If you have no idea what to get the rancher in your life, you’re not alone. And if your rancher has been dealing with all kinds of snow and winter stress already, it’s very likely that whatever you decide to buy/make for the holidays will be set aside for at least twelve months. After the first year or two, your rancher will probably find it in a pile in the shop, realize how fantastic it is and then tell you how smart they were for buying it.
That considered, what, oh, what can you possibly get that doesn’t have a shelf life? (No, gifting Christmas cake is not at all encouraged — nice try). Well, lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of nonperishables and non-negotiables for the special cowperson in your life (and I didn’t even touch a cliche like better weather. You’re welcome).
Here you are, 10 potential gifts for a rancher:
- If I had a dollar for every jack-knife I lost on the farm, I’d have at least enough money to change the resulting flat tires… I don’t think a knife pouch with a belt loop is enough to stop the loss of knives on the farm. I suggest you hijack your rancher’s knife and put it on a military style key chain with a retractable steel wire rope. That should keep the knife on their belt until they get tangled up in it and have to cut themselves free…
- I know, I know, you think buying winter clothes is so far from original. You’re right. That said, they’re never unwelcome. Start by going through the closet and removing all the gloves that are “left” behind. If there are some of the warm variety, check their wear. If one is obviously a favourite, look for that brand in your nearest farm/outdoor shop. Otherwise, spoil your rancher with really good quality winter gloves. They must be warm while also enabling movement. I suggest the ones that look a bit like they belong to an alien species; they’re a combination of glove and mitten, only the thumb and index finger is separated. Once your rancher has opened his/her present, throw out all the old pairs no one uses anymore.
- Still on the winter gear. If your rancher doesn’t already have wool socks and long underwear, please be the matchmaker. And don’t cheap out on these items. A cold rancher is a grumbly rancher.
- Does your rancher use an old coffee can as a sharps container? Or does s/he sort of jimmy the disposable syringes so they’re full of needles before they throw them out? Emptying the barn’s trash can can be a disgusting job, but when there is a risk of being pricked by needles, the job goes from disgusting to downright dangerous. Do everyone on the farm a favour, by surprising your rancher with a brand new sharps container this Christmas.
- How does your rancher feed hay over the winter? Morning chores turn from monotonous to frustrating in a hurry when twine freezes on the bales. So, many ranchers will use the shredder to deal with impossible bales. Though this is probably not something forage specialists advise, it sure minimizes tag loss and time spent outside in blizzard conditions. This method of feeding means most of the twine ends up wrapped around the inner components of the bale processor, which is good for the cows, bad for your rancher’s favourite knife. My recommendation? A twine burner and some advice to go along with it, like: always make sure your processor isn’t on fire before picking up another bale.
- There are all kinds of great industry events and producer meetings throughout the winter season. Has your rancher expressed an interest in going? Why not deal with the part of planning they hate most — asking for help. Line a capable neighbour/friend/family member up for a few days of chores around the conference and book a hotel room for your rancher. If your rancher also happens to be your partner, make sure you get an extra banquet ticket, if it’s offered, and give yourself a little time off the farm as well.
- Does your rancher deal with electric fences at all? How about one of those fancy shmancy electric fence testers? Besides giving voltages without the infliction of pain, the really wicked ones can indicate the direction of problems in the fence! Get that one!
- Wow, your rancher bit the bullet and bought a smartphone! Now all s/he needs is someone who can help get them set up with it. The phone company will likely help with the basics, but how can you introduce your rancher to the epic role social media can have in agriculture? Well, in an ideal world, you could buy a private lesson with Twitter celebrities Shaun Haney or Lyndsey Smith, but no such commodity exists just yet. That said, we often give presentations covering these very topics. Don’t be shy! Reach out and ask one of us when our next presentation is or if we know of any others. Plan to have your rancher attend (as in #6).
- I don’t generally condone surprising farmers with a trip somewhere, but if yours has a travel bug s/he has been suppressing for quite some time, why not book a warm vacation? Be sure to couple such a gift with sunscreen for the incredibly white legs typical of a farmworker. Go with the highest SPF you can afford, and treat yourself to a pair of sunglasses.
- No matter what ranch-related Christmas present you decide on, include the receipt for tax purposes. Paperwork: the gift that keeps giving.
Let us know how it goes, shoppers, and good luck!
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