Jerry Nelson: Farewell 2020

Jerry Nelson
Special to the Farm Forum

It’s time to paw through the clutter of the past 12 months and ask some deep, philosophical questions, the chief one being: “What the heck just happened?”

The year 2020 began with farmers in my area worried that our saturated soils had set the stage for a repeat of 2019. That year featured a growing season which was so wet that “how to build an ark” became a leading Google search term.

Off in distant Washington, D.C., there were mutterings about something called impeachment. I don’t know what that was all about, except that no peaches were ever installed at our house. Congress was probably responsible for this fruitlessness.

News floated in regarding a bug called the novel coronavirus. The virus was given the nickname Rona.

February on our farm was cold and snowy; in other words, fairly normal. Thanks to the exertions of our neighbor’s payloader, the piles of snow on our farmstead grew to mountainous proportions. I was tempted to get out the sled but decided that zooming down a steep snow pile while shrieking in terror was unbecoming for a guy my age. Maybe next winter.

Rona discovered that it liked it in America and settled in for an extended stay. The federal government declared a public health emergency and health experts recommended that people remain at home as much as possible. Such advisories are easy to follow when snowstorms bury your car on a daily basis. I became extremely familiar with my snow shovel.

Congress sat on its thumbs, refusing to do anything to halt our endless barrage of blizzards.

By March, Rona, like an earworm playing on a perpetual loop, had taken up much of the space in our heads. In an effort to flatten the curve, we were advised against venturing out unless it was for a dire emergency such as snapping up the last 100 rolls of toilet paper in the supermarket.

I began to attend business meetings via Zoom. It’s unsettling to see my mug in the corner of the computer screen; I don’t even like to look at myself in the mirror. On the plus side, I figured out that Zoom meetings could be attended while pantless. Not that I would ever do such a thing, mind you. It’s merely a theoretical possibility.

April brought the arrival of our first grandchild, by far the best news of the year. I have found that becoming a grandparent has a way of making a person feel both older and younger, if that makes any sense.

Toward the end of April, the last vestiges of our massive snow piles finally melted {span id=”docs-internal-guid-02098765-7fff-d7e7-cbcb-868505989dc7”}{span}—{/span}{/span} no thanks to Congress.

Area farmers, with a wary eye on the sky, completed spring planting at a breakneck pace. Many farmers worried that a heavy dew could cause the return of widespread flooding. The phrase “how to grow rice” trended on Google.

Summer sprinted by as it commonly does. It rained often enough to make it necessary to mow the lawn once a week. Coincidentally, this is the same schedule I use for trimming my beard. Rona showed no signs of leaving and my wife and I became even more skittish of strangers, something that I hadn’t thought possible.

At midsummer, I adopted a John Deere 3010 tractor and loader. In an effort to ready the rig for moving snow, I addressed a couple of minor mechanical problems. The mechanical issues swiftly multiplied, and the parts bills soared. I caught my wife Googling “how make your husband get rid of a money pit tractor.” Congress failed to do anything about this.

Autumn was mostly dry, and farmers became concerned about the lack of moisture. Despite all of the growing season’s weather worries, crop yields in our area ranged from “not bad” to “whoa!”

We had grown accustomed to Rona constantly skulking about, like a grimy drifter who seems to be everywhere all at once. Some people became complacent, assuming that living in our sparsely populated region would insulate us from the pandemic.

Rona grinned and said, “Hold my beer.”

In November, our region became the world’s hottest hotspot for coronavirus. It’s great to be number one, but not for something such as being the global leader in the transmission of a deadly plague.

As we slouch toward the conclusion of 2020, the snowstorms that we endured last December have failed to rematerialize. The 3010 sits ready but unused. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I’ve purchased what amounts to an expensive insurance policy; on the other hand, we haven’t needed to file a claim.

And I think Congress should get off its duff and do something about it.

Jerry Nelson