Food defines the seasons on our farm. By spring, we’ve exhausted our winter stores of garden vegetables and plant seeds with visions of fresh salads and side dishes in our heads. Throughout the summer and early fall we eat from the garden, literally. One morning my kids and I took our spoons out to the melon patch, picked a sweet smelling cantaloupe, sat down and ate right there in the yard. That was the best breakfast.
Of course, food in the fall means meals in the field. Growing up, we lunched in the field. That was the time of day my dad agreed to stop the combine, tractors and trucks. We’d toss a blanket on the field’s edge or in the back of the pick-up and lay out our fare. Most often lunch was a hearty ham sandwich ladened with garden fresh lettuce and tomatoes, an apple plucked from the backyard tree and cut vegetables from the garden. My mom always had a sweet treat – brownies, pumpkin squares, apple squares, sugar cookies . . . my mouth is watering.
These days my husband, his dad and brother stop for supper. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law and I divide the week, each taking two nights. (I am thankful that on this farm we take Sunday to heart and rest for the day.)
We’re not the only farm wives that trek to the fields at dinnertime. Between 5 and 6 p.m. you might see several combines stopped and a small group huddled around a dropped tailgate or raised hatch of an SUV. The group consists of the harvest crew, which can range from one person to several and any kids, the farm wife and sometimes passers-by who stopped to talk. Let me just say, retired farmers and agri-businessmen are smart. They know when meals are served and who cooks and bakes what. I always make plenty for the “extra help”.
I have my go-to recipes and laughed out loud the year my brother-in-law said of the first meal, “Let me guess. Sausage and rice casserole.” Guess I had served that several years in a row.
The kids get to see their dad, because they often go for days at a time not seeing him. He starts work at 5 a.m. and will go until 9 or 10 p.m. Meals in the field give the men a break to stretch their legs, talk to each other face to face instead of through the radio and to stop and see what they’ve accomplished.
Standing in a harvested field at dusk sharing a meal, one can see for miles to where the purple night sky meets the earth. The low voices and deep laughter of the harvest crew fades quickly into the dusty waning light. I am reminded of how tiny we are in the grand scheme of nature’s life cycle and yet so very blessed to be sharing the thrill of harvest with good people.
Grand Prairie Farms
Recipe from Beef It's What's For Dinner.