December 14, 2015
I'm reposting this list because here we are again at Christmas and who doesn't need more farmer gift ideas?! A couple new ones for this year:
Stories from the Heartland: this is famed farm broadcaster Max Armstrong's new book, and it's delightful. An easy read, full of warm stories and familiar photos, and more than a few behind-the-scenes stories.
Wall art: I have a link to Erin Ehnle's work below but this one merits a special highlight. She's designed a grouping of agricultural photos that's wall-ready for any 4-by-4-foot space.
There's a certain irony in that I've been trying to write this post for a week – Christmas gifts for farmers – and I haven't the foggiest idea of what I'm getting my own farmer for Christmas. So let it be known, I am digging up inspiration for all of us. And please forward any ideas you might have, please and thank you.
With that, a few ideas I've found. And a note: this is part one of a series of three blogs. Christmas gift ideas for farmers…for landowners…for farm employees. Let the shopping begin!
Rechargeable Spotlight: I come from a long line of farmers who are, ahem, incredibly picky about their flashlights. Or lanterns, as my dad calls them. Whatever, my husband says this is a good one, if for no other reason than it's incredibly bright (good for checking cows this winter) and it recharges with a regular extension cord – no keeping track of (yet another) charging cord. Black & Decker makes an LED model that looks like a solid choice, too.
Erin Ehnle Artwork: It's a perennial favorite. Take a look and tell me your favorite farmer wouldn't like the sentiments. They're available as prints and canvases, if you want to save yourself some framing. But if you want a canvas, order now – as in today! Erin can get canvases to you for Christmas if you order by December 14. Today. Prints can be ordered until December 21 for Christmas delivery. She does custom and semi-custom work, too, but again: get cracking.
Carhartt Collegiate: Carhartt has expanded their line of jackets, vests, stocking caps, etc., with college logos on them – perfect for the enthusiastic-alumni farmer. They have a lot more universities represented now, in and out of the Big 10 – including Illinois. I think this vest is pretty sharp, and the Nebraska version comes in red.
Turtle Fur Neck Warmer: This is more on the stocking stuffer line, but cold-weather gear is always useful and gaiters keep all the heat in and the cold out. This version from Columbia looks promising for keeping hay, etc. out, but not sure what that interior fabric is like. Let me know if you've tried it.
Heartland Lodge Getaway: It's winter. Harvest is over. It's not calving season yet. Maybe you could get away for a night or two? Sometimes a vacation doesn't have to be fancy or far away; look into a semi-local bed and breakfast or hunting lodge. They might even have a deal during the off season.
Continuing Education: That's what they call it in other jobs. In farming, we call it a conference. And this is a good one: the Farm Futures Summit. It's January 21-22 in St. Louis, and you can extend the stay (and the learning) by signing up for the Ag Finance Boot Camp on January 20. This might not work as a gift in some families; but in others, it might be just perfect. Think it over.
Smartphone protection. What farmer doesn't need an Otterbox to protect his or her smartphone? Their company tagline: "Water proof, drop proof, dust proof, crush proof." They don't say "farmer proof" but I think it's implied. I've heard of them being run over by tractors, dropped from bins, mowed over, dropped in water tanks, you name it. This is, of course, not a personal challenge.
Farm Calendar: We are big fans of the Shutterfly calendar in our house. I make one each year for the grandparents of all the grandkids, and throw in plenty of farm and livestock photos. You could do one that's entirely farm themed: a year's worth of photos. Tractors? Crops? Livestock? For the house or the shop. The possibilities really are endless. But again, you'll have to get on it. You could also make some pretty cool ornaments, with the right photo. It might be neat to have one for each harvest, with your favorite harvest photo. A tradition in the making!
Scrapbook: There's no link for this because it's entirely DIY. But stay with me, non-DIYers: my sisters-in-law and I started a scrapbook for our father-in-law 15 years ago. We are married to brothers and their father is always good to us at Christmas. We wanted to do something nice for him. The first year or two or three, we worked backwards, scrapbooking photos they had in boxes – photos of their early married life, and of our husbands' childhoods. Then the weddings and ensuing babies. For the past several years, we've simply done an update on the past year: more babies, cattle shows, fairs, harvests, holidays, trips, building projects. I try to record our average yields and any outstanding weather events. And let me just say that we have become so streamlined and efficient in our process, we can crank out more than 20 pages in an evening – that's right – one night. And here is the thing: it's his favorite. It's the only thing on his Christmas list anymore, and every last one of us enjoys looking through them each year. It's a tradition. Maybe you can start one, too?
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