Farmers: Show homebound town and city people something to smile about

What you're doing today could help cheer up the rest of our society

It’s spring. Snow is melting. In some places like here on the eastern Prairies it’s getting nice enough to spend time outside just sitting in the sun.

It’s Easter. It’s a time of rebirth and hope for a new year.

It probably doesn’t seem much like that in millions of houses and apartments in the towns and cities of Canada right now. People are stuck indoors, self-isolating, socially distancing, home-schooling their kids. Anxiety and tensions are high. People are cooped up, worried about their elderly or health-challenged relatives and friends, fearing unemployment and business failure. Worst of all, perhaps, is the complete lack of clarity about when things will return to “normal” after this virus passes through. All our normal patterns, habits and rituals seem broken or under threat.

Not everything is, though, and that helps. Yesterday my 11 year-old daughter read scriptures for my church’s Palm Sunday service, and that lifted my family’s spirits, and from what I heard, the service – highlighting the church’s youth and families – raised the spirits of many in the congregation. None of them were in the church during the service. We weren’t there. It was all online. But Sunday was still Sunday, Palm Sunday was celebrated. Our rituals, spiritual renewal and yearly cycles continue.

Something else wholesome and rejuvenating is happening outside our towns and cities: farmers are getting ready to put in another crop, as well as lambing, calving and undertaking whatever it is they usually do at this time of year. None of those natural cycles of soil and livestock life have changed. For farmers it can be comforting to have those tasks in front of them at a fraught time, despite bad prices and worries about the future. If you have a crop to put in, you don’t have the luxury of sitting around navel-gazing, worrying about coronavirus. If you have calves to watch or ewes to lamb you’ve got your hands full. That’s often the best therapy for anxiety: keep busy. Farmers don’t have a choice, but that can be a good thing too. There’s too much to do to get too distracted about this thing.

And I’m seeing manifestations of that reality on Twitter. Lots of farmers are posting photos and video of their seeding prep and livestock activities right now, and that’s refreshing and joyful.

That’s something worth sharing not just with fellow farmers, but also with the housebound, apartment-bound and institution-bound. Many of those people need wholesome, joyful distractions and what you’re doing these days would fit the bill for most. Why not share more of the positive, productive things you’re doing right now through whatever kinds of social media you do? Email photos to city friends, perhaps. I’ve been avoiding the endless grind of COVID-19 stories in mainstream media by following other strands of public discussion, and one of my favourites has been farmers on Twitter posting images from this spring. Today I enjoyed looking at pictures posted by farmers and ag-related people from all over, including Chris Macfarlane, Murray Froebe and Gareth Wyn Jones.

Why don’t you join them and post some joyful spring farm life images and video? It might cheer up some folks who don’t have much to distract them from the endless anxieties all about these days. Share stuff that makes you happy.

The world hasn’t ended. Nature, life and the cycles of birth and rebirth haven’t ended. It probably just seems that way to some and you can perhaps help break them out of it.

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