In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic that we currently find ourselves in, it seems like William Miner's words from 1915 have never been truer. "No other occupation is so vitally important to the human race, nor requires such a wide range of practical and technical knowledge, as farming."
The production of safe, healthy food is essential and even during a pandemic where people around the North Country, New York State, and the world, are being urged to stay home to slow the spread of this virus, cows still need to be milked, crops need to be harvested, animals need to be fed, and food products need to be made available to consumers.
At Miner Institute, dairy, maintenance, equine, and research staff have been carrying on their regular schedules caring for the buildings and animals and making sure that our cows continue to be milked three times a day.
Shaun Castine said that things aren’t really much different for him milking cows. He said he isn’t a big fan of crowds anyway, so the social distancing part isn’t especially hard for him. ShyAnne Koehler agreed that things aren’t vastly different for her either. She typically works mostly by herself this time of year caring for the Miner Morgans, or alongside Karen Lassell.
Dan Belrose from the maintenance department said that they are carrying on much like usual, although they are disinfecting trucks multiple times per day and doing the same in the breakroom. In addition, the team is trying to keep several feet of distance between each other and other staff members.
One of the biggest differences is that the Institute is pretty quiet. On any average weekday, staff and students congregate over lunch in the Miner cafeteria, which is currently closed. It is an epicenter of social activity, where the lunchtime conversations really run the gamut! Undoubtedly one of the most notable differences for staff still at Miner is the need to pack a lunch every day.
Much of Miner Institute staff are working remotely from home, but are not lacking in gratitude for the teammates who are still making it to work everyday and keeping the Institute going. Few organizations are fortunate enough to have such a skilled, dedicated staff that believe in the mission and are willing to go the extra mile to do what needs to be done. Our staff genuinely care for the animals, the students, the research, the mission. Even when so much seems so very uncertain, we can be sure that we will make it through this.