Thursday, December 17, 2020

Christmas Gifts for a Farmer's Wife

Christmas is officially here and the smell of sugar cookies and pine trees fill the air. For most people, the presents are already wrapped and under the tree. For some though, they might be doing some crazy last-minute shopping. That is okay, farmers work best while under pressure. Just imagine instead of putting Christmas presents under the tree on time, you must get the last of the crop out before that snow or rainstorm.

Last year I informed you all about the perfect gifts to get a farmer-- duck tape and WD-40. I realize now that there is someone pretty important that I am forgetting, the farmer’s wife. Now farmers, if you are reading this and realized you haven’t bought her anything yet, that is okay I am here to help.

First off, no your wife does not want that tractor or that planter you were looking at online, and they definitely do not really want a new washing machine or a post-it note of something you plan to buy her because you forgot to shop... again.

Here are some options that you could get her instead. You could give her some peace and quiet. It’s December, you are no longer in the field, and it is off-season. If you are not working on something in the shop, chances are you are in the house either snoring on the couch or asking when lunch is. Remember your wife probably did all of the family Christmas shopping and decorating. She is the one that needs the nap!

Another thing you could do for your wife is to tell her thank you. Sometimes it might go unnoticed what all they really do. They are the person that cleans up the floor after you walked across it not knowing your boots had a hole in them and now her kitchen smells and resembles your cattle yard. She also just washed your coat because your hydraulic hose somehow just exploded all over it. They are the person doing your nasty dirty farm laundry and somehow manage to get the dirt and grease stains out of your work jeans every day. Farm wives deserve so much more, but seriously an honest heartfelt thank you is a great start. Farm moms are busy all through the holidays as the kids are all home from school which means more meals and more laundry.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and get everything you ask for and I am sorry farmers, but Santa can not fit any new equipment on his sleigh or under your tree. Also farmers, do not forget about your wife. She deserves a nap, a thank you, and so much more! Merry Christmas! 

- Kesley Holdgrafer

Christmas Cards

For the past week, your mailbox has probably started to fill up with lovely Christmas cards. People have been sending Christmas cards to each other for many years. These Christmas cards — at the time called Christmas Greetings — first appeared in the United States in 1840. This was very expensive though, so most could not afford to send them. It was not until later when they became mass-produced that they became affordable. In 1915 John C. Hall and two of his brothers created the extremely well-known Hallmark Cards. I bet even some of your Christmas cards you receive this year are Hallmark cards. Another type of card received is one with photos on them. These became popular in 1910’s and 1920’s. Today some people even send letters along with a card informing others about the year they had.

The type of Christmas cards you receive in the mail varies. Some contain family photos, some contain animals and pets, some even contain letters. I remember all the past years standing in front of a camera getting my picture taken for our annual family Christmas card. One of my favorite Christmas cards we ever had was when we got a new manure spreader and we took it by that and the card said, “Spreading Christmas Cheer!” Another one of my favorite cards is from the year my little brother was born. He was born 2 months early so he was pretty small! We gift-wrapped him in a small box as my older brothers and I held it, poor Luke looked like a Jack in the box with a holiday bow, while the card read, “Our little package was delivered early this year!”

With or without silly manure spreader pictures or funny sayings, Christmas cards are a fun way to spread Christmas cheer to all of your family, friends, and neighbors. This year has been so weird, maybe you haven’t seen some people in a while, so send a card. I know the process of sending a Christmas card is no fun because it involves licking the stamps and envelopes which leaves a terrible taste on your tongue after sealing a number of them. However, in the long run, everyone loves to get fun mail other than bills. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and receive many memorable Christmas cards this season.

- Kesley Holdgrafer

Memory Lane

This year I am finally a senior and recently I have been finding myself going through old photos. I needed a baby picture for the high school yearbook and I am also starting to look for old pictures to display at my graduation party. I never thought about how much photos have evolved over the years and the meaning and stories they can hold. This simple snapshot in time can store so much. A single photo can bring back a countless amount of stories and memories from just one glance.

