The Farm Report: Weekend Workouts

      26 Comments on The Farm Report: Weekend Workouts

If we keep doing farm work on the weekends, I’ll probably end up in great shape.

I mentioned in a previous post that Chareva hasn’t been working out at the gym, but hasn’t needed to because she’s been laboring around the farm all week.  I usually head to the gym on Sunday, which wasn’t an option this weekend because it was closed for Easter, but I certainly got in a good workout nonetheless.  As I sit here writing, my hands are forearms are sore.

When we first moved here, the pastures were all surrounded with old, rusty barbed wire.  Besides being an eyesore, the barbed wire was a tetanus shot waiting to happen, especially with two rambunctious girls who don’t always see the need to keep an eye on what’s in front of them when they’re running.  Some weeks ago, we paid a guy to come out and knock most of it down with a backhoe.  Unfortunately, he left several piles of tangled barbed wire and t-posts behind.  He also knocked down some dead trees along the driveway and left much of the wreckage from those behind as well.  (I’m not complaining, mind you — he didn’t charge much, and it was a relief to be able to cross our driveway without climbing over two barbed-wire fences.)

Chareva has been adding to her garden in the front pasture – pumpkins and watermelons, among other future treats – and we needed to add more fencing around the newly-planted beds or risk having her efforts end up feeding the local deer instead of us.  Since we’re trying to re-purpose as much existing material as possible, the obvious solution was to free the t-posts from the tangled piles of barbed wire and use those for an expanded garden fence.

So we spent a good chunk of Saturday working with a pair of bolt-cutters.  One of us would pull on a t-post, and the other would start snipping away at the barbed wire until we could extract it from the mess.  Some of the posts were too bent to be useful, but we still ended up with a good supply.  Then we turned our attention to the piles of tangled wire, with one of us carefully unraveling it while the other cut it into sections small enough to stuff into a garbage can.  (We’ve filled four of them so far, and we’re not done yet.)  Then we hauled the t-posts to the garden area.

We also had to move a knocked-down gate post with a base encased in concrete to a junk pile we’ll have hauled away later.  I tried dead-lifting it, but there was dirt packed around the concrete, so I lost my grip a couple of times.  The good news is that I didn’t drop the concrete base on my foot.  The bad news is that the post bounced up and smacked Chareva in the ribs as she was trying to help me steady the thing.  (She’s fine, but she got me back on Sunday by yanking a sharp tree branch into my legs.  Never mess with a farm woman.)  We ended up having to roll the post to the junk pile, which involved  some serious huffing and puffing since it wasn’t exactly shaped like a wheel.

I was pretty well wiped out afterwards, but recovered enough to play 36 holes of frisbee golf before dinner.  I’m proud to say I don’t suck as much at the game as I did just a couple of months ago, largely because Sara convinced me to switch to her grip.  (To quote her directly:  “Daddy, it’s getting boring beating you all the time.”)

On Sunday, we took on more heavy tasks.  First we hauled some rather large tree branches across one pasture to what’s called “the burn pile.”  Okay, I admit it:  I’d never heard of a burn pile before.  In case you haven’t either, it’s a pile of junk you can legally burn, providing the stuff in the pile can actually be burned and you get a permit from the fire department.  I believe we could probably roast around 200,000 marshmallows over our burn pile once it’s ignited.

Next I yanked some big bushes I don’t want (because they’re ugly and full of thorns) out by the roots, which involved pumping with my legs hard enough to negate any need for doing a set of leg presses at the gym.  Those went on the burn pile too.

Finally, I pounded a dozen or so t-posts into the ground to expand the fence around the garden.  We wanted to put the posts in neat lines, but the terrain had other ideas.  There’s a reason Tennessee’s theme song is Rocky Top: there are rocks and rock shelves under the soil everywhere, usually directly beneath the spot where I intend to pound in a t-post.

I discovered the rock issue awhile back while installing the baskets for my frisbee golf course.  To keep the baskets anchored, I pounded in some garden stakes over and around the bases.  Some of the baskets ended up several feet away from my planned locations because the garden stakes collided with stones or rock shelves a few inches down.  I’d be hammering away, and the sound would go from whack-whack-whack to ping! ping! ping! when I hit solid rock.

Same thing happened on Sunday with the t-posts.  Chareva would get me lined up with the other posts, I’d start pounding with the (really heavy) t-post hammer, and then ping! ping! ping! … I’d hit a big ol’ rock a few inches down.  Move the post a few inches …whack-whack-whack  … ping! ping! ping! … move it again …whack-whack-whack  … ping! ping! ping! … remove it and repeat the process until I managed to sink it.  Our fence won’t run in nice straight lines, but I don’t believe the deer will be any less dissuaded from eating our garden.

By the time were done, my arms and shoulders were spent.  Yeah, I lift weights every week at the gym, but this is whole ‘nuther type of exertion.  This weekend gave me the most thorough workout I’ve had in quite awhile.  I slept like a baby afterwards.

Speaking of babies, someone left a comment asking for more puppy pictures.  They don’t look so much like puppies anymore.  Below is a picture of Sara with Coco, one of the puppies, when we first got them five weeks ago.  The next picture is of Sara and Coco today.  Look how much Coco has grown in size relative to Sara.

I think that raw-meat diet agrees with them.


