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Farming in a pandemic: How we’re adjusting to the new normal

Kyle Stackhouse Men working near storage tanks
How COVID-19 has changed our farm operation.

As I write this on Wednesday, our county’s first case of COVID-19 was just confirmed. It’s been all around us for a couple of weeks, but not here.

Our bookkeeper hasn’t been in for a couple of weeks. She went to hunker down with family. I don’t blame her. She is in the higher risk age group.

Yesterday we began working a plan for her to work remotely. We decided if we could email pictures or scans of invoices, etc., she would be able keep entries in QuickBooks up to date, keep the accounts reconciled, and get checks sent out.

Kyle StackhouseThe kids went on a hike down the lane and did some fishing.

The kids went on a hike down the lane and did some fishing.

Equipment ‘permission slips’

Monday, we spent some time writing a ‘permission slip’ for all the farm vehicles and employees. As I’m sure you know, Ag is considered ‘Essential Infrastructure’ -- we were formally recognized as such late last week. So we continue to haul grain, take deliveries, and prep for spring planting.

That being said, we are still taking reasonable precautions. Sometimes social distancing is impossible as we work, but we do the best we can. We order many parts online. Most local retailers are operating on a call-in basis only. We call them and the parts are on the loading dock when we get there.

In the event we do have to go in store, I’m sure I look a bit silly wearing disposable grease gloves, but I have even less interest in pulling a cart around or touching a card reader than I did before our current situation.

With spring nearly upon us, none of us can afford down-time or a 14-day quarantine. So, even though we’re essential, we try not to make any extra trips.

Kyle StackhouseThe kids went on a hike.

The kids are homeschooled, but COVID-19 is still impacting their routine.

On the home front, we went from go-go-going 6 or 7 days a week, to flat nothing in just a matter of a few days. Even though our kids are homeschooled, it’s still an adjustment. Every day I ask the kids if they went out to the gym, aka the shop (I’m hoping they burned up some extra energy).

Yesterday, the kids went on a hike down the lane and did some fishing. Honestly, it’s probably the biggest adjustment for the kids -- they used to go everywhere, but now they go nowhere. It’s just a statistics thing. If extra people go somewhere, the risk is greater.

On a lighter note, I haven’t had to shave in 10 days!

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
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