I wasn’t going to write about anything associated with COVID-19 or our new “normal” this week, but I must be honest. I write about my life and what I know, and this whole pandemic and life associated with it is most of what my life is and has become. While there is a lot of negative with this and a lot of pain and suffering, there has been a lot of silver linings and good things that have surfaced, too.
Those of us in agriculture are pretty good at social distancing, especially this time of the year. Other than not going to church on Sunday, I am not sure that it really has had much of an effect on my life. I will say that we are going on five or six weeks of not physically being in a church, and that is the longest period of my entire life. I have plenty to do at home and I am appreciating my extra college help these days, so the temptation to leave the farm is low.
I have noticed a change in my daily habits as this stay-at-home order stays in place. I find myself moving away from talk radio and news programs. When I am in the pickup and tractor, I listen to a lot more music these days — especially older music. When I am at home, I have now watched almost every episode of “Gunsmoke” and most other movies and shows like it. The last couple of nights I have found myself turning the TV off. I’ve started to read one of the books I accumulated over the years and never found the time to read.
We have done a lot of more cooking meals and a lot less eating out. And you know what? I have lost weight. No, it’s not an indication of the cooking but of the fact that the meals we prepare are a lot healthier than the ones we buy. I also have decided that I can get used to being home most nights and on the go a lot less. I would bet that most of us have found out there are other ways of getting stuff done rather than face-to-face meetings. No, not all the fallout from this pandemic has been bad.
I fear we are a bit insulated from the bad things here in the Heartland. That is both good and bad. I would much rather ride this out here in rural America than in a big city, but it is easy to think of it as a crisis that doesn’t affect us. Until it touches us directly, and I pray that it does not, it is easy to think that it might not be real or might just be a big-city problem. Honestly, I am subject to the same doubts many of you have. We have a lot more time to think, and that is not always a good thing.
No, I am not sure of a lot of things and I am worried about things financially more than I am health-wise. It will take a long time to recover from this. However, I am not sure it does any of us any good to focus on the bad news. We need to be aware of it, but it should not dominate our lives. I have already pointed out several good things that have come about in my life because of this, and I bet many of you can think of similar things in your life. Not everything about this crisis is gloom and doom.
Please don’t think I am being unrealistic about what is going on. It is bad — really bad. There is a lot of pain — both physically and mentally — out there and we have all been affected by it. What I am simply saying is that we have a choice on how we view our current state. We can be miserable and worried, or we can go on with life, enjoy the positives and take care of each day as it comes. That is what I recommend.
Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at email@example.com.