Searching for the perfect gift for that special someone? This holiday gift guide may sweep away your worries. We focus on gifts that rural people might enjoy; items made, grown or marketed by farmers and their cooperatives; and products manufactured in our region. Today’s Farmer does not endorse products other than those offered by MFA Incorporated. Prices listed don’t include shipping and handling.
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., is the largest dairy cooperative in the U.S., owned by nearly 16,000 farmers. DFA’s top brands include Borden and Cache Valley. DFA’s Cheese Quartet Basket includes four seven-ounce blocks of cheese including cheddar, colby and gouda, a 13-ounce box of crackers and a 12-ounce beef sausage made by Burgers’ Smokehouse of California, Mo., for $24.95 as priced in DFA’s 2011 catalog; the cost may change slightly this year. Visit dfamilk.com and click on the Store button, then Cheese Store. Or call (888) 745-9048.
Can you go wrong with chocolate? Shawn Askinosie operates a small-batch, award-winning chocolate factory in Springfield, Mo. He visits farmers across the globe in search of the best cocoa. Bon Appétit and O magazines have featured his products. The Chalk-late Box, complete with a chalkboard-top and chalk, allows you to deliver a customized message to a friend. The box includes four 85-gram chocolate bars for $36. Not much chocolate, but it’s premium quality. Visit askinosie.com and click on the Gifts button, or call (417) 862-9900. Beaverdale Confections of Des Moines, Iowa, offers a box of 12 assorted hand-made confections for $17.95; beaverdaleconfections.com. Call (515) 279-0553.
Galvanized dog feeder
Tired of constantly filling your best friend’s bowl? Save time with a galvanized automatic dog feeder from your MFA store. Load up this baby with 25 pounds of kibbles. The feeder keeps dog food fresh and limits exposure to the elements. It’s available in MFA’s holiday sale flyer, good Nov. 19 to Dec. 15, for $21.49. To really thrill your dog-lover, purchase a 10x10x6 kennel at the same time for $229.99. Find your local MFA store by visiting www.mfa-inc.com and clicking on the Store Locator button. Click on Lawn/Garden for the sale flyer.
Based in St. Louis, Missouri Mercantile allows you to build your own gift basket, filled with goodies originating from Missouri. Choices include wine, barbecue sauce, candy bars, cheese balls, cookies, dips, dressing, herbs, honey, jam, mustard, nuts, pickles, seasonings and soups—all arranged in a Missouri-shaped basket. A prepackaged Taste the Best of Missouri gift box starts at $59.95. Visit missourimercantile.com, call (314) 227-5005, or stop by the store at St. Louis Mills mall. Another company, Missouri Made, based in Columbia, offers baskets of edibles, pottery, bath and body products, jewelry and snacks starting at $25; missourimade.net, (877) 898-8513. Kansas Originals offers a Made in Kansas Snack Gift Basket starting at $29.95; kansasoriginals.com, (877) 457-6233. Heart of Iowa will customize your basket; heartofiowamarketplace.com, (866) 274-IOWA. Red Dirt Emporium designs a Red River Pail filled with Oklahoma chocolate, suckers, buffalo sticks and a fridge magnet for $20; reddirtemporium.com, (405) 415-6779.
Have you noticed the huge number of people proudly wear farming t-shirts these days? Farming is hot! Get your family and friends in the groove with t-shirt from I Love Farmers...They Feed My Soul. Young people in California formed this non-profit group, and interest has spread across the U.S. Proceeds are used to “sustain and support a positive, powerful and productive consumer awareness campaign about the value of American family farmers and ranchers.” A 100-percent cotton black tee with the group’s tattoo-style logo is available for $22.95, and it’s made in the USA. Also available—an apron with a “WTF? Where’s the Food, Without the Farmer?” logo, or a window sticker for your truck that says “I’m Hot. I’m Dirty. I Farm.” You’ll also find caps, rub-on tattoos, and information about U.S. agriculture. Visit ilovefarmers.org and click on Shopping, or call (805) 459-2300.
Hunters and outdoor types may appreciate a knife hand-crafted by Ron Duncan of Cairo, Mo. Ron’s customized knives take up to 40 hours to make. He hand-forges fine steel and crafts handles from antlers, wood and other materials. All come with a custom leather sheath and start at $500; duncanmadeknives.com/home.html, (660) 264-8949. See a gallery of knives made by members of the Kansas Custom Knifemakers Association— kansasknives.org will lead you to hunting knives that run about $165. If custom work exceeds your budget, you’ll find an affordable selection of practical knives for use on the farm at your local MFA store.
