first year farming - help me get organized!!! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 06-27-2010, 10:15 PM - Thread Starter
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i'm working almost full-time at a pasture-based livestock farm. two days a week i work at farmers' markets selling our products. 1-2 days i do office work (usually from my house) and one day i work as a farm hand doing whatever needs to be done.

i absolutely LOVE what i am doing and i am able to bring my kids with me to work, which is so wonderful for all of us.


i am having such a hard time feeding us. so many days i end up feeding my kids total crap that i buy on our way to and from the farm or while at the market selling other people delicious, high quality meats.

i've talked to a few of the farmers at the market and they all say the same thing...welcome to farming! learn to love annie's mac and cheese. throw veggies in whenever you can.

i'm trying to stay really positive. i know the first year is the hardest and some of the challenges i am facing are just part of the process....but i'd REALLY like to get organized and do a better job feeding all of us healthy foods.

can any other farming families out there talk to me about how you meal plan -- especially if you are away from home. (we often leave our house early morning and do not return until bedtime, which means we're having 2-3 meals on the road!!!).

appreciate any help/advice/encouragement you can offer!!!


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#2 of 11 Old 06-27-2010, 11:53 PM
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Check out once a month cooking. You could break it down to once a week though.
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#3 of 11 Old 06-28-2010, 02:52 AM
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OK-- first accept that sometimes you'll have to follow the advice-- learn to love annies mac n cheese and add veggies, LOL (sounds strangely familiar-- we also add canned beans for protein and fiber, haha).

Next, make friends w your crock pot! There are entire websites dedicated to easy cheap healthy 4 or 5 ingredient crock pot meals. Try to at least eat at home once a day. Here's how we did it, but tweak for your family! Before bed, add ingredients to crock pot and put in fridge (bc there is no WAY I can be expected to add 5-10 minutes to my am routine, then it won't get done, then we eat junk, LOL). In am set the crockpot, or if your children are responsible and have chores, let them do it-- just be sure to double check. Come home to wonderful smells and a hot dinner, then... put leftovers in little pyrex dishes, and dress them up if needed, for tomorrow's lunches.

I totally agree w the PP about once a month (or week, or 2 week) cooking. Make ahead when possible. Even if you just make a few pots of soup or stew, a pot of beans (for adding to burritos, salads, mac n cheese, etc), and a few casseroles each week-- that's 5-10 meals you're not eating junk-- baby steps are ok.


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#4 of 11 Old 06-29-2010, 11:18 PM
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My situation is a bit different, but I work at an orchard two months out of the year. Sounds like yours is year round. As for organization, I would suggest having a daily focus:Monday harvest/and market, tuesday paperwork, wednesday market, etc. Leave a day or two open for all the stuff you don't get done on the "day" you have designated.

For meals, what works for me (workng only seasonally, mind you....) I always make at least 2 dinners worth of each meal I make, then there's only half the pots to wash, and half the cooking to do. Lunches are leftovers from dinner the night before for me, I have access to a microwave. I do tend to buy more convenience foods for the kids lunches during my working season. Have a couple dinners in the freezer, or at least the main ingredient in the freezer, like soup, spaghetti sauce.... Buy some ingredients for dinner at the farmers markets you go to. Is there a bakery there? Buy a loaf of bread. Or salad fixings from the veggie farmer. Does you farmers market have anything that resembles a meal? Buy it at the market. Or plan to eat out on market nights, or put dinner in the crock pot on market nights if those are the nights you are home late.
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#5 of 11 Old 06-30-2010, 01:05 AM
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We take raw/whole veggies, fruits and nuts. Some yogurt. a sandwich or cheese and crackers. Sometimes a fruit bar or something snacky like that.
And lots of water. Packing meals every darn day is a pita, but sooo much cheaper and healthier than fast foods.

and crockpots, pizza or casseroles for dinner (and sometimes breakfast if we wake up 'starving')
Breakfast is smoothie and a muffin.

Decluttering 500/2010
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#6 of 11 Old 06-30-2010, 09:52 AM
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Like BunnySlippers, during this season, we eat a lot of stuff raw and whole. I buy nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies, and of course, whatever we are picking we can eat if we like (right now, kids will eat peas or carrots on the spot).

