A little over two weeks ago, on March 14, we had our first wedding of the year at the farm. It was a sweet little celebration of two very lovely people. We were not only thrilled to celebrate with them, but excited for the start of a new year at the farm. In the weeks before that wedding, we were pretty busy: we hosted a lunch and meeting for Nutrient Ag Solutions, visited Fennimore for their tasting with our ice cream, and made some food for the fireman's banquet.
But then....things got pretty quiet.
Between Friday, March 13 and Monday, March 16, the world shut down and so did our barn. We are closed indefinitely, and we're not sure when things will get back to normal.
Right now, we imagine our state of mind is very similar to many of yours. It's a pretty stressful mixture of fear and uncertainty. We are worried - for the world, for the people who love, and for our own business.
As a small business, we're used to operating with a level of uncertainty - there's really no guarantee and every month can bring something new, good or bad. But barring a major snowstorm or other unexpected problems, there was always previous history to rely on; always a new idea to funnel our energy into; and always the knowledge that people are drawn to the outdoors, to spend time with their families, to live their lives. There was some certainty despite the unpredictability.
But now, things seem completely uncertain. Things have gone very quickly from okay to worse and then to worse still, and as the news continued to show this downward curve of activity and upward curve of disease, we became more and more stressed. Stressed not just for us, but for the countless other businesses that were going to be affected by this nation-wide shutdown.
At some point, we reached a level of acceptance. We took action to make sure that our farm guests who have planned events here are taken care of as best as possible, but we mostly - like the rest of the world - hunkered down. Like many others, we've begun working on that project list, cleaning the shop and reworking our bar/checkout area. Like many others, our daily stops have dwindled to just a few, Kwik Trip and our homes and our work. Like many others, we are concerned for the people in our lives, for their continued health and happiness and prosperity. Like many others, we are taking things day by day.
We're optimistic that things will get better. There are parts of our lives that will never be the same, and this will affect people deeply. It has and will continue to change family dynamics, friendships, and working relationships. It has affected our level of security in crowds and gatherings, not only with strangers but even with the people we love. It has affected the businesses at the hearts of small towns like ours, and we hope the people who run those businesses will come through this. We hope that everyone will come through this.
Today as we write this, we are looking at another month of social distancing, but we are heartened by the passing of a few government stimulus packages. We have been having good conversations with people in our corner and we'll tell you that these conversation are probably the first bit of optimism we've had in the last ten days. Because now, even though we don't like a bailout as much as the next person, we are going to be able to keep our employees paid, we're going to be able to keep current on our bills, and we're going to keep some revenue coming in. We're going to get through this.
We can't go back to early March, but we need to keep money moving through our businesses and we need to keep supporting our businesses and keep our country going. We are excited that these new programs will help keep us afloat, that they'll help keep our awesome employees coming through our doors, and that they'll allow us to keep moving on some of our ideas.
There are things to look forward to: warmer weather and planting, ice cream (we can't WAIT for you to see our new truck), outside projects, happy wedding days, strawberries, and soon, fall season. Our troubles - like so many of your troubles - have not gone away. We don't feel the same excitement we normally feel during this time. We'll have to wait for things to pick up and for that excitement to come back. But we're hopeful. And we're heartened. And we're going to be here when things are brought back to normal.
Take care, everyone. Be well, be safe, be happy.
Fun on the farm...in blog form!