Everything in One Place

I can’t stand to watch the news anymore. At first because of the rising epidemic that was gripping the globe and threatening the lives of people I hold dear. Every report was a reminder that my 94-year-old grandmother was in a retirement community with existing respiratory issues. It made me sick worrying about her and my other grandparents, not to mention my parents who are no longer the fresh daisies they once were (no offence Dad, facts are facts). Now I can’t stand to watch the news because there is literally worse and worse news coming every day- and it’s not exclusively condensed to the News stations! I can’t open up a social media app without the bombardment of negativity.

Now, I have my own troubles to worry about beyond international news. I have to go on living my life, as most people have had to do. In the beginning I sort of laughed and said ‘Social Isolation? I’m already actively doing that. No worries here!’ But the truth of it is, the farming community can’t really handle further isolation than we’ve been dealing with. Our churches, clubs and organizations once a week, maybe one a month, are what keep us going. Mental health issues were already a major problem in our community, driven partly by the high stress we endure daily and the lack of human interaction we get. Now, with everything that’s happened, we are more alone than ever with nowhere to turn. I have never felt more alone than in these past few months. I used to drive to town and see friends, go to federation meetings, community event meetings, etc. Now I have none of that. It’s just me. I don’t even have my mother at this point, the person I have always worked alongside. I’m too nervous of contaminating her because I’m married to an essential worker.

Social media has been key in helping people stay connected through these times. It’s been the only way to stay in touch with some people. I’m guilty of spending a lot more time there. I check in on friends, see how everyones fairing, and that works as best as it can. Now though, logging into social media only causes more stress. The flooding of opinions and fighting has taken over each and every platform. Whether it be for the epidemic, or the current protests going on for the Black Lives Matter movement. Everyone feels the need to weigh in on these things which has me pulling further and further away from it.

There is already so much to worry about in my small little world that logging into Facebook is now a groaning task. Crops need to be planted, cows need to be fed, hay needs to be cut, the list goes on and on, it never stopped for us. I know I’m not alone when I say I literally cannot handle the weight of the world’s issues. I cannot handle reading about how society is falling apart, people are picking sides, the epidemic is still happening but nobody seems to care anymore, when I’m worried about beef processing issues, where I’m going to take my animals, what will these crops be worth, how am I going to pay the bills if this doesn’t work out, can I really afford to keep farming?

I have to try to focus on the sunny days. I get to live a beautiful life right now, even if the costs are high. I want to look out over a freshly planted field and just be satisfied with a job well done instead of feeling miserable, weighed down, depressed even. We, as farmers are so very lucky in so many ways and it’s important to try to keep focus on those blessings instead of all the hurt in the world. To worry about what you aren’t doing or what you’re not saying on top of everything else you’re going through will only make you sick. My recommendation? Turn off the news, unplug the phones, just sit out on a grassy hill and watch the cows eat. It’s the best we can do right now, for ourselves and for others. Who will feed the world when its farmers are burnt out and broken down?

What are you doing to get through these times? Does the News cause you distress or does it help you keep everything in perspective?

I hope everyone is getting along out there and staying healthy. If you ever want to chat my doors always open, and by door I mean emails.

Camping is one of those activities you either love or you hate. I absolutely LOVE camping. It’s something my Dad did with my sisters and I every summer and we always had so much fun. My Mum, on the other hand, couldn’t stand it. She gladly opted out of the experience after my parents separated and never looked back. As a kid I thought it was just a farmer thing that I didn’t understand yet, but now, as an adult and a farmer I can see a little more clearly what it is each of my parents got out of the camping experience.

For my Dad, it was a sort of vacation. He was a nine to fiver, a city commute driver, and a work hard to get to that vacation type of guy. My dad loves the outdoors, when we were small he loved teaching us things about nature and how to camp properly, he taught us many skills that I still use today and I think he takes pride in that. Camping also gave him freedom. It’s a time to eat nothing but barbecued meats, snacks of potato chips and penny candies, and of course, so much beer. I love camping for those things too, I love the lawlessness of ‘who needs veggies? We’re camping!’ Or ‘who needs a shower? We’re camping!’ Or ‘Hotdogs three days in a row? We’re camping!’. It’s such a brief time that it’s just enough to recharge you before heading back to the real world and I can really appreciate his need to do that.

For my Mum, camping was an unnecessary headache. Being a full time farmer, leaving the farm for any stretch of time is always stressful. There is so much you could be doing back home and it’s all you can think about sometimes. It’s also kind of frustrating to go camping at a provincial park when you literally live in the middle of nowhere. Why pay to sleep in a tent ten feet away from another family when you could sleep in your own bed with no neighbours? My mother couldn’t understand the difference between playing outside at a campground all day, and playing outside around the farm all day. I see her point as well, especially since I can relate more to her situation than my Dad’s.

So I have to ask myself: is it really worth packing up the car to unpack the car and set everything up for three days of… nothing really? Especially when my occupation has me spending all my time outside anyway? Or I could just put on a fire in the back yard and take a hike through the woods by my house.

I think camping as a farmer can still be fun. I still understand that need my Dad has to step away from work and disconnect, even if our work lives are very different. In order to love camping you first need to accept and appreciate the work of it. Setting up the tent is annoying and difficult sometimes but there’s pride when it’s up and it holds against the rain. It’s all a very light experiment in survival and in that there is something fun. Plus, when the work is done you’re rewarded by relaxing by a fire, or a beach, or a taking a nature walk, or napping all day- it’s the reward of freedom. Sure, sleeping on a deflated air mattress leaves something to be desired, and yeah, I’m used to the kind raccoons that hide in the hay mow, not come up to my campfire for treats but, it’s an experience. You build memories from it. Some of the best memories of my childhood, or my life, have been camping. It was bonding time with my Dad, it was learning to fish, it was teaching my husband how to roast a perfect marshmallow the first time we went together.

I think above all, I love camping because it gives me positive nostalgic feelings. I remember all the lessons learned, all the fish caught, all the racoons thwarted and ultimately I want to create new fun memories with my husband and our future kids. Sure there may be years where it rains the whole time, or a skunk gets us in the night, but even those memories are ones you can look back on and laugh. So, yeah, even though I could easily do a lot of the camping experience at home around the farm- it really isn’t the same, and quite honestly, it’s 2020. Farmer’s need vacations too, whatever they want that to be.

Sadly, this year I don’t think we will be taking that yearly trip to Charleston Lake due to the current epidemic. I think I’ll survive though- We have so many more years of camping left in us!

What are your thoughts on camping? Pivotal to the life-shaping experience or something to skip? Leave a comment with your opinion, or just share a funny camping story!

When I wasn't in the barn with my Mum I was next door at my Grandparent's house.

My Grandma ran her own business running travel tours and was a pretty busy woman. I was the kind of kid who used my imagination to pass the time for endless hours. I was enamoured with my Grandma's typewriter, which she used to make her flyers, so she gave me her old typewriter to have as a toy when I was there. She knew I loved to write stories and draw pictures so she gave me pencils, whatever highlighters she had lying around, and set me to work. I made so many stories, I felt like an honest to goodness professional author. I was typing away and drawing those pictures and utilizing whatever random stationary she had to put the finished product together. I was so proud of those pieces.

Now here I am, still writing little stories and puting books together.

What was something you did as a kid that shaped who you were going to be as an adult?