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T O P I C    R E V I E W
maryjane Posted - Sep 23 2014 : 3:58:43 PM
"Boy, did the Farm Aerobics column in the most recent issue of your magazine hit home!

I am a 60-year-old gal born and raised in the city. However, about 7 years ago I decided I was really worried about what I was eating in my beef. So after about 4 years of planning and investigating I bought a small herd of Red Devon beef cattle.

I weighed just shy of 250 lbs. NOTHING I did was easy—I am 100% grass fed and even moving a paddock line was a chore.

But as I was out and about I got sun and exercise. As I tended to my beloved cattle I had to move and walk.

I became more aware of what I was eating and how much. I got so I could lift a 50 lb bag of mineral and move a water tub with not too much consternation—amazing how they lighten up over time! I could eventually walk over 7 miles a day when the cows had to be moved to a far pasture and I was setting up a bunch of paddocks.

I am healthier and stronger than I have ever been. My hair and skin are softer and my health and knees are much improved. I have lost just shy of 65 lbs and continue to very slowly adjust my body to a healthier "new" one - at 60!

I have a "gator" but use it only when I have to lug equipment—other than that my cows and I walk our farm—or sit and watch the birds—together and love every step.

I am at peace and healthy.

Your column struck home—that's ME—I am fit because I am doing healthy stuff I LIKE to do.

In the beginning I made myself a promise that each day I would walk at least a mile—not very far at all now—but a LONG way in the beginning—or I would have to go on the Elliptical that day. I have been on it three times—all three during snow storms when I did my chores in the shortest way possible so I could sit and watch the snow with the cows—not be trudging in it.

Can't WAIT to see the shape I am in at 65! hope to be even better.

Keep up the good work—LOVE your magazine—as does hubby (he grabs it before I do and "suggests" articles I will especially like)."

Living the cow dream

-Joanie Walker
Walker Farm at Whortleberry Hill—New Braintree, MA

Farm Aerobics

It’s easy for me to exercise, because I do farm aerobics—also known as chores—and the decision is never mine. No matter how tired I am, no matter how cold, no matter how mucky the mud or deep the snow, my chickens need fresh water, fresh straw, or a 25-pound sack of feed. Some mornings, after an especially gorgeous sunrise, I’m tempted to hoist a sack over each shoulder, taking advantage of the bounce I feel.

In the winter, my Heritage Jerseys need their watering troughs drained regularly to keep their drinking water fresh. That means an eighth of a mile down into the lower pasture and an eighth of a mile back up, with 15 pounds of hose on each shoulder—I look like a Sherpa lugging ropes for mountain climbers. They also need their daily winter supply of hay and alfalfa pellets. That means more walks to and from their various shelters. If I have to stop in the shop for some tool I might need, that’s another walk. (And then it’s always back to the shop. I’ve learned my lesson there: A good farmer always puts a tool back. No matter the walk, no matter the reason, no matter the clock.)

Once you decide to be a farmer, exercise happens naturally. You stretch when you must, hale that bale, bend, lift, and pull. And the benefits are immediate. If you work outside, the air is so fresh you bring the smell of it back indoors on your clothes, oxygenating your lungs double-time. Exercise keeps your lymph fluid circulating and your immune system strong. And it’s what keeps your heart healthy, too—by making it pump fast. Chores make my heart muscle contract like a fist milking a cow.

Why can’t more of us—in the city and the country—know the restorative power of exercise that’s built into our lives? By merely choosing certain tools and tasks, we can create more opportunities for hands-on work. And once we decide to become more hands-on, exercise no longer means a trip to the gym.

In old photos of my mother’s kitchen, there isn’t a single electrical gadget on her counter. Yet she grated, sliced, whipped, puréed, and kneaded enough food for our family of seven, and she did it seven days a week. The result? Her forearms looked as if they belonged to a shot-putter. Without ever pulling on a pair of spandex pants or paying a monthly gym fee, my mother became an athlete by doing everyday garden, stitching, and kitchen chores.

Making bread the old-fashioned way can be a workout, too.
With a hand-cranked mill, grinding a few cups of flour does a number on your lungs, your back, even your legs. Your whole body gets into it. There’s a 20-minute, upper-torso workout right there. And when it’s kneading time? That’s a few minutes of an intense workout for your arms, every bit as good as lifting those hand-held weights. Then, you’ll want to hand-churn some delicious homemade butter for that hearty loaf—more toning for your arms.

Other tasks mean other opportunities. Every fall, we turn about 40 heads of homegrown cabbage into a winter’s worth of sauerkraut (the real, alive, unpasteurized kind) by grating all of it by hand. I could use an electric food processor, but I’m superstitious. I want every crock to “take.” For some reason, whenever I’ve used an electric food processor to speed things up, I’ve lost entire crocks to mold. Plus the toil makes the end product even more worthwhile and tasty and nutritious.

