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The Crowded Acre: Two Steps Back

By Jennifer Welch

They say that if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, I don’t know who “they” are or how they came to that conclusion, but I’m calling BS. Maybe “they” loved being inherently wealthy or being suntan models – if that’s even a thing. But I can guess with some degree of certainty that they didn’t “love” running a farm and a food truck, and parenting three children while their husband was away for weeks at a time fighting wildfires. Just a guess. I, however, do love those things. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “If I could find a way to farm for free and give away our products, I would do it in a heartbeat.”

Alas, nothing comes for free in this world, and I’m not referring to money. Oftentimes the prices of our actions are not easily recognized. I could explain that I am working endlessly to provide for my family, but at what cost? I can create a handcrafted meal from start to finish, from hooves on the ground to a meal on the plate, but I don’t have time to sit down with my family to actually eat it. I can show the kids how to clean and smoke trout, but I barely have time to teach them how to catch it. I can stay here and hold down the fort while my husband is fighting wildfires, but is “holding down the fort” the best we can do? In five years or ten years or fifty years, will I be asking myself why I didn’t slow down and take the time to enjoy my family when I had them here with me?

It’s a fine line to walk these days, between purposeful and functional. Increasingly so. But as much as I love serving my community, I have to confess that I love serving myself and my family even more. So, after months of long conversations and heartfelt reflection, we have decided to close the food truck. We ended this past summer on a bittersweet note, getting to serve our dedicated customers one last time, free of charge, just as I had always wanted to do. It was easily one of my favorite days of all time.

Bittersweet is the perfect word for how I feel about this change. I have since moved on and am pursuing different endeavors. The farm, you’ll be happy to know, is humming right along. Not much will change here, minus a thinning of the herd down to a more personal, and less commercial, size. Clara the good, good pig is still enjoying her well-deserved retirement, complete with watermelon slices and pumpkin pies. Alan and the naughtiest cow herd west of the Mississippi are right where they’ve always been in the winter months, happily eating their way through our bank account. My husband will still fight wildfires in the summer because that is what he loves and he is what I love. My kids have new fly-fishing rods. I plan to teach them how to fish the mountain streams and pristine lakes of the high country. How to take a step back. How to live life slowly. Intentionally. Well. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally figure it out this time around too.