When America's angry farmers occupied Washington last month, some took their meals at the new HEW cafeteria in the Hubert Humphery Building near Capitol Hill. There a group found what they thought was further evidence of the joys of working in the federal bureaucracy.

"Look at this," said one man in overalls and an International Harvester hat, examining a sign giving the cafeteria's hours. "Breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m.; morning break from 10 to 10:45; lunch from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m.; afternoon break from 2 to 3 p.m. With meal breaks like that, no wonder nobody gets any work done around here."

During lunch at Duke Zeibert's restaurant recently, Robert Strauss - the White House's man who just completed difficult trade negotiations with Japan - was greeted this way by an old Democratic National Committee colleague: "Word around town is you're the guy to see if you want a good deal on a color televison."

The mothers of the world must wait until after this year's Senate elections to read Nancy Thurmond's tips on child-rearing. The 32-year-old beauty queen wife of the 76-year-old South Carolina senator has four children. And a regular newspaper column with advice on raising kids ("Turn off the TV and tune in your children") led to a book contract with William Morrow & Co. The manuscript for Mother's Medicine: How To Bring Up Children is completed, but publication will be postponed until December to avoid charges of trying to influence the November elections.

Like a shrewd author, Nancy Thurmond will not talk with the press about the book until it's on store shelves. But a district office staffer denies rumors that the senator's staff helped type the manuscript, adding that if anyone helped out, it would have been on their own time.