Jamie and I often ask this of each other when we are up in the middle of the night catching up on all the things we weren’t able to touch base about that day, taking advantage of the rare quietness in our house while the children are sleeping. The answers could be running two businesses, giving attention to our marriage, raising three boys, driving to basketball and soccer games, or building a kitchen at the farm. It could be gaining more gray hair and lines around the eyes, spending Sunday afternoons working on budgets and cash flow projections, loading pigs, or walking the farm waiting for the grass to grow. Or perhaps if we choose to take a long term scope, we may say to each other, building a grassfed beef and pastured pork brand, developing a regional production model of grass finishing that works in the Appalachian mountain region, raising food that people can trust, creating opportunities for young people in agriculture, serving our customers, and all in all trying to make things work, everyday, holding the pieces together- all of them, all of the time.
We are entrepreneurs, we are farmers, and we are a family. We are putting it all on the line because we think that taking the risk to build our family business is worth it, and we think based on what’s happened so far that you all will like it and that you will come here and to shop, play, and enjoy our farm as much as we do. We want to create an atmosphere that’s intriguing and inviting — a place to hold your child’s birthday party, a wedding reception, your family reunion, where we will feed you meat raised on our farm, cooked in our kitchen, served by our dedicated staff who treat our business as if it were their own. We want you to think of HNG when you have a free afternoon with your children and you want to show them where their food comes from, what a farm feels like and while you hold their hand walking in the orchard share with them your own memories of your family farm when you worked alongside your grandfather as a child.
Jamie likes to say our mouth just isn’t big enough for the bite we are trying to take. Some days it does seem we are trying to down a half pound cheeseburger with all the fixins on a big sesame seed bun but if you sprinkle that with two days of big opportunities launched and task list accomplished you can, well, sleep at night.
The launch of our new website comes at another turning point as we have now, without realizing it really, arrived at our 15 year plan. This is why we ask ourselves what ARE we doing and how did this happen? We spend our centered moments thinking through the best way to launch the next piece of our vision for Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Hickory Nut Gap Meats, and our family’s future.
We have plenty of ideas, believe me! There was a point in 2009 when our third son was born that I put a moratorium on new ideas, it became mandatory to only work on the things we had in motion and not add any more to our plate. However, now Levi is 5, Nolin 8, Cyrus 10, and we are gaining some space. They are helping out and interested in what’s next on the farm, and frankly, it’s so cool that they are because I can picture myself working next to my sons in the coming years and feeling so proud of them — that they care and that they may want to be a part of the movement too and that soon they will be the ones with a million ideas.
The next 15 years will be the second phase of raising our children, of our marriage, and of our business. I hope that we have spent our working hours so far laying a foundation that will carry our family and our vision to a place that serves our community what it needs to thrive.