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Farming and Gardening

We have laying hens and sell heirloom organic produce at the local Farmers' Market weekly or as we are able. Fatigue is my biggest challenge, with pain running a close second. We love our hens and the nourishing whole foods we produce, but we are learning that we have to manage our priorities carefully. Our two horse passed from old age a few years ago and we miss our therapeutic trail rides. Anyone else out there trying to start or hold onto a rural way of living?

  1. Hi ElisabethD! I am sorry RA is starting to impede on your hobbies and work. I do know that at least a few members own and ride horses and quite a few garden. If I recall, at least a couple of them have smaller farms and/or live in the country. While it can be an extra challenge to live such a demanding lifestyle, potentially miles away from medical treatment, I do know some members are doing it. I do hope they chime in here and share their experiences with you. I am sorry you miss those trail rides. I know losing some of our favorite activities can be hard and painful at times. It sounds like you are already figuring out how best to manage your energy and stamina and I think that's excellent. The great thing about the interest in heirloom, organic products is that many young people are getting interested in this as well. You may see if you can hire some eager, young people to help out or even see if working with local and state programs that may provide interns to help out on your property. I live close to a major university and it's often not too hard to find college students willing to learn new (old? 😉 ) skills. If that's not an option for you, I hope that your RA gives you a break and allows you to work your land and care for your animals for many years to come. Thank you for sharing and I wish I could taste some of your eggs -- I bet they are fabulous! Best, Erin, Team Member.

    1. Thank you for those good thoughts, Erin Rush!

  2. Hi ElisabethD. Fatigue is certainly one of the top issues that comes up in the community. Here are a couple of articles on the subject from our editorial team, with management tips:

    Gardening can certainly be therapeutic for many. While I have little doubt that they are talking about doing it on a different level than you are (I can say this with pretty much certainty in the first case, since I happen to be her husband), here are a couple of our contributors writing about what gardening does for them:

    Perhaps, in your case, some of the information to look at may be on exercise and how those with RA manage. I suggest this, thinking that the activity is as much an issue as the rural element. Here is one example from one of our contributors who is very athletically active and knowledgeable on the subject:

    I know this seems like a lot of information, but the articles are short and you can pick and choose what to look for. Please keep us posted on how you are doing. Best, Richard ( Team)

    1. Thank you Richard. Lots of good thoughts. I am definitely a night owl, so most of our gardening is done in the relative cool of the afternoon and evening. We have a large migratory bird population in our prairie oasis and enjoy watching them during our frequent rests.

      1. Elizabeth... glad to read your post. My wife and I have an acre on the edge of city limits. For 26 years we have raised goats, rabbits, chickens, multiple gardens, fruit, berries etc. while we were teaching. I understand your lack of energy to be able to keep up with it. We decided to sell our house this year... that didn't work out so well. 😀 (put it on the market in May and just had a deal fall through today and is now off the market for the season) So, even though there was some disappointment that we couldn't leave this 100 year old house and our certified wildlife habitat behind, (and move into a newer single level place with a small yard) we decided to feel blessed that we have such a great environment to grow old in. Plus, I have found that if I make myself get out and work a few hours every morning my whole day goes better... the added exercise and the exposure to the natural world and my garden buddies, the cats. my day goes generally better than if I were to just feed into my pain. Yes there are days that I don't go out, and days that I have to really work on getting myself out because of the pain. But, I have found that once I get out... I do eventually feel better (as does my wife, as I'm not so grumpy).

        We'll see how the winter goes here in Idaho. Hopefully we won't have a repeat of last year's. We may just decide to stay here and scale back. We lost our dog last winter, gave away our last hen last Spring, so we are down to two 10 yr old cats who are loving us for not moving. The have had this acre to roam on there entire lives. I think subdivision living would have got us all.

        We have also considered donating the use of our land (at the least pasture part) to a refugee garden program, or a 4H group if there is interest. That would cut down on my work on at least 1/2 of my place.

        I know I will not be able to maintain the level of activity that I have enjoyed before retirement due to the diagnosis of RA, but I hope that the failed sell might be telling me that I need this place to keep me going and sane. We do Yoga 2/3 time/week and go to the gym another 2 days/week, so hopefully the extra activity will keep me moving. I do best when I move. However, I am enough of a realist to know to set my goals lower and work at what I do a little slower.

        Sorry ... this kind of turned into a babbling diatribe. lol

        Hang in there, but you know what is best for you... good luck and stay productive.


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