For farm-kitchen exercise, give your body what it wants—exercise that feeds you. Let’s use tools like hand-cranked vegetable gadgets, coffee grinders, and cherry pitters. Our arms act as throttles, our hearts stroke like an engine, and fresh farm air fuels our lungs. Remember good old-fashioned, non-electric can openers? Let’s turn our kitchens back into gyms again—if only because doing it yourself (by hand) means doing yourself good.

For a vast array of hand-powered tools, try, an Ohio company created to supply Amish people with life “exercise” tools.
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Ron Posted - Oct 06 2014 : 09:57:42 AM
Very nice Janet. Will get the apricot oil then give it a shot. Thank you !
NellieBelle Posted - Oct 06 2014 : 08:38:41 AM
Okay, I went down and got the recipe. This is Cold Process, small batch, Organic Coffee Bar soap. probably 6-8 bars depending how thick you cut your bars. Palm oil 6.25oz., Apricot Kernel oil 8oz., Olive Oil 12oz., Coffee Butter 4oz., Coconut Oil 10oz., (Distilled H2O) 13.2 oz. and Lye 5.30oz. I mix 1 TBS organic coffee in top layer. When in press I sprinkle coffee on top too for finishing touch. This is the last one I made and have it scratched out on paper. Oh and the oz. are measured on food scale.
Ron Posted - Oct 06 2014 : 07:58:09 AM
No hurry Janet. I am a thinking the coffee soap will make some nice gifts. Getting to that time of year to start a thinking about that stuff.
NellieBelle Posted - Oct 06 2014 : 07:51:30 AM
Yes Ron I will share it. My recipe is down in the cabin where I make my soap so when I go down to milk I will hop on over to cabin and grab it up and post it for you.
Ron Posted - Oct 06 2014 : 07:45:14 AM
Thank you Janet! You are like an encyclopedia of how to do wonderfull things. Lol..
Want to share the coffee soap recipe?
NellieBelle Posted - Oct 06 2014 : 06:56:32 AM
Also Also there is a page that shows you what herbs etc. you may use to color soaps naturally. Granted I only see one that is organic, but if you know which color you want you could make your own from organic herbs and add them. This just gives you an idea of what the coloring would be. Hope it helps some.
NellieBelle Posted - Oct 06 2014 : 06:46:13 AM has natural organic colors. I see there are other web sites too that have organic colors usually made from plants. You can always make your own from plants you have. Beets, indigo, etc. If you look up organic colorants on your search engine there should be some that come up. I don't use colors, just the products I put in them. Lavender/oatmeal. I like the color. The coffee bar reminds me of coffee and cream and I layer it for coloring.
Ron Posted - Oct 06 2014 : 04:55:04 AM
I love making soap but my endevores have been limited. Always cold process and always organic. Trying to find an organic way to get colors has been a challenge. Ideas?.....
NellieBelle Posted - Oct 06 2014 : 04:49:48 AM
Charlene, time passes so fast here I know I've missed half my life. Honestly, we don't know where it goes. I blame it on all the chores and things we have going on but that's just the way it is. I love making soap for our family and friends. But now that we've discovered the ones we like that will probably be what I stick with, but it's fun to do something different now and then. Do you have the book, "Basic Soap Making?" They have some very useful charts in there that tell what different oils do, like Coconut creates a fluffy lather, it also creates a hard bar. i.e.. palm oil creates hard bar and stable lather. Coconut Milk has been found to have antibacterial and anti fungal properties. Goat's milk makes a moisturizing bar. It's just so interesting and fun. It also has a lot of the saponification value chart. I know you make more soap than I do, so you probably already have that information.
CloversMum Posted - Oct 05 2014 : 6:47:13 PM
Thank you. I freeze my goat milk already to help the temperatures when adding the lye. My plain goat milk bars are hard as perhaps the coconut milk creates a softer bar? I also make goat milk soap with oatmeal and lavender (which I love!) and I don't see any difference between those bars and the plain goat milk bar. Your coffee bar sounds delightful...I bet it gets odors out very well! It might be that I will also try some experimenting this fall as well...if life would slow down just a tad. :-) Does that ever happen?
NellieBelle Posted - Oct 05 2014 : 1:00:09 PM
Yes, when I go to make soap using cows milk I will let you know how it goes. I read somewhere that they freeze (milk) first in cubes, so that when adding the lye it doesn't change the milk because of temp. getting so warm. If things work out I may try it yet this fall. I find the coconut milk bar softer, but then it may be just because I add oatmeal and lavender to my goat milk bars. The coffee bar has some organic coffee in it but the coffee/coconut milk bars seem softer and lather up more. (I use coconut oil also) So may be very little difference if all things were equal. ?
CloversMum Posted - Oct 03 2014 : 08:40:39 AM
Janet, if you experiment with cow's milk to make soap, let me know how it turns out. I've never used coconut milk, but always use coconut oil in my soaps. How does the coconut milk compare to goats milk in the final bar of soap?
NellieBelle Posted - Sep 25 2014 : 5:00:47 PM
Sounds absolutely wonderful. 175 bars of soap. Wow! Looks like the soap business is doing well. I have people asking for my soap too, but just haven't made that many bars at one time. I've always used goat milk and coconut milk, but want to try some cow's milk. I just want to see if I would like it. Maybe this fall. Good chatting with you Charlene.
CloversMum Posted - Sep 25 2014 : 4:03:52 PM
Yes, but I love all the farm "stuff" so most of the time, it doesn't feel like work. (Now there are those days!) And, life is a bit older three kids are either out of the house or working full time and popping in and out. (I never know how many plates to set out for dinner!) My middle daughter has special needs so she stays home and is tutored...most of the time her health is stable and life is easy...just slow-paced. She doesn't do much fast...walks with forearm crutches and has some learning disabilities. So I actually only have to keep up with my youngest in school. He's in third grade.

