One year ago, I was traveling for a few business meetings in Kansas City, Mo., and Columbus, Ohio. It happened to be during my kids' spring break, and admittedly, I was ready to be gone from the house and the farm for a while. The kids being home from school puts extra stress on me as a work-from-home mom.
Fast forward 365 days, and wow, what a difference a year makes. I had a crash course in getting used to the kids being around and figuring out how to simultaneously work. Looking back, it is all kind of fuzzy. I don't have any pixie dust to share on how I made it work. When I sat in my Kansas City hotel room and saw every news outlet talk about COVID-19 and the possibility of a nation-wide shutdown, including schools, I knew my life as I knew it was going to change at lightning speed. I also knew that I had to be solid during the unknown because quite frankly, my husband, my kids, and our farm were going to depend on it.I had a few meltdown moments that won't be talked about here. But overall, how did our household survive a worldwide pandemic?
The farm. Yes, thank God for the farm. It has been our saving grace. Fresh air, endless chores, routines, and three generations working together can be a blessing. Cows were milked, three times daily, 365-days a year. Cows were fed and cared for, as well as the young stock. Calves were born, nearly every day and sometimes as many as eight in one day. Those days seem like a blur.
Crops were planted and harvested and before too long, the cycle started again. The rain came, and then some more, then the sun came, sometimes in abundance. The crops grew, some better than others. The leaves fell, the crops were harvested. Then snow came in what seemed like nearly every few days. The temperatures dropped, sometimes more than we liked. After what seemed to be the grayest January and February, we welcomed March with sunshine and rising temperatures, which put smiles on all our faces here on our farm.
The farm provides a perfect landscape to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. But, truthfully, the goodness is scattered all around, and more days than not were good.
The next chapter of COVID is unknown. Wear a mask, don't wear a mask, or even double up and wear two masks. I'm not going to get political, but I will tell you COVID-19 was a big reminder to our family that we can all get along within the four corners of our house. That was mainly because we have hundreds of acres outside our backdoor that provide the needed fresh air and change of scenery to get through even the hardest of times.
Karen Bohnert is a second-generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State University. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.