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

In the Night Gym: Winter Edition

Winter has arrived at In the Night Farm.  She roared in last weekend astride sixty mile-per-hour winds.  Nighttime lows plummeted from the mid-thirties to single digits.  Snow fell, only to be whisked eastward across the frozen ground.

I rushed to get de-icers into the horses’ water tanks.  Wednesday morning was so cold that ice layered on the surface anyway.  The horses blinked inquisitively at me, noses buried in hay, as I re-checked circuits and shattered the ice with a metal rod. 

Ah, winter.

I laugh when city people, upon hearing of the long hours of riding, rototilling, and stacking hay that fill my summers, comment that the dark months must provide a lovely rest.  Anyone who has lived on a farm knows better.  Winter brings her own set of problems — and they tend to be harder ones to solve.

If the hose isn’t properly drained, you’re looking at a couple hours’ worth of work to drag it indoors for thawing (all 120 meters of it).  Meanwhile, the horses need water, so you’ll be filling their tubs by hand.  With buckets.

Did I mention the 120 meters?  It’s about that far from spigot to the most distant sheep pens and horse paddocks.  That’s a long way to carry buckets of water, at 8.34 pounds per gallon, when each horse can be relied upon to drink at least 10 gallons per day…and you have 9 horses…

But I rather enjoy it.  In fact, I actually prefer carrying water to bothering with the hose.  Several days per week, when the horse tubs need topping off but aren’t more than half-empty, I get an extra workout during chore time.

Ever heard of farmer’s carries?  It’s a classic strongman event that involves carrying a couple heavy objects (kettlebells, dumbbells, modified barbells, or any of a variety of makeshift “buckets”) over distance. 

Barbells are all well and good, folks, but I have the real deal!  This kind of exercise is fabulous for strengthinging the grip, obviously, but carrying those buckets over hill and dale also works the forearms, upper back, abdominals, and legs like nothing else.

I’ve also discovered the fun of throwing tires.  All that hay I stacked last summer needs to stay well covered under heavy tarps.  Unfortunately, the tarps — no matter how well I tie or pin them down — aren’t always a match for the wind.  After storms, I have to climb atop the 12-foot haystack and rearrange the tarps and tires that help hold them down.

Now, these aren’t tractor tires.  They’re just leftovers off my old Dodge 4×4.  But at 5’3″ and 115 pounds, I find them a challenging but managable (read: satisfying!) object to toss around.  I’m thinking of inventing some kind of workout game that involves hefting them over fenceposts or somesuch.

I also want a tractor tire…maybe for Christmas!

In the meantime, it’s snowing again.  I can just make out the vast, white blanket, stitched with fences, spread across the valley in frigid pre-dawn.  Snow always means extra work on the farm.

Bring it on.


8 responses

  1. Oh…I have long ago lost my love affair with carrying the buckets of warm water in the winter time. In my twenties, and thirties, it was okay. But these days, not so much. If I could change one thing on this old farm it would be warm water at the ready come November. We have not officially made the shift to winter, but it is close. Very close.

    November 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    • LOL Jacke — I confess that I harbor a secret wish for underground pipes out to the horse compound, if only to shorten the length of hose I have to drain! In the meantime, though, I might as well take advantage of the situation. 🙂

      November 28, 2010 at 7:48 am

  2. Yeah, my worthless hose froze solid yesterday. (Today I bought a new one and brought it inside.) Dixie needed more water for the night, though, so I picked up a frozen 18 gallon bucket of water and dumped it in the de-icer’d trough. When I got inside and thought about it, I was pretty pleased with myself – I didn’t know I could still deadlift 145+ lbs.

    I used to be all about the Big Three compound lifts – deads, squats, and presses. After we bought this place and I started working on it every day, I realized I didn’t need the gym for functional fitness anymore.

    I must say that barbells are much more polite and never slosh 33 degree water down your pants…

    November 28, 2010 at 12:30 am

    • Nice one on the 18-gallon bucket! And a fair point on the manners of barbells; perhaps that’s why I keep them around. 🙂

      November 28, 2010 at 7:50 am

  3. What’s your soil like? Because, you know, digging trenches for new buried water lines is also a great workout!

    November 28, 2010 at 8:36 am

    • LOL Excellent point! It’s quite sandy — not too bad for digging, actually. But I think I’ll wait until it isn’t frozen solid, workout notwithstanding.

      November 28, 2010 at 8:40 am

  4. Frozen water tanks… it sounds like typically you can forego de icers barring the occasional recent weather event! Lucky for you. We have to install tank heaters and we cover the tanks with homemade insulated boxes, just to help conserve the energy and help the heaters to keep up when the mercury plummets with the nasty canadian storms we get No, I can’t say I share your enjoyment of hauling water buckets…I can find plenty of other heavy things to lift in lieu of that.. like shovels full of wet heavy snow…

    November 29, 2010 at 11:51 am

    • Nope, those de-icers will be necessary most days from now ’til March — but they do manage without the extra insulation you have to provide! Can’t say I envy you the shoveling…

      November 29, 2010 at 11:55 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s