Hosting a Farmyard BBQ for 160
The invitation had gone out to uncounted hundreds for the past six months. While it was an open invitation, it was also only given to VIPs: our farm customers and supporters. This was our second Annual Farm Barbeque, our version of customer-appreciation. Our family credits our daily communal meals with family and employees as a defining activity that supports our farm mission and increases our ability to work harmoniously. How could we show our thanks to other farm supporters in any other way than to gather around good food? Thus, the Barbeque.
This certainly is not the best time to host a large event on-farm: it’s one of our farm’s busiest seasons! We’re trying to get chickens processed, corn planted, markets attended, alfalfa harvested, gardens weeded and we really don’t have time to be concerned with how neatly our farm is groomed. The best time for a customer appreciation event would be in January, but it’s kind-of hard to drum up much interest in a winter barbeque! The trucks and tractors that were under repair in the shop were dragged out and the oil spots cleaned up. We swept that shop floor at least ten times! It wasn’t just the inside of the shop that was cleaned: our customers were going to be everywhere in the barns and fields! We weed-wacked all the fence-rows, dusted the feed mill, and deep-cleaned the butchery. For two days, the entire family worked at organizing, mowing and cleaning instead of our usual farm tasks. On one hand, it could be perceived as a lot of work for just one night, but we saw it as an investment in our customers. If they could come all the way to our farm, we can at least make sure we are clean and tidy!
Finally, the big night arrived… It’s hard to plan food for an unspecified number of people, but we took an educated guess at 125 people. When 110 people rsvp’d, we started to think we may have under-planned… We spread out tables in the shop to seat 65 people. The boys went to a lot of effort cleaning off their 30’ workbench, which made for an attractive serving table once we covered it in a red-checked tablecloth! We had set a 3.5 hour window for the come-and go BBQ, but folks started showing up a half-hour early! I was still picking daisies in the pasture when the first eaters showed up. Joanna and the sister-in-laws placed them into our milk-bottle centerpieces while I washed up. Careful preparation by Mom and the other Bauman girls ensured our meal went smoothly. On the Menu:
Bauman Burgers: The Beef with Bacon and Cheddar. We ground the beef somewhat lean – nearly a 90/10 mixture of lean/fat but then put in 1/8” chunks of hi-temp cheddar and ground bacon from our hickory smokehouse. It’s an all-in-one burger with no need of seasoning or cheese slices!
Mutt-Dogs: Grilled hotdogs are something that adults secretly like and really wish they didn’t. We made our own dogs using only top-quality ground beef and pork, smoked them in our hickory smoker and left them in their casings for a nice snap. We needed to call them something besides hotdogs so folks knew they were different, so we debuted them as “Mutt-Dogs” since they were a blend of two proteins. It’s gotten mixed reviews… Pat, the manager at Bauman’s Butcher Block, also happens to be an amazing outdoor cook. (lucky for us!) With assistance from his wife and son, he grilled 130 burgers and 100 Mutt-dogs!
Veggie tray: As much as we’d have liked to, the veggie tray only included one thing from our own gardens: Joanna and Hillary (a new farmhand) had picked 4 gallons of sugar snap peas! Perhaps next year we will get our garden’s early produce to coincide with the Barbeque.
Baked Beans: What’s a Barbeque without the beans? Thankfully, Mom makes awesome baked beans that she simmered for most of the day after she dressed them up with bacon chunks, brown sugar and liquid smoke.
Mint Tea: Our mint patch is completely cleaned out! Mom brewed twenty gallons of sweet mint tea after the RSVPs started saying that they were coming specifically to drink more of that tea! There wasn’t any left!
Homemade Cookies: The sister-in-laws were busy before the big day baking 20 dozen cookies. And they didn’t stop there: but pitched in to help chop veggies and clean up the farm.
Fresh-Churned Icecream: Our neighbor David stole the show with his twenty-quart ice cream churn that was powered by an old John Deer hit-and-miss engine. It wasn’t even that hot of weather, but we still consumed 40 quarts!
The People: They aren’t last because they’re least, but because they are the anchors. Nearly 160 people came to the BBQ, parking way up the road and walking in. It was wonderful to see our auto-parts supplier eating next to the soccer mom from the city who buys our ground pork. Farmers that we harvested their grains rode on the hayride with little Asian children who had never been on a farm. We had representatives from all sorts of professions and cultural backgrounds eating our burgers together. We smiled. That’s our farm mission in 3-D.