The pandemic has affected all of us but I am impressed that North Dakotans, who are used to freedom, have tried so hard to abide by the rules to avoid spreading the virus. People have indeed stayed at home and maintained distance from each other.
The city of Sims has been especially careful. We have not had a ball game, a concert, or a public dance since all of this started. The most action I have seen around here was a couple days ago when I saw my eight-year-old neighbor, Gentry, riding her pony bareback and galloping across the pasture. She was going so fast no virus could keep up with her.
I have been thankful so many times that I live in rural North Dakota. It is a lot easier to maintain social distancing here, yet still no worry about finding food to eat. I still can work all I want to and am used to not having much income anyway.
The news is seldom good, but it is frightening to see many hundreds of cars lined up in the big cities just to get a box of food. We haven’t had that happen in this area, but it is apparent that even us rural Americans could easily run out of food in a time of national crisis.
I remember a time, not so long ago, when anyone could walk out into the country side from any North Dakota city or town and come back in a short time with a gallon of milk, quart of cream, a freshly butchered chicken, a dozen eggs, a sack of potatoes, and probably some part of a hog. There isn’t much to eat in rural North Dakota any more.
Take a drive anywhere in the state and see how long it takes to see a milk cow or smell a hog barn. When was the last time you drove by a farm yard and saw a chicken? When was the last time you had the pleasure of eating a farm-raised chicken?
How long has it been since your local town has had a processing plant? If you do have a local slaughter plant, what is the waiting time to have a beef or hog processed.
It is scary to see the big processing plants shut down due to the corona virus. It is terrible to think of milk dumped, and hogs and poultry killed because there is no place to process them.
I have had the luxury all my life to know where my food came from. I can still remember my mom proudly telling guests at her table that everything she served except the flour to bake the bread came off of our ranch. I really like knowing where my food was raised. I seldom shop for groceries but if I do, I check to see where it came from. I don’t want to eat meat that comes from parts of the world where food safety is questionable.
I once checked some fish at a grocery store. It said “farm raised” on the label which sounded good, “packaged in Seattle” which sounded fine, then said “product of China.” I had no more interest in this product.
The loss of the small family farm has eliminated a lot of food in rural America and eliminated a lot of people who knew how to process it.
There was a time when almost everyone knew someone who could help them butcher a hog and I knew hundreds of women who knew the first thing she had to do to prepare a chicken dinner was to find her axe.