Hi, How Are You?
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I am in awe of COVID-19 and how it has impacted the entire world. I have never been witness to a phenomenon that has impacted everyone in such a way and has encouraged so many to learn old ways such as baking bread and gardening, but also embrace new technology such as virtual meetings and social media. I realized I was able to look at this with different eyes because 1. I social distance, 2. I am blessed with my job and 3. I am able to still get out of the house and continue farming. My life didn’t feel impacted although my job duties have been a little different. Now here we are almost three months into a brave new world and I don’t have the same outlook I did. None of those things previously mentioned have changed, but when I should be having Cattlemen’s meetings I have none, when I should be fencing at home we have rain and mud. Can you feel the weight starting to press down?
I am still fortunate to have a great job and to be able to get out and farm, but the routine is different. Routine is key to my mental health and as many of you know I was diagnosed five years ago with mental illnesses. I decided to write this because many of my farmers have shared their stories with me and I want to share mine. Mental illness is not something that is cured but rather is managed. When routine or “normalcy” changes then we find ourselves fighting a little or a lot harder.
How do I manage? My routine includes taking my medicine, running, eating foods that research has shown to help with mental illness, avoiding alcohol and sugars, and helping others: delivering meals, calling them, sending birthday balloons, or remembering something important to them. Since my first diagnosis I was told to find one linchpin of the day: feed my heifers. So, of course, I go every day to farm and dream. I dream of where I want the farm to go and I start planning how to get there.
Find your routine linchpin or other ways you manage daily and protect it. During this time or other times of stress you may need a little extra support such as journaling, eating healthy, exercising, talking with someone, fishing, reading, etc (the list goes on). Find what you need and don’t be ashamed. This is not something everyone understands and it is your journey but you aren’t alone, especially now. There are many of us fighting too. As a farmer, you work hard day and night, you see crop loss and death, you spend most days working alone, equipment breaks down, money runs short, crop or livestock sickness is a common occurrence and weather is a struggle.
You are dealing with a lot but don’t be so hard on yourself. Take care of yourself. Recognize if you need a little extra support and find what that looks like in your life. Thank you for what you do!
1-800-FARM-AID (1-800-327-6243) weekdays
Refers farmers to an extensive network of family farm and rural support organizations. Referrals provide support to farm families in crisis and farmers seeking to transition to more sustainable farming practices, as well as for individuals looking to become farmers.
919-542-1396, press #1
Available Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. through RAFI for any farm crises. Farm advocacy offered.
Local Management Entity:
866-275-9552 (24-Hour Crisis Hotline)
800-273-8255 (Suicide Prevention Lifeline)
Operate in 33 offices across North Carolina under Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, Partners Behavioral Health Management, Sandhills Center, and Vaya Health. Offer mobile crisis management, outpatient substance abuse, outpatient mental health, and walk-in crisis.
Jefferson, NC Location
221 W Main St
Jefferson, NC 28640
Honey, I Shrunk the Farm The book is written by Dr. Val Farmer, a clinical psychologist who works with farm families in the Midwest. It’s a comprehensive look at farm stress and the coping skills necessary to deal with downtimes in agriculture. His website also has an archive of his articles on stress and wellbeing, farm marriages, rural life, and other topics, along with information on how to order his book.