Cooped-up farm kids have had it with COVID-19

Kids are longing for a sense of normalcy during this unprecedented time.

Rebecca Wilson raises goats, chickens, and other livestock with her husband, Jeff, and their four daughters near Dixon, California. 

In addition to dealing with very tight COVID-19 restrictions in their state, the Wilsons have had the added stress of nearby wildfires throughout much of 2020. "We were hit pretty hard after the fires started, and learned quickly that we are not prepared for an emergency or quick evacuation," Wilson says.

Luckily, the family didn't have to evacuate, but due to the extended smoky conditions and weeks of temperatures above 100 degrees, they lost over half of their layer hens. Wilson says it was most likely a combination of smoke, heat stress, and contact with wild birds fleeing the fire. "We will be re-populating soon, and are grateful we didn't lose our house like so many in our area have," she says.

Since the Wilson girls were already homeschooled before COVID-19, they didn't have to make the transition from in-person to online learning. All of the girls are missing out on 4-H and other extracurricular activities, most of which have been canceled through at least January. She says, "They are done with being cooped up at home." 

Maddie, age 8 and in third grade, says she misses going to fairs and just being out in the world. Kaylee, age 12 and in 7th grade, is missing in-person karate classes, seeing her friends, and competing in rabbit shows and fairs.

Lizzie is 16 and technically a junior, but will graduate early this year and is taking some college classes already. Since she is at a higher risk for complications due to COVID-19, she has not been able to leave the house. "She is bored out of her mind because there is no active stimulation in her online classes and she misses taking in-person college classes," Wilson says. Lizzie also really misses poultry shows and fairs, and has struggled with the news of teen suicides in the community.

Oldest daughter Emily, 18, started college in the fall, and almost all of her classes are online. "It's hard to have the college experience when you’re doing it from home," Wilson says. Emily is also missing fairs and market projects, hanging out with friends in person, and going shopping. "She basically misses going out of the house without COVID hanging over her head."

Earlier this year, Emily was able to participate in an online auction for the Dixon May Fair, held to help kids recoup some of their costs. "When I heard about the fair being canceled I was very disappointed, but when they announced there would be an online auction, it gave me a sense of relief knowing that I would not be at a total loss with my project," she says.

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