, but the word normal just sounds better. For me, the word "normal" commonly comes up when talking with a family. People usually say something like, “We’re kind of a normal family,” or “We’re not really a normal family.”

What is “normal”? I think I have a normal family, based on my own definition, which of course I confirm when I look around at others and judge that “they” are not normal!

Let me explain my normal. Recently we had a weekend that was focused on the Big 12 indoor track championships, with one of my daughters running for Baylor University. I never miss a child’s sporting event, so is going to every sporting event normal or crazy?

The next thing you know, a simple weekend with my wife and I going to watch that track meet expands to includes several other children of ours, plus my parents, a sister and her not-so-normal husband. I will explain that later. So, we went from getting a hotel room for two to renting a house for too many. The family support for this running event was awesome. Is that normal?

The weekend wasn’t 100% track. It also included some additional un-guided conversations. Naturally, with farm families, we can’t help but talk about the markets. Next thing you know we’re talking about Fibonacci numbers and 38%, 50% and 62% targets and retracements. The numbers start to clutter my mind as they sound logical until you try to figure out what the starting point is. Sometimes the numbers make sense, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes you figure that out after it happens. That conversation sounds normal with farm families, doesn’t it?

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Oh, but I didn’t mention one other fun fact. Much of this marketing conversation was being led by my brother-in-law, whom about 40 years ago, I didn’t like at all. Then he starts dating my sister and before we could say “no” she said “yes.” A family disaster is about to happen! Is that normal?

Next thing you know, they’re married and having kids, and my wife and I are having kids, and the cousin’s became friends. Somehow, my not so normal brother-in-law has become my friend, and I actually enjoy talking to him and sometimes even listen! A modern-day miracle if I say so myself. Is that normal?

After returning from the track meet with all-conference performance we sat down to enjoy some ice cream, and my daughter’s serious boyfriend is there. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to drill him with all kinds of questions from our normal family, but instead he’s such a likeable good guy that we didn’t even have to do that because he’s normal like us!

Somehow the Russian-Ukraine conflict is brought up and we get an amazing unscripted family history lesson from my dad, as he told how us about our family ties to Ukraine. It was a priceless history lesson of our family and geography that could not be taught in school. It was incredible to see the long history of farm families with a strong faith.

The weekend concluded with us all attending a vibrant church that my son attended while at Iowa State. Great worship and a great message with so many young people around inspired us all with hope for the future. It was great to see our family fill up a whole row at church. Is that normal?

For my wife and I, after over 30 years of marriage, this is kind of normal for us. We love our sports, our families, our farming, and our faith. So, what on earth does all of this have to do with farm estate planning? A lot more than you think.

Myron Friesen is the co-owner of Farm Financial Strategies Inc. in Osage, Iowa. He can be contacted at 866-524-3636 or friesen@farmestate.com.

Related Topics: MYRON FRIESENFARM FINANCES
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