The mountains are a perfect reminder that there is beauty among the chaos. (Corey Bullock file)

The mountains are a perfect reminder that there is beauty among the chaos. (Corey Bullock file)

Farm life: Beauty among the chaos

I’m certain that the topic on everyone’s mind right now is COVID-19. When I set out to write this week’s column, I desperately wanted to avoid writing about the current situation. The last thing we need to do is add another COVID-19 related story to the newspaper, right?

Alas, I have some thoughts, and I figured they might be worth sharing.

I work in a newsroom. As a Journalist, I’m proud to say that I’m well informed about local, regional, provincial, federal and global issues. I try to look at everything from both sides and to know all of the facts. That is, after all, my job. With that comes the responsibility of knowing how to be informed without letting the news take over my life. Knowing that when the Facebook and Twitter feeds become too much, that it’s important to take care of one another. To take care of myself. Approach all things with compassion, understanding and support. A deep breath.

From my point of view as a reporter, it is possible to be informed and still enjoy every ounce of your life. Be informed, and then do whatever it is that you need to do.

It makes me think of something I learned while taking acting classes a few years back. My teacher said that as an actor, you can reach a point where it’s hard to separate the work from your every day life. He stressed the importance of your ‘dinner table self’. The importance of going home and leaving work at work. Being able to be yourself at the dinner table.

When I find myself overwhelmed by what is going on in the world, wether it’s elections or rail blockades or a pandemic, I go for a walk in nature with my dog. I go fishing. I write in my journal. I visit with the critters on the farm. I talk to a loved one on the phone. I make art. I listen to my favourite album or an interesting podcast. I cook.

I think everyone is feeling a variety of emotions right now, and rightly so, but it’s important to remember all of the good things in the world. Coldplay played a live concert on Instagram yesterday. Jann Arden did the same on Facebook. Italians are singing to one another from their balconies. We have six baby lambs on the farm! I just sent a pen-pal letter to my niece. I’m grateful for all of these pockets of beauty among the chaos.

Another thing that I’m grateful for is our lifestyle on the farm. First of all, self isolation when you live in a rural area is fairly easy. Aside from work, I don’t see very many people on a daily basis. Not only that, but we already have an abundance of meat, preserves and home-made canned goods. We’re not completely self-sufficient, but I’m not buying any meat from the grocery store now and I wasn’t before either.

I know many hunters who would echo that statement, hunters who are grateful for their bounties right now. One moose will last a family an entire year.

On Tuesday morning I read an opinion piece in The Guardian by Adam Liaw that was titled ‘Think the world is ending? Grab a shovel, not a shopping trolley’.

A quote from the article reads as follows, “My late grandmother lived through poverty, wars and military occupation – if you asked her how to prepare for hard times, she’d grab a spade and start digging a vegetable garden.”

Now, not everyone has the means or space to grow their own garden, but Liaw has a good point. I feel more proud now than ever before that we’ve got three giant freezer bags of fresh tomatoes in the freezer. We have beef, pork, chicken, fish and elk meat. We have fresh eggs every day. We have beautiful sauces and soups ready to heat up. There’s a basket of seeds on my porch waiting to be sewn.

“Make sauerkraut from all the cabbages that are in season right now. Get a few heads of cauliflower and fill a dozen jars with piccalilli. Stock your pantry with pickles and ferments,” Liaw advises.

I tend to agree. One thing all of us can hopefully learn from this pandemic is how to be more self-sufficient. How to rely less on big box stores and fend more for ourselves, while saving money in the long run. Worried about toilet paper? Maybe buy yourself a bidet.

So if you’re working from home or self-isolating right now, consider researching ways of becoming more self-sufficient. It certainly can’t hurt to plan out a vegetable or herb garden (even if it’s a small hanging planter on your balcony). Learn how to sew or to change the oil in your vehicle. Consider learning how to fish. Look up recipes for fermented foods.

Otherwise, just do whatever it is you need to do to take care of yourself. And speaking of taking care, I’d like to thank every one of the health care professionals working hard now, and before the widespread of COVID-19. We see you, and we thank you.

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