I grew up on the farm. My childhood was spent climbing trees, sliding down pond banks, riding my bicycle over dirt roads, fishing, throwing rocks, hunting squirrels, riding horses and taking care of the stock which was Holstein milk cows, then Herefords. Needless to say, when I married I was in great physical shape.
After marriage, I spent the three years in England traveling mostly by foot or on bicycle. I walked miles to shops, or just for the view with no thought about how far I wandered. When the kids came along (only 13 months apart), I pushed a pram with one child lying down and the other in a little seat that fitted near the handle bar. On the bottom of the pram was a basket where I frequently loaded groceries, then pushed it several blocks home.
In Denver, Colorado, I spent many days with the kids at the zoo (often walking up hill and down with a child on each hip) and on weekends we went hiking in the mountains or to the park and the Natural History Museum. At the Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska I played on my Church’s Women’s softball team. In short, I was very limber and active in my youth.
Then came 20 years behind a desk answering phones and working on a computer. Not to mention several years adding numbers to my age. When I again came home to the farm, I discovered to my chagrin, that I am no longer able to move like I used to. Where once I could heft a square bale of hay with no thought, I now cut it open and carry an armful at a time. A five gallon bucket of water in each hand has become one three gallon bucket ofttimes carried with both hands. And my miles of fast paced walking has become a round or two along the fence line of the upper field.
My mind does not acknowledge the limitations of my body. I still forget and try to climb that fence or stack of lumber. I grab a 40 pound bag of dog food, or sack of chicken food and try to lift, and am immediately shocked back to reality. But all is not lost. I have figured out an exercise program, with the help of my husband and farm critters.
Greg keeps a road mowed from one gate to the other across our upper field, approximately a quarter mile. Both my daughter-in-law and I walk this daily, though she power walks and I amble. The dogs go along of course, and always run down the slope to the fence and threaten to go into the woods. By refusing to come when called, they ensure that I walk down the slope to get them, then drag them back to the top thus making good use of my leg and arm muscles.
Now that my ewes are once more expecting, I feed them and creep feed my lambs every morning. They always push me about as I work my way to the feed troughs making sure that I am using my balancing skills and the muscles needed to keep from falling.
Gardening is also good for exercise, but only seasonally. During the spring I am digging, hoeing, bending over to plant, and dragging bags of soil from one place to another. Summer brings lifting watering cans and holding them aloft over the plants. Then comes fall and harvest season, where I further hone my arm muscles picking produce.
In the ‘off season’ such as these winter months that are upon us, I must rely on indoor exercise. Sweeping, polishing furniture, and doing dishes by hand keep those fingers and arms supple. Greg does his bit to contribute to my workout–by leaving his clothes in a pile on the floor by the clothes hamper–ensuring I bend over several times a day to work the back and stomach muscles. And hanging laundry out on the line is great stretching exercise.
After all of this wonderful activity, DC the cat is always at hand to give me a good rub down, massage, and even use acupuncture if necessary. So by degrees, I am working my way back to limber limbs and good health. And who knows, by next spring I might even be able to climb that fence again!