By any measure, 2020 has been an unusual year. Some people have described it as the year when time stopped or the year where the future was cancelled. On the other hand, those of us who track the changing seasons and the cyclical rhythms of planting and harvesting, birthing and butchering, know that time didn’t stop and the future continued to spool out in front of us as it always does.
And yet, we know that farmers, farm families and farmworkers have been impacted by the pandemic.
The agricultural supply chain experienced significant disruptions. The promising forecasts for a better year for dairy farmers evaporated in the spring as the pandemic gripped the country. More recently rural communities have come face-to-face with the medical realities of this crisis as friends, neighbors and family members have fallen ill. For many the sporting events and school activities we look forward to were cancelled. Our kids may be navigating the whiplash back and forth between virtual and in-person school.
Time has continued, but the world we’re navigating is not the same. Everywhere we look there seems to be more division and uncertainty, more stressors, more anger.
The farming culture I grew up in didn’t encourage reaching out for support. Though no one said it directly, I understood that feeling sad or anxious or overwhelmed was simply irrelevant if there was work to be done. As I’ve grown older, and had kids of my own, I’ve come to understand that this attitude of Stoic endurance doesn’t always serve us well. Of course, the chores must get down and the livestock fed. But if we don’t pause sometimes to reach out and connect, we aren’t able to take care of all that’s important to us and be who we want to be.
We have all been impacted by the pandemic: economically, emotionally, socially. Reaching out for support is not a sign of weakness. Connecting with family and friends–and sometimes those beyond our usual circles, can be important for maintaining our strength.
If you have been experiencing stress—which may show up as disruptions to your digestion, difficulty falling or staying asleep, having trouble concentrating, being unusually irritable, feeling overwhelmed or worried—assistance and support are available. One option is to call a Project Recovery Wisconsin outreach worker who can provide free, anonymous information on managing stress, emotional support and help you find resources. If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, consider calling Project Recovery at 833-FARM-HELP (that’s 833-327-6435, toll free) or visit their website: www.projectrecoverywi.org.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau is committed to sharing information and resources to support rural resilience and farmer mental health. To learn more visit WFBF’s rural resilience webpage or the Wisconsin Farm Center.