Farm and Food: A challenging year but an unforgettable Thanksgiving | Agriculture

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Now, with colder weather pushing more Americans indoors, the coronavirus toll is soaring to record heights daily, especially in ill-equipped rural America just as predicted.

So, yes, it will be a heavier, harder Thanksgiving this year, not one that anyone would have chosen but one that none of us have any real choice about anymore if we want next month’s holidays to be more joyful.

How tough can it be to be alone on Thanksgiving? It know; I did it twice, both times by choice, both times because of cows, and both times because I thought I didn’t need family around to make the holiday special.

The first time I was, maybe, 15 years old and I volunteered to stay home from a big Thanksgiving gathering with my father’s family 40 miles away. The bonus for me was that I could watch football all afternoon (while eating coconut pudding) until the evening milking.

And that’s exactly what I did and it was wonderful until I came back from the dairy barn that night to an empty, dark house. I never felt so alone before or since.

The second time I missed Thanksgiving was when I was a junior in college. To earn money and lessen my homesickness, I milked cows several times a week at the dairy research farm the Big U maintained a mile or two from my seedy, one room apartment.

When Thanksgiving was still a week away, I volunteered to stay in town to milk on the holiday and the following morning so the fulltime crew could spend the festive day with their families. It was a good plan — almost empty campus bars, dinner with friends — until it began to snow the Wednesday before.

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