Humbled yet?

Conversing with a neighbour the subject came up about this global pandemic we all face. They farm and are of such a faith that television is not part of their lives. They rely on the newspaper and members of their community for news.

After updates on every topic imaginable, he wondered aloud if maybe this tragedy might make people a little more humble. It is a point worth considering.

Ninety-nine years ago, roughly a third of the workforce in Canada was engaged in farming. It was the single most common occupation in our nation at that time. Today, approximately 1.8% of the labour force is primarily employed in agriculture. Between technology, innovation and a changing economy, the movement to cities was unstoppable. This for the most part explains the exodus from small-town and rural farms to larger centres over the last century. There is a downside to losing touch with rural roots.

The further generations move away from a summer at grandpa and grandma’s farm, the less common matters of practicality become. Hence the old milk comes from the store anecdote when an inner-city student was asked the question. It may explain the annoyed reaction to a question we quickly answered at a party – about planting grass of all things. “Well, what you would know about it?” he wondered. It’s really not that hard to figure out, but for people who haven’t had hands-on experiences, the simplest things can be daunting tasks.

For farmers, spring means planting and all the steps that go into that. From spreading manure to working it in and preparing a seedbed, farmers will be at it full throttle soon. Closing up shop and waiting for a better time isn’t an option. Pandemic peak or not, the crops will go in and livestock will be born, because there is no other choice. And perhaps it is that word, choice, which brings out the question of whether society has been humbled during this COVID crisis.

The farm community is quite aware of disasters, whether that take the form of droughts or floods or even pneumonia and scours in the barn. There are some things that are just out of their control. They tend to accept it and move along, knowing with time it will pass.

Obviously, most of us are getting a little stir-crazy, unable to enjoy entertainment outside the home. Having to treat family like strangers and turn them away should they come to visit sure isn’t fun. In that respect, the choices of Canadians have been limited and our independence has been cut short in the spirit of preserving public health. We too will just have to accept that and move on.

It will be interesting to see how quickly appetites for modest living change when things eventually open up. Have people been humbled? Only time will tell.