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Farm concerns provide pandemic distractionsFarm concerns provide pandemic distractions

The Back 40: The ordinary worries with life on the farm.

Gail C. Keck

June 5, 2020

3 Min Read
Cow grazing in pasture
CUD, NOT COVID: For cows, there are more important things to do than worry about COVID-19.Photos by Gail C. Keck

Isn’t it interesting how the world had many problems back in early March. Then suddenly, only one problem got all the attention. That’s how it is with existential threats, but all the everyday worries of the world aren’t magically solved just because we’re more worried about something else.

Gradually, ordinary concerns start creeping in again, which at least gives us a break from thinking about COVID-19. And, even with an ongoing pandemic, most of the things we worry about turn out to be manageable anyway.

LIVESTOCK DISTRACTION: Caring for livestock and doing other farm chores offer an alternative to thinking about the pandemic.

Around here, there’s always something:

• That tractor tire looks low.
• No, your hair doesn’t look bad — just wet it down and comb it.
• We can’t put the cows out on pasture until we get those fallen trees off the fence.
• The 10-acre field has a tile blowout that could swallow a tractor.
• I know, it’s time to be getting in the field — but it’s too wet.

• Why does that tractor tire look low again?
• If I take an old N95 mask out of the barn, will people in town think I’m depriving health care workers?
• The bull has his head stuck in the feed bunk.
• I think there’s a skunk under the back porch.
• It’s too wet.

• One of the big fans at the pig barn won’t come on.
• Blue shop towels might seem like a good filter, but I can’t breathe through this thing.
• Are we going to have to pull that calf?
• The No. 1 feed bin has a spot on the side rusting through.
• It’s almost dry enough, but it’s so cold.

• Fixing it is going to cost how much?!
• How much is a new one?
• How quick can they get it?
• It’s dry enough, but the seed’s just going to sit there because it’s so cold.
• Why is it so cold?

• If we don’t get some gravel for the drive, somebody’s going to break an axle.
• Is that calf doing OK? She doesn’t look too perky.
• Well, maybe you could use a trim, but we’re not going anywhere anyway.
• I think the dog got too close to the skunk.
• Is the corn up?

• What’s the difference? The price will suck anyway.
• That calf won’t eat — we’re going to have to drench her.
• Get that dog out of the house! He still smells like skunk.
• No, I’m not hungry — my stomach hurts.
• Is the corn up?

• Oh, wow, even with the biggest guard these clippers cut shorter than I thought.
• Should I buy more milk replacer while I’m in town, or wait to see if the calf makes it?
• Since when have digestive problems been a symptom of COVID-19?
• Dang! What’s on the end of those Q-tips? Steel wool?
• I know no-till takes longer, but it should be up.

• Of course, the test is negative. I’ve barely left home since March.
• That short spot should grow out by the time we go anywhere anyway.
• The calf made it — somebody has to go to town for milk replacer.
• Did you see? The corn’s up.

Keck writes from Raymond, Ohio.

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