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Former Ag Secretary John Block –

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.
And now for today’s commentary—

I hope you had a Merry Christmas this week. This is a joyous time of year as we celebrate the birth of Christ. Friends and family all come together to give thanks for our blessings. We know everything is not perfect here in this country, but just look around the world. It’s not so bad here.
At this time of year, my mind always wanders back to when I was a boy down on the farm. I vividly remember the one-room country school that I attended for 8 years; how I rode my pony to school when the weather permitted.

Our teacher was Mrs. Stevens – managing and teaching all 10 of us, 8 grades of kids in one room. In the winter, the older kids had to bring in coal from the coal house to stoke the fire in our furnace.

As Christmas approached, we all helped decorate the school. We would have a scene of the baby Jesus in a manger. Mrs. Stevens had us practice singing Christmas songs – Away in a Manger, Silent Night, Joy to the World, and many more. We had to be ready to perform for the school Christmas party. All the parents would come and watch their children perform.

That country school is gone. And you won’t find the public schools celebrating Christmas the way we did.
As kids on Christmas day, we would get up early to see what was under the tree. That has not changed. I remember a lot of gifts. A baseball glove one year. A sled apiece another year for my sisters and me.

But, I will never forget one year when I received a pair of high-top leather boots. They had a small pocket on the side of one of the boots to carry my pocket knife. I know my mother ordered those boots with her Sears & Roebuck catalogue.

Of course, after opening gifts, we had to do the chores. Milk the cows (8 of them) by hand. We had pigs to feed, too.
Christmas dinner would be shared with my aunt and uncle and cousins. It would be turkey and all the trimmings. My father would say Grace and give thanks for our blessings. That was Christmas on the farm.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.