Family traditions are part of what makes the holiday season so special. We caught up with a local farmer, Dawn Scheier to take a tour of her family farm, see what farm life has been like this year, and get her Christmas cookies recipe.
How has the harvest season been this year?
Conditions for harvest were great this year. We did not have any delays because of the weather. On our farm, we had great growing conditions until July 4 and then the rain stopped. Our crops just ran out of moisture. Since we had great subsoil moisture, we still had an average crop. We need to start getting moisture for next year since we do not have the subsoil moisture going into 2021.
What was the best part of this year’s season?
Driving up and down the field without getting stuck. Last year we had too much rain and did not get our crops in. This year we could drive fence row to fence row.
How has farm life been different this year?
Covid-19. Most farmers are self-isolating by the nature of our work. We had an added stress this year because of Covid-19. We had to worry about supply chain slowdown and shortages. Farmers are given a very short window to get our crop in and out. If someone on the farm would get infected with Covid-19 how would you get your crops planted or harvested?
What is your favorite part of the farming process?
No two days are alike. Farming will take you out of your comfort zone. Despite the massive investment, the physical risk, and long hours and not being guaranteed a return because you do not have control of mother nature and the price you will receive once the product is produced. I take great pride in knowing I am raising healthy, nutritious food in a sustainable way.
What’s the best farming advice you’ve ever received?
Work smarter not harder. That is achieved by staying hungry for learning. Learning is your fuel for new ideas, improvements, and new alternatives for success. A lot of people wonder what most farmers do in their downtime. We are attending meetings in person or online to learn how we can raise our crops or livestock in a more sustainable way for the environment and financially.
How do you see your role in the community?
Community is important to a family farm’s sustainability. You need your local community so you can purchase farm parts, equipment, hire electricians, plumbers, and purchase groceries. The list goes on and on. If you do not have a community it would be harder to bring the next generation to come back to the farm. Without the next generation, you are not sustainable. You do not have the same vibrant social scene you encounter in the city. Most small towns create their own social life. In Salem, where I live, one of the groups that do that is the Salem Community Women. An example of two events I am proud of what Salem Community Women do is Parade of Lights/Santa Day and Ladies Night Out. Another example of our role in the community for Scheier Farms is being part of the Salem Area Foundation. Grants and scholarships are awarded to different groups or individuals to support the community. We give out a Benedict Scheier scholarship to a high school senior each year.
Do you have any Christmas traditions on the farm?
Christmas traditions for Scheier Farms is not much different than other family farms. Church and family are the most important part of Christmas for us. One tradition I am proud to be a part of is our cookie baking. A group of our family members or friends get together and bake cookies. Since we bake so many different types of cookies, we like to give them to single people and people going through a tough time.
Rum & Nutmeg Christmas Cookies Recipe
In the spirit of giving, Dawn was kind enough to share her family’s rum & nutmeg Christmas cookies recipe with us. In our opinion, the more Christmas cookies the better, so make sure to add this one to your spread of cookies this holiday season!
We also love Dawn’s tradition of gifting these cookies to those who may not be as fortunate to be spending the holidays baking with family and loved ones. We hope this tradition of giving and kindness, especially during these times in the pandemic, sticks with you and is something you take with you into this holiday season.
To read more about how local farmers are celebrating the holidays this year, check out our blog From Pint Size to Perfection: Caring for Trees at the Riverview Christmas Tree Farm.