On this day before Christmas and Christmas Eve, we can feel the special spirit and joy that goes with celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is what is all about.
No doubt your schedule will be different this day. It may be very last-minute shopping, getting ready for time with family and friends, going to church or volunteering to help feed unfortunate folks.
Whatever it is, your day may be different and special in many ways.
On the farm, changes are usually made to be able to have time with family and friends. Grain farmers who don't have any livestock find it easier to adjust for the holiday.
One family I know plans to be sure equipment that needs to be inside is stored ahead of time so last-minute work doesn't need to be done. Their tractors that they use in cold weather are either inside or have block heaters installed so they will start when they are needed. Sometimes, diesel engines are not the easiest to start in cold weather without some help.
Livestock farms are different. Whatever the day, Christmas, New Year's or any other holiday, the animals must be fed and cared for. On dairy farms, cows must still be milked twice or three times a day, depending on the schedule they are on.
In visiting with some dairy farmers, they say they do make some changes to spend time with family. They may milk a bit earlier and have some extra help to get the job done sooner to get in the house. Barns may be cleaned late the day before Christmas so chores can be postponed on Christmas Day.
At the same time, animals need to eat, so feed must be mixed and taken to them. Water is always available, so that doesn't take time other than making sure the water tank is clean and working right.
Personally, it is a pleasant sight to see one of today's modern free-stall barns with the cows sticking their heads through the manger and eating fresh feed. They are enjoying it. Sure, feed is always available and some are usually at the manager, but they also enjoy that freshly mixed feed.
And no matter the day, calves will be born and will need attention. Or there may be a cow not eating right that must be checked to find out why. Some dairy farmers comment that it seems like more problems than usual can come up on special days like Christmas. Could be it is because they want their animals to be well cared for so they can be with family or friends?
Then there is another special person who has to work on Christmas and other holidays. That is the milk hauler, the one who brings the tank truck to the farm to haul the milk to the processing plant. He or she is out there working, not only for the farmer, but for all of us. It is an essential occupation.
Haulers are very careful to check milk weights in farm tanks, agitate the milk, take and store proper samples so they can be checked for butterfat and bacteria.
All the food on your dinner table tonight or tomorrow started on the farm. Corn is processed into many of our foods, but much of it is fed to livestock for our meat, milk, eggs and other foods. So, enjoy your dinner and remember that livestock farmers do a great job of caring for their animals. Our modern family farms represent less than 2 percent of our population, yet are able to produce plenty of safe, affordable food for all of us.
So as we enjoy the spirit of Christmas, we should be thankful, in these troubling times, for the farmers who are working for us this day and every day.
Parker is retired from The Ohio State University and an independent agricultural writer for the Tribune Chronicle.