26 thoughts on “The Farm Report: Weekend Workouts

  1. Underground

    Wow, that’s a big puppy. I have a friend that started just feeding his dogs (thawed) frozen chicken leg quarters since they’re cheap. Mix in some organ meat a few times a week and they’re doing better all around. More energy, skin problems cleared up. Certainly it’s not because of their diet though.

    If you ever need to put posts in *right there*, mark your spots, then go rent a gas powered jack hammer from Home Depot or somewhere. You can bash out a hole, then concrete it in. I recommend doing it during cooler weather.

    When we put up a fence around the property, we’ll have to do something like that. The planks are of a specific length, so there’s not much leeway for the distance of the posts.

    Our rotties eat raw chicken several times per week. I’d read rottweilers have the most powerful bite per square inch of all dogs, and after seeing our puppies rip apart big pieces of chicken and eat them — bones and all — I believe it.

  2. Tim


    That seventh picture reminds me of a massive goat fence my father, brothers and I set up on our farm, growing up. You’re right – farm work is tough work, but it was a blast. Looks like your farm is maturing fine, though. You have some beautiful trees and land there. Keep us updated.

    This is a beautiful area. When I drive downtown for work, about half the trip takes me past big farms and ranches, lots of trees and hills and rolling pastures. Hardly any traffic until I’m halfway to Nashville. Far more relaxing than my bumper-to-bumper drives in Los Angeles.

  3. Be

    You better hurry up and start producing food. Those dogs are gonna bankrupt you on a raw-meat diet. I know, and my raw-meat dawg is teensy tiny compared to your carnivores!

    It’s occurred to me that they eat better than a lot of humans. Fortunately, Chareva found a local slaughterhouse where she buys big bags of ground organ meats for $1.50 per pound.

  4. LXV

    Do you have any neighbors with horses? Because this is exactly the sort of thing that it’s great to have one on hand for – hauling brush to the burn pile. My parent’s neighborhood accumulated a close to two-story burn pile in the space of a week, thanks in no small part to a halflinger dragging it from all around the cul-de-sac on a tarp.

    There are people with horses in this area, sure. I didn’t mind hauling heavy limbs to the burn pile, since it was my weekend workout.

  5. Galina L.

    “Chareva found a local slaughterhouse where she buys big bags of ground organ meats for $1.50 per pound.”

    We live in a wonderful time of extremely cheep organ meats and often free trim-off fat. I think , sooner or later people will wake-up and your daughters will tell their children about times when beef tong was cheaper than stew meat, and dogs were fed ground organs for pennies. At least we enjoy it.

    Tom, do farmers raise crops on such soil with rock shelves underneath, or it is all only grazing land?

    You don’t see much by way of crops being grown around here, although there’s a farm down the road with several acres of corn. Mostly we see big gardens and lots of livestock.

  6. Emma

    This is completely off topic to this post, but I wanted to share how much my family enjoyed your documentary, including our three teenagers! I had no idea you had a blog as well. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around, as I noticed you have listed several paleo/low carb blogs that I frequent. I’ll be a regular visitor here as well now.

    Since the film, how has your diet evolved? It appears that you now eat primal/paleo, or at least don’t eat wheat.

    That’s correct. I’ve gone more towards a paleo diet, although I still include some cream and cheese in my diet. No grains except on special occasions, little or no processed food most of the time. I get my carbs from fruits, vegetables and tubers, but still keep them limited.

  7. Elenor

    Huh?! What’s that? A beard!? Cool — you need a new picture for the blog! (Well, not that we can see one below the bologna — but it’d be nice to see Farmer Tom in his new guise…) Thanks for the great report — I’m living vicariously on a farm through y’all!

    I grow a van-dyke beard now and then, but usually shave it off after a month or two. I guess it’s my way of changing up my hairstyle, since there’s not enough left on my head to do anything other than keep it short.

    I told Chareva when I turn 70, I reserve the right to go with a Ben Franklin hairstyle: bald on top, let the sides grow down to my shoulders.

  8. ShannonCC

    So cute! I want more puppy pictures and updates too 😉 How is the training going?

    Where did you read about Rotties? I thought I had read that German Shepherds had the strongest bites but I could be wrong. My raw puppy is a mutt – probably pit bull and lab mix. He’s only 38 lbs at 6 months but I love listening to him crack those raw chicken bones.

    The pups go to class once per week and are (according to the Dog Mommy) fast learners.

    We read a bunch of stuff online while choosing a breed. I don’t remember which specific site I came across, but here’s one:

    I just found this video (not exactly a conclusive experiment, but interesting):

    I read somewhere else that bull mastiffs have the most powerful bite. Bottom line is that I wouldn’t want any of those dogs to bite me.

  9. Marc Sitkin

    An old style lever type car jack and a piece of chain will make removing the chainlink fencposts much easier.

    Chareva picked up a tool that extracts posts. It does look like a car jack, but has a piece that grabs onto the post.

  10. Dianne

    Now that you know what a “burn pile” is, I’m assumed you’ve found “the dump”?

    We’re quite familiar with the dump.

  11. nonegiven

    Oklahoma deer would barely slow down to cross a fence that low. I visited a breeder once, his fences were at least 8 feet high.

    I hope they don’t jump that high around here, but we’ll find out.

  12. Josh

    Hey Tom, thanks for the post.

    Can you please blog about/comment on the new study that was just reporting correlating obesity in pregnