Farming during COVID-19

As with every other part of life this year the pandemic has messed with, farming is no exception.
The Graphic reached out to one local farmer, to get his view on how COVID-19 affected his farming operation, these past seven months.
This farmer is Tyler Smith, 2006 graduate of LMHS, whose farm is located on the south edge of Lake Mills. He raises corn and soybeans.
The Graphic will share the set of questions posed to Smith, and his responses to them:
For those who don’t understand or have little to no experience with farming, can you share some of the challenges presented to you this year?
“Face to face contact has always been a staple of farming. That can still happen, but precautions need to be taken. Masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer all play a part in helping make all interactions farmers have, safe.”
What things have you had to change, rearrange, do without, or do instead?
“The main thing is keeping a space on our farm that is just for us (my mother and I), only. No bankers, seed dealers, or equipment salesmen can come in. We meet them out front of the shed in adequately spaced chairs. We do without handshakes and some formalities. Instead, we try to limit conversations to the issues at hand. It’s not very fun, but it is effective and safe.”
Assuming that this year has been made more difficult for an already highly-challenged occupation, has anything gotten easier to accomplish?
“There are far less distractions this year. You don’t have nearly as many friends, families, or business associates knocking on your door. It has made focusing on routine maintenance to all equipment much easier and efficient. I love to talk to people, but this time away from most people really allowed me to complete projects quickly.
Although it’s a complex issue, can you simply state how you have gotten through these seven months of the pandemic?
“At a certain point, you just need to stop worrying about things you can’t control. I stopped watching the news every night for a while, only allowing myself to check the news on the weekends over a morning cup of coffee for a little while. I do not want to be ignorant of everything that is going on, but I also do not want it to dominate my life.”
How long have you been farming? What has been your personal experience?
“I have been farming since my early teens, helping my late father, Randy. I would go on to drive trucks, tractors, planters, sprayers, etc. I have been farming my own ground since 2013, and my family’s ground since 2014, with the help of my mother, Susan Smith. We have enough acres that we feel we can properly manage effectively, while also enjoying the process.”
What have you learned this year, and what do you want to share about it?
“I have learned that I miss things. I miss going to get togethers with friends and families. I miss shaking someone’s hand when you agree to something or when you meet them. I have also learned that some people feel differently in how they choose to react to these difficulties. I believe wearing masks will help prevent me from getting sick or more importantly, it will help prevent my mother getting sick. I can look silly in a mask all day if there is any truth to that.”
During this busy harvest season, the Graphic appreciates the time Smith has taken to answer our questions. He summarized his experience this way:
“Farming can be stressful, infuriating, and the most joyful thing I will ever do in my life. There is no way I would let anything take away from my ability to do my job effectively. I think I can spreak for ALL farmers when I say that we strive to learn and to adapt to new situations in order to bring in another crop on time. We love what we do and we thank the Lord for every acre of opportunity.”

Lake Mills Graphic

204 N. Mill Street
Lake Mills, IA 50450

Office Number: (641) 592-4222
Fax Number: (641) 592-6397

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