Veselka carrie
Editor / Progressive Cattle

It is a well-known fact that farmers and ranchers love a good practical gift. In a 2019 reader poll, 59% of readers said they’d prefer a practical gift over any other kind. So, in the spirit of the season, we at Progressive Cattle are sharing some of our favorite useful gift picks for the rancher in your life this Christmas.

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Magnetic tool holder

The coolest thing I saw all year was a magnetic tool holder, one you could put, say, on the surface of a tractor you're working on underneath. You'll never say, “Now where did I put that down? I just had it," again.

I have a brother and nephew who work on machinery and tractors in their shop, so I can see where that would come in handy.

—Julie Brown, sales team

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Silk neckerchief 

There is no safer bet for a rancher's Christmas gift than a quality wild rag. It is the very intersection of cowboy form and function, with the added benefit of taking up virtually no extra space in the mudroom closet.

These silk-spun beauties are, without a doubt, the most practical scarves on this or any other planet – able to block out cold and wet, dust and smoke, all without the wearer having to fuss with it all day just to make sure it stays around his or her neck. Does your cowboy or cowgirl like a little flash? Grab a paisley, polka dot or Navajo-inspired scarf. More conservative? No problem. Black, brown and navy blue are classics for a reason.

—Tyrell Marchant, editorial team

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Fly swatter gun

I don’t know if a rancher would use this or not just because I have never actually seen one of them use it in the barn, but I think a fly gun would be a fun and useful gift. There is a brand called “Bug-A-Salt” that is a good example. There are also fly swatter guns and bug-zapping rackets on the market. Anyway, I think that would be a fun little gift to give a rancher because they would probably have a heyday going through the barn and shooting flies or other bugs.

—Preston Couch, sales team

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I don’t know any rancher alive that couldn’t find a use for a good multitool. Got a loose screw? On it. Need to cut the string on a feed bag? Got it. Need to open a hay bale? You’re set. A multitool has got you covered in any necessity, and another handy thing about it is, you can never have too many of them. Depending on how deep your pocket goes, there are several multitools available that can do everything except sing Christmas carols.

—Carrie Veselka, editorial team

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Motion sensor lights

Getting old has many frustrating milestones, but for me poor eyesight tops the list. Brightening up the homestead can make life a little easier with motion sensor lights attached to the wall. They’re very easy to install, usually around $30.

Even more convenient are the new screw-in LED garage lights, with blades that get up to 3500 lumens. I love these babies. They go in just like old bulbs. My garage is now brighter than AT&T Stadium, or Cowboys Stadium … or uh, Jerry World, whatever you folks call it down there.

—David Cooper, editorial team

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There is nothing quite as satisfying as putting on a fresh pair of coveralls the day after Christmas. The durable fabric and ease of use make them a staple in every rancher’s home as they keep one warm during those below-freezing days, and the multiple pockets allow for easy storage of twine, knives, cellphones and more while out checking cows. The most appealing function of this garment is the ability to keep clothes underneath clean, allowing one to possibly wear their Sunday best and finish chores before moving on with their day.

—Jenn Coyne, editorial team

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Bale cutter

When I was at the Sunbelt Expo, I noticed an item that ranchers were buying like crazy – a hay bale cutter. If you’re tired of fighting with bale wrap or twine, this will get the job done and will make a great stocking stuffer. Some other ideas that crossed my mind are a gift card for a new cowboy hat – just in time for Christmas family photos, a personalized ranch sign, a belt buckle display case or a boot brush and scraper to keep by the door, so that mud and any other souvenirs from the corral stay outside where they belong.

—Derek Coates, sales team

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New rope

Although we may be trapped in the throes of winter, and my inclination is to wish for a nice pair of winter packs that will fit in the stirrups and keep my toes toasty at the same time, I will instead cast my gaze farther down the road. I would like a 500-foot spool of four-strand poly-blend left twist rope. That should supply me with a new rope every year for the next decade. It would also be nice if each 50-foot chunk came complete with a guarantee to catch whatever critter this sorry left-hander may chuck it at.

—Paul Marchant, editorial team

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Mud boots

There are a few brands out there and some warmer versions for those living in areas where your toes get cold (hello, Idaho). I have been gifted a couple of pairs over the years – my favorite being my hot pink ones. Practical, durable and fashionable.

—Cassidy Woolsey, editorial team

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Every rancher needs a reliable pitchfork to make the back-breaking job of lifting hay, straw or manure a little easier. I’m not talking about the famous puny three-pronged fork pictured in American Gothic. I’m talking a heavy-duty manure fork with strength and durability. One that will stay in shape after years of use when used for prying open gates and has a tough handle for breaking frozen water troughs. Hint: You might want to paint the handle bright pink. It will help you find it when it’s buried under the twine pile, plus we all know good forks have a way of disappearing when the kids take them to the county fair.

—Shannan Mirkin, circulation team

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The hard work doesn’t stop when the sun goes down, and nothing is more annoying than trying to hold a flashlight and mend a fence at the same time. We’ve all had neck cramps from the “under your chin” method of light holding, so eliminate the neck strain and purchase a headlamp. A headlamp can be a great gift for the rancher in your life to light up their life, free up their hands and allow them to focus on what they need to see.

—Joy Hendrix, editorial team

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Progressive Cattle subscription

We don’t mean to be biased, but every rancher needs some good reading material when they come inside after a long, hard day with the cows. And what better option than a free subscription to Progressive Cattle magazine. Or if they’re constantly on their phone or computer, a subscription to our digital editions or our bimonthly newsletter might be the way to go. Have someone who doesn’t like to read? How about a way for them to listen to the Progressive Cattle podcast?

—Lynn Olsen, circulation team