The lockdown forced most of us to change our schedules. Here you'll find accounts of how some of your neighbors did their best to find opportunities for something new in an unusual time.
A Local Business That Refused to be Shutdown by the Shutdown
BY MATTHEW MERITT
Lisa Burdick spent decades building up her horse farm on Sing Sing Road and it was all about to go to the dogs with the COVID shutdown.
Turns out she didn’t mind.
Foxtale Farm is a storehouse of treasured memories for Burdick, the place where she cares for her beloved horses and has led hundreds of children to love them as well while teaching young people to ride. But the COVID restrictions prohibited her revenue-producing activities, leaving her in a bind.
“I didn’t want to sit and be on unemployment,” said Burdick, who enjoys the long and busy days required to keep Foxtale trotting along.
So she turned to dog obedience and agility training, something that she hadn’t done since the 1990s but had always been on her mind. It turned out to be “a godsend.”
What started out as one class burgeoned into a six-day-a-week operation generating 70 percent of Foxtale’s business “in like five minutes,” Burdick said. It operates as Proper Poodles Puppy/Adult Learning & Socialization School.
People who had been taking their pooches as far away as Rochester, Buffalo or Canandaigua for training now had a local option. Burdick had tapped into a demand she hadn’t foreseen and may not have tried were it not for the challenge she faced.
“It was so neat to see how much people loved what we were going to do,” she said.
Burdick will continue to keep her horses happily employed for general lessons and therapeutic riding (she offers activities used to help people overcome anxiety). But thanks to the new dog training business, her horses – ranging in age from 20 to 40-some years – can gradually be phased into retirement.
As frustrating as it may have been, Burdick refused to let The Shutdown shut her down. She took it as a challenge that, “forced you to take a break and find other things,” she said. “It definitely changed my life.”
Family Fashions Learning Activities and Neighborhood Fun During Shutdown
BY KATY PIET
I think it’s safe to say that COVID has thrown us all for a loop. After the initial shock of the shutdown wore off, I decided as a parent it was my job to try to help my children navigate this new situation in a productive, fun way. As a result, my son and I decided to start a neighborhood newsletter. It is something I enjoyed doing with my father when I was a child, and it seemed like now could be a great time to try to bring something fun and unifying to the neighborhood.
We have distributed newsletters for three consecutive months and have seen several great things come from it. First off, my (very shy) son has had the opportunity to interview various people in the neighborhood for our “Neighbor Spotlight” feature on each month’s cover. Watching him overcome his shyness to ask questions and have discussions has been wonderful and very beneficial for him. His computer skills have also sharpened due to formatting different parts of the newsletter.
We also used the newsletter to broadcast events like a neighborhood rummage sale which had great participation, as well as weekly bicycle rides for neighborhood children. Every Monday morning, we had 5-12 children participate in the rides. Several neighbors told me how happy they were to see the kids riding and having fun “just like they did way back when.” Several of them ended up making very close friends with kids they might not have known otherwise. One other event we offered was an outdoor movie night at our neighborhood park, complete with an appearance by the ice cream truck. It was a night enjoyed by all.
In a time with so much uncertainty and anxiety, this small effort of starting a neighborhood newsletter has proven to be such a breath of fresh air for our family. All of us look forward to the beginning of each month, when we hop on our bicycles and distribute the freshly printed copies.
Stride by Stride
BY MATTHEW MERITT
I’m thankful to see youth sports leagues up and running again. The COVID Panic cancellation last spring was a real disappointment to my middle-school-age son, James.
But with no practices to attend, there was time to make improvements in other areas that are important elements of the game. For James, that was running. The mile run was a part of one of his soccer tryouts and he found it to be an area where he could improve – a lot.
It took a little persistence from me to help James realize how an afternoon on the couch reading can stretch into days of accomplishing nothing. That’s when the lethargy sets in.
But James kept his goals in mind and didn’t let the challenges that confront people starting something new get him down. At first, he was down to a walk when attempting even one lap at the kilometer-long Community Park track in Big Flats. But James took his short distances and kept putting them together.
He eventually got up to five kilometers – and occasionally six – and even participated in a couple of virtual 5K runs. He even got his mile time down nearly two minutes from his tryout performance.
He’s not quitting there, though. A sub-six-minute mile is within reach if he’s willing to keep up the effort and make the time for his runs. I know his running made a difference once his soccer team resumed play.
James is thrilled to be back on the field, but now the track is another place for him to keep fit.
Foxtale Farms hosts regular barn hunts, where people's pet dogs get to put their instincts to use finding items in a barn. For more information call (607) 215 5594.
Foxtale Farm on Facebookwww.facebook.com/FoxtaleintheFingerlakes/
Lisa Burdick's dog training operation operates as Proper Poodles Puppy/Adult Learning & Socialization School.