Thursday, June 24, 2010

Our Harvest Life

For those of you who think that I have been absent for the last week or so harvest has taken over my life. Actually, harvests are what allows us to live our lives! I did not grow up on a farm nor did I have any clue what a farm wife was supposed to do out here when I married a farmer and moved an hour and 1/2 away from my family and friends. I worked at a regular 8 to 5 job and my husband started building up his business until the time was right and I could quit that 8 to 5 job. It was very scary at first not having a steady income. Farming is risky and you have to buy a lot of equipment and you depend of the weather which is sometimes a gamble. Will it rain, will we get hailed out, will we have a tornado, will we get a drought? Who the heck knows! We had some pretty junky stuff at first but my husband is very handy and mechanical so he has been able to buy equipment cheap fix them up and resell it and buy better.

This wheat harvest we ran a crew of five men plus myself the "go for girl", lunch lady, taxi, mom, wife, and cheerleader. I am gonna tell you this lunch lady stuff is hard work and I am starting to get it down to a science. The first four days we were in a motel away from home cutting. It is the same motel that we stayed in last year and I knew ahead of time that they would have a refrigerator for me to use and that I could live out of a cooler during the day time. I couldn't really cook anything special but we had come ready with a variety of lunch meats, cheese, and breads. I made homemade banana bread and had it ready to take with us for breakfasts. I made some crock pot wonder meals and appreciate those crock pot liners that you can just throw away that make cleaning your crock pot possible in a motel!

When we moved back home I had precooked five pounds of hamburger and five pounds of chicken breasts and already had it froze so that it would be easy to throw together meals. I have figured out that these guys will not eat side dishes. They basically take this stuff and eat on the run. I appreciate one pot dishes where they can get their meat and veggies in one dish. Thank goodness for casseroles and large Dixie cups. I can take a casserole and dish it out into the cups add a fork and wallah. They have their meal that fits in a cup holder and no need to have an awkward plate or bowl in this howling Kansas wind.

I go by the old Girl Scout motto here "Be Prepared!" I keep a first aid kit in my car. A cooler full of cold drinks. I buy a 20 pound bag of ice everyday. Keep bottles of water and various kinds of pop. I keep a large box of plastic utensils, plates, cups, napkins, paper towels, sunscreen, bug spray, trash bags, and toilet paper. My van has gas in it at all times. (For anyone who knows me this gas thing is a rarity because I am a person who does not like to fill up any more than she has to. I push this to the limit until the gas light turns on and then drive to the closest gas station to fill up!) After every meal I clean out my van , throw away any trash, and restock anything that needs replenishing.

Tips for anyone who has to do this. Get your ingredients and groceries ahead of time so you don't have to waste any time at the store. Don't try anything exotic, fancy, or spicy. Cook cookies ahead of time and have them in the freezer in zip lock bags so you can grab a bag and go. I make homemade fruit cups and have them ready to pull out and head to the field. These will be thawed out and ready to eat by the time you drive to the field. Have meat precooked and frozen so you can just grab it! It makes for quick meal preparation and less clean up when time counts!

When driving to the field, I have learned to follow instructions like drive around the first curve and then go two miles to the next curve in the road drive another two miles and then we will be back in a Brome field to your left. But, don't drive too fast or you will miss us because we will be surrounded in trees. I have also learned that my minivan can make it down roads that say road closed during wet weather. I have been places that most minivan drivers never dream of going. I appreciate two way radios, cell phones, and have phone numbers programmed in case you can't find the field you have more than one person to call to get directions! Be on time!

Wheat harvest is hot and windy, bugs are terrible, and we work long hours. It is not unusual for these guys to work until 1 or 2 in the morning get up at 6:30 and do it all over again. Our biggest day we cut 260 acres. Our mission is to cut 2,000 acres in 14 days. Right now we are 6 days in and 1,200 acres down. Then planting season starts.

Quick meals for busy wheels that I can not live without!

BBQ Chicken Cupcakes

1 pound cooked and chopped chicken breasts
1/2 an onion chopped
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
2 Tbs. brown sugar
12 refrigerated biscuits
1 cup shredded cheese

Add chicken, onion, BBQ sauce, brown sugar and cook in the microwave until the onions are cooked. Then spray Pam in the bottom of a muffin pan and press the biscuits up the sides then fill them up with the chicken mixture and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Then you can top them with a little cheese and pop it back in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese.

Tater Tot Casserole
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 an onion chopped
1 package of frozen tater tots
1 pkg sliced cheese
1 can of cream of celery or mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown hamburger and onions and drain. Place the hamburger mixture in a 9 by 13 inch pan and then pour the cream of celery or mushroom soup on top then place slices of cheese on top then add the tater tots on top. You can sprinkle some shredded cheese on top or crisscross some cheese slices if you would like. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Crock pot Pizza
1 1/2 lbs. of hamburger browned
1 can of pizza sauce
1 package of noodles your choice (12 oz.) (cook these according to the package directions)
4 ounces of Mozzarella cheese
1 small can of mushrooms
1 small onion
1 can of spaghetti sauce
4 ounces of cheddar cheese
1 package of pepperoni
1 green pepper chopped

Brown hamburger and onion then drain. Then mix together pizza and spaghetti sauces. Then layer sauce, meat, cooked noodles, green pepper, mushrooms, cheese, repeat until all ingredients are gone. Cook in your crock pot on high for 30 minutes and then on low for 1 hour until the cheese melts.

Frozen Fruit Cups
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 1/4 cups water (divided)
1-6 ounce can of orange juice
3-6 ounce cans of apricot nectar
1-20 ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
1-16 ounce package of frozen sliced strawberries, broken apart
6 small sliced bananas
24-30 small plastic cups

In a saucepan heat sugar and 2 cups of water over high heat until sugar is dissolved. Allow the sugar/water to cool.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients including the 2 1/4 cups of water, add the sugar water, mix and then ladle into plastic cups, freeze until solid.

Cherry Limeade Pie
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tub of cool whip (thawed)
1 small 6 oz. can of limeade from concentrate or 1/2 of a large can.
1 can of cherry pie filling (you will not use the whole can)
1 graham cracker pie crust
Mix the condensed milk and the cool whip in the mixer then add the limeade (can be mixed in frozen) then pour the mixture in the pie crust and top with cherries. Put it in the refrigerator until it is firm then slice and serve.