Well, here we are.
As of 11:59pm last night, New Zealand has officially gone into four weeks of full lockdown – or, as I prefer to think of it, box rest – to try and limit the spread of COVID-19 in our country. It’s an extreme and unprecedented measure in this time of great uncertainty, but it had to be done. It will take the country a long time to recover from the economical implications of a shut-down like this, but it would take us even longer to recover from devastating losses of human life, such as has been seen in other countries that failed to flatten the curve.
Personally, I am pleased, proud and relieved that our government has made this decision for the good of the people. Not everyone agrees with their plan, and there have been complaints and pushbacks, but for the most part, Aotearoa (New Zealand) is coming together and uniting to try and stop the spread of this virus. That seems to be the official word in New Zealand right now – Unite. The mantra that government has been sending out to the population is very simple – Be Kind. Stay Home. Save Lives.
Currently in New Zealand, we have 205 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 (probable means they are known to have been exposed to the virus, and are showing symptoms, but a test came back negative). So far, we have no deaths, and 22 people have recovered. But we are a country of 4.8 million people, and we only have 233 ICU beds scattered across the entire country. We cannot afford to let this get out of control, or tens of thousands of people could die.
So, we’re in lockdown, and I’m staying home. My work is considered non-essential – my day job is in graphic design and pre-press for a small family-owned commercial printer – so I’m off work for four weeks. Government subsidies means I still get paid during this time, and a silver lining to all this is that I no longer have any excuses for not getting book 11 finished, and the next one(s) started. I can’t go anywhere, except to the supermarket to get groceries, which I am hoping to only have to do a couple of times during lockdown. We haven’t been instructed not to ride our horses, but we have been asked to limit risky activities, to keep pressure off emergency services and medical personnel.
I live alone, from a human perspective, but have plenty of company from an animal perspective, living as I do with the following menagerie:
A dog named Steve
A cat named Gilbert
A horse called Ace
A pony called Austin
Two hens called Marilla and Mrs Lynde
A rooster known as Matthew Cuthbert
Eleven ewes, who go by the names of BB, Nosey, Panda Eyes, Sideburns, Flopsy, Snow White, Snowflake, Teenie, Nan, Granny and Socks.
(Full disclosure: They aren’t my sheep, so most of these aren’t really their names, but it gives me a way to refer to them in my head – and yes okay, out loud. Hey, I have to talk to someone!)
In order to try and stay sane, I’ve written myself a daily schedule, starting from when I get up and blocking out at least three hours a day for writing. I have three minutes of my 11am-12pm block left to finish this blog before lunch. After that, I’ll be outside for two hours, spending time with the animals, doing farm chores, and generally soaking up some of this late summer sun. There are a lot worse places to be locked down than on six acres in a small town in New Zealand, surrounded by animals, getting my hands dirty under a blue sky, and writing pony stories that I can, by the wonders of the internet, share with the rest of the world.
So sit tight, stay home, stay safe, and look after each other. We will get through this.
See you all on the other side.