Question: what’s tougher than having two little babies and a full time job?
Answer: having a husband who decided to adopt his own little baby, by way of starting a brewery on a farm, at the same time!
It will be fun, they said. You will get to see him so much more because he’s now local, they said. You will drink and dance and be merry, they said. Well, it didn’t work out quite like that; turns out starting your own brewery isn’t just all fun and games. It’s a lot of hard work and it’s a lot of puzzling over how to solve a whole load of unknown problems.
It was a good idea though, right? Right…?
It’s hard to answer this question in just one word or even a sentence. Sometimes I think it was the perfect light-bulb moment. Other times I think it was the worst thing we consciously brought upon ourselves ever. When Ben revealed the plan to me the first time, I saw a bright spark in his eye and an excitement that was hard to contain. I felt that I should support his sheer enthusiasm for this project; he was so geared up and sold it to me completely.
I didn’t really think about the pressure and strain that this would put on us though. There were sleepless nights with a new-born baby, another little boy going through an incredibly hard time getting used to the new little brother and not seeing his daddy as often as he’s used to (when he said “Daddy lives at the brewery now” I could visibly see Ben’s heart breaking at little bit), and tiredness that was unlike anything that we ever went through. To add to this all, there were a lot of ups and downs with the project not going exactly to plan from the outset. You also take all the risk in the uncertain times and don’t have the cushion of having a steady employment (and at the time of writing this, we are right at the start of the most uncertain times ever in living memory due to Corona). Who is going to pay for this little adventure? But we’ve managed to get through this early stage without killing each other, so… yay for that!
Following the initial set-up stages there came time for “business as usual”, but having a business of your own requires so much work that you sometimes forget the “business as usual” at home. You lose sight of your loved ones and they lose sight of you. You spend all the hours of day and night working, because you need to pounce on every opportunity and don’t know when chance might present themselves again or when you will be busy next time. Plus, you continue to learn from your mistakes as you go too, so everything takes much more time to set up and get right.
Scary times ensued. They are still ensuing!
However, everything we’ve achieved has been tremendously gratifying too. One of my most treasured moments from this whole process was when I saw so much joy and happiness in my beloved beardy-weirdy’s eyes, when the first customers came into the taproom and praised the liquid gold he had made with his very own hands on his very own brew kit. Our kids love going to the taproom too, especially the elder one (who has just turned three). He always wants to pull up a bar stool and prop up the bar, so that he can be near Daddy and can meet new random taproom friends. It really has given him confidence and he has come out of his shell, talking so much more and sharing his excitement with people he meets for the first time. He also has two new aunties, whom he adores – Ann-Cécile and Mo – and he loves spending time at the farm with them and all the animals. Witnessing all of that is just so rewarding and makes the whole thing worthwhile.
It’s been one hell of a ride, but we are one heck of a tight team and have each other’s back, which is the only way to survive the whole crazy madness. My hopes for the future are for more outstanding beers and many more exciting adventures, but also more family time. I believe that everything needs a good balance and it is important to have work and home time equally spread… otherwise you’ll just burn out.
Apart from being immensely proud of Ben, I am also massively proud of myself. It turns out that I’m an awesome kick-ass mum who can raise two boys and support her hubby with his adopted brewery baby at the same time. I now also know a lot about beer and hops and grains and mash tuns and conditioning and all the other beer-related shizzle; a lot more than I ever thought I really needed to! And I’ve even worked behind the bar a few times and have met loads of fabulous people that have become great friends of the brewery too. Our little family of four has grown quite significantly over the last few months and I do dance, drink and be merry once the babies go to sleep!