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NO TIME OFF: The American farmer works even on holidays. During Christmas, many farmers pause to look back on the past year. Many also find hope for the next season.

Farmers sacrifice on Christmas Day

Three things matter most to American farmers — faith, family and farming.

This morning you’ll wake before the sun rises. You’ll walk down the stairs past the Christmas tree and pause briefly to look at the presents tucked neatly underneath. You’ll plug in the lights, adjust the stockings and head to the closet. There you’ll put on a coat, hat and gloves. Ever so quietly, so as to not wake the kids, you’ll walk to the back door and turn the knob. It is Christmas morning, there are chores to be done, and you’re an American farmer.

Fighting the bitter winter winds and snow, you’ll open the barn door. This morning, you actually startle the livestock. It is earlier than other days, much earlier. You’ll move pen by pen, making sure every animal is accounted for. You’ll check that waterers have not frozen over and give the livestock a little holiday hay. You care for the animals, even Christmas morning. You’re an American farmer.

Leaning on the fence, you think back on the year. Rough corn and soybean markets. Better livestock prices. You adjust your cap as you recall natural disasters that devastated fellow farmers, and the loss of friends in farm accidents. You’ll bottle up those concerns and emotions so others don’t see. You’re an American farmer.

You’ll sigh deeply, turn and head to the barn door. Reaching for the lights, you glance back one last time, flip the switch and begin to trudge to the house. As you get closer, you hear laughter. Almost as an instinct, your pace quickens. In no time, you push open the door only to be greeted by giggles and shrieks. A smile overtakes your face. Bending down, you lift up your children, one in each arm and swing them around. Your family is your life. You’re an American farmer.

Gathering around the Christmas tree, anticipation is in the air. With each unwrapped gift, excitement fills your home. Gone are the thoughts of this past year, replaced by the hope and joy you see in your children’s eyes. As you glance from face to face, digging around under the tree, your eyes become fixed on the small nativity scene. You recall that true hope and joy started because of the birth of a savior. Your faith matters. You’re an American farmer.

This holiday season offers a true glimpse of what makes an American farmer. It is rather simple — faith, family and farming. They are a rare breed. One I am humbled and honored to serve. From my farm to yours, Merry Christmas.

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