One of my annual routines to start a new year is to replace our large family calendar posted in our mudroom and start filling it out. Our local insurance agent brings out a huge comprehensive month-by-month calendar every December, and it's one of the first things I look at at the beginning of the year.
While my family maintains a shared digital calendar that we can edit and refer to on our phones, computers, watches, and tablets, our large paper calendar hanging on the wall also plays an important role.
My parents and grandparents always had multiple paper calendars displayed in their homes. These calendars were never purchased, but were gifted before Christmas from some local businesses my family frequents.
It was always exciting to leaf through the calendars provided to us by the feed store, bank, local stockyard and insurance agency to see the landscape or funny cartoons of the farm and ranch put together in a monthly sequence.
Every bathroom and bedroom wall had a calendar displayed, and there was always at least one calendar hanging in the garage. Our farm truck also had a little calendar stuck to either the dashboard or the driver's side sun visor yearly. But the most important calendar was always placed in the kitchen in close proximity to the landline telephone mounted on the wall.
This kitchen calendar was half the size of my current giant monthly calendar, but it was always able to clearly fit all the important information added to it. Birthdays, game schedules, meetings, 4-H, and school events fill the pages of this kitchen calendar.
Aside from important upcoming dates to remember, notes will be added to this calendar throughout the year as well. Total rainfall and snowfall throughout the year are determined. Additional notes were also made about when bulls were turned out with cows, when a calf was born, when cattle were moved to another pasture, or when the first patch of alfalfa was baled.
We always knew when we planted sweet corn in our garden or when we got our allotted irrigation water because it was always written in the kitchen calendar.
It was truly a historical document that contained a lot of information during a particular year. Both my parents and grandparents would bring these kitchen calendars out at the end of each year in an easily accessible place so they could make quick references or comparisons to the previous year.
I think back and wonder if this is why, even in this digital age, I still keep a paper calendar in our house. Although our calendar is not used in the same way as it was when I was a child, it still exists and is referenced and edited throughout the year. However, at the end of each month, the page is removed and disposed of rather than retained and filed away.
I found myself referring to photos on my cell phone to learn the dates of previous popcorn crops. Facebook memories help me remember the dates we started harvesting wheat in different years. One app we subscribe to quickly provides us with rain and snowfall totals.
I often think about how the processes and procedures my parents and grandparents used influenced the way I work today. When I removed the last page of my 2023 calendar and replaced it with the 2024 calendar, I wondered if my kids would eventually use a paper calendar displayed in their homes based on how we use ours in this day and age.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by the Kansas Farm Bureau, the state's largest agricultural organization whose mission is to enhance agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service. This week's column is by Kim Baldwin, a McPherson County farmer and rancher. Visit kfb.org.