I can say with almost absolute certainty that every single person on the face of this earth was happy to see 2020 end and a new year begin. Even with uncertainties still looming and plenty of discord happening across the country, there’s something to be said for taking down the old calendar and the feeling of hope you get putting up the new one. Turning the pages to “January” signifies a fresh start and the opportunity to set new goals and make your resolutions for the year.

However, as much as I love the feeling of the beginning of the calendar year, January 1 has never completely felt like the start of the year to me especially now that I’m back on the farm working for my dad. No, to me the fresh start to the year happens when corn is spiking through the dirt and the neighbor’s new calves are romping around pastures. New life seems like a much more fitting start to a new year than a couple more months of cold weather.

When I really stop and think about it though, as I’ve gone through different parts of my life, different times have felt more like the beginning of a new year than January 1.

The most obvious one growing up was of course the beginning of a new school year. Nothing says a fresh start like the first day of school. It was your chance to walk in after summer break with a new outfit and make a great impression on your classmates. ... Well, as much of a new impression that you can make when you grew up in a small town and have known said classmates since you were all in diapers. That fresh new start in August was welcomed every year through the end of college.

What felt like the beginning of the year shifted after I graduated college and was forced to go out in the world and get a real job. Like the majority of my peers in the ag business major, I left Purdue to sell seed. During those few years of my life, it was the end of June that felt like the beginning of the new year because that was when we were expected to start selling the seed that would be planted almost an entire year later.

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You would think that the new year for a seed salesman would start in November or December after the farmers had finished harvesting the previous crop, but a seed salesman’s new year’s resolutions came at the end of spring in the form of sales goals to be met before combines even started rolling.

Out of all the “new years” I’ve had in my 20-something years though, it’s safe to say that the beginning of planting is my favorite. To put a seed (or 140,000 seeds per acre) in the ground and watch it grow is literally the definition of a new beginning, and to me, that’s just much more fitting for the start of a new year than fireworks at midnight in the middle of winter.

(Read more of Erin Holbert's columns and more on South Dakota agriculture here)