GUEST COMMENTARY: A farmer's Christmas poem

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 12:59 p.m. CST

Christmas is not just for those in the city where stores are abundant and bright lights shine pretty.

Dwellers in big towns would no doubt be shocked to find out that farmers keep Santa Claus stocked.


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Now don’t get me wrong, the elf makes the toys and delivers them worldwide to good girls and boys,

But animals get hungry working hour by hour and reindeer don’t run on nuclear power.

St. Nick, he would tire without milk and a snack, but the reindeer must haul that fat elf and his pack,

So Santa must feed them to finish his task – the farmer will tell all who take time to ask.

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all 'cross the farm the cattle were mooing as if in alarm.

I sprang from my bed and put on my wrap, but neglected to button my long-handles' flap.

That wakes you up fast on a cold winter’s night, so I went back inside and fastened it right.

I picked up my flashlight and rifle, what's more, and fully awake again stepped out the door.

Visions of wrong-doers ran through my mind; rustlers or poachers I expected to find.

The cattle were herding 'ore the hill that cold night, so I followed their lead toward a very strange light.

When you follow a cow, as all farmers know, you don't look ahead but directly below.

Old habits like that are not easy to break, but I gazed straight ahead since much more was at stake.

To the top of the hill the cattle I followed, to the source of the light by the hay in the hollow.

A whiskered fat man was re-harnessing his team — they had stolen my hay, or so it would seem.

 I angered not much for the cost of the hay, but who wants to toss bales on Christmas day?

"Hold it right there," I yelled at the elf.  "You really should be quite ashamed of yourself.

"I planted and harvested a good fescue crop, and you pause here as if it's a roadside rest stop."

 Looking my way, he laughed with a roar.  He regained his composure, then ho-hoed some more.

My rifle and threats had caused him no fear, and why do I feel such a draft from the rear?

Looking behind me expecting a trap, I saw nothing more than my unbuttoned flap.

Ho, ho, ho, he laughed with delight.  I guess he was laughing at the ridiculous sight

Of this farmer in long johns with flashlight and rifle, ranting and raving while exposed just a trifle.

Embarrassed and angered, I was prepared to do battle — I pushed my way through that big herd of cattle.

His laughter continued as we met eye-to-eye, and I was finding it hard to be mad at the guy.

We ha-ha'd and ho-ho'd for an hour together at my careless exposure, to be sure for the weather,

But even the best of good times must soon halt,  so I bade him good-bye and said "Leave without fault."

For the use of my pasture and consumption of hay, he kindly and generously offered to pay,

But I wouldn't hear of it — it gave me a lift to think that just once he was given a gift.

He picked up the reins and got on his way. The reindeer took off with that magical sleigh.

I made my way back to my home and my bed, and laughed to myself at the last words he said

As he steered north by the stars without aid of a map, "Merry Christmas to you — and button your flap."

I know that my story has taken a while, but the time was well spent if it brought you a smile.

Merry Christmas from farmers who plow up the furrow, and Denny Banister reporting for the Missouri Farm Bureau.

Denny Banister, of Jefferson City, is the assistant director of information and public relations for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.


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