The New Year Bliss

It's the start of a new year. In case you missed it, of course!

It seems every time the new year rolls around a whole new feeling is in our home.

The chance to start something fresh, set new goals, changing over files, and a new tax year. I always feel so refreshed at the start of the new year. I often say to myself "This is the year I do...."

Then, a few weeks later the new year bliss is over. I find myself falling back into the same old ways, and those dreams of drinking less coke are way behind me already.

Now, before I married my farmer I was a goal setter. Every single week I would have a list of things I wanted to get accomplished. Listed in their order of importance. And often times color coded.

Well, a farmer's life isn't color coded. So, after a year of being married to one, I found myself listing less and less goals in my coveted Franklin Covey planner. I found myself not planning over two weeks in advance, when I very easily had a month ahead always planned before. I found myself adjusting my life to fit into the farm life schedule.

And I made it work. I still color code, but instead I use a planner that sits on our counter. So my farmer always knows what is going on. And I keep the same planner, in a smaller version in my purse. Instead of listing goals every week in my planner and numbering them off I now use a post-it note system. That I really do love. And amazingly, so does my farmer.

 Now that the new year is here. I have our new calendar all set up, highlighted and all, with meetings, birthdays, and travel dates.

I have really been thinking about the whole idea of what "goals" I want to set for the new year. And I have decided this year I won't.

Lots of people set goals like weight loss, eat better, call family more, get organized. Well, I know I need to work out more. I typically do my best to have a well balanced meal. And my husband will agree to that. My policy of at least two vegetables sometimes drives him nuts! And I am the most organized person I know.

I think the pressure of setting new goals at the new year is a bit much. Instead I have decided that setting goals every week by writing them on my post it notes works for me and my family. I am already a goal seeking person naturally, it's just to me about choosing where I want to dedicate my time, where my passions are...

Maybe that's the key. Instead of setting a goal of something I am going to resolve I will not set a goal and continue to seek passion in my everyday life.

Happy New Year, resolutions and all. And if you find yourself slipping I think that's okay. Instead of seeking the goal, instead seek passion and embrace life!

Christmas With Your Farmer

I remember my first Christmas with my farmer. We travelled to Indiana that year to spend the holidays with my family. And it just so happens that our most recent tax deduction was being made in Chicago, kind of sort of on the way to my hometown. We packed the pick up as tight as we could get it and then I tried to convince him to exchange our gifts before we left, but my farmer, he is a bit more patient than I am, so we waited until we came back and even then he made me wait a whole day!

I had spent the previous month trying to find the "perfect" gift for my farmer. Christmas shopping for a man who has everything is hard, but the nice thing about being married to a farmer is that as long as it is "tax-deductible" it seems as if you have a happy man on your hands! And it just so happens that "tax deductible" is one of my hubby's favorite gifts. Typically that means tools, new gloves, new coveralls, hats, UnderArmour, more tools. Every year since we have celebrated Christmas together he has gotten some sort of tool from me, and from my family too. And this year I continued on with that trend. I should also mention he tends to give lots of "tax-deductible" gifts as well, like a hose system for my garden, which I loved! And something shiny every now and then. 
All of his shiny typically involves tools. And lots of them. His tool of choice is DeWault. The yellow and black ones. And also Kobalt. Blue and silver. Ladies, if your farmer loves tools I suggest going out and digging around in his tool box or his machine shed and find what he is missing. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, and maybe it came more natural to me since I have a degree in Agricultural Education and have had to teach shop to a classroom of high school students, but every year finding the right tool gets easier and easier. And I love when Lowes does sales right before Christmas with lots of little knick knack tool items they don't always carry. They make perfect stocking stuffers!
The next item where you can't seem to go wrong with a farmer is some sort of outside gear. Farmers spend a lot of their days outside. If you have livestock it seems you always bring in a sick calf when its about 5 degrees. So, staying warm is pretty essential. Last winter my husband came across Carhart's coverall version of work pants. Basically they are thick coverall like material, but you just slip them on over your jeans. Typical coveralls go up just like overalls and my husband has worn the same brand for years, but decided they looked kind of neat. Well, I was sold. I purchased, wrapped up, and put under the tree. This winter he LOVES them. He thinks they are great and I foresee him purchasing another pair for next season. For other cold gear we both tend to like UnderArmour. Long before they were the "it" clothing my Stepmom was generous enough to spoil me with her hand me downs. Now that they are the "it" items it seems you can find every size and just about every outdoor item you could ever need!
Gloves, gloves, and more gloves. Also a great stocking stuffer. I am not a glove wearer myself. When I am watching gates my father-in-law is always telling me to put on gloves, but I have never really been a "wear gloves while working" kind of girl. My husband, on the other hand, wears gloves religiously. Find out his or her brand and buy a couple of pairs. It is another item that will definitely get its use! 
And if you are looking for something sweet, I recommend an ornament to document your year. Every year since we have been together I buy my husband an ornament that somehow reminds me of him, something we did, or the year we became a family of three... I think this is the perfect way to document your year together and it's always fun to try and find him the "perfect" ornament for the year. One year for a few weeks he was sick and had trouble sleeping and the only thing really on TV was this cartoon called Ben-10 Alien Force. It's some kids cartoon that I actually got sucked into a few times. Well, when I was shopping around for him I came across a Ben-10 ornament. It was perfect! His ornament is always one of my favorite gifts to buy and it's something we now do for our daughter. A nice, simple, thoughtful tradition that can easily become a part of your holiday season. 
Shopping for a farmer that works all the time can seem really overwhelming at first, or at least it was for me. But, I realized that the quicker I got back to the basics the easier it became. Eventually I will have purchased every single tool made in Kobalt and DeWault, but I bet by then he will tell me he wants two sets. One for the garage and one for his shop! 
Wishing you the happiest of holidays from our home to yours! 