Today, as teenagers, we store all our photos on our phones and rarely if ever get them printed off. In a matter of seconds I can share any photo with anyone across the country by Snapchat, email or text. Still, nothing beats taking a day, sitting down, and going through drawers of old photographs, a fun trip down memory lane. Looking through them you recall memories — some good, some bad — or learn new stories that people have not talked about in a long time. The things you can learn from looking at old photos with your grandparents is incredible!

Picking out which baby photo I wanted to use for school was quite fun. I found one that was well suited to me. I was sitting up holding my favorite pink tractor and on my shirt it said parts girl. I guess starting from the young age of six-months-old my future was already planned and I was destined to be a parts runner! My parents have made sure the caption on my shirt was true and since I turned 16, I have gone on more parts runs than I could have ever imagined. I need to take a few pictures of them, or of the ice cream stops on the way home, so I will remember them forever in photos.

As we roll into December, our farmers are becoming less busy in fields. On cold or rainy or snowy days you can even find them in the house earlier in the evenings. This is prime time to stop them and sit down to go through old photos. We all know farmers have great stories and if you pull out some pictures of their old trucks or farm equipment the stories will come flowing. Remember to take and PRINT more pictures for future trips down memory lane!

~ Kesley Holdgrafer

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

12 Days of Harvest

At school, we are often shown in many different ways how to learn. My favorite way is through a song. What better way to learn about what’s been going on during the 2020 harvest season than in a rhythmic melody. Also in honor of the unwanted snowfall last week, I figured it would make sense if the song was Christmas themed. With that being said, don’t be shy and sing along as you read!

The 12 Days of Harvest: On the 12th day of harvest, harvest season gave to me, 12 rows a harvesting, 11 broken sickle sections, 10 snacks already eaten, 9 broken guards, 8 missed calls from dad, 7 empty pop bottles, 6 forecast changes, 5 more partsss runssss, 4 busted snoots, 3 inches of snow, 2 belts a slipping, and only going 1 mile per hour due to down corn!

As you can tell from my silly song, the 2020 harvest season has been one for the books. However each year I feel like we say this year's harvest is totally crazy, hectic, and different. And each year, farmers still love being in the fields. No matter what the situation is in the field or with the weather, farmers simply love harvest. There is nowhere else they would rather be than in the combine seat. During fall that seat is their new temporary home. Thank you farmers for everything you do! I hope the rest of the harvest season goes smoothly and safely!

 ~ Kesley Holdgrafer


Part Runs

One of the many joys that come with farming is the beloved parts run. It’s harvest season, so equipment is being used all the time and needs to run smoothly. There are many chances for things to go wrong, which leaves many chances for me having to go and get parts. Most people hate a parts run. It costs money, it takes time, and it is unplanned. I however thoroughly enjoy them. It’s usually not my fault that it broke, so that probably helps a bunch. Being the farmer's daughter, you are always the designated gate opener, but if you are above the age of 16 you are also the designated parts run girl. I love to drive and I love to meet new people. The parts counter guys and gals are my unsung heroes.

Rule number one of being the person that does the parts run, always keep your cellphone on. The farmer will call you whenever, even while you’re in school. They expect you to drop everything and go get it because usually, they need the part “right now!” If you don’t answer your phone they will just continue to panic call you over and over until you actually answer or finally call them back.

Another thing about parts runs, sometimes the farmer is in a hurry, so they don’t fully explain the piece you are getting or how big it is. They just say head there, grab the parts, and hurry home with a look that means no stopping for ice cream along the way. Short, sweet and to the point, no stopping for snacks. However, it is very important to know just how big the parts are that you are getting. I have learned from experience. Once I showed up with the car to get parts and I was to bring home a big pallet full of parts. Long story short, it definitely didn’t fit. Good thing I did have a good cutting knife. I slashed the boxes open, threw in the parts quickly by hand, and left the fork truck driver with a big pile of packaging trash.

This harvest it seems I have been on quite a few parts runs. Thank goodness for school because with that excuse I get out of some of them! A few weeks ago my little brother and grandpa had to go get parts. This was a big part day. They took the livestock trailer to hold all of the parts. I told dad that’s like a double cart day at the grocery store when we are completely out of food. That’s a lot of parts! I’m very glad I got out of that parts run. Luke would’ve been critiquing my trailer hauling skills the whole way and I am pretty sure it wouldn’t fit through the drive-thru. Sorry Dad, but we ALWAYS stop for ice cream and hide the evidence!

