Remember in high school and college how much you could cram in that last few weeks before the exam? It’s only about three weeks ago on March 14 that we really got the message that COVID-19 was all over the world and we had to fight it like a war. We were advised to reduce travel and all contact with people because it was an invisible foe that travelled in tiny invisible droplets in the air and on surfaces. Anyone that could, was advised to self-isolate at home.
Panic buying set in as people began stocking up for many items. First off, the shelves were empty of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Within days milk, bottled water, sanitizer wipes and beef began to be in short supply. People learned that tap water could be used as drinking water too.
If you didn’t go out much then we learned that washing hands with soap and water worked as well as hand sanitizer. Trees were still being turned into toilet paper and that shortage was short lived.
Canadian milk boards immediately gave the farmers more quota to produce more milk and within a week, dairy farms were dumping surplus milk down the drain. Surplus milk and cheese were also donated to food banks that were quickly noticing an increase in people who had lost the jobs coming for help. Egg farmers, potato farmers, beef farms and other farmers also donated to food banks. Milk that used to go to schools in little cartons and was delivered to restaurants in giant plastic bags was no longer needed because schools, colleges and restaurants were closing down. Half the total sales of milk had went to these establishments and those sales dried up. Many of the milk processing plants had dedicated a lot of their equipment to fill these packages and some of this equipment could not be changed to fill packages normally purchased in stores. More than half the butter had been used by restaurants who supplied those little round butter packs with every meal. Pizza companies bought shredded cheese in gigantic plastic sacks that cannot be sold in grocery stores.
When dairy farmers stood and watched thousands of litres of milk and dollars going down the drain, they soon remembered how to make their own butter, cheese and yogurt.
Many companies quickly adjusted so that most workers could work from home by computer. Because of this and many people cooped up at home using the internet for information and entertainment, the internet was being overloaded and sometimes slowed down or even crashed. So many people were at home that gas sales plummeted and so did gas prices and stock markets. At insurance companies collision claims dropped because cars don’t run into each other when they are parked. Tire shops and all other automobile sales and repair shops suddenly became empty.
People learned that they could eat less, waste less and live on less. We learned that all looters and phone scammers were not all just small time crooks. We learned that although cattle prices dropped by more than a third, meat prices the store didn’t. Somebody was scamming the system. Local abattoirs and direct farmer to consumer meat sales increased.
Recipes have been traded on Facebook, bread and cookies have been made, and families have learned that home cooked meals taste better and are better for you than what is sold in fast food restaurants. A phone call from a friend or to an elderly shut-in is truly appreciated. Churches have quickly discovered new ways to allow us to appreciate the important things in this world, be there for communities, offer someone to lean on when this added stress gets you down and show us that the church is much more than a nice building.
We have learned that our front-liners like nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, firemen and police really do have nerves of steel. We have learned that clean air, fresh water, nutritious food and a roof over our head are our necessities. My dad had a saying: it’s no disgrace to be poor but sometimes it’s very unhandy. A little money is needed too.
Local song writers, singers, and musicians began streaming from kitchens and living rooms with music that can compare with professionals. In less than a month we have learned that family and friends are the best things in life and are not expensive.
Be safe and stay at home.
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