Sharing The Holiday Cheer

The holidays are pretty easily my favorite time of year, and I think it's safe to say my husband's too.

He may not admit it, but we both enjoy seeing all our trees set up, wrapping presents, looking at Christmas lights, reading the story of Jesus to our little girl…I think the holiday cheer is in full force at our house!

Since I married my farmer and moved 800 miles away from my family and friends we tend to schedule our holidays well in advance. We start talking about our plans for the holidays a few months ahead of time and plan accordingly.

Basically what we have set up is that we rotate. One year in Indiana for Thanksgiving and South Dakota for Christmas. Then we swap. Sometimes, like last year, we stay home for both holidays. It was our daughter's first holiday and we wanted to celebrate at home just the three of us.

Typically Christmas tends to be a favored holiday to visit for my husband. He loves Christmas. And that probably works out best since we started tiling our own fields and there is a good possibility we could be in the field tiling. Sometimes he gets a little stressed when we hear it has snowed 3 feet in South Dakota and we are in Indiana unable to help, but it works out.

My husband tends to only take one vacation a year. As a farmer it's really hard for him to leave the farm. He prefers to always be home. We don't really count visiting my family for a week over the holidays as a vacation…it's more like we don't get to see my family all year long so we cram as much as we can into seven days of holiday bliss.

This year I took the holiday planning pretty seriously. It's the first year our daughter will really be able to experience it and I wanted things that my farmer husband could also participate in, around his schedule.

One thing we always do is a Angel Tree family. This is something we can all participate in, and help pick out gifts for. Then we wrap them up and take them to our local business and they distribute. It is a really great way to spread holiday cheer, plus I really love taking the time to pick out something extra special. And my husband loves buying presents, it's a perfect family trip to town.

Another thing I did this year was really focus on the advent calendar. I wanted something timeless, fun, and still had the meaning for the season. This is what I did, and so far it seems to be working perfect! I share a little tid bit about the story of Jesus and then we choose a jar. In the jars I have things as simple as a sweet treat to driving to town to look at holiday lights as a family. This is something that if I am at a meeting my hubby farmer can manage on his own, and could even be a bit "helpful" in his choice of jars so that he could pick an easy one, like popcorn and a movie, since that will probably be his favorite activity in all the jars!

Holidays are such a fun time for celebration and being married to a farmer can sometimes bring more stress into an already stressful time of year. Especially when two years in a row you are moving snow on Christmas Day, just so you can feed the cattle. It happens, trust me.

But, the good thing is if you communicate your thoughts ahead of time and do other small things to celebrate the season it really helps be prepared for a blizzard on your Christmas Eve Dinner.

One thing we do in our family is rotate chores on the holidays, unless it's an "all hands on deck" kind of day. But, typically each man in our family has a Sunday for chores. When it's a holiday we rotate out the same way. This year, for example, we had Thanksgiving. This gives every person a chance to spend the holiday with their family. And if it blizzards then they load up their wives and kids to watch gates while snow is being moved.

Even if we are bundled up doing chores and trying to stay warm while doing it on Christmas Day it just matters we are together and celebrating our holidays being thankful for our livelihood.

Thanking A Farmer

Kontz Family 
This holiday season I would say that I have a lot to be thankful for. This month I had the opportunity to write an article for The Hood Magazine here in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It's a free publication that I love to pick up whenever I get to town. I thought it was the perfect thing to share with all of you since we are entering the holidays and the season where we are reflecting on the past year and all our blessings!

As a wife, I know the way to my husband’s heart is right through his stomach. As a mom, I know that sometimes I have to let my little girl make a mess while I’m cooking, just so she thinks she is helping. As a farmer, I have a unique perspective when it comes to the food I put on my table. When you live and breathe agriculture every day, you understand the care and work that goes into providing the wholesome food that helps feed us every day. I spend my days working on our beef farm, blogging, raising our daughter Elliette, and cooking for the farm.

However, no matter what hat I’m wearing (wife, mom or farmer), it’s extremely important that my family always has a wholesome and nutritious meal on our table. This is especially true when it comes to cooking for the holidays.

The holidays hold a very special place in my heart, and are always full of excitement. Excitement to prepare my grandmother’s famous dishes that have been passed down for generations, as well as the excitement of starting new traditions like serving beef brisket for our Thanksgiving.
The holidays are also a time to share laughter, count our blessings and come together over a delicious meal. Actually, the more I think about it, food plays such a central role in all ofour lives. Whether it’s an everyday meal or a holiday feast, the dinner table is a place where we can all come together and find common ground.

As you sit down this holiday season with your own families, you can feel confident that your food was raised with great care. Whether you may realize it or not, a South Dakota farmer had a hand in growing the food that’s on your table. Your holiday turkey or ham was raised on corn and soybean meal that comes from our fields. The yummy cheese in your side dishes likely comes from a South Dakota dairy. As a grocery-buying mom, I am confident that what I buy at the store is safe and nutritious because I know that somewhere, there is a farmer like me, supplying that product.

More and more, I find myself being extremely thankful that my family has the opportunity to raise the food you put on your tables. This season, I hope that you too, will take the time to think about where your food comes from, and be thankful for the local farmers who help grow it.