There’s plenty to appreciate about the magical time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Yes, I know, it can be hectic, with all the shopping to do, decorations to set out, food to prepare, and, of course, that last-minute push to prep equipment for winter. Still, this holiday is a reminder to all that we are social, helpful and caring beings.

That’s why I spend some time these days watching and re-watching Christmas movies. My wife, Sue, is not immune. She will watch Hallmark and Lifetime channels, soaking in cookie-cutter holiday films that always seem to include a small-town boy or girl solving a problem for a visitor from the big city. Of course, in the end, they get together and total happiness ensues.

These movies are the definition of “feel-good” films.

The movies I watch during the holidays have that “feel-good” ending, as well. “Scrooged,” “Home Alone,” “Christmas Vacation,” “The Santa Clause,” “Miracle on 34th Street” and so many more bring in the idea of family support and neighborly caring.

My fondness for watching movies doesn’t stop with holiday films. I enjoy spending time with classics and new releases all year long. In fact, every year I hope that Christmas presents will include a gift card to our local theater or some DVDs I can watch at home. (Yes, many people stream movies now. Our internet access is not that good yet.)

With all the films available on the big screen, on DVD and through internet streaming, I wondered how many are based on farming. Perhaps some would make excellent Christmas gifts for the farm family.

As with many folks these days, I do a bit of shopping online. So I ran a quick search for farm films and came up with “Tractors at War.”

At first, I thought this might be a story about John Deere vs. Case IH. Actually, it’s the first in a series of documentaries presented by Ageless Iron TV, “exploring the critical roles played by farmers and agricultural equipment manufacturers during the World War II era. Through personal accounts and rare historical footage, this award-winning documentary investigates how agriculture adapted for war through innovation and sacrifice; and how mechanization ultimately saved the day.”

I now have that on my “must-see” list. Others that made my list include:

  • “Along The Edge: A Montana Family Harvest Story.” “Join the Slivka family on their yearly adventure of farming some of the most unique and majestic landscapes in Montana, known as the Missouri River Breaks. This short documentary gives a glimpse into the many processes involved in the operation and many risks that producers must take to help feed our growing nation.”
  • “Harvesting the High Plains.” “1933 America is beginning to recover from the Great Depression, but while recovery is beginning, the Great Plains is battling an even greater foe and much less forgiving one — nature. Rising out of the dust, two men saw that the ground in western Kansas and eastern Colorado was fertile and capable of raising wheat and did so, conquering the odds.”
  • “Farmland.” “Academy Award-winning director James Moll helms an in-depth documentary spotlighting six young farmers and ranchers and uncovering the high risk/high reward of farming. Nothing is off limits, from GMO to organic, from large farming to small.”
  • “A Rare Breed.” “This 12-part series charts the agricultural year through 21 farms — arable, beef, dairy, fruit, horse, vegetable, pig, sheep and even a Christmas tree farm. Each ‘Rare Breed’ episode captures the highs and lows of each calendar month of the year.”
  • “The Great American Farm Tour.” “It was a dream to chuck it all to travel America, discovering her greatest farms, sites and people. The Rhodes family converted an old school bus into a home, left their farm and set out on an epic journey through 50 states and discovered the greatness of America, but it wasn’t what they thought.”

There are, of course, many other such films and documentaries about farming, the land and the history of equipment that would benefit the industry.

It would seem that many movies are actually aimed at the general, non-farming public, offering up information about how and why producers do what you do. Still, these movies are interesting and fun to watch and can be thoughtful, last-minute gifts for nearly anyone in the family — farming or not.


Michael Gustafson has written for and about farm equipment companies, their products and dealerships for more than 40 years, including 25 years with John Deere. He lives on a small acreage in Dennison, Ill.

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