How will our children and grandchildren remember these days of shutdown due to the novel coronavirus? Our grandchildren are too young and will never have a clue of life being any different. Our kids, on the other hand, have had to make adjustments. Michael and Katie are virtually working from their homes and having to stay put. Jonathon is able to go to work at the cooperative, but it is strange for him not to be able to shake hands with his farmers as a greeting or to close a deal. Austin has not seen many changes on the farm, but he is going to church in the living room in stocking feet with us every Sunday morning. I must admit, I do like listening to the sermon while I watch the birds at my new feeder outside the living room window or watch the tulips sway in the breeze. My sister-in-law is journaling her thoughts and feelings about the shutdown for her descendants to read about this historic time.
    It is hard to realize we are living through a moment in history around the world. Did the survivors of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic realize they were living through a moment in history too? What lessons will we bring through these times? I am having a hard time connecting with the severity of the situation because very little has changed for me on the farm. It does not make sense for me not to connect with friends and family when we are all healthy. We are staying away from Mark’s mom to ease her mind about catching this virus, but it is all common sense.
    Mark and Katie were talking the other day about the moment both Wisconsin and Minnesota would be set free. They envisioned people throwing caution to the wind, rushing to town like cows stampeding in spring to green pastures to get the first bite of tender grass. The joy and serenity of being free played in slow motion. Or, they could end up like the first cows in the winter that fall through the ice. A cold slap of reality that things are not really safe yet.
    I have found myself scanning through Facebook way too much these last few weeks. I am not the biggest fan of this social platform, but it does have its moments. Here are some of the better things people have shared that made me giggle and pause to think.
    A dairy gal in southern Minnesota shared that she needs to social distance herself from the refrigerator so she can flatten her curves.
    A college friend shared that the official mascot of 2020 is a racoon. They always wear a mask, they compulsively wash their hands, and if you rearrange the letters in raccoon, you get corona.
    If you have gone through any transition or communication training classes, most have taken a personality trait test to determine if we are a lion, a beaver, an otter, a golden retriever or a combination. There are four possible outcomes of how we can come through the pandemic. Either as a monk, a hunk, a chunk or a drunk.
    Wearing cloth face masks really confuses me. I am not buying the thought they will keep me safe. Austin came to the barn with this story which confirms my idea. If a fart can escape between two cheeks, underwear and pair of jeans, what makes you think a cloth mask is going to keep the virus contained? It is like trying keep mosquitoes away with a chain link fence. Now try and argue with that logic without smiling.
    All kidding aside, I find myself saying, “This just doesn’t make any sense.” How are some of these conclusions and possible solutions being reached? I sometimes feel like common sense has left the building. It reminds me of an article I found in my hometown paper years ago called “The Death of Common Sense.”
    “Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense. No one knows for sure how old he was, because his birth records were lost long ago in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered, though, for cultivating such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in and out of the rain. Why the early bird gets the worm. Life isn’t always fair; and maybe it was my fault. Common Sense lived by a simple sound financial policy: Don’t spend more than you can earn.
    “His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student only worsened his condition. Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
    “Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled some on her lap and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
    “Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility, and his son, Reason. He is survived by his three step-brothers: I Know My Rights; Someone Else Is To Blame, and I’m a Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.”
    May we use common sense as we try to figure out our actions and directions as we live through this moment in history.
    Natalie, Mark and his brother Al, farm together near Rice, Minn. They milk 100 registered Holsteins under the RALMA prefix. Their four children are grown up and all involved in agriculture with hopes of someone returning to the farm. For questions or comments, please e-mail Natalie at mnschmitt@jetup.net.