My goat milking time is actually my "break" They are always glad to see me and I appreciate the quiet moments with them! Isn't that funny of me?

Today was a busy day with my soap business and egg deliveries. I shipped off two packages of to southern Idaho and the other to Wyoming. That always makes my day! Others actually really like my soaps and are willing to order them! I also made about 175 bars of soap today.

Now kids are home and its time for afternoon chores...I do love hearing them banter back and forth while still learning to work hard. Sunshine for my soul!
NellieBelle Posted - Sep 24 2014 : 11:46:46 AM
Yes, all those goats to milk and then there will be Clover on top of that. Children in school. I take my hat off to you my lady! And yes, the benefits are endless.
Ron Posted - Sep 24 2014 : 11:02:29 AM
Uh, hello, I think you are at the top of the list of workers Charlene. All the goats, cow, family, I think I just lost that other 4 pounds thinking about your day!
CloversMum Posted - Sep 24 2014 : 09:47:03 AM
Laughing here too! And, that's a good exercise too. Love this farm life and the benefits keep popping up over and over. Very impressed with everything that all you people do! Wow!
Ron Posted - Sep 24 2014 : 07:26:05 AM
Well have you read throught what this women does in a day? Oh, never mind MJ, I forgot who I was talking too here. Do not know how you girls do it, but you both run circles around me.
maryjane Posted - Sep 24 2014 : 07:04:44 AM
Ron, your comment on losing weight just reading about Janet's day gave me one of those precious and much needed laugh-right-out-loud moments:):):)
Ron Posted - Sep 24 2014 : 06:30:16 AM
Well I might have some help a coming. One or two of the girls are coming over today. When they show up things get done! And with a smile. Women are great to work with, usually you better move fast get out of the way or get run over.
NellieBelle Posted - Sep 24 2014 : 06:24:03 AM
Thankfully Joe and son take care of most of the hay when the time comes to putting in the barn. I open gates, and help get bales to them so they can get them up in the loft. I usually help if they will let me. Some times they order me to just be the gate and door person. I still have to haul it out of the barn to feed. I give them hay now even when they have this grass. Who's spoiled? It is a workout and that's for sure. Take care.
Ron Posted - Sep 24 2014 : 04:26:12 AM
I needed to drop 8 so you got me half way there. I got to get a few hundred sixty pound bales in the barn today that got brought in yesterday. Of course help has disappeared lol.. So that should get the next 4 gone.
Susan Powder has nothing on me, except maybe the hair cut.
NellieBelle Posted - Sep 24 2014 : 04:18:45 AM
Ron Posted - Sep 23 2014 : 7:31:11 PM
Wow Janet, I lost four pounds just reading your post. Phew
NellieBelle Posted - Sep 23 2014 : 6:06:42 PM
I know since I've been milking I'm in better shape than I've been in for some time. There is just so much that needs tending to. And it's not something you can put off or decide your not going to do. You have to go chore and the best part is, you want to. I look forward to going to the barn and the girls (and Pumpkin) are happy to see me. It doesn't get much better than that. I throw 40lb. bags over my shoulder and put it away. Chicken feed, alfalfa pellets, hay bales, yep, great workout. Mucking the barn of cow poo. Lots of walking and running back and forth. And seeing what's going on around me is a reward too. It's all good!