My skin is dry. I am outside in the weather at least 4 hours a day in the winter, when the winds whip and the icy air freezes. When it is visciously cold, I wear a balaclava to cover my face. The air is dry here compared to the west coast. People use humidifiers to boost the moisture content, but for the first time I can recall in my adult life, my skin is dry. I made a wonderful skin and hair cream and after my nightly bath, I slather it on my face and hands and I use a different one on my old calloused feet. Those feet work hard, grasping and gripping, being stomped on, and flexing in awkward poses. In the summer I wear Crocs a lot, except when working with the sheep. Then the Blundstone boots come out to offer a bit more protection for pointy hooves.
My hair is straw pile. The shampoo I made from hemp oil is not drying and I also use the coconut oil and shea butter cream on my hair that I use on my face. This does help keep it from looking like a straw pile, though it still feels that way. I am currently trying to grow it longer again, and wear hats in the summer and winter to protect it and sheild my face.
I have a farmer's tan too, wtih the face and arms and hands being well tanned and the rest of my body white. I never wear shorts or expose my bare feet for several reasons. They need to be protected from the bugs and crap that I am constantly exposed to. The mosquitos are not out during the mid day, so I start work at noon and go until around 10 pm daily.
My abdomen is toned, though there is still a layer of fat on it that I cannot seem to budge. My butt muscles are taught too and my arms are strong for an old lady. Still there is the hanging down flesh telltale of age and genetics. I go to sleep late, usually between midnight and one and freshly washed in my claw foot tub after soaking away some of the grit and warming the old bones. I fall asleep quickly despite barking dogs outside my window, something that would have surely kept me awake in the city. I am not sure whether it is the sheer exhaustion or the mental note that the dogs are going to bark to keep me safe that allows me to ignore the noise. Because of a crooked spine and arthritis, sleep is not easy for me and I do wake a lot during the night, though I am rested in the morning.
Now, to compare my farmer body and mindset to the city girl whom I left behind, I would say that the experience has been most beneficial to me. I was deteriorating rapidly in the city, facing knee replacements and another operation on my hand to keep the fingers mobile. So far, in the four years I am here, these are held off and that is due to the phsycial use of the body. My mindset is full of gratitude, gratitude for the animals which are in my care and the land which provides for me and the fact that I am alive and well enough and sane enough (don't say it) to enjoy all of this.
Was it a sound decision to become a farmer at my age? Absolutely and without a doubt, yes. Am I happier despite the many many challenges I had? Another yes for that, for sure. Would I recommend this life to others? No, not unless they were driven and self directed. There is no one telling me to get out of bed, no clock to punch and no reward, no paycheque and no nada nothing. But the value is intrinsic in the job and for me, it was the best decision. I have learned so much and grown spiritually. In the next 5 years as I liquidate my assets and plan to retire, I will concentrate on herbalism, aromatherapy and healing and possibly share and teach these things too.
So, in the middle of a rainy night when I am cold already, and there is a tussel outside that demands my attention, I will get out of my warm bed, dress and go outside to see what the fuss is about. I will sit up with a ewe who is having trouble delivering her lamb and rescue baby goslings who cannot get out of their shells. I will go out late at night to lock up the chickens and ducks so the owl and eagles do not kill them early in the morning and I will go out in the blizzard to feed and water them. I love them and am so honoured to be part of this life. I am blessed to be a farmer, really and truly, I am.