We moved from downtown Houston to 5 acres outside the city.  I've been homesteading for about a year.  My body hurts and I'm wondering how long it will take before it stops hurting.  This may seem trite to those who have been doing this forever, but please be easy on me because my question is legit. 

I am in my early 40s, normal body weight and no health issues.  I've never been into the gym, but have led an active life.  Or I thought so until now.  Once we moved, I realized how weak my muscles were.  They didn't have to do much work in the city and then I started using them and they rebelled.

I am seeing progress and am hoping there's a light at the end of the tunnel.  For example, the first fall I remember spreading 50 pound bags of rye seed with a push spreader.  It took all day and I thought I was going to die.  The bags were so so heavy and the green spreader so hard to push.  The next fall I dreaded the job b/c I knew the labor and body aches.  But it wasn't hard and I didn't hurt afterward.  I know I'm getting stronger.

But every few weeks I'll take on a new job and feel it for a few days.  For those of you who started this mid-life and your body went into shock... please tell me that it goes away after you've done it a while.  And how long did it take?

Thanks,

Mrs. MacDonald

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It's not trite at all.  Far from it...homesteading requires being able to depend on your body.  It's just that homesteading uses different muscles than anything you'd find in the gym even if you had been in the gym. For example, lifting those 50 pound bags on a homestead means one foot may be in a hole and you'll walk over uneven ground.  Perfectly level gym floors do nothing to help you with those adjustments.

You just have to take it slow and improve along the way, but often we're "thrust" into homesteading and can't take baby steps. I find that Yoga helps A LOT because much of what you'll need/want isn't so much sheer strength, but toning and flexibility. You may want to consider a Yoga DVD and working on that.  It's a good goal to get stronger but it's even more important to just take care of yourself along the way to make sure you're OK!

Good luck!

Mrs. MacDonald,

I'd found (it's even more true now because of a bad back), it's not taking enough breaks while you're working.  A good friend of mine that I help told me once we get more done in half a day then he does working with other people a full day. 

I smoke a pipe, and when ever I want a smoke, I take a break (and a couple of times, he's asked if it wasn't time for a pipe ).  I also (before my back went bad) would always take a break after a tank of gasoline in what ever I was using (chain saw, lawn mower etc.)  It's when I'd push myself that I'd hurt (much more true now)... and if I'd take a 10 - 15 minute break every hour and a half (then, now , I never do more than 30 minutes without a break).  As my friend says, we'd get more done taking the breaks than he did working with other people who didn't take breaks (other than for lunch). 

The other thing I've found since I hurt my back, is not to do the same thing all day... if you do the same action (lifting and pushing the seeder) all day your muscles get "bunched" for doing that.  If you do a different action then the muscles aren't all tightened one way.  I'm really surprised how much better I feel if I don't do 1 action (job?) a day. 

Pat

I have been doing this all my life and so has my husband but as we age we start to feel it no matter how good of shape we are in. Most of my problems are in my joints. I am a 5 3" small framed person who has been lifting and working over my limit my whole life. My husband is a 6 2" horse shoer.....for those who know the job it suits short people! He has back issues.

What helps? Joint supplements, stretching, no repetitive movements for long periods of time, taking rests along the day and once a week do nothing besides what you have to do. Baths, massage, and horse linament. A good mattress! Keeping your core muscles in shape, watching your posture. Good footware. Oh yea...the most important...GOOD WINE!

I guess at this point we have decided that at 49, and 59 we are never going to feel like we did at 32. I wish I had that energy level back! I still have lots to do!

I have found that beating the pain by sitting with ice before it comes helps.  If I have been working extra hard I know that once I sit down at night then everything will begin to swell and by the next morning I'll be sore.  If I sit with ice on my back or whatever before this happens then I can usually awake the next morning without the pain.  

Years ago I read the book " Cold Mountain." It described two ways to work and echoed perfectly a discussion I had had with some friends who also farmed. Some people start a project and work on it until its finished. Some people start many projects and rotate around doing one thing for a little while then switching to the next. It seems the later way ( its the way I work) is much less taxing. I tend to start out with the harder or less fun jobs first, then when I tire or get bored I switch. I get a lot done! One problem......if you are married to a person who must finish what he starts before starting something else you will drive them nuts! Thank goodness Martin works like I do! It is not for the obsessive compulsive types.

 PS- I am bored with Farm Dreams now so I am going to go finish my pea trellisis!

So how about some advice for those of us (in the over 40 class) who are not yet living on our dream property but planning to make that move in 2 years. Specifically, I'm looking to hire a personal trainer at my gym and ask them to develop a workout routine that would prepare me physically for the types of activity I'll be faced with when we make our move.

 

Would anyone be willing to to either post a list of physical activities that you do most while homesteading - or - give me some ideas of the types of stregthening exercises you might recommend if you were the trainer?

