The horse passports go into my pocket as I leave the house, just in case I get stopped on my way to do the feeding.
For those of us with livestock, the routine has not changed. We live in a state of self-isolation anyway. Social distancing is a way of life we have already chosen. Since the lockdown I have realised how little I see people as standard. My days are the same – cottage to field and back.
Ironically, however, for the first few weeks of this crisis I faced the sudden shock of being brought into contact with dozens, if not hundreds, more people than I would normally meet.
The walkers poured down the footpaths and tracks and it did feel like a strange invasion. Some of them were quite rude about me being in their way and I had to remind day-trippers that they were walking through my space, not vice versa.
Since the tighter rules, the footpaths are quieter. There are no horse-riders going by either. I made the decision on day one not to get on my thoroughbred again if I can help it until this is over, because to risk falling off and breaking a leg, and thus needing hospital treatment, seems irresponsible.
The horses amble over to the fence and nuzzle me. Spring is here, the grass is coming through and they are in blissful ignorance of the potential hay shortages caused by panic buying.
The sunshine helps for now, bringing us grass, but if we get a dry summer then a lot will depend on whether farmers get one or two hay cuts. As with everything in these strange times, it’s probably best not to think that far ahead.
“Do not tell me this is God’s punishment!’’ yelled an agnostic friend of mine down the phone at me after I mentioned how I was finding my faith comforting.
‘‘You mistake me,’’ I told her. ‘‘I never said that. What I’m trying to tell you is that whoever or whatever force did this, God will save us.’’
Frankly, I wasn’t scared until they made us all stand on our doorsteps and clap in recognition of NHS workers. The sight of Britons doing what they are told en masse makes me nervous.
When the clapping happened, I was at my field dealing with a small bonfire someone had lit in a wooded copse by the perimeter fence.
I know it is important to put our gratitude on record, but for me these demonstrations beg more questions than they answer. I want doctors and nurses to have the equipment they need. No symbolic show of support is a moral substitute for that. And what about supermarket workers, or those at the checkouts at filling stations, some of which still don’t have enough pump gloves? They are arguably even more exposed. I also think lorry drivers need a shout-out.
While the fight against the virus goes on, we all need to keep ourselves going somehow. Just before the lock-down, and with no time to get to a shop, the T on my ancient laptop broke.
Three other keys were sticking badly and the screen was freezing. Myriad warning messages came up at once to tell me the old machine had finally given up the ghost. I restarted many times to no avail.
A few days ago, as my mood and ability to cope sank, I opened my laptop for no reason I can explain to discover that the T and every other key had begun working beautifully again, and the laptop itself had speeded up and was functioning as though it were brand new. Every issue with a warning window – problems going on for at least a year which I have shamefully been putting off – had inexplicably resolved itself.
I pressed the Zoom social media app and it downloaded. That night, I was able to log in to a small group of friends and we held an online gathering lasting an hour, lifting each other’s spirits from our respective living rooms.
Whenever the world is in crisis, and my particular problems seem small, I try to remember the passages from Luke and Matthew about the hairs on all our heads being numbered. God cares for the needs of every sparrow, so we should not doubt that he caters in great detail for each of us.
I didn’t pray for that laptop, I just said my usual morning incantation asking for protection. I have also been saying a new prayer, which I picked up from the American preacher, Joyce Meyer, who I found on YouTube: “God, if there is anything I can do for you today, please let me know.”
That seems quite important right now, because it is hard to know where the line is between protecting oneself and helping others.
My hands are red raw from washing because I have mild OCD at the best of times. But when all the anti-bac is gone, and I’ve sprayed everything with disinfectant so many times I’m more likely to die from phosphate poisoning than coronavirus, I will have to turn myself completely over to God’s protection. So I might as well start now.
Melissa Kite is a journalist and regular columnist for the Spectator
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