As I was scrolling through the interwebs the other day, I saw several posts about people choosing “One Little Word” for 2018. They each used the hashtag #olw, so I knew that it must be more wide-spread than just the coincidental overlap between a few accounts. I thought briefly about what my One Little Word might be, but then got distracted by kids, visitors, playoff football, or snacks.
I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, partly because I lack the willpower to commit to any year-long “I will never” or “I will always” assertion, and also because I believe in the premise set forth by the always entertaining and sometimes incredibly kooky Jim Harbaugh. He exhorts the goal to “be better tomorrow than we were today.” I like to take it one day at a time – rather than 365 all at once – to work on being a slightly better version of myself. I am not successful in this venture every day, but taking it bit by bit seems both more manageable and realistic. Choosing one big resolution or one little word to set the tone for the entire year seemed like a daunting, if not impossible task. In the past, each of our years seemed so similar to the one before; every January, Chris and I would continue to head to the same jobs that we’d had for years, live in the same house we had for years, and socialize with the same people we’d known for many, many years. (We were nothing if not predictable!) In fact, labeling a year with one little word would surely be easier at the end, right? If that was the task, I could certainly label 2017. For the first time in a long time, the arc of our year did not begin and end in Woodland with our childhood friends and family surrounding us. Instead, we rang in 2017 with people we’d known for a lifetime and then ushered in 2018 2,000 miles away. Change, leap, insanity… all the words that I would use to describe our 2017 are not ones that I would’ve been able to prognosticate on January 1, 2017.
A few days after my snack break from above, I saw an instagram post by one of my favorite sign-making shops: @jellybirdsigns. They had listed and were custom-making small signs to feature any One Little Word of your choice. I thought more about committing to a word for 2018 – this is a year of beginning many new things, after all – and took a few minutes to look through the examples of others’ requests for my own inspiration.
Love or Blessed – Our house is constantly, unabashedly, consistently filled with love. We say and show it all the time, through our different love languages. We are overly, embarassingly blessed in this department. Choosing these words seemed as easy as committing to a resolution to “drink at least two cups of coffee every day.” Easy-peasey.
Breathe – In stressful times, it is helpful to stop and remember to take a calming breath. I am sure that we will face our share of farm freak-outs this year.
Joy – Anyone who knows our middle monkey knows that laughter and smiles are never in short supply around these parts.
Faith – This word spoke most to me out of the ones that I saw online. Starting this venture has taken and will take large amounts of faith, shown in various ways. It reminds me of my favorite Bible verse (Jeremiah 29:11), and as a life-long worrywart, a reminder to put my faith in the future would be helpful.
Then, as I was updating our business Instagram (@yellowhutchfarm), I was trying to fit our mission/beliefs/business model – along with our location and products – into a concise 150 characters. With the help of some specific emojis, I boiled down Yellow Hutch Farm’s business model into the following: We use sunshine to grow grass and grass to grow meat. There, twice in one sentence, was the perfect word for our 2018. Grow. We use sunshine – and nothing else – to grow grass and then with careful management (rotational grazing), we use that grass to grow healthy poultry, pork, and beef for our family and our customers.
Once I focused on that one little word – grow – I was surprised at how well it described many aspects of our goals this year. Yes, a large part of our 2018 plans entail the actual, literal growing of local pastureland and animals. But it goes beyond that as well. We plan to grow in all sorts of ways in 2018….
Our business – We are bootstrapping this farm, and we are committed to lead as debt-free a lifestyle as possible. We plan to grow our operation as organically as possible. One or two animals at a time, one or two chicken tractors at a time, one or two farmer’s markets at a time. This year will not see us rushing out to the local Fleet Farm or Menard’s with a list as long as our arm. We are taking it one step at a time, and growing our inventory steadily throughout the season.
Community – As new Minnesotans, our social circle of people that we know – who live within 50 miles of us – is tremendously small. For people who had made a lifetime quota of friends by the age of 12, that could be a daunting new reality. I, however, choose to see our currently small social circle not as a source of dismay, but as an opportunity. I have met someone new, and made a potential friend, almost every time I have ventured into town. Being a parent of school aged children helps, as does being a substitute teacher. Nearly two months after getting on Braham’s sub list, I had been in classrooms from preschool through the soon-to-graduate seniors. The little kids know my name, the big kids remember that I’m the “cool” sub, and lifelong friendships with the adults in the community are not far behind. We are hoping that the growth of our social, personal community then extends to the farm and business. In our long-term plans, we would love to be a resource for our community as we hopefully bring clean, nutritious food to our neck of the woods (and beyond) as well. Each month, we are growing our circle of local friends and customers.
Children – Yes, the children will continue to grow physically, as long as we keep remembering to feed them their daily meals (three) and snacks (a bajillion). Obviously. But, this farm life and the animals and chores that lie in the future will bring with them a multitude of lessons and opportunities for the children to grow socially and emotionally as well. Looking back on pictures of the girls from a year – or only six months – ago, I see three completely different humans than the ones that sit around our table today. They have already learned and mastered things that they never would’ve encountered in our California life; I know that 2018 will bring them many, many more chances to amaze us with their growth.
Comfort Zone – We have already, in many ways, grown far beyond what January-2017-Me could have predicted. This leap out of the familiar and into the future has pushed us all outside our comfort zone. While this is nothing to sneer at, it is also nothing to settle for. Now that we have gotten our bearings in our new home, new town, and new venture, I hope 2018 brings us the courage to keep pushing beyond what we thought, in the past, was our limit. It is time to grow as a family, as a farm, and as a business. There are amazing, fulfilling, exciting things ahead for us; we just need to have the courage to grow into those shoes and take the first step.
In my former school-marm life, during a staff meeting, one of my (most favorite) former administrators passed along a favorite quote of his: “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. Yard by yard, it is hard.” This will be my mantra as we focus all of our energy into growing this year. As I look out at my snow-covered garden plot, I can either despair at the fact that I have never, not once, been in charge of the family’s garden – I have never planted a plant, people. That was always Chris’s department – or I can embrace this chance to grow (both literally and figuratively) and take it one step at a time. Inch by inch, I will get the tomatoes and zucchini into the ground. We would love to grow into having a herd of 40 head of cattle, with 60 pigs in the woods and 3 batches of 1000 broilers each year. Looking at those numbers (yard by yard), is daunting. We will start this year with our four head of cattle, six pigs, two batches of 250 broilers, and inch-by-inch, we will grow into the farm that this community will support. We are so grateful that you are with us on this journey – let’s all take it one step at a time and grow together this year.
Cheers to an adventurous 2018! ~Lauren