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.
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.