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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Still yet another sign you're no longer in the suburbs

You don't need to go to the gym to get a workout
Modern life tends to be sedentary.  For example, I'm sitting with less-than-perfect posture while I'm typing this blog post.  TV, video games, email, web browsing, word processing, reading, number crunching, meetings, preparing PowerPoint presentations, ignoring PowerPoint presentations:  our lives are full of sitting.  And so we join gyms.  Running, walking, swimming, spinning, lifting, stretching, isometrics -- these are all things we do keep our bodies healthy.
You know what?  Working around an acreage tends to work those muscles too.  I can't tell you how many times Caryl found herself dog-tired at the end of the day while she was building the egghouse -- lifting, cutting, hammering, twisting, hauling.
Caryl's gym
Oh, yes, hauling.  We store things in the barn.  If something can be done in the barn, hooray... but then you move the final product out to where it belongs.  But if we're cutting down a tree, that means we take the tools to the tree.  Same if we're planting a tree.  We did as much of the Oodalolly Egghouse in the barn as we could, but it wasn't much -- most was built on-site, which meant hauling the wood and the tools to the site.  That's lifting, holding, and walking.  For some things, the wagon saw a lot of use in the last year and a half, which is still a workout to move around the acreage.
Caryl towing a tree branch with the
tractor.  Human labor got the branch to
where she could tow it. (LOL BRANCH- he
calls it.  The thing was 30 feet long and
almost that wide! ~Caryl)
Riding the mower or tractor over the uneven terrain works those core muscles as you try to stay in your seat. (We treated ourselves to a trailer that we can hook to the back of the small yard tractor and a water hauler for the trees in the meadow. ~Caryl)
Moving hay with a pitchfork may seem trivial, but in gym terms it's "low-intensity/high-rep."  Sure, each forkful may be light, but after you've moved a full round bale of hay from outside the garden fence to inside, you have literally moved a ton of hay by hand. (And I moved it TWICE! ~Caryl)
I'm helping!
Planting a 1500 sq ft garden offers repeated, lifting, bending, toe touching, and long walks to the barn for the odds and ends you've forgotten, running and screaming and twirling when you disturb the wasps.


We've made extensive use of our 4-pound engineer hammer.  By time I'm done with it, I can feel the burn in my deltoid, and my brachioradialis and flexor carpi muscles let me know they've been worked, too. (In common speak, his arms ache. ~Caryl)
Sure, my body totally
looks like that.
(image courtesy of Warner Bros.)
And the 16-pound sledge hammer.  That feels more like a whole-body workout, even cardio.  My day job requires me to spend some time in a gym, and I've seen personal trainers have their clients pound at a tire with a sledge hammer (and if you've seen Batman vs Superman, then you know this is also one of Bruce Wayne's exercises) -- there must be something to it. (hmmm, I wonder if we could trick those clients to come up here and bang some tree posts or fence posts in....? Or maybe instead of just running in circles, we could have THEM chase the cattle? Painting this fence is great fun, isn't it Tom? ~Caryl)

Caryl:
Funny, Chris hasn't mentioned the workout the chickens give you at the end of the day.  Granted, the evenings we actually get to SIT in a lawn chair and watch chicken TV for a bit is rare, but wonderful.  But you never get to just SIT.  Usually there is a skirmish to break up (Flora, I'm looking at you.), or there is a last minute quick chore that needs done (as long as you're out there), or my personal favorite- Chicken Round up time!  Yeeee HAW!

  Chickens will gladly go to roost on their own.  Something in their little birdy brains says, "hey, climb up high, go to sleep, or have your face eaten off by a mean critter".  So come late dusk they wander into the coop and disappear for the night.  The problem is, sometimes WE want to wander into our people coop, before THEY want to wander into theirs.  This requires chicken herding.  There's a reason you don't see TV westerns with great herds of ranchers on horseback moving chickens across the plains, or British herd dog competitions penning hens instead of sheep.  The herders would try it once and GIVE UP! Luckily, for you, our readers, we aren't that smart.

Chicken brains are ruled by food (Nugget is all about the food you are bringing her.  You could be carrying a 2x4x8 and she'd come running.) If they are out and about gorging on worms and grubs before bedtime, good luck trying to talk them into going IN.  We have 25 birds.  Upon shooing them towards their door, they can go 24! different directions.  That's 620448401733239439360000 different directions.  I don't know how they do it. Slow motion cameras can't see how they do it.  Physicists don't know how they do it.  I suspect a trans dimensional wormhole myself, but chicken mind control is talking me out of it.

The thing is, it takes at least two people to round them up, one to guard the door so they don't slip around it and make another go around and under the coop, and one to do the chase.  We figured 25 trips around the coop equals .25 of a mile.  If you get one pig headed bird, you can easily make that twirling trip around the coop into a marathon obstacle course.  It's not funny when you're the one trying to put them away, but it sure is a HOOT watching someone else try it!

Doc again:
Last spring we tried planting a small oat field. The number of oats that germinated isn't important to the story.  What is important is that clearing the grasses and preparing the soil was done mostly by tractor.  Even so, I ended up moving sod around by hand and other labors that left me sore for days.  It really makes you appreciate how much work went into starting 19th century homesteads with only human sweat and ox muscle.
For us, working the homestead is a hobby.  To give you an idea of how much work is done by people whose livelihood depends on working the land, we're told by our physician that it's pretty common for farmers to put on 15-20 pounds during the winter when they're not working as much.
People who write fitness columns often say that you should vary your workouts and keep things interesting to avoid getting bored.  Try working an acreage; it's always something and you'll never be bored.

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