Rural America vs COVID-19

Reader Contribution by Carrie Miller and Miller Micro Farm
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Yummy canned goods

Life during the COVID-19 shutdown has been a considerable inconvenience for many. But has the ordeal affected rural America, and homesteaders, in the same way? For us here at Miller Micro Farm, life hasn’t changed that much considering we remain incredibly self-sufficient. One of our main intentions over the past few years has been learning to do more tasks in an old-fashion way and to rely on others as little as possible. So when the shelter-in-place order came down, we were none too bothered.

Well Stocked Rural Living

While others may need to run to the grocery store, this is not the case for us. The freezers are stocked, shelves loaded with homemade can goods from last year’s garden bounties, chickens for eggs, and goats, which provide all things dairy. With the addition of blocks of yeast, sugar, and flour ready for use, noodles and bread are also of no concern.

Choosing to live in rural America has prepared us long in advance for an epidemic of this proportion. Rural folks also tend to have shelves lined with toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and paper towels; it’s merely a way of life out here. We don’t have time to run to the store weekly, so bulk buying is a go-to for many. While much of America scrambled to stock their homes, farmers, homesteaders, and the rural populations have been prepared most of their lives.

Using the New Time

Author Carrie hanging with Ginger during labor

Countless Americans are facing depression and emotional anguish, feeling fastened in their surroundings. Luckily, we have gone about our daily life with insignificant disruption. The only notable developments for us is my husband, who does hold a full-time job off the farm, is now working solely from home. Blessed with the addition of time no longer allotted to his daily work commute, we are managing to complete many half-done farm projects. We are feeling accomplished and anything but depressed around here.

Secondly, it’s kidding season, rehoming the bucklings and wethers is challenging due in part to the cancellation of 4-H and animal shows for the season. However, how can you feel any bit of oppression when surrounded by baby goats? You can’t! Just sit with a bunch of bouncing, cuddly, playful baby goats for a few minutes, nothing but delight will fill the soul and spirit. We will raise them to be big healthy boys and try to sell them in the fall when life is a bit more back to normal. Life has slowed down through all this, which we welcome.

Being able to observe the miracle of life with each of our does have been a fantastic opportunity that we have full heartily taken advantage of through this pandemic.

Spreading Awareness

Teaching the nephews about milking goats

We have seen an increase in the public inquiring about eggs and dairy for sale. However, we closed the farm to the public and have allowed only egg sales for family and a few close friends. The situation has provided the opportunity for us to inform people on why we don’t/ can’t sell dairy products from the farm. Many consumers do not realize it’s illegal to sell fresh milk, cheese, ice cream, and yogurt without first acquiring a Grade A, B, or creamery dairy license in our state. Some are under the impression that farmers don’t sell direct because they choose not to, not because they legally are un-allowed. The inability to afford the facility upgrades is sad, but something many struggled with for a lifetime. Maybe the public being aware of the struggle will help the way they perceive the small farmer.

I’m not saying every Rural American is unaffected by the pandemic, but I do believe we tend to be less sensitive to it all. Even if we have to go out to a store, we have small-town grocery and hardware markets that we are most likely safer at than those big crowded box stores. I imagine we also manage the additional time differently, getting ahead on chores, projects, equipment maintenance, and home and barn repairs to stay busy. Plus, who understands the ups and downs more than the farmers and homesteaders? Plagued with unfavorable weather conditions, down markets, and the fad of the year is sadly nothing new to most of Rural America. Each year we walk into the unknown, hoping for a prosperous year while preparing for a possibly bad one.

Carrie MillerrunsMiller Micro Farm in Ohio, where she spends much of her time canning and freezing and repurposing items around the farm in creative ways. She is a photographer and blogger forCommunity Chickens. Connect with heronFacebook,Instagram, andTwitter. Her writing has been featured inGrit Magazine, theHomestead Hustle Blog,Chickens Magazine, Hobby Farmsmagazine, and The New Pioneer magazine. Read all of Carrie’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

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