Some things changed when COVID-19 struck

A lot of people have been watching television and were very aware of the movement of the coronavirus from its first detection in China. We thought “that is away over there in China, it won’t get over here.”
By March 14, as we watched the movement across Europe and then into North America, we were prepared for announcements from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and then all levels of government that we had to restrict travel, avoid large gatherings and very quickly COVID-19 was in every province and corner of Canada.
Schools and universities closed. Restaurant seating was reduced to 50 per cent and then changed to take-out only just a couple of days after. Vacationers were advised to return home as soon as possible but found that some airlines had closed up shop and the remaining ones quickly began to inflate ticket prices.
Drastic measures were put in place to reduce the spread of the deadly disease like: self-distancing of two metres, enforced isolation for 14 days for everyone returning from another country, washing your hands often and extremely well, most eye appointments, veterinarians, dentists and doctors’ offices and even hospitals closed their doors except for real emergencies and by appointment.
Streets and cities became almost empty even in rush hour as most businesses were shut down and most people self-isolated at home. Only essential services remained at work and only at a reduced staff.
However, as I look out the windows of our farmhouse, the TMR feed mixer truck has already passed and fed the first load of feed to the milk cows by six a.m. and will feed several more loads before dinner. The truck from our concentrate supplier brought a load of supplement on Friday. The bulk milk tanker truck still comes every second day to draw the milk from the farm to the processor. The fuel truck brought fuel last week. All owners and employees arrive every day to feed, milk, artificially inseminate cows on time and look after all the animals.
Seed and fertilizer needs for spring must be calculated and ordered. Machinery must be repaired and ready for spring planting because animals and people must be fed next year. Even though the roads are almost completely empty of traffic, the snow plow fleets and drivers are ready to keep our roads ready for whatever.
When anything, like milking equipment, feeding and cleaning equipment, water system, electrical equipment or anything else needed to maintain the farm so it can keep the animals fed, clean, watered and happy so they can produce that tank of milk every day breaks or don’t work, it must be fixed PDQ (pretty darn quick). The backup generator and the tractor that drives it must be ready 24-7, summer or winter, just in case. Our veterinarian is still on call because animals need emergency help too.
Most meetings of farm organizations and other groups that can, have switched to teleconferencing and videoconferencing instead of face-to-face meetings. Technology has allowed us to do this and reduced travel costs too. Buy as much local as possible.
Be safe, be kind, check on your neighbours and the elderly. Call, don’t visit friends and the retirement home. There are lots of predictions but nobody really knows how many weeks, months or years that this COVID-19 pandemic will be with us.

Chris Judd is a farmer in Clarendon on land that has been in his family for generations.


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