As close family, we also helped each other out with farming. Many expensive pieces of machinery were shared with each other. When we baled hay or harvested oats or corn, we could count on the family’s help. Many hands made light work. One of the best things about these gatherings was the delicious, large meals that my mom and my aunts prepared for the gang of hungry, sweaty relatives. Everyone worked hard in the fields and had huge appetites come meal time. Of course, hunger makes the best seasoning, but it seemed that each meal topped the previous one in quantity and deliciousness. Some of them even rivaled Thanksgiving—which is saying a lot!!
Oftentimes, in addition to the huge noon meal we’d just eaten, Mom would bring the workers a mid-afternoon snack in the fields. Once, when I was about five or six, the uncles and cousins were baling at our farm, and my mother decided to surprise them with homemade chocolate cake. Mom told me to get my toy wagon, and then I helped her load a heaping pile of plates, silverware, cups and jugs of water into the red wagon bed. I proudly pulled the haul out to the field while Mom carried the beautiful cake loaded with velvety chocolate frosting.
It was a very warm day for baling, and Mom and I arrived at the perfect time. The crew had reached the end of a windrow, their hay rack completely stacked with new bales of fresh, green hay. They were ready to switch to the empty rack, which was sitting at the edge of the field, but saw my mom coming—and knew that a treat was in store! Mom set her beautiful cake on the empty rack and began preparing to dish it onto plates. She’d only cut half the cake in the kitchen, knowing she’d have time as the guys went through the line, to cut the other half. She placed the first piece of cake on a plate and handed it to the uncle first in line, then turned around to my toy wagon to get him a fork. While her back was turned, my Uncle Jack, who was second in line, snatched the un-cut half of the cake as one piece and began to devour it!! Because he’d taken so much, several on the crew didn’t get any cake. Jack got razzed quite a bit that day—and for many years to come. From then on, my mother always cut the whole cake in the kitchen before taking it to the field!
Baking, family, and hard work are still treasured parts of life on our farm. You can purchase our delicious baked goods (to cut and share with your family or have all to yourself!) at the Cinnamon Ridge Country Cupboard. Of course, don’t miss out on our award-winning cheese, meat, and eggs. Our products are also available at North Scott Foods in Eldridge and the Freight House Farmers Market.