Country people don’t call it Coronavirus or COVID-19. They refer to it as: ‘That s—t thing that is going around.’
I replied to the friend who sent this by asking if she had been at our kitchen table the evening before. She replied no, but had found herself and her husband calling it what we called it.
While this s—t thing continues, here on the farm nothing has really changed. Life continues, cows are milked, feed arrives, milk leaves. The protocols for suppliers, drivers and salesmen arriving here has altered the same as routines for ordering and picking up feed and parts has too. All in all though, it is all manageable. We are all exceedingly fortunate.
For me, the assigned shopper, trips to town are less frequent and a cloth, washable mask is always worn. It has become a piece of standard apparel now, like my leather gloves. The ever-present line-ups I only endure because I am getting two weeks’ shopping. Using “curb-side pickup” and ordering online is fine but it takes ages to get anything, plus one has to trust photos and descriptions and I don’t. I want to actually see and compare.
It is frustrating that it now takes as long as four or five days to fill telephone orders. When I want something, I want it today. Fortunately, we have an on-farm sawmill and planer.
Consider those in nursing homes like my husband’s mother. She turned 102 on March 21, just after the lockdown took effect. No family visiting, no party, no celebration. She has difficulty on a phone due to hearing aids so does not have one in her room but a nurse allows her to hear one of her sons periodically. Her first question is always: “How is everyone?”
A granddaughter turned six on April 25. No big party, no friends over. Just a special day spent with her seven siblings and parents. Not the same for a six-year-old.
Our daughter is one of only five still working daily in her office. It is too quiet she says, and misses the good-natured bantering that takes place in a work place. She is the lone representative in her department now, so spends most of her time answering the phone to placate callers who cannot, or will not, understand how and why things have changed. The days are long.
My friend of over 40 years lives in a one-bedroom, basement apartment in Cornwall with her two cats. She admits that after over a month of being house bound she is going stir crazy. How many times can you walk in circles from hall to living room to dining area to kitchen and back to the hall . . . followed by two curious cats? “Mum has lost her marbles!” their looks say! We talk a few times a week and have some laughs, but it does not replace the almost-weekly breakfasts we used to share in Lancaster.
She shops once a week and walks in the grassy area around her complex, always wearing a mask. Parks are all closed so that is her greenery. We meet in the parking lot every two weeks when I take her eggs, and talk across the hood of my car — both us wearing masks. For long-time friends, it seems weird. Her parking area is now full of cars during the day, attesting to everyone else who is confined to their apartments.
To make the hours pass, she knits and crochets for friends. Volunteer work used to take up her days. Now it is needlework. Buy her the wool and supply a pattern or use one of hers and she will make what you want. I will owe her so many breakfasts when this is over.
Those of us living and working in the country should consider ourselves extremely lucky. We have hundreds of acres to walk, things to do and still receive a paycheque. Life does go on and sometime, eventually, this pandemic too shall pass.
Angela Dorie is an agricultural writer and a Jersey farmer near Cornwall.