The year of COVID-19

Here on the farm, we just like the rest of you have been dealing with the changes around the entire world due to this pandemic.   So many new phrases, “social distancing”,” new normal” the list goes on and on.  Something that we as an entire world have had to endure together in so many ways, but differently in so many others. 

Here on the farm I originally thought that it really wouldn’t change too much for us, we can pretty well go about our daily schedule and just do life.  I can’t imagine those who live in an apartment.  Life without very much time outside, without seeing other people.  We do consider ourselves very fortunate here.  We have been able to keep a fairly normal schedule, although it is a “new normal” even for us. 

The kids have definitely gone through a time of mourning, as they haven’t been able to see their friends in person, go to church, or band practice, or extra home school activities that were such an integral part of our lives before.  As a mom, the chauffeur for all these activities, I have enjoyed the break and the reduction in the gas intake for my van.  I have also seen them deal with their fears, as they worry that one of us could get this, and have pondered the possibility of death.

 We have even saved money during this time, on gas, on eating out, and most definitely on food, by taking advantage of the school lunch program, that has been made available to any person under the age of 18.  Where before I would cook almost daily, and cook above and beyond to have leftovers for lunches, now I only need to cook a few days a week.  Wonderful for the budget and my stress level.

I think that it actually in some crazy way has drawn all of us closer together.  Maybe my mind will eventually gain insight as to how this happened.

As I have reflected over the past few months, taking note of the things that we have been fortunate about and the things that we have struggled with; my thoughts went to past times of pandemics, past ways of doing things.  Especially as we try to find ways to live off the farm that we have here, how would our lives have been different a hundred years ago.  Let’s take a look…

United States 1920 – just a few facts.

                *Coincidentally the world was coming out of one of the greatest pandemics ever known – the Spanish Flu, it infected about 27% of the worlds population, killing an estimated 50 million people. 

                *Life expectancy in 1920 was only around 54, while today it’s an average of around 79. 

                *Worth mentioning since the Inman’s business is related to the automotive industry, the 20’s brought great advancement in the Auto industry, creating a huge amount of jobs between manufacturing of cars, roads, and the necessary steel industry.  Women were a huge amount of this new workforce.

                *August of 1920 brought the passing of women’s right to vote.

                *Radios were a huge source of entertainment, as shows were brought into living rooms all  across America.   Look where we are today with this pandemic, so much of connecting with others happens via internet into our living rooms.

                *A “lady” would never be without her hat and gloves, hmmmmmm, here we are today in masks and gloves.

                *In 1920 women typically worked as teachers, nurses and maids, while men were mostly farmers, doctors, lawyers and bankers.  I think Tara & I do all these jobs and more right here on  Surry Hills Farm.

Let ‘s dig a litter deeper and look more specifically at farm life.  During the 20’s farm life was embraced by over 1/2 of the American population.  Each member of the family had chores or work on the farm, not much different that life here with us.   Women, while still tending to the house and those in it also did chores on the farm.  Women made sure everyone else was prepared and had all that was necessary for them to do their chores.  I see more resemblance here.

Children, after feeding animals, gathering eggs, etc would walk up to 4 miles to attend school.  Well, at least our kids just have to walk from the barn to the cabin for that. 

Also, during this time things were starting to be made easier by the use of electricity and plumbing, although farms were generally a little slower to get these things  than those living in the city.  Someone would be in charge of keeping outhouses functional, and guess what….. there was no toilet paper (here we are again.)

In the spring (the time we are in right now) it was a time for new births, plowing, preparing fields, making bread, gardening.  Milk was obtained from cows, chickens were available for eggs and meat.  Not too different from what we are currently living.  I am admittedly glad we have been able to continue to utilize our local stores and markets.

Summer would bring fishing, hunting, canning & preserving of foods.  There would be beekeeping (I just took a class for this.)  Washing clothes could happen outside comfortably, as opposed to inside where it’s messy, thank goodness for our modern day washer and drier.

Later in the summer would come threshing season which would bring with it time socializing as this was usually done with neighbors, everyone pitching in.  Women making lots of food to feed these hungry workers.  Doing things in community is definitely the way God created us to be.  We are very thankful for the people He has placed around us to help us with this farm. 

Fall would bring about a whole new level of work.   Corn would be handpicked and later used to feed the farm animals.  Harvest would happen and prep for cold winter months.  Late fall would be used for repairing barns and animal lodgings.  This would be a time for butchering of animals, all the animal would be used, if not for meat then for other items.  Fat from hogs was used to make soap, or be burnt as fuel for lighting.  Lots of wood would need to be prepped for winter cooking and heating. 

Winter – some would harvest ice, repairs to  fences would be made.  Joel can tell you lots about repairing fences, it is definitely a year round job here.  Due to shorter days there would be a great lack of lighting, lots of animal fats would be burned to create light.  But, it won’t be enough, and depression usually runs high in the winter.  Much like depression has spiked during this pandemic. 

I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the things that are so very similar here on the farm, from life in the 1920’s, but I’ve also thought of all the advantages we have now; we don’t have to make our own clothes, we can buy tools and equipment already made.  Processed and packaged foods are easy to pick up or even have delivered to our homes.   Fuel is as available as a five minute drive off the farm. 

I have enjoyed a little of how this pandemic has made life  simpler, not so chaotic, no running here and there every day of the week.  I think it is good for us to think of life in the simpler terms.   God has used this time to teach us, to teach Tara and myself, to teach all the kids, to grow us all, together and individually.  For me, with all the necessary times of going out, I believe I had started looking at it as necessary time for the two families to have a break from each other, which I knew down deep there was just something off about that thinking.  Now, we simply know we are all just going to be here, and it has somehow grown us into a deeper, better relationship.  It is all God, not something any of us did.  It has been a time of renewal, and even revival.

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