By Jennifer Welch
My heifer has a penis. If you remember, it wasn’t too long ago that I was waiting for my dairy cow to calve. And I called heifer. So you can imagine my surprise when my heifer was born … with a penis. Damn. I guess it’s true that we can’t always get what we want. But I did get a bull calf, which I aptly christened Boy Named Sue. So it would appear that, if we try sometimes, we get what we need. This seems to be a recurring theme in my existence.
After last summer, I wasn’t sure where the food truck or the farm were heading – if anywhere. I had to ask myself some very hard questions. And what’s worse, I had to answer them. When we learned that we wouldn’t be offered another lease at the distillery, one of my employees mentioned that she might know of a good spot for the bus just up the street. A new couple, Rick and Katy, had purchased a building and lot on East Main and had moved to the valley from Chicago. I reluctantly reached out with an email and a hopeful heart. The rest, as they say, is history. The bus moved into a new location, we gained new friends, and the farm remained secure and stable.
Secure and stable isn’t necessarily the goal at this point though. I feel driven to achieve more, to create more, to do much, much more. And as it would turn out, I fell into just the right place to make that happen. Opportunity, they say, is not a lengthy visitor. So when I learned that Rick and Katy had purchased a beautiful ranch just north of town, I pitched them my idea of rotating my cows, pigs and poultry through their lush meadows and woodlands. Who would have thought that one of the largest disasters I’ve experienced professionally would end up leading to one of the most incredible opportunities I could have imagined? Looking back, I am almost grateful for the path which led me here.
The lease isn’t signed yet. And even after the lease is signed, everything could still get trampled by a herd of elephants. But if I know one thing about myself, it’s that I’m not afraid to try and fail and try again. So the plan for this winter is to move the farm, and the family, to the ranch 10 miles north of town. The farm will be able to grow and we will have the opportunity to improve some of our current systems. The animals will benefit from having more space and forage, and I will enjoy having everything in one place. Ultimately, The Crowded Acre will become more crowded.
Is this my heifer? If calling heifer is akin to calling mercy, is this the break I’ve been waiting for? Is it possible, or even necessary, to will good fortune into our lives? Only time will tell. For now, all I can do is keep my head down, plug along and hope for the best. And somewhere along the way, in between the failures and the successes, lies my perfectly imperfect life – which I wouldn’t trade for all the heifers in the world.
Jen Welch lives and writes in the Upper Arkansas River Valley and she is slowly becoming a decent farmer … maybe.