Work on your core. Back, and stomach...it supports the back. Upper body strength will come. Its the problem areas like the back that will give you long term fits. Also get limber. Stretch and learn how to stretch where it hurts. I saw an article in the "New Pioneer" about how to shovel that was interesting. It says to stay close to the implement and not to twist with heavy loads. Great advice and I bet it makes a difference.....sometimes I feel like I make a living  shoveling.....mostly manure! It seems like such a simple thing to write an article on but so important!

Small things like learning how to lift are important as well.

Good luck in the gym. The floor is level and dry.... not a foot of sucking muck. No wind, no rain, no blazing sun, and no bugs. No animal will decide that the worst day of the year weather wise is the best day to give birth. No one will colic at night check when you all you want to do is bathe and sleep. I say all this with a smile......I love the life.......too many days of civilization make me crazy! Sometimes I look in the mirror...I try not to these days.....and I see unkempt hair, bushy eye brows,  something? is smudged on my face, and I smell. But my eyes are shining, my skin is clear, I eat great food, and I am in better shape than most half my age....I will be 50 this year. My husband at almost 60 can outwork anyone. Its all worth it!~

When I started farming it took me about two months to get used to the physical labor, but I was in my early twenties. :p

The best advice I ever got was from a couple who had been farming the natural (hard) way for decades. You have to examine every single action your body makes and then ask if it is the most efficient way to perform the task and the best for your long-term health. You can get things done quickly, but if your body isn't bending or moving correctly it will lead to problems down the road. And those problems are very serious if you're farming, considering that your body is your most important piece of equipment. Without it, the farm doesn't function.

Even better than a personal trainer would be to find a physical therapist (one who works with pro or collegiate athletes) to show you how to use resistance bands to strengthen and balance all muscle groups, especially the core. Muscle and bone strength go together so if you aren't already eating to maximize health, do that too. Names for that are paleo, primal (Mark's Daily Apple blog), and the Weston Price Foundation. See how much bone broth you can consume!

Matt Winters said:

So how about some advice for those of us (in the over 40 class) who are not yet living on our dream property but planning to make that move in 2 years. Specifically, I'm looking to hire a personal trainer at my gym and ask them to develop a workout routine that would prepare me physically for the types of activity I'll be faced with when we make our move.

 

Would anyone be willing to to either post a list of physical activities that you do most while homesteading - or - give me some ideas of the types of stregthening exercises you might recommend if you were the trainer?

Hey Matt. I commend you for thinking ahead about this topic. I admittedly did not!   That said, I do train for and run a few marathons every year so I'm not a total couch potato.  But as others have mentioned, farm chores seem to have their own unique twist to them (ie uneven ground, fatigue, chasing an uncooperative animal, weather, multi-tasking, etc) that I don't think a gym is able to capture. 

When you mentioned a trainer, I was reminded of an episode of "The Biggest Loser".  The contestants returned to their hometown for the week, and they were visited by their trainer.  When a lady from a small town in Texas was visited by the trainer, he took her straight to the farm where they did a solid day of chores.  I don't recall exactly, but things like carrying & stacking bales of hay in the hay barn, loading 500lbs of feed on your back, 50lb at a time, chopping firewood, etc etc.   I wonder if you might be able to find a local farm where you could offer to help with chores?   What a great way to see 1st hand the fitness needed for the new chapter of your life!  

Best of luck to you!

 



Matt Winters said:

So how about some advice for those of us (in the over 40 class) who are not yet living on our dream property but planning to make that move in 2 years. Specifically, I'm looking to hire a personal trainer at my gym and ask them to develop a workout routine that would prepare me physically for the types of activity I'll be faced with when we make our move.

 

Would anyone be willing to to either post a list of physical activities that you do most while homesteading - or - give me some ideas of the types of stregthening exercises you might recommend if you were the trainer?

I'm glad Kim mentioned the "New Pioneer" book.  I remembered someone mentioning it in another thread, and thought it would be pertinent here, too.  In fact, it's on my to-read list!  As a nurse, I have had to be mindful of good body mechanics for the past 15 years, and it translates to farming.  Animals move in ways one may not anticipate, just as patients do!  My physical therapist husband frequently reminds me to keep heavy loads close to my body and to use my leg strength to do the work, not my back!  I agree with the yoga as smart preparation too.  There is a book called "Pain Free" by Egoscue that covers appropriate stretches really well, complete with pictures to demonstrate the exercises.  It's best to peruse it before you're really in pain!  I'm waiting for someone to market the Farmer Jane's Workout Video!! 

 

I pull weeds.  All. The.  Time.  I pull weeds.  :(

Shoveling Dirt.  I make my own soil mix, so I'd have to say I do a lot of lifting bags of soil amendments.  We also carry a lot of rocks around. 

I find that what is important for me is getting a good night's sleep.  If I don't, I end up with neck/back pains.

 

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