Thursday, January 23, 2014

What Does the Farmer Eat?


It was a happening, ranking somewhere between hosting your kid's future inlaws and Airforce One landing at the Gould Petersen airport on the bottom just east of Tarkio on the terror and anticipation scale.  CNN was coming to our farm....the same CNN that every home in the US tuned to for coverage of Desert Storm.  But this time, the reporter, the tech guys, were going to film our farm, a feel good seasonal story about a family farm during the golden days of harvest back in 1991.

The pictures in the field we all call "Dad's Big Bottom" could have been taken any year...and it was the perfect location for a long sweeping iconic panorama shot of combines rumbling through the mile long rows as the tractors with auger wagons brought the corn up to the trucks.

  Just Because Farmers Grow it....

I don't know why the Smithsonian article I linked to above brought the CNN episode to mind.  Perhaps it was the references to the hectic hum of harvest, the eating on the road, the irregular hours, the long days. Perhaps it was the odd presumption that farmers are still somehow at a subsistence level, living off the seasonal bounty of the land rather than taking their products to market, to the elevator, to the auction, to the gin, to the mill, to the rail head, to the packer, to the processor.

Or perhaps I connected this brief article about farmers and their meals with the fixation the guys from CNN had with our family's daily bread more than two decades ago.  What does the farmer eat? And when and how?  The CNN guys stuck their cameras right down into the eggs and sausage I cooked that morning for Blake to catch the sizzle and pop of grease and heat...even though the kids waiting for the bus had long since finished their cereal and milk.

The CNN guys were also quite adamant that we eat dinner out in the field because they thought that's what real farmers would do.  At least farmers they would show to the public.  Fair enough. Some dinners are eaten on a tailgate, but when the tailgate is long gone, a hood will do. 

 I don't remember what we prepared that day, but I do recollect feeling quite self conscious about the paper products threatening to fly away and become litter.  As you can see, harvest days may be warm, or cold, but they are always windy.  So sometimes the farmer will opt for shelter of the family SUV... 

or the pickup cab.
The crew at CNN filmed a good long segment in the front yard of Millie and Charlie's house, a bucolic setting beneath the two big pines.  The whole family gathered for noon meal and I am positive as I can be that we had Millie's homemade potato salad and sweet corn and beef from our freezer. 'Cause that's what the farmers eat.  
This is Sunday dinner Hurst harvest style 2013.  Two combines, a tender truck, the tractors and auger wagons, several semis, and fourteen other family vehicles.  The CNN crew would have had a hay day with this event.

We rural cooks do have disadvantages.  I can't always get the ingredients at my local store necessary for more esoteric or complex recipes.  That type of dish requires planning, not just a quick run by the HyVee after work for mushrooms or sour cream.  On the other hand, if I want to grill steak anytime during the six months of the year I can cook outdoors, I can...

 Making pasta or chili is just a matter of beans and pasta in the pantry and walking down the stairs.
 Even though its January, there are a few good apples from this past fall...time to bake them up though!

It may be simple fare but we farmers find plenty to eat during the cold months of wintertime..probably more than we need to fuel up during the cold days....

But  in summertime, living off the land really gets easy.

So, despite rumors that we all rush from a slab of cold Casey's pizza to potato chips to a hearty repast of York Peppermint Patties, the folks that provide your daily bread appreciate fresh, hot, tasty, and home grown meals themselves.  Whether putting the crop in or taking it out,

at daybreak

or after the sun has gone down....

there's only one more thing you have to know....

The farmer will always choose home made ice cream....

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