I make yogurt and that is always on hand. The kids will self-serve it, plain or with fruit. They drink fresh milk, too. (We have a pair of goats.)

We do a hearty breakfast, usually eggs and/or smoothies, often make do through the day with "found" snacks and meals, and then do dinner. I often cook a stew in a pressure cooker, and we often eat after sundown (and last week, one dinner was 10:30pm). Dh will grill something, or I'll pop a chicken in the rotisserie.

I try not to stress about the structure as much as the ingredients. My kids will eat when they are hungry, so I just have to make sure there is accessible food for them. When I do cook a stew or a big couscous or something, it's usually two meals' worth, which helps keep everyone fed for a second day. Keeps from heating up the house every day, too.
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#7 of 11 Old 06-30-2010, 04:48 PM
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I noticed the same thing our first year on the farm- all this wonderful food, and no time to prepare it. I've learned that I have to be pretty organized, or things just fall apart. And the truth is, it happens, but when it does you just eat your mac n' cheese, pick up the pieces, and keep going. It gets easier as you get into the swing of things.

Along with the suggestions above, I might add taking a cue from our homesteading grandmothers, and cooking a whole roast, chicken, or whatever once a week -even in the crockpot- for sandwiches for your 'away' days.

Right now I'm trying to find one focused day a week for getting a jump on healthy snacks and prep cooking - a few more things not mentioned that can be made in batches and frozen in advance are pancakes and waffles (we do whole grains with lots of eggs), jerky, muffins, and fruit leather. Best of luck to you!
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#8 of 11 Old 07-02-2010, 02:16 PM
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Would it be possible to barter with someone to bring you a meal every once in awhile? Maybe I should ask at our farmer's market if one of the farmers would do that. Trade a meal for a roast or some such. That would be such a lovely arrangement for everyone. Barter is really nice.

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#9 of 11 Old 07-02-2010, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Hebaume39 View Post
Would it be possible to barter with someone to bring you a meal every once in awhile?
I would totally make and freeze meals and crockpot meals in exchange for some eggs/milk/honey/produce I don't grow/etc

Where do you live!

Actually, I think I will put together some meal plans and see if there is any interest on Craigslist! Sorry to thread jack, but that's such a wonderful idea!

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#10 of 11 Old 07-06-2010, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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thank you all SO much for your replies!! i appreciate them greatly!!!

it's been a couple of weeks since i first posted this and already things are going a little more smoothly.

i stocked up on meat (at the farm where i work) and have been pulling stuff out of the freezer on sunday and either cooking it then or getting it prepped to cook during the week.

i've surrendered to the fact that - at least for now - i am buying more convienence food than i like to. little containers of yogurt have been a big hit with the kids on hot days. (we have access to fresh milk, and at some point i will be making my own yogurt but i'm just not there yet.) and granola bars -- lots of granola bars!!

i also cut back my hours a bit so now we're only doing one market a week, instead of two, which is making a big difference. the long market days (8+ hours to load up everything, travel, be at the market, travel and unload back at the farm) in 95 degree heat was really taking a toll on my and my kids.

the bartering idea is great. i know some farmers who do that at their csa -- give someone a share in exchange for having them prepare (or preserve) some of the harvest for the farmer's use. definitely something to ask around about!

i'm also enjoying the post-market trading that happens between vendors. this week i came home with some yummy salsa and two loaves of bread. we gobbled up one of the loaves last night for dinner (with some goat cheese and pesto - yum!) and i'm going to freeze the other one.

so yeah...not feeling quite as out of control this week. just moving forward with lots of little baby steps, and trying to be gentle with myself this first year!!!

thanks again for all your replies.

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#11 of 11 Old 07-06-2010, 08:27 AM
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I'm not a farmer but I know that the vegetable CSA I am a member of feeds its hands lunch as part of their compensation. I don't know the details, probably they take turns preparing lunch at the farmhouse, but they get a big spread of what they grow and they chow down.

Could you suggest to the farmers you work for that this could be done in some manner? It's a little different since you work for a livestock farm - meat is more expensive than vegetables, and you can't eat just meat (well, you could, but most people don't). So it would be more expensive for them to provide than a vegetable farm. Well, I don't have a solution for that, but there's a grain of an idea, maybe you'll be able to connect the dots somehow.

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