We love you. The farm is great. Don’t visit.

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Warkworth – Dear family: We love you. But please don’t visit.

There’s nothing in the world we want more right now, than to see your face, hear your voice, hug you and know you are okay. But please don’t visit.

We get it. We know that at a time like this, the farm is the place where you most want to be. To see the house and the fields and the livestock. To hear the hum of the tractor or the milk pump and watch the lambs race through the barnyard, is to know that the world is not really unravelling.

We probably won’t say it. But please don’t visit.

Like us, all of a sudden your schedule is free. No hockey, no volunteer meetings or work conferences, no concerts to attend or school trips to take and your gym is closed.

Out of respect for the spirit of the battle, we even skipped church. Next week, even church is cancelled.

With this free time, and with the world in chaos arguing over politics and health protocols and pointing fingers at who should have done what sooner; and with the coronavirus spreading unseen among us, this is not the time to come home.

It is a war; but one which can be slowed before our little town becomes like the city in Italy which went from two pages of death notices in February, to 10 pages of death notices today. We all have a role to play. Cliché that it is, it’s true. We must do our part if we don’t want to see doctors having to make terrible ethical decisions, like who lives.

As farmers we are experts at risk management. The joke is that we can track a cow with BSE to a farm in Alberta, but not where this disease has been. If our ag scientists and the CFIA were in the driver’s seat…. well, that’s probably a joke that doesn’t need to be made at a time like this.

The point is, as farmers, we are paranoid about bio-security. We post signs on our barns and wouldn’t dream of accepting a hog or a cow or even a chicken at our farm, without doing disease surveillance. Our calves are tracked even as they travel from farm to show and back and our milk, well, through just one test we can tell if this cow or that one is pregnant.

We have grudgingly spent years writing protocols for all of this to ease the injury in the event of a disease outbreak. We have delicately balanced the needs of our industry against the needs of our animals. We have created a food and animal safety system we believe in.

It’s too bad we haven’t done the same for ourselves.

We get that you feel trapped in your apartment or your home in the city half a province from home; that you are rubbing shoulders daily with the masses as you go to work and line up at the grocery store for bread and toilet paper, and that you just want to escape.

This virus has come at the tail end of our busy meeting season. We have travelled to annual meetings and conferences and a few farm shows, visited barns and met with experts from across the province and continent. We don’t know where they’ve been and we don’t know if we might have unknowingly come into contact with this disease.

We know that for your work and leisure, you have done the same.

And we note that the magnificent response which will help our country and our province and our little town beat this thing, has been led… by the National Basketball Association which was first to put the health of its players, patrons and staff ahead of money. It was the NBA which first instructed its players to remain in the home city of the team for which they play. That dear family is sound, sound virus-battling protocol. And if they can do it, surely so can we.

Many of us are seniors. And this virus wants us. The death rate in Italy scares us. The lack of dependable information from China terrifies us. The knowledge gap of this disease keeps us awake at night. And the health of so many of the folks you love in the community is slipping.

So please, call, text, Skype, Facebook message or email us every day. Let us know what you’re doing and we will do the same.

Dear family, we love you more than anything in the world.

But please don’t visit.

 

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