I’ve thought about this post a lot the past 60+ days of quarantine in Nebraska. Every day I find another lesson, but today I decided to put my thoughts on the blog.
I think it is important to think about the study of home economics. Home Economics originated as early as the late 1800s as a way to teach young ladies basic life skills and provide a pathway to employment. The disciplines of home ec loosely included food preparation, child development, home management, sewing, budgeting, hygiene and community awareness. In the 1900s or so, home ec started including the boys. In high school I know that in home ec we learned skills like how to sew on a button, how to balance a checkbook, or responsibly tote a “baby” egg around without dropping it for weeks on end. These were just a few of the lessons designed to impart that wisdom. But somewhere along the way, in my opinion, we lost the budget, patience and teaching staff for Life Skills 101, and home economics classes have become near little extinct in many schools.
But enter the quarantine 2020.
Over the past 70 days, and counting, ranching duties have continued and home ec classes have redeveloped on the Circle L ranch. Along with all our ranching duties, our family has had a few quarantine lessons!
6 Quarantine Lessons From the Ranch
1. We have got to get back in the Kitchen.
Years ago, feminism stepped up to reject the idea of labeling cooking and cleaning as “women’s work,” which likely has something to do with home economics tapering off in the first place. But here we are, decades later, men and women alike, teaching our children the value of baking beer bread and smoking a beef roast. Not to mention, we should never underestimate the joy-inducing power of a homemade dessert.
So, we are embracing the trend: Teaching our ranch kids to scrub vegetables, grind pepper, melt butter, grilling hamburgers, build a building, making repairs around the ranch and other skills — it’s all useful. At the very least, maybe the ranch kids will remember the time they had in quarantine as a happy time.
2. Learning is Ageless
We are all never to old to learn a new hobby and/or skill.
Learning is for all. Since we’ve had more time at home so much lately, we all have been knocking out little projects that we otherwise wouldn’t have time for. For example, Cade has learned how to play the piano. Kason has learned how to rope left and right handed. It is really a great opportunity for all of us to learn a new skill or two.
3. Finding New Skills/Restarting Old Skills
This one goes right along with the above lesson, you are never to old to learn. Sometimes all you really need is a little time to find new skills. Quarantine time has given us an opportunity to hone on some new skills. We are also learning more valuable lessons. Like what it really takes to adapt to change. We are learning that we all need space, and when we need our community and friends. We are also picking up skills that we usually don’t have time. For example, I have been jogging/walking! We have learned that Reata is a good gardner and Ryder is a great hunter.
4. Sharing the Workload
With all of us home everyday, it is nice to share the ranch chores. You see, everyday before the quarantine, the kids had a chore list and then Cody would finish the chores when we would leave for school and work. But now, everyone takes the workload outside and inside. The kids are also learning how to do the dishes and laundry. I am pretty sure that the boys’ wives will thank me later!!
5. Slowing Down is Okay
In the beginning of this quarantine, we where running around to school activities like sports and such every week and every weekend it seemed. It was hard to relax and just slow down. But man, did we ever learn that slowing down is okay.
6. Don’t Take Small Towns for Granted
I knew our small town was filled with heroes, but the quarantine has pointed it out to me even more — doctors, teachers and those who keep your home alive and well are so important to our daily lives. Local businesses are working around the clock to ensure the comfort, health and general safety of their neighbors. Many restaurants are keeping their kitchens open for takeout, churches are collecting food and clothes and schoolteachers are navigating new technology to make sure that their students can still learn. Hometown heroes are a special kind for sure.
I’ve found a lot of beauty in this uneasy time at home, and I’m grateful to even be able to write those words. Perhaps the part of me that was so proud of how well I managed to juggle an over-scheduled routine is grateful to have a “valid” reason to simply stop. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to still work at the feed store and provide a service in our small town as well.
When we look back on this event in history, I want us all to remember that this was not the most stressful time of our lives, but one of the most fun and creative—a time when we learned all those lessons, a time when we just continued our ranching schedule and the most important one of all: How to take care of ourselves and each other.
There is no doubt that the time we’re currently living in poses challenges and hardships, but we’re choosing to filter out the fear and continue cultivating the positive. Call it what you wish, our quarantine home economics course is teaching us all to take more time out to focus on love, learning, laughter, self-improvement and memory-making.
What more can we ask for right now?