Shop towels and corn husks
This month has proven to me why I like cows better than my fellow man. March 2020 has proven that common sense is far from common, and that fear is the biggest economic driver that there has ever been. To be honest, thus far 2020 has felt like a reality show on a lackluster cable network with marginal ratings that all of a sudden everyone discovered and suddenly jumped on the bandwagon. Never in my life did I think that there would be a shortage of toilet paper. Here in rural America, life continues on. Many of us are still busy calving, preparing equipment for spring fieldwork, or nervously drinking coffee as we hear the morning market reports.
We here in the heartland and in the world of agriculture have been deemed “essential” to America and the economy right now. I know all of you reading this are just blushing red with excitement because your government thinks more of us right now than celebrities or professional ball players, just don’t let all this new-found fame go to your heads. This is a very unique time in American history. It’s a time that some will look back on and cringe thinking it was a very dark period and we just don’t know how we ever survived. Others will look back on this period and admire the way that we adapted, overcame and adjusted to make due. As I watch the chaos unfold around me today, I have more and more respect for a generation that came before me.
We truly do not know how good we have it in America today. Even with things like a two week quarantine, social distancing, closures of public places and functions, we as Americans still have it better than those who witnessed the 1920s through the end of WWII. Those folks truly saw the worst of the hard times. With the economic collapse that was the Great Depression, followed by the Dust Bowl that destroyed American agriculture in the 1930s and the rationing of everything from flour to gasoline during WWII those who lived in that time are truly the greatest generation for a reason. I haven’t seen huge roadside camps filled with families who lost their homes and way of life, or record bank foreclosures because of economic collapse, and I hope I never do.
With all the craziness that is going on today, now might be a good time to look at what is most important in your life. It’s a good time to make adjustments to focus on family, and away from the material things that often consume our lives. It’s not the end of the world right now, despite what some on television might have us believe. Be proud that you are part of an industry that takes pride in doing things the right way the first time, an industry that is striving to keep food in every kitchen, both at home and around the globe. As in times past, we will adapt and meet the challenge, just like those who worked the land before us. Be thankful for what the good Lord has provided for you and your family, and give to those who are less fortunate than you.
A year from now we will all sit back and laugh at the chaos that took place this year, by then hopefully we will be able to buy toilet paper in the store again. Until then keep the corn husks and blue shop towels handy, and keep tabs on your side of the barbed wire. ❖
Meinzer is a fourth-generation rancher raised on the southeastern plains of Colorado. He and his family live and ranch in Oshkosh, Neb.