Santa, if you can’t bring a combine or a farm bill, how ’bout some hay?


You, my friend, are one tough customer for Santa. I mean, like many, the Fat Man knows food, but he doesn’t know farming.

As such, he gets lost in the jargon when trying to pick the perfect gift for you and your farming and ranching pals.

For example, just last week Old Kris texted to ask if I thought you wanted “something big” for Christmas. He suggested a completed farm bill with either direct payments or 95 percent crop insurance coverage.

Yep, that’s what he asked

It’s not mystery why: The man spends his long nights warmed by the glow of his computer screen, not a warm fire. He reads. Everything. The Times, the Journal, Successful Farming. He follows several food blogs and (just between you and me) never misses Page Six of the Post.

Anyway, I nixed the farm bill idea; he couldn’t have pulled that fried chestnut from the Yule fire anyhow.

So I texted back: No 2 FB. K 2 Case IH A-F 9230 w/40 flex draper. Hey, if you’re going big, go big.

“No go, Don Draper,” came his near-instant reply.

Well, well, Santa isn’t so well read that he knew the difference between a combine that does everything and a fictional Madison Avenue hired man who can’t do anything.

9230 combine w/40′ 2162 draper header, I texted.

Two seconds later, my phone beeped: “3R 2 SC: no combines.”

I dialed 1-800-MY SANTA.

“Sorry,” Santa offered after a ho or two, “but Rudolph” — duh, 3R: Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer — “said the combine was too red. I’m thinking something lighter, greener, like the climate change agreement discussed in Doha two weeks ago.”

Oh boy

Santa was wearing his natural fleece long johns again.

“You know,” the Bearded One went on, “a climate deal will keep the Corn Belt in the Corn Belt, the deserts in the desert and polar bears on the Poles. Besides, without snow, I look like just another fat man in a tight suit with too many pets.”

You’re talking truth, Big Guy, but Doha? That’s where diplomats go to hold funerals for global treaties, not finalize ‘em. I mean — HELLO! — the WTO’s latest trade talks started in Doha… in 2001… and no one has seen ‘em since.

“Fair point,” Santa acknowledged, but I could hear his brain cells jingle.

“Hey, what about a Facebook page for every farmer and rancher? I mean, they operate GPS, juggle millions in cash flow and market commodities in a global market so how hard could Facebook be?” he wondered.


“Did you just sigh?” SC asked. “Look, according to the latest Social Media Report, Americans spent 121 billion minutes on social media in July. That’s 230,060 years, according to the report, ‘posting, liking and tweeting’ in just one month!

“Do you want to bet that only four of those minutes were burned by American farmers and ranchers?” he asked in a rising voice. “Come on, it’s time for change!”

Whoa, there, Kris My Man; change? Who do you think farmers and ranchers are — Episcopalians? Sure, social media is probably bigger than television and radio combined, but I’m guessin’ most ranchers would more appreciate a round bale or two of quality hay right now and just about every farmer is prayin’ for mild, wet winter.

“Hmm, hay. That’s good,” came the calm reply. “I’ll see what’s in the barn.”

And a warm, wet January from the Rockies to Maryland? Or, failing that, maybe three or four weeks of dry, hot weather in Brazil and Argentina next month?


OK, maybe just a brief dry spell in Brazil?

“This is Christmas,” admonished Santa, “I’ll leave that job for the guy in charge of Halloween. I’ll see what I can to about a wet winter here, though.”

That’d be big.

“I said no combines.”




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Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children.



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