My boots-crusted-with-mud and pants-stained-with-something prompted me to mention my vocation to the lady behind the counter at Walmart. "Thank you for being a farmer," she said as I signed up for my third COVID shot.
A little embarrassed about being thanked for following my passion, I said, "Glad to do it," and sat down to wait for my booster shot.
Sitting in the waiting area, I remembered back a year ago when it seemed we had done everything right. During our few forays in public, Bruce and I wore annoying masks, and my staff constantly cleaned and disinfected all surfaces in our farm store. Confident we were protected, we let our defenses down with an overnight trip to Maine.
It might have been the hotel room, it could have been the wait staff or a fellow customer, but somewhere in Maine, we both caught the virus.
In my case, my feelings of guilt were more severe than the actual disease. Just a fever, and food tasted like cardboard. My main concerns were for Bruce, who was really sick, and others we might have infected.
That seems like a lifetime ago. Since then, my guilt feelings have subsided, helped in part by knowing that Bruce and I got vaccinated and didn't contribute to this summer's Delta variant surge. The virus is still with us, but more and more people are stepping up and getting vaccinated. "Live Free or Die" doesn't have to mean "Live Free AND Die."
My triple vaccination will protect me (quarantine sucks), and I'm hoping other people I meet are protected, too. Just think, if everyone were vaccinated, the virus and its variants would be stopped, and "breakthrough" cases wouldn't happen.
As a farmer, I know the value of effective vaccinations. Some cattle diseases, like rabies, are contagious and can spread to humans. To protect visitors, my cows are vaccinated for rabies. Of course, the health of my cows is essential, but so is the health of people who pet and cuddle my furry cattle.
Wearing a mask is annoying. Getting vaccinated is painful for a moment, but passing the virus variant on is even worse. Why not think like a farmer and vaccinate to save a life?
Author Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm in Loudon, N.H., where she raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs, and other local products.