Sue Bowman Rural Ramblings

The extra leaves are back in the dining room table, stretching it almost to its fullest length. Easter is only two weeks away.

Are we expecting company for dinner? Of course not. With social distancing being the order of the day, we’re not planning to be part of any gatherings, either outside our home or within.

So, why the lengthy table? Dennis has begun working from home and it’s his new desk. An electrical engineer by trade, Dennis works with multiple sets of technical drawings that measure 22 inches by 34 inches, and the lengthened dining table is the only space large enough for him to have drawings and his laptop computer all spread out together.

As for Easter dinner, we’ll worry about that when the time comes. Our family started a tradition several years ago of eating out as a group at a nice local buffet, where our party occupies its own table. Since it’s doubtful the buffet will be operating this year, we might all be eating our ham dinners at our own homes.

Like many other churches, ours suspended its worship services through March 29, with further decisions to be made thereafter. Perhaps we’ll be watching Easter worship on television instead of singing old favorites like “He Lives” and “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” from the pews with fellow members of our congregation. And, what about the Easter lilies we always purchase in memory of our parents and take along home after church to give our living room the scents of springtime?

For that matter, will there be any plants available to place on the graves of our loved ones, as we do each Easter? Hopefully, something will be blooming in our yard by then and we can at least take bouquets of cut flowers to the cemeteries.

How have our daily lives changed otherwise in the era dominated by the malicious invader known as coronavirus? Fortunately, life on the farm insulates us from many of the changes others face. Farmers are the original practitioners of “working from home.” This is where our livestock and crops are raised, so the farmstead is where we already spend most of our time. Of course, it’s still necessary to go off premises to pick up feed and other supplies, but careful planning can minimize such outings. Besides, it feels safe to “remain on the ranch” — a place with acres of elbow room that has always, for better or worse, provided us with a certain amount of social distancing.

In these times of trying to break the chain of possible disease transmission, it seems that farmers are among the best positioned not only to keep ourselves separated from most sources of infection, but also to continue our mission of providing nutritious food for the world. Since we know that our livelihoods depend on our physical ability to continue the daily routines of caring for our animals and our land, we also have added incentive to follow all the recommended steps to stay healthy for our own sakes and that of our fellow citizens. We need to continue doing the basics, like healthy eating and getting enough rest, and add to that the new precautions that medical authorities have advised us to take. Once the virus no longer has a way to reach uninfected persons who have isolated themselves, we can look for things to start improving — physically, economically and socially.

In every cloud there’s a silver lining, and I found mine in a humorous phone encounter while stuck at home and in need of refilling a prescription for a blood pressure medication. Maybe it would have annoyed me under different circumstances, but with the shortage of bright spots, it still makes me laugh to think of it.

Our health insurance had changed back in January, and all of my medications except one had been automatically refilled when I registered with our new prescription provider. With new coronavirus restrictions looming daily, it seemed like a good idea to refill my prescription for Lisinopril before my supply got any lower. I called the new company to refill it by phone and things were going well until I was asked to enter my seven-digit prescription number. All I had was the nine-digit Rx number from the former supplier; thus, I had to dial zero to reach a human operator.

I had already given my name, date of birth and customer number when I was finally connected to a nice young man named Jeremy. I explained my scenario to him and he then asked me “What’s the name?” Since I’d provided all my preliminary information earlier in the phone call, I assumed he wanted to know the name of the medication.

“Lisinopril,” I replied.

I could hear him typing this information into his computer. He then read back what he had typed: “Liz Inopril. Okay Ms. Inopril, which prescription are you refilling?”

I started laughing so hard I couldn’t speak momentarily. Poor Jeremy must’ve thought I was deranged.

I explained myself, we both had a good laugh and my blood pressure probably went down just from this bit of comic relief from the new normal.

Sue Bowman is a freelance writer in southeastern Pennsylvania.


According to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, farmers in New York had planted, as of May 10, 29% of their barley (23% in 2019), 8% corn (less than 5% in 2019), 36% oats (26% in 2019), 17% onions (16% in 2019), and no soybeans (the same in 2019). Read more