By Jennifer Welch
Summer never starts off with these words, “What do you want?” It begins on a much softer note. “Hi, what can I help you with today? What can I get for you? Is that all you would like?” Everyone in the service industry has the lines memorized by heart and, at least in the beginning, manages to even use them with customers. But towards the end of the season, when angry August rolls around, you just might let a ‘What do you want?’ slip from your lips … if only accidentally. It’s not that we hate our jobs by the end of summer, it’s that we loathe them. And, really, it’s not you, it’s us. The service industry is exhausting and gratifying at the same time and, generally speaking, the more exhausted you get, the more gratified you become. But at some point we just need to crawl into a hole and hibernate for the winter until the next tourist season rolls around and we are required to smile and talk to people again.
Here at the bus, summer is off to a great start. We are busier than we were last year and running a larger menu and a larger farm. We are also looking at adding more pasture land to our rotations which will allow us to continue to grow our herds and the food truck even more. We really didn’t know what to expect this summer, especially after last year’s fiasco. It’s hard to know when to quit and when to keep going and we were ready to hinge that decision on this year’s progress or lack thereof. So I am relieved to say that things are looking up so far. In hindsight, I might be willing to admit that taking two of the most demanding, failure-prone business models and smashing them together might have been a horrible idea. Maybe they were right, maybe you can’t do it all or have it all. These thoughts have been rumbling around in my head all spring and begging the question, “What do you want?”
If I had asked myself that very question ten years ago, I would have said that I wanted to quit the food service industry, stay at home, and wipe my childrens’ butts with homemade toilet paper. But the reality is that you can only wipe someone else’s butt for so long before it becomes really, really weird. And since I am not very good at sitting still, my answer to that question has changed quite a bit over time. Now, I simply want to do and have all of the things. I am hungry, and nothing anyone can do or say will change that in me. All I really need is an idea, some guts, and a few extra pairs of hands. Luckily I had the foresight to accidentally birth my very own workforce before fully realizing my dreams. And regardless if it was by accident or by design, my children have become both the impetus and the means by which I will accomplish those dreams. Just don’t tell them that there is such a thing as homemade toilet paper because I literally can’t, even right now.
So what is it that I want?
I want my children and my family to know love.
I want to work with my hands.
I want to know a piece of land as intimately as I know myself.
I want to move my body under the sun, through the wind, and among the snow drifts and marvel at how magnificent it all is.
I want to love my animals as my family and honor them in life as well as in death.
I want to feed you.
I want to bridge the gap between food production and food consumption.
I want to cry over lost cows and beam over new litters of piglets.
I want to give you my love in the form of a burrito, because food is love in its simplest form.
I want to serve the land, the animals, and the people of my community for as long as I can manage to do so.
I want to do it all and I want to do it well.
That is what I want. That is what I intend to get. And I’ll even try to be nice about it come angry August.