Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm

In the Night Gym

Farm life is good for keeping a body in shape. A few equines, ovines, canines, and felines, with a side of gallus domesticus, will keep you moving enough to maintain a basic level of fitness (though not necessarily leanness, which is more heavily influenced by diet than by exercise).

When I took up bodybuilding last March, however, it was with something more than the daily work in mind. Something like this:


That is 16.83 tons of hay. It can’t stay on that trailer all winter. Somebody has to move it. Welcome to In the Night Gym.


I spent about five hours yesterday in a state of intense gratitude for every squat, lunge, push-up, pull-up, Roman chair, plank, and renegade row I’ve pounded out in the past few months. This is what it’s always been about: Functional strength — having what it takes to do what needs to be done, efficiently and without fear of injury.


I took care to eat a few extra carbs (in the form of sweet potatoes, dried fruit, and a banana, which brought me up to about 200g, vs. my usual 150-175g…and the fattening, American standard of 300-400g), and was amazed by my consistent energy level. This is exactly what the primal people said would happen as I adjusted to eating low-carb. They weren’t kidding!


Sure, stacking the 100-pound bales was still hard work. But it wasn’t nearly as hard as last year. This year, I worked longer and harder, with less fatigue and — to my surprise — very little next-day soreness with which to contend.


Good thing…because 7 tons remain on the trailer. Looks like I’ll be hitting the gym again today! Would you believe I’m actually looking forward to it?


…after a generous breakfast of Sweet Potato & Zucchini Frittercakes, that is.

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5 responses

  1. Well you sure had to load alot more than we did , but I was doing the same thing today..after riding a hot to trot 4 year old green Morgan mare.. Tis the season..Last Friday and and then saturday, I fell off the Primal way of eating bigtime with the obstacle course planning and stress, but with today's demanding schedule, I was back on full speed and after 5 ton's of hay , I had plenty of energy at the end.Still a challenge but there is a certain amount of satisfaction of having the strength to do this. Ofcourse, I won't lie, hubby was right there taking the bales to the top of the stack, 10 feet high…

    August 30, 2009 at 8:10 pm

  2. You're awesome, Jonna! Riding those babies is hard work, isn't it?I, too, rode yesterday after moving 7 tons of hay. (I did have help with part of it.)Did you/are you going through the low-carb-flu thing? It took me about 3 weeks to get over that sleeeeepy, dragging, low-energy period, but now I'm ROARING along! 🙂

    August 31, 2009 at 11:46 am

  3. It's hard work, but it's my favorite kind…Yes, I definitely had some down days and when I slip , or when the meal thing is out of my control for the evening and my options are limited, I definitely feel the difference when I have had too many carbs.

    August 31, 2009 at 2:24 pm

  4. You know you're crazy in a good way when this kind of thing is your idea of fun, moving hay bales is one of my favorite barn chores!Barn chores really do make the best workouts because of the 'functional fitness' of it. Of knowing that you're not obsessed with you're looks anymore (I used to be, blech), you're obsessed with being able to get the job done, and see the results in the work you do, not in the mirror.Suddenly little things like no longer struggling with a getting a heavy saddle (I ride western) onto a tall horse or having to break during moving hay bales/cleaning stalls is SO worth the trade of having no muscle and being pin-thin.

    January 30, 2010 at 3:03 pm

  5. You got that right, equusapp! Today, I hauled a bunch of ranch panels around the farm, singlehanded, with ease. Being strong feels really, really good!

    February 20, 2010 at 7:55 pm

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