LONDON — We’re eight months into pandemic restrictions and people are getting fed up, especially in rural areas where very few people are getting sick.
Social gatherings and church services were cancelled for months. Restaurants and other services were shuttered. So, Farmers Forum asked farmers about their biggest COVID headache. Everyone’s situation is different. Filling on-farm jobs has been an ongoing challenge for local farms. COVID restrictions made things worse.
“My biggest headache from COVID was with obtaining regular supplies. It was much harder to just drive to town and procure things like we used to. Tires are becoming harder to get for big equipment. Lumber to build things is hard to find and expensive. Some parts are back-ordered because companies shut down.
“A big issue I had was getting N95 disposable masks. There weren’t any. When we go into grain bins you must wear a mask. I had to go in myself in place of my employees one time, with a mask I had worn several times.”
— Jeff Barlow, Crop farmer, York, Ont.
The farming network that hangs around the coffee shop, mill, feed store. Those discussions, those conversations aren’t happening. That farmer-to-farmer network has somewhat disappeared. It does close your world somewhat. And in general terms, those outlets were a relief for farmers, a stress reliever. That is a concern of mine in general. Noticed it myself as well.
— Marcel Meyer, Crop farmer, London, Ont.
“Managing employees. Making sure everyone feels comfortable and everyone’s abiding by the rules. Getting materials has been tough. We own a construction company. We feed a lot of mouths. We take responsibility that those families can eat, for people to get paychecks at the end of the day. We hedge ourselves pretty good. But still, you take responsibility over everyone involved. For the most part though, projects carried on, and people wanted work done very bad.”
— Brad Langstaff, Crop farmer, Sombra, Ont.
“We’ve got nothing else to do, so we might as well keep farming. We have a chicken barn that was cut back by 15 per cent. But other than that, really, it’s no negative effect on our farm operation. Everything’s pretty well shut down. We’re usually season ticket holders for Junior A. It hasn’t been going. You don’t go to too many restaurants, so you stay at home and work.
— Tom Wilson, Crop, beef, chicken farmer, Corunna, Ont.
“Little things like picking up parts were affected. It just took a little bit of getting used to. In some ways it’s more efficient. Instead of going to the counter, chatting about the rain the night before, you show up, pick up the parts you need and you’re back home again. I kinda enjoy talking to people, you miss that part of it.
— Chris Renwick, Crop farmer. Wheatley, Ont.
“I guess in the spring, it was trying to get parts. You couldn’t just go in and grab a part, you had to make sure you knew what you needed. All the dealerships were trying to work with everybody, but you couldn’t go into the building. It’s settled down somewhat, but you still need a mask, you can’t just go walking in and talk to somebody. You get somebody to let you in, they come out and talk to you. It was a real concern in the spring.
“When you broke something you broke something, (and it) wasn’t a case of just going into the dealership to pick it up. They had to find it for you and you had to hope they had it. That’s pretty well it.
“We’re isolated, we’ve got grandkids, we’re isolated from the grandkids. And I mean, when you work with different people, even dealing with fertilizer or seed or whatever, it’s just another hoop to jump through.”
— Larry Lynn. Crop farmer, Exeter, Ont.