Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In The Blink Of An Eye

We are a family owned farm, with three generations of family members working side-by-side each day. Because of the size of our farm, and the desire and abilities of each of us, we have not hired any farm help in the 31 years that Farmer John and I have been married...until now. In the blink of an eye, our "employee status" has changed.



My mother-in-law is our morning calf feeder and also keeps our barn sparkling. After a car accident in early February, she is recuperating from her broken bones, and for this we are grateful! My father-in-law usually helps with feed preparation and tractor driving, until early March when he suffered a serious heart attack followed by emergency heart surgery. Thanks to the grace of God, he is returning to good health at a transitional care unit.

With one third of our work force recuperating, and three of the remaining four family members having additional jobs away from the farm, we were all feeling the emotions and exhaustion of the situation. After much discussion, we decided to start the employee search. Our first decision was to determine what hours needed to be covered and what the responsibilities would be. Since we have not hired help for over three decades, it was not easy to give up a bit of control. It was decided to look for morning and evening help with calf feeding and milking assistance. 

I have an amazing network of fellow farmers, and it was time for second opinions. I sent out a request asking for suggestions on rate of pay, probation periods, code of conduct, and any other information that would make this transition go smoothly. My fellow farmers didn't let me down as I was flooded with help and suggestions. 

Our next step was to advertise. With the help of Facebook, a newspaper ad, and posting the position in our local high school career center as well as the farm implement dealership and grain elevator, we started receiving phone calls and emails inquiring about the positions. We are now in the process of having each "future farmer" work a three shift trial period to see if they enjoy the job and also that we feel it is a good fit for us. 

One of the forms that each employee must sign is a code of conduct; an outline of Bremer Farms general principles including accountability, leadership, openness, honesty and respect. Each principle includes details of what we expect of our employees. Another agreement that each is to sign is a commitment to uphold the highest standards of animal care through the See it? Stop it! initiative. This agreement pledges proper animal care and also reporting any signs of deliberate animal abuse or neglect, by other employees, to us, since our animals remain our top priority!
 

We have currently hired one high school age girl, who is working out wonderfully! Additional eager "future farmers" will be completing their first shift this weekend. Wish us luck...


8 comments:

  1. I'm thankful for your good reports on the health of your family and that the transition is going well. You're amazing!

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    1. Thanks Susan. Thankful to God for recovery going well.

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  2. Glad to hear that it is working out for you all, and I love that you are using those protocols!! They are awesome!

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions you sent our way! It was wonderful having an experienced "boss" to get ideas from.

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  3. hope all goes well and gives you a moment to breathe easier with the help. The protocols are a great idea!

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    1. Thanks Jodi. Good luck with your decision to milk three times a day...BIG commitment!

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  4. We're praying for a continued smooth transition for all of you!

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts Adriane.

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