At the Farm GateChristmas Crazed - Ready to celebrate the season on the farm
“I’m sorry; I’m a little Christmas obsessed,” I texted our farm’s scale operator. My attempts to stream holiday tunes through the tractor radio failed. Rather, my smartphone connected over the internet to a speaker miles away in the scalehouse where an employee was weighing truckloads of corn. “Haha, yeah there’s been some Christmas music here and there,” she texted back … on November 2.
I was born to love this holiday. A Christmas Eve baby, my parents celebrated Christmas in the hospital. Mom brought me home in a stocking and thankfully before one of the worst blizzards on Illinois record – the type that prompted our farm and others to buy tractor-mounted snow blowers.
Today, I have more Christmas tunes than country songs in my playlist. I own a half dozen full-sized, decorated trees and an undisclosed number of evergreens shorter than two feet. Admittedly, I’m “one of those” who decorates before Thanksgiving. I leave our outdoor lights off until the turkey and pumpkin pie are served, but indoors, my mood and mental state have moved on to staircase garland and lights on timers. I figure that if I can decorate with pumpkins for six weeks or more, then greenery deserves as much time out of the tote.
During a harvest rain-out in October, I bought cow-themed wrapping paper and balsam-scented air fresheners. I started shopping lists and volunteered to help with our church’s Christmas Eve service. Mom and I worked on details for our farm’s employee Christmas party, including gifts that bring conveniences to life and work. Likewise, new and improved tools always make it under the tree at family gatherings, two of which we will host in the farm shop.
In preparation for these four-generation events, the guys pause machinery maintenance, remove the farm equipment and scrub the concrete floor. Delightfully, the kids make memories of gymnasium-style fun to a backdrop of tools, oil drums and welding materials. In the conference room and shop kitchen, we dine and snack on foods from some of the best cooks in farm country. When everyone departs, a star shines atop the grain bin and a lighted tree illuminates the barn’s loft window. Come Christmas morning, the same will glow while Dad feeds the calves at dawn, a daily routine that takes no holidays.
At the scalehouse, a Christmas tree sits covered in a back corner waiting for its post-Thanksgiving appearance near the front windows for highway travelers. Even with my musical urging, our scale operator resisted any inclination to expose it early and rock around the Christmas tree during harvest.
About the author: Joanie Stiers farms with her family, growing corn, soybeans and hay and raising beef cattle, backyard chickens and farm kids in West-Central Illinois.