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Coronavirus self-quarantine 'nothing to worry about', and other advice from farmers

Peter Gunders, Tuesday March 17, 2020 - 18:46 EDT
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Frozen bread and milk are staples for flooded-in bush properties. - ABC

Cathy Carson knows a thing or two about preparing for extended periods of isolation.

Her family property is close to the Balonne River in south-west Queensland and when it floods — like it did earlier this month — it can be isolated for weeks.

"Don't panic-buy toilet paper," she said.

"When we saw all the pictures of empty shelves in the city we all just shook our heads and wondered 'what are we missing here?'"

Ms Carson said it is best to focus on what goes into the freezer instead.

"Bread, milk, and plenty of meat," she said.

"We've also always got long-life milk and powdered milk in the pantry.

"Tinned food won't go astray. Your diet might get a bit boring but you won't starve."

Ms Carson said while she was a farmer, she did not have a big vegie garden.

"So I make sure I buy some apples and potatoes and pumpkin. I stick to the basic things, none of the gourmet stuff," she said.

"And if you don't have any chooks, make sure to buy eggs."

Avoiding 'cabin fever'

Being confined to home for two weeks provides challenges outside the kitchen.

"I look around the house to see if there's things I can do," Ms Carson said.

"I don't get cabin fever, there's always plenty to do.

"I have a hobby. And that's important."

And once you have had enough of painting or stamp collecting for the day?

"I change the furniture around. There's always something you can do," she laughed.

Modern isolation easier

Ms Carson has lived on a remote property for four decades and can remember pre-internet times of isolation.

"Wherever you have a telephone or internet you're not cut off from the world," she said.

"We used to have a 'party line' telephone, and it would go out in the floods. That was proper isolation.

"You just end up seeing an awful lot of your partner. You get to know your husband very well.

"We usually get mail delivered twice a week when it's not flooding, but a lot of businesses will email us, and we all do online banking.

"So don't worry too much, the bills will find you.

"I always try and keep my medicine drawer well stocked with disinfectants and paracetamol and pain relief medication. And, of course, any prescriptions."

She said a positive attitude is important when away from the outside world.

"I just try and work from a place of being grateful and focus on what's important in life," Ms Carson said.

"If being stuck in your house is your biggest bugbear, you've got nothing to worry about."

Don't forget the beer

"I've been really craving green vegetables lately," said Libby Price, another farmer who lives on the Balonne River.

She and her family were isolated for two weeks at the end of February.

"I know, when I lived in a more built-up town, you'd often be able to go to the shop every day," Ms Price said.

"But when you live in a rural area we're quite used to doing our shopping every fortnight. So we don't have the urge to ever panic-buy toilet paper.

"I like to have some tinned vegetables on hand. Things like peas and corn. They're not very nice, but you can put them in a stew and at least get the feeling you're having vegetables.

"And I always like to have a few tins of tuna. That's a good protein source."

Before the last flood, Libby sent her husband to do the pre-isolation shopping trip.

"I noticed a couple of extra cartons of beer in the cold room," she laughed.

"But that is good, because if they do food drops they'll bring you bread and maybe some cold milk. But they won't bring you beer.

"We like to have lots of internet data so you don't feel disconnected from the world."

And if the data runs out?

"We go into the old DVD collection," she explained.

"We watched a disaster film last week, The Day After Tomorrow, just to remind ourselves things aren't as bad as they could be."


© ABC 2020

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