~ Kesley Holdgrafer

Farmer Wave Week

It’s time for one of my most favorite Iowa celebrations, “Farmer Wave Week.” To some, this might sound made up but I assure you it honestly is a real thing! One of my very first articles was all about the farmer wave. I have been writing this fun column for over two years now and I thought it was time to revisit one of my favorites from Nov. of 2018 ....

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I could not be more excited. It is one of my favorite holidays and I am very thankful to have grown up on our family farm. Being raised in a rural setting means being surrounded by an amazing small town atmosphere where everyone knows everyone, helps each other out, and always remembers to wave when driving down the road.

You may not know this but Nov. 6-12 is “Farmer Wave Week” in Iowa. Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation to recognize the very first “Farmer Wave Week” back in 2014. The farmer wave is typically just two fingers coming up off the top of the steering wheel to wave at someone while driving. On a simple trip to town, no matter what vehicle I am in, I am guaranteed at least 4-7 farmer waves from my friends and neighbors. I always reply with an eager full hand, five finger wave, but I have often wondered where that silly farmer finger wave even came from? Is it because some of the farmers I know are missing a few fingers?

This past week, my truck has been in the shop getting new brakes, so I had to drive our old Ford stick shift pickup to school. Now remember, I am only 15 with a school permit, so I am not the most experienced driver, but it was either l learn how to drive the dreaded stick shift or take the bus. Let's just say, I quickly became a gear shifting, double clutching queen!

On my maiden voyage to school in the Power Stroke stick shift, with my little brother riding shotgun, anxious to immediately report back to my two older brothers on how many times I killed it, I met my first vehicle on the gravel road. With one hand on the shifter and the other on the steering wheel, my two fingers instinctively came up to greet my fellow neighbor. I did not even realize it, but I had just done my very FIRST farmer wave! Suddenly it dawned on me, that is where the finger wave originally came from. Stick shifts, pickups, and friendly neighbors is how the farmer wave began.

This is what I am most thankful for this fall; my farm background, a strong family, learning to drive a manual transmission at a young age, and being raised in small town Iowa where everyone knows everyone else. Enjoy celebrating this unique week and always remember to wave at your neighbors!

~Kesley Holdgrafer

Friday, October 16, 2020

Harvest Stories

As you all know by the dust in the air it is harvest season. Farmers are filling the fields with combines, wagons, trucks, and grain carts because it’s time to get the crops out. Sometimes it can get a little crazy busy on the farm during harvest. However, even still during this busy season, you have to find time to laugh. Here are some fun harvest stories that have happened throughout the years.

One funny story takes place when delivering lunch. Usually, I call and they give me the name of the field and I drive there and park by the trucks at the field entrance. Well, one time when I drove to the field I thought was said, when I pulled in I didn’t see a semi and my stomach dropped. I somehow managed to go to the wrong field. The dinners were a tad on the cold side before I made it to the right location.

A neighbor once was chopping at a farm near ours. He had a big dinner in a picnic basket that he took to the field that his wife prepared for all the help. After lunch, he pulled the next full load home. As he started to unload, he instantly heard the loud crunching and banging of the pretty picnic basket and real plates going up the silo pipe. He had forgotten that he set the lovely basket in the front of the full chopper box for the ride home. He wasn’t sure how to explain that to his wife and was thinking he might be going hungry for the next few days!

This one was not funny at the time but it sure is now. I was supposed to pick up my dad at a different farm and give him a ride to another one. We were to meet at the big machine shed on a rented farm. When I pulled in by the east side of the shed, I thought I was early so I leaned back in the seat for a quick nap in the warm sunshine coming through my window until he got there. When I woke up from a quick power nap, I called my dad to see where he was? All this time he was waiting on the west side of the shed. Until this day he won’t admit it but I am sure he was sleeping, too. Although, he calls it, “thinking with his eyes closed!”

Harvest is stressful but remember to see the fun in every day, and catch a quick nap any chance you can. It’s the fun things that keep us going and I love to make everyone smile! Happy Harvest!

~ Kesley Holdgrafer