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  • Writer's pictureRyan & Ally Gerken


Early November Ryan had an old colleague call him to see if they could meet up while he visited Montrose. Happily we opened our doors up and he enjoyed pizza and some award show with us, not sure which one. Two weeks after that, the week of Thanksgiving, our new friend was moving in with us for one week while he waited for his lease to go through on a new rental, and so that he could start work here near Montrose.

At the time, Ryan and I had just begun to reevaluate our plans for 2021 because they, like many, were not shaping up the way we'd hoped. We had hoped that in our time home together we would have been able to produce some bare-minimum revenue to at least fund the farm for 2021 but that didn’t happen. We knew one of us would have to go back to work but it is not that simple.


There were many comments via our local community board on social media, on navigating the pandemic. Some about extending their unemployment or even how to file unemployment. The comments on these posts included several mean remarks like “ Get a job” “Telluride is hiring” (Telluride is an hour and twenty minute drive btw - one way!) “the supermarkets are hiring” etc. It was CRAZY! Like these people knew everything about the person who asked a simple question regarding unemployment.

Being faced with some of these same challenges it became awkwardly clear how horrible our economic system actually is AND not just because of Covid. You have to be able to afford the life you had before you lost your job - it is that simple. If you made $50K a year and have a family and a mortgage you actually should not take a minimum wage job. 1. health insurance will certainly bring your paycheck well below a survivable amount and 2. That paycheck will also disqualify you for state-aid, at least on unemployment you can usually qualify for state insurance which is discounted or free then you can live off your unemployment funds i.e. feed your family. There are several other reasons the system sucks but you get the point.


So these were the conversations that began taking place in our house around November. We applied for state-aid & insurance, never thought we would be doing that! And we were embarking on this spider web of scenarios to see how far we could go on as things were, as well as determining what we NEEDED not wanted but NEEDED in order for us to basically not lose our farm. Another challenge we faced was living in a small town - good paying jobs are few and far between here.

We were having positive conversations too, amongst the worry. For starters we knew we could live in a trailer and still be happy so long as we were all together (been there done that!) Also our home had increased in value so we were not bottom up, we would just need to sell the farm in order to get on our feet again.

And that is when Ryan’s friend who lived with us for that one week, informed him that their company was still hiring. In fact the job that Ryan’s friend moved out here for was one that Ryan too had been contacted to apply for but the opportunity was missed. It took nearly two months, but alas Ryan now has a really good job.

We are blessed that the farm is secure, in fact more secure than when the pandemic started. We are off state-aid, yay! The scary after thought was being reminded of advice nearly every financial advisor gives “have enough money SAVED to be jobless for three-six months”. If that is the rule most American’s followed up to the pandemic… Let me be clear and blunt, Ryan and I had enough money saved to make it SEVENTEEN months without jobs AND we still ended up in a financial predicament. If nothing had happened we would have had to sell our farm no later than November of 2021.

This pandemic is going to end but the trauma and impacts on families who’ve been affected (my guess is all but 1%), will last decades. Ryan and I both know 100% for certain that there have been significant impacts on our kids and they are only 1,3, & 4. As our lives move back to a little bit of normalcy and as our financial situation stabilizes, I am witnessing the early stages of healing in our family, may the healing continue.

Until next week…

Be Kind. Be Positive.

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