Farm Fit for Life

Reader Contribution by Julia Shewchuk
1 / 4
2 / 4
3 / 4
4 / 4

Recently I had the opportunity to take a full body scan test as part of a wellness program. This body scan provided several results on features such as weight, BMI, Body Fat Percentage, Skeletal Muscle Percentage, Resting Metabolism, Visceral Fat Level and Body Age. I’m not going to bore you with the details but I will divulge one number: my body age is 39. That is great news, especially considering I am 55. In addition to this body scan, I had a comprehensive health and blood exam done by my primary doctor and she started positively gushing about these large green fluffy things showing up in my blood profile that seem to be an indicator of protective mechanisms and lack of inflammation in my body. At least the way I understood it. So, I must be doing something right. What this might be deserves closer examination.

Fit for Life – Is It the Gym?

While I am very fit, it is not the gym. I haven’t seen the inside of a gym in eight years. I have been very active my entire life, but have not had the opportunity to step inside a gym or yoga study since I started living on a farm.

Fit for Life – What Are the Factors?

According to many studies and research, very humorously chronicled in “Spring Chicken: Stay Forever Young” by Bill Gifford, being and staying active physically and mentally is the number one factor in a person’s life that not only keeps a person healthy but also has the ability to delay the signs of aging. Not Human Growth Hormone (actually now shown to speed up aging), not Botox, not face lifts or rubbing placenta on your face. No kidding, no pun intended, but one of my prior wwoofers told me of another farm she worked on, where the owner routinely used placenta on her skin to keep it looking young. I can’t make this stuff up, I swear.

Fit For Life – It Is the Farm

In September of last year, my husband gave me one of those fit bracelets that keeps track of your daily activity and sleep patterns. So here is my daily average activity, rain or shine, six days a week:

Average daily steps around 14,000 for morning and evening farm chores such as feeding, milking, cleaning pens. This average increases to about 18,000 in case of rotating cows, or looking for escaped dogs. This apparently puts me in the top 5 percent using those fitness bracelets.

Average daily weight lifting of two to four bales of hay, each weighing approximately 60 pounds into the golf cart. This average increases tremendously when we receive a new shipment of hay consisting of 200 square bales of hay which needs to be unloaded. Or when buying weekly load of 20-30 bags of feed that need to be unloaded and stacked. Or shoveling sand to fill in holes.

Average whole body strength training of two to three wheel barrels full of goat poop and hay pushed from the pens to the manure pile and dumped. The distance between pens and manure pile ranges from 1/2-mile of the pasture pens to 100 feet in the mom’s pen. This strength training increases significantly when fence posts are carried to a place where the golf cart can’t drive, or if wood needs to be split. I am also saying whole body strength training because the calves are involved due to walking on grass/sand, the gluteus maximus and front thighs are involved in pulling/pushing the wheel barrel, the stomach and back are involved in staying up straight and the arms and shoulders, well, they hold up the handles.

I also get an average of eight hours sleep at night with deep sleep being more than 50 percent of my sleep pattern. This apparently puts me also in the minority of woman my age. Due to the normal, average, daily farm activity, my body tells me I need to go to sleep at 9 p.m. If I try to stay up longer than that, I end up with my face on my dinner plate. And this is not an age thing. Our wwoofers, 30 years my junior, head for the bed the same time I am. The alarm rings next morning at 6 a.m. That leaves room for a good eight hour sleep. The deep sleep results, again, from the activity undertaken during the day. Of course, this eight hour average will go out the window just as quickly during kidding season, when a doe decides to kid at 10 p.m. or 4 a.m., but that’s what naps are for. Nap, did I just say nap. Forget I said nap. What is a nap?

Use It or Lose It

Of course, not everything is rosy in this picture. There are days that seem just long, so long and at the end we are physically and emotionally exhausted. But here is the thing: our bodies are in motion and stay in motion. We continue to build muscle and not fat. We are in the fresh air. We stay active and so we don’t rust. That is the real deal in not aging and staying young, mentally and physically.

The Food Helps Too

We can’t forget the food. We eat probably healthier than most of society. We consume our own goat dairy products which we know have not been contaminated with growth or other hormones, antibiotics or processed with chemicals or other emulsifiers. We eat a lot of vegetables which we either grow ourselves or trade with another farm. We eat the meat, as a side dish, from our own animals; again, grass/hay fed, no growth hormones, no sub therapeutic antibiotic use. We are not perfect, we do eat chips once in a while, or fast food, or processed foods, but that’s the exception and not the rule and every time we do it, we regret it. The taste is fake and our bodies have a hard time digesting the “fake food”.

And Lastly, the Body Care Products

We are now embarking on the last area of our farm life where chemicals have sort of still been in use and that is the body care products. We are already making our own soap, so we are using real goat milk soap, which is actually a soap that cleans your body without the use of chemical cocktails and detergents. The glycerin that is produced stays in it and is not extracted for other uses. We use real goat milk, no water, food grade olive oil, sustainable palm oil, coconut oil and essential oils and some fragrance oils. No artificial colorants, no lards, no tallow. We even wash our hair with the goat milk soap and it results in fluffy, clean hair that actually shines. We have a dog shampoo bar to repel fleas and ticks and treat hotspots (anyone else have a Jack Russell?). We are working on a goat milk lotion.

And the thing is, these products are not only good, they are good for you and good for the environment. What can be better and can make you feel better than doing something good all around. Join us on Facebook at Serenity Acres Farm and Goat Dairy to see our adventures and see the newest kidding pictures. Join us at Serenity Acres Farm and leave us some feedback. We’d love to hear from you!

—Farm Fit Goat Mother Julia

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368