Feeding Silage Contractors: Tips from an Irish Farmerette

I always seem to be busy when the silage contractors come and they always need to be fed – dinner, tea and often supper too.? I usually make 3 chicken or beef casseroles and a big saucepan of mashed potatoes followed by either a rhubarb crumble, a rice pudding or if time is short, the fruit strudels from Aldi. Tea is usually a fry up with grilled bacon and sausage, baked beans, white pudding and fried eggs followed by scones and cake of some description. Supper will be sandwiches, scones and cake.

Cutting Silage

My mother, especially in her latter years of cooking for the silage men, seemed to spend the whole day in the kitchen. From cooking a roast and carving it, to ensuring each dinner was served up and in the hostess trolley so it would be piping hot and yet not dried out whenever they came in, to baking lots of treats, cooking a fry up and making a variety of sandwiches for the supper.

I think my new advice is “don’t marry a farmer, marry a contractor” as all the farming wives all over the county will feed him for most of the week. My motto tends to be ‘the contractors should appreciate their wives cooking’ so if other farmers wives have the same motto,?your husband?will really appreciate your cooking on those days you have to cook.

This year, I was in Wales for the first cut and Brian managed with the bare essentials, making tea and supper into one meal and letting them make their own salad sandwiches.?? As the second cut fell on a week when I was busy plus it was extremely hot during the heatwave, I decided to see how I could minimise the workload and reduce the heat in the kitchen from the oven.

A huge bag of new potatoes were scrubbed and?cooked in a large saucepan.? Daughter peeled and cut up the carrots. Frozen peas were put into a large jug and cooked in the microwave. I rarely use the George Foreman for cooking meat as I hate cleaning it (use it for toast and toasted sandwiches) but this would have to do – I cooked chicken fillets in the George Foreman. Big jug of gravy and 3 dishes of butter, salt and pepper to season – what else would they want?

Strawberries from the gardenI picked a big tub of strawberries from the garden and served them with icecream.? It was surprising how many didn’t want carrots or strawberries – so much for their 5 a day.

Before clearing the table and putting on the dishwasher, I mixed up a batch of scones and chucked them in the oven.? You can never tell how much sweet stuff they’ll eat. According to one contractor who, by way of apology on seeing my mother’s face fall when she saw all the cakes and buns left at teatime, they don’t eat as much on a Monday after the drinking at the weekend!

A breakdown meant they?stopped work just before I was about to start preparing for their tea and as it wasn’t easily fixed, they left around 7pm and rang at 8:30 to see if we were happy with them finishing it late or leave it until Monday. We decided to go ahead and they returned around 9:30. I didn’t ask if they were hungry, I just presumed they’d got something to eat on their home farm. My other motto is never feed men until they have worked for a while first!? They finished at midnight and I had a kitchen table filled with salad and scones that would have done the Famous Five proud! I didn’t spend time making sandwiches but put the meat, lettuce, spring onions, tomatoes, cold boiled eggs, mayo, beetroot, bread, butter, jam and scones on the table and let them help themselves.? Much easier and takes so much less time!

Much easier than slaving over a hot stove all day 🙂

6 thoughts on “Feeding Silage Contractors: Tips from an Irish Farmerette

  • M T McGuire

    I bet they liked the D.I.Y. sandwiches just as much anyway! Strange about the strawberries but I suppose they were after carbs to see them through all that physical exertion.



  • Jan C.

    My husband’s grandfather owned a cattle ranch back in the early 1900’s, and when grandmom had to cook for all the ranch hands as well as the family, she cooked all morning for dinner, cleaned up and immediately started the preparations for supper. Usually it was a beef main dish and/or fried chicken, plus homemade bread, and home grown fruits and vegetables, plus sweets. They went through an amazing amount of flour, sugar, beans & coffee!

    • Lorna

      Yes, I’ve noticed too that they take a lot of sugar in their tea!
      When we were little, the silage often took a week – between inclement weather and breakdowns. My mum often had to cook for them for a whole week – I’d never had had the patience 😉



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