Tag Archives: dinnertime

Feeding Time

On the farm. Cooking was never a huge priority for me before becoming a farmer’s wife. I loved to cook and it was often fancy but I could get away with the odd take away or frozen meal. Not for this farmhouse I’m afraid. To start with, the farmer is spoiled rotten and he’ll tell you that himself. The priorities for cooking are as follows; it has to be wholesome, feeding men who are working intensively for hours outdoors.

Then it has to be in great quantity, you have no idea how much farmers can eat and as for the small little boys coming up behind them, a gallon of milk a day goes nowhere. There has to be enough in the fridge/freezer/pantry at any time to feed an extra if one should one arrive for feeding at the door. The meal has to be of good quality, for the health benefits, farming families who milk twice a day, 365 days a year cannot afford to be sick, so it’s meat, vegetables, carbs and dairy to fill the bellies. We buy our meats, fish, vegetables and other as locally as we can. We bring in milk from our own dairy. Lastly, it has to be varied and tasty, varied because we sit together everyday at the table and it’s good not to be able to predict the day’s dinner and tasty because, life my friends, is short.

Breakfast is porridge, wholesome brown bread, tea and fruit. Lunch this time of year is most likely homemade soup and is eaten after first milking at 12pm when our four year old comes in from playschool. Dinner that we’ve now moved to 4.30pm to accommodate our school goer is a hotpot, meat-and-two-veg, curry or whatever takes the farmer’s wife’s fancy. It’s one pot for all generally in the farmhouse, the children eat a smaller portion from the pot. There’s no time for special orders. The eldest lays the cutlery, the second ‘does the cups’ and the baby decorates the floor. We eat together everyday. After dinner, there is tea with biscuits, icecream or if you’re very good, a cake. Fresh cake does every occasion make. Sponge cake for a birthday, chocolate gateau for a visitor, carrot cake to carry out visiting.

Somedays, I feel like I spend my days cooking and then I remember I do. Feeding five, six people a day is no easy task. I am like every mother and some fathers who do the same every day for their families there is no doubt. But, somehow, it seems different in a farmhouse, you’re fueling a hard days work on the farm and I am the train driver throwing coal into the engine fire from my very own stove. Eating out is a real treat that we really delight in (if it’s good) and I relish any cup of coffee that I don’t have to make myself. Feeding time on the farm; an all consuming, sometimes funny, delicious, family affair.


And the living ain’t easy. I don’t want to give up I think as I’m punching the air in the pantry. I’ve come to hide to take several deep breaths instead of throwing a tantrum myself at my longing for one peaceful dinner.

One peaceful dinner where the baby doesn’t throw his spoon on the floor with a giggle, twenty times. One peaceful dinner where my toddler sits at the table and eats. One peaceful dinner where I’m not lecturing the six year old on the value of eating meat and vegetables. One peaceful dinner where we chat, dissect our day, eat our meal. Imagine, all of us eating and enjoying our meal. And by one peaceful dinner I mean, one whole mealtime from lift of fork to final quiet burp without a spillage, a tantrum, a sigh or a complaint. Just one.

Let’s face it, it would be easier to put on the TV, put them in front of it, chat to the husband and let them eat whatever. But I won’t give up!

Now for the science bit.

Research says. Research says. Obesity. Research. You can skip this bit if you want. High achievers. Dinner together. The experts say. Research on diabetes asserts. Obesity. Family bonding. More research. Seriously, how are we supposed to digest?

Look, I’m not looking for Walton like family meals, ha ha happy nudging and joshing each other. I just want a peaceful enough dinner. Does it happen? Will they reach a reasonable age where it just clicks. I’m not looking to hear a hearty laugh as they pass the potatoes, just one meal where we don’t look like one of the bad families from Nanny 911 or what have you.

I can see her now, the Nanny Lady. Anne, your mealtimes are just crazy. You’ve got to get this together, you can do this. Now, this is the naughty step, come to eye level with them and explain and that is where I lose her. Put them on the naughty step at dinner, I’m hungry. Eye level, I’m hungry. Explain? I’m hungry Nanny. And the question on everyones lips is ‘Does Nanny 911 actually have kids?’ Just saying.

What makes the whole situation worse in a farmhouse, is that we often have another man who works on the farm joining us at mealtimes. He’s a part of the furniture around here, we consider him a friend but it is not easy trying to discipline your children in front of someone else. It often makes the situation more fraught. There we are, trying to make idle chat about the weather, grass and greyhounds (don’t ask) while simultaneously trying to get food into three young boys. Honestly. Why haven’t I been canonized? And you know, that they will be worse because they think they will get away with more. Sometimes, I think If he could pick up his plate and go off and eat alone, I think he would. I would. Poor man. Poor us.

I know I can say this to you. I know if you have children under seven, no, eight even, that they can be hard work at dinner times. I know you won’t judge me.  If they’re not, knock yourself out, feel as smug as you like, but please, for the love of God, just don’t call Nanny 911, I promise I’ll eat all my dinner.