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A Farming For Fitness Strategy

I was going to start my new lifestyle/fitness/exercise program this morning, but then I had to write this column so now it will likely be tomorrow or even next Monday before I really get at it. Monday is always the best day to make major lifestyle changes.

I am a morning person so I have to make a point of getting the important projects done early otherwise I am hooped for the day. So in the morning I usually focus on writing production-related stories and then in the afternoon I switch to mindless stuff like marketing — managing your puts and calls, and machinery repair — like details on how to replace the sieves in your air seeder.

But back to my fitness plans. This is something I have been planning for some time. I have tried it before — bought a gym membership, went at it hard for a couple weeks or a month, but then work got so hectic I had to give it up. Always a heartbreaking decision. So this time I’m not rushing into it. I want to get it right.

Recently, I was home in Ontario visiting family and looking at some old photos and I came across one of our family at a beach along the St. Lawrence River, in the late 50s. Everyone is sitting around in their bathing suits, and my kids looked at this photo and both said, “Boy, Grandpa (my dad) is looking pretty ripped,” (which is a reference of him looking fit, not drunk).

That gave me the idea: perhaps the best fitness plan is to buy land and go farming. I’m not sure why no one has thought of this before. Forget spending hundreds of dollars on a gym membership, or a few thousand bucks for Jenny Craig miracle food, or wasting time counting Weight Watcher points. Buy a farm, get fit and make money at the same time. It’s a no brainer.

I go to quite a few farm meetings in a year, and most of the farmers and ranchers I see there are quite fit. There are some with a few extra pounds but I figure those are the guys who have succumbed to the evil of too much labour-saving technology — the slackers.

Most ranchers are fit from riding horses and chasing cows. When I go to meetings I can see their belt buckles. That was a real wakeup call for me at the airport the other day. I went through metal screening, the buzzer goes off, and the wand waver asks me if I am wearing a belt.

“Of course I am wearing a belt, can’t you see it… oh, I guess my shirt is a bit blousy.” Eventually, we found the buckle, which ruled out the possibility that I was concealing a grenade launcher in my underwear and I was allowed to proceed, but it was just another reminder that maybe I need to tighten up those abs. I think I have abs.

My son, who is a fitness trainer, likes to remind me that somewhere along the line my six-pack morphed into a keg.

But, yes a nice small low-tech, profitable farm might be the answer. For a time, when I was a kid we had horses, so that would use up a few calories every day trying to catch them. There were box stalls to clean with a pitchfork. In the winter, before we had a stable cleaner, we would fork manure onto a sled and fork it off again in the field on the snow as the horses plodded along.

In the spring we’d walk the plowed fields throwing rocks onto a stone boat, and then unload those along a rail fence line. And how could I forget the many enjoyable hours of stacking hay bales in the mow of the barn on a glorious, sunny, 80 degree day, with 90 per cent humidity, in mid-July? Boy, if that didn’t sweat off a few pounds nothing would. Ah, for the good old days.

Rather than rush out and buy a farm, I should just work for someone else for a while, until I get back into the swing of things. So here’s the pitch. Wanted work as lead-hand on a small profitable, horse-powered, livestock operation, needing someone to clean out box stalls, pick rocks, and stack small square or small round bales in the barn. Salary will need to be commensurate with my experience. Call anytime, I will be at my desk.

Geez, look at the clock. Just about time to switch mental gears and move to the lighter stuff. I have an interview here on how the insertion of site-based polymorphism markers open new perspectives for genome saturation and marker-assisted selection in wheat. I’ll crank that baby out right after a nice lunch.

Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.



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