Distraction can be a terrible thing, such as when operating machinery or driving.
But there are times when distraction can be a blessing, especially if the distraction is away from woes and hardship and toward a happy, productive task.
That’s what a lot of farm families are experiencing now, I think, as the busyness of spring seeding is giving them little free time to worry about COVID-19 and its complications.
I’ve noticed a markedly different tone recently among the farm families I know compared to urbanites. There’s a great deal of doom and dread hanging over many people in cities and towns as they grapple with unemployment, shuttered businesses, cooped up conditions in small houses and apartments, ghostly streets and quiet public areas.
Meanwhile, the crop farming families I know and chat with are pre-occupied with getting in the crop. There are so many things to do at this time of year and most of those are happy things.
Unless it’s bad weather stopping people getting the job done, most of the tasks are positive, constructive, all based on seeding a crop and getting the growing season off to a good start. It’s long hours and tiring but being hands-full is a great situation when so many outside farm country are getting depressed by unemployment, having to keep cooped-up kids occupied, and not really knowing what they will be doing or what their lives will be like as the lockdown lifts. For them, the future often looks grim.
For most crop farmers, despite a dreadful harvest for many last fall, low prices for years and unclear markets for the next crop year, at least being able to get out and do their jobs and get going in a positive direction is a blessing. Instead of peering out on empty streets and masked neighbours, farmers have been able to see the world greening and coming back to life all around them.
Perhaps most don’t realize quite how different the feeling is in farm country today compared to the urban and town situation. Many are aware of the shock and suffering of neighbouring hog farmers grappling with packer problems, and the growing anxiety in the beef industry about packer problems there, but the widespread urban anxiety is probably something not seen and experienced directly by those busy on the fields.
With any luck, the lockdown-lifting will go well, Canadian society and its economy will revive, and the crisis of COVID-19 will fade with crop farmers having been blessedly distracted from much of it.