It’s been almost 2 years since the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic first hit the news stands. There are many changes that have taken place which have been both good and bad and many scenarios that you never thought would emerge, have.
Some of them, like more opportunity to work remotely and from home are fantastic and totally flipped a switch for me.
Working from home full-time and managing my homestead was a dream come true. And as long as it continues I will be able to manage a corporate job and run a homestead – meaning many, many positive lifestyle changes for both my husband and I.
The sad thing is, there is a lot of contention around it because employers refuse to change old behaviours and mindsets relating to working from home, and if it comes about that there will be an expectation to return to the office, well, I’ve been working on things to make it so I don’t have to.
The pandemic certainly changed a lot of things for almost everybody.
How people view those changes depends on how they look at life. They can focus on the bad parts of it, the good, and the lessons learned and how those lessons can be used as a benefit.
I know with me, it was a total reset. It was me having the time and the reduction in white noise to think clearly, truly and honestly about my intentions and plans in life.
And having those true and honest discussions with myself were mind blowing. I have always been self-aware, but this has deepened my knowledge of myself and what I want from life.
The reason I preface with that is that yes, there have been a lot of negative and bad things about COVID-19, some of which are still happening. But I think we can use this time and really do an honest reflection of our lives and how we’re doing things.
There are some things to look at and things that we can be grateful for and used as a pivot point moving forward.
Food – Growing, Preserving, Storing, Cooking, Preparing & Baking
As a child, my parents had a full vegetable garden that my grandfather used to manage. It was normal for us growing up to be able to pluck out fresh fruit and veg from the backyard and not give it a second thought. When we moved to our homestead, we had a bit of a learning curve and didn’t have a garden in the beginning. I’d say it was when we moved onto this homestead is when I got really serious about gardening and getting a vegie patch going. Now I am considering an orchard, and a herb garden – things I haven’t had before, and how I can go about them.
One of the things that has been front and centre in my mind is increasing yield and doing alternate preservation techniques. I would love to one day get my hands on a Harvest Right freeze drying machine in order to support this, but for now, I think I will work with what I have. Another thing impacting my decision on increasing yield is not just that, but as we are planning on moving to a bigger property, I would much prefer to invest time in developing a bigger garden and orchard and herb garden there, as opposed to here, where the new owners may demolish the garden entirely.
I feel like for the foods that you can easily preserve, whether by canning, dehydrating, freezing, fermenting, or using root cellar techniques I’ve done a pretty good job. It’s made me want to have more fresh vegetables available for more months of the year out of our garden so that I don’t have to go to the store to purchase things like fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Admittedly, I do still rely on my organic co-op fruit and veggie box, which gives me the seasonal fruit and veg in stock and I always have that ready to go to store in a multitude of ways.
So whilst my gardening game hasn’t increased in yield, it certainly has made me test different approaches and theories and look at what works for me. The market research so to speak, has been done.
Sourdough and baking
Prior to the pandemic I didn’t bake nearly as much bread as I should have been baking. I attribute this entirely to the fact that I was having to travel to and from work 5 days a week and not having enough time to breathe let alone bake bread.
I know that many people started learning the craft of bread baking – specifically sourdough baking – during lockdown. Personally I think this is marvelous. Baking is a skill I think many of us should have, even if its just a basic loaf with no other fancy stuff.
With more time now, hybrid work opportunities and people having changed the trajectory of their lives (some, not all), there is a greater opportunity to reintroduce those old skills many lost due to convenience and re-energise them again. You never know when a simple loaf of bread will indeed save you from starvation or help you out in a dire situation. Never discount the benefits of simple skills.
Less Driving and Trips to Town
I mean, I order online when I can anyway. But something I noticed was I significantly altered my shopping techniques entirely, using either click and collect or home delivery from the supermarket for things I couldn’t get from the co-op or elsewhere.
What’s been interesting since COVID is that I have been trying to go the least amount of times as possible. I have found that when I stay home and in our rural environment it feels like things are more normal, but when I have to go into the bigger cities and towns it really does affect my psyche. Even if I didn’t realise it, I’ve noticed that even the following day it affects me mentally to a degree. I’m not saying that it would put me in a full-on depression or that I’m super sensitive but it does have an effect when everybody you see is wearing a mask and everybody is super distanced. We won’t be debating whether it needs to be done, but I’m sharing how it affects me. As an introverted person, I enjoy not having the menial and small talk discussions, but I also feel bothered by the apprehension and general safety people used to feel amongst each other, that they now don’t.