Kids’ farm toys
Google “farm toys,” and you’ll find more than 13 million sources. Get started on the Action Toys website by clicking on an item in an interactive photo that features a variety of toys. The site features products made by the three major farm toy manufacturers from the tractor toy mecca of Dyersville, Iowa. Prices range from a set of six small Holstein cows for $2.95, to a pedal tractor for $275. Visit actionfarmtoys.com and click on the Store button, or call this Billings, Mont., company at (406) 651-8199.
Kids’ farm videos and books
It’s a good time to be a kid in rural America! Doting parents and grandparents can find a load of fun educational videos and books about farming. Bill Wickham and his family operate a farm market, corn maze and pumpkin patch near Rochester, N.Y., where Bill writes and films his Vrrrooommm video series. Bill earned an agricultural economics degree from Cornell, and his films capture the joy of growing things and the excitement of high-tech farm equipment. Check out the series on VHS or DVD for $14.95 each at farmkidvid.com, or call (800) 518-FARM (3276). Amazon.com offers books including A Day in the Life of a Farmer by Heather Adamson, Food from Farming and Farm Machines by Nancy Dickmann, Farming by Gail Gibbons, and Milk: From Cow to Carton by Aliki, all available at for $5.99 and up.
If you live on a farm, you’re going to run into a little muck. Keep your loved ones warm and dry with the Muck Tack Boot or Muck Chore Boot, available in men’s and women’s sizes at MFA. These boots stretch to fit your calves, feature a breathable air-mesh lining, and remain comfortable from 85 degrees to sub-freezing. MFA offers $10 off the boots in its sale flyer from Nov. 19 to Dec. 15. Kids will love the camouflage-colored Jr. Insulated Mossy Oak Break-Up boot, $33.95. To find your local MFA store, visit MFA-inc.com and click on the Store Locator button. For MFA’s holiday sale flyer, click on the Lawn/Garden button.
Missouri Northern Pecan Growers LLC, a farmer-owned co-op based in Nevada, Mo., contends that pecans grown in the rich river-bottom soils of northern Missouri may be slightly smaller than southern varieties, but they’re sweeter and feature a higher oil content, making them more flavorful. A three-pound bag of fancy pecan halves or pieces, already shelled, would make a great gift for your favorite holiday pie-maker, or for those who prefer to snack straight from the bag—available for $29.95. A two-pound bag of dark-chocolate-covered pecans runs $24.00. Visit mopecans.com or call (417) 667-3501.
Squirrel-resistant bird feeder
Does someone on your list battle with squirrels that steal their birdfeed? Your MFA store carries Woodstream Squirrel Be Gone feeders for $25.50. Get $4 off with a coupon in MFA’s sales flyer, good Nov. 19-Dec. 15. Throw in a bag of MFA bird food, and your bird-watching friend will be delighted. The container holds six pounds of seed. When the feeder detects a squirrel, a patented weight-activated seed protection mechanism springs into action, closing the feed ports. To find your local MFA store, visit www.mfa-inc.com and click on the Store Locator button. For MFA’s holiday sale flyer, click on Lawn/Garden.
Who doesn’t love popcorn? Topsy’s in Kansas City, Mo., claims to rank as one of the top two U.S. retailers in Christmas gift tin sales. Topsy’s already-popped gourmet corn is available in a variety of flavors, sizes and tins. A 3.5-gallon winter wonderland tin filled with caramel, cheese and buttered flavors runs $29.95. Visit one of Topsy’s locations in Kansas City, go to topsyspopcorn.com, or call (800) 722-1930.
Support soybean farmers by gifting candles made from 100-percent soy wax, reputed to burn cleaner than petroleum-based wax. Brenda Rehagin of Westphalia, Mo., operates Giddy-Up Soy Candles. Her husband’s a soybean farmer. Visit giddyupsoycandles.com, and click on the Price List and Clearance buttons to see 16-ounce apothecary jars for $16. Ask for bulk pricing—FFA and other groups sell her candles to raise funds. Call (573) 455-9250 or (866) 884-0086 to place your order, or visit missourigiftbaskets.com and click on candles. Discover all types of soy product sources at mosoy.org, click on Soy Products, and then the button under Soy Products Guide.
Find more gifts at agrimissouri.com.