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Tribulations of cooking for the harvest crew

How many to cook for? Where are we eating? Did they move fields? Are there enough utensils packed?…

Meals in the field can be a challenge to plan for.

I came across an article on my Facebook feed during harvest titled “10 Reasons Cooking for a Family Sucks.” It was humorous, as the articles from the popular parenting website Scary Mommy often are, but I noted how similar I feel at this time, cooking for our harvest crew. We have a really amazing system, because we farm with my in-laws, so I take turns with my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law and cook supper in a rotation every three days. I truly and sincerely find it so meaningful to serve my family by cooking and baking for them. I really do put my love and caring into the meals that I prepare, and it gives me pleasure to nourish my family, but when harvest is approaching the two-months-in mark due to so many delays… my love for preparing food is wearing thin.

Some of the points in the article were: not only do you have to cook, but you have to shop, plan, prepare and clean up. One of the big things this harvest that is wearing me down is point No. 7 in the article, which is playing The Guessing Game. For our family alone at harvest dinners, we always have six adults and five children to feed. Since we added a third combine to the lineup this year, sometimes we will have two hired men and a sister with her three kids who also join the supper crew. This year we’ve also had random farm visitors show up at suppertime, and even Case mechanics who have joined the supper table.

Needless to say, it can make harvest suppers tricky by playing The Guessing Game with questions such as: How many people will I be feeding today? Is the hired man who eats enough for three adults coming? Will my eight-year-old nephew eat like a bird, or enough for three adults as well? Does this have gluten in it for my other nephew who has celiac disease? Darn… what can I quickly make without gluten in it? Do we even need to eat as a harvest crew tonight? Will they be rained out? Is the grain dry enough to combine? Where will we be eating? Did they move fields? Did I pack enough utensils, plates and cups for everyone? Do I have to do dishes and clean my house in a panic to host everyone here last minute? I hope the kids like this meal. Will the kids even eat anyway, or do I have to fight with them and coax them to eat? Will we get rained out as I pull into the field for supper? Will random guests show up and I won’t have enough food? What do they mean they decided to combine and it’s 4 p.m. and I have to cook for 15 people!? What should I cook? I’m really running out of big meal ideas. Do I even care anymore?

I am trying really, really hard to adapt to the flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants attitude when it comes to these harvest meals, but I have a very Type A personality and like to be as organized as possible. Last-minute changes really throw me for a loop and I get very anxious and feel the physical effects on my body if a wrench gets thrown into my plans. (In my defence, having a young baby during harvest is also a whole other complicated story!) I need to take lessons from my saint on earth (no sarcasm intended), amazing mother-in-law who displays grace and goes with the flow like no other. However, when I hear her say, “you had better be done this field before supper tomorrow or you won’t be eating,” when it’s her turn to cook, I know that even she has her limits!

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