I find that the least amount of times I can go is better for me. It’s been great because I’m spending less time on the road, less fuel, less impulse type buying of even little things at the grocery store. It’s made me really go through the food that we have, keep track of things, do better rotation using what we have, and of course, using things out of the garden more now that we have fresh produce coming on. I really like that so minimising my trips is something I plan to keep in place even after all this is done and over with.
Insurance and car costs reduced
When I called the insurance to make some modifications to our policy, they noticed that we had been driving significantly less. They offered to reduce our premium due to this. Hubby and I went from running two cars full-time for work, with me having to drive to work pre-covid 5 days a week and he 6 – to now sharing the 4wd. I drive it into work on a Tuesday for 5 hours, and he drives it into work Saturday and Sunday. Because I’m spending less time travelling to work, which pre-covid cost me about $600 AUD a month, he has now been able to reduce the days he works. Additionally, because he is picking up weekend shifts, the overtime and allowances for working on Saturday and Sunday are the equivalent to 5 days regular work hours. So it works out financially better for us in this scenario, sharing a care for when we do go to work and changing our habits around that.
I must admit, I totally reduced my fitness ativity and looking at it now, I don’t know how I was managing to stay alive, training in olympic weightlifting 12 hours a week, working 40 hours, horse riding at least 2 hours, travelling to and from work 24 hours and then running a homestead and sleeping in between.
I’m an asthmatic, and I just don’t do cardio. I enjoy weight lifting in general and will return to that, but probably not olympic weightlifting. I noticed that even though I had health benefits, I also had a lot of injuries and issues from olympic weightlifting that have ceased since I stopped training.
I did try to get involved with my club and do zoom coaching but the atmosphere was just off. It was still my mates, but I just couldn’t do it. To top it off, I got hit with 4 major asthma attacks and allergy reactions last year, which I believe were because of my return to QLD (after spending 14 months in a drier Canberra, my sinuses and allergic rhinitis was just off balance). I haven’t returned since, and every time I think about it, all I can hear is a voice saying “I can’t”. Which is weird, because I am so aware of limiting beliefs and thoughts and work really hard to deal with them.
I’ve been working a lot more outside than I used to, and I still do a few hours of horse riding per week. So I haven’t entirely stopped physical activity, but I have reduced it. When we move, I anticipate making a small workout space with a squat rack and barbell and that’ll be me. I can do an entire workout with those items and I’d like to get back to that.
it’s just hubby and I on Milo’s Farm. We have no kids and most of our family are interstate. But surprisingly, him and I have spent so much more time together, getting projects done and working together outside and I really appreciate that. We haven’t been able to spend time with our extended families, but facetime and phone calls has helped.
But I’ve noticed that we’re spending a lot more time at home so we’re a lot more relaxed because we’re not trying to rush and get all of the homestead chores done so that we can keep up. It’s been really nice. In fact, this past week we worked on the garden extension and I filmed for youtube. It was a lot of fun because we know our parents are watching and they can see our faces and just see what progress we’re making on the farm.
I think many of us have felt that need to try those things we’ve been dreaming and wanting to do. For a lot of us, this came in the form of wanting to do a garden, but never quite got to it. Or want to learn how to can food, or ferment food, dehydrate it, make bread from sourdough, or make your own cheese. Maybe it was learning how to sew. I feel like this time pushed a lot of us to do those things that we had been putting off.
I’m wanting to get into cheesemaking. I’ve done yogurts and kefirs for years but I need to lift my game regarding cheese making. But this – covid – is pushing me to do more. In a good way. It’s funny right? I’m talking about how doing less has been so amazing, but because I’m doing less it’s allowing me to do some of those things I’ve always wanted to do and have never done or never taken the plunge to take it to the next level like I’ve wanted to.
I got my husband to get me a battery powered little chainsaw. It isn’t heavy or clunky, and I feel safer using it than a bigger chainsaw. I developed confidence in using some new tools around the farm and being able to go out and do some smaller projects without dragging him along. My husband is a fixer anyway so when he sees me doing something he wants to take over, and sometimes I want him to have a rest and relax and I can do the fiddly little task. So learning how to use the chainsaw properly and getting one I can actually use has been a huge change in how we work around the farm and what we get done.
I hope that all of you are picking an area of your life and doing something that you’ve just been putting off and are doing it because I think if we can take that time to reflect and then keep the things that are good, go back to the things that we really need to feed our soul, then we can say that there’s been good stuff that has come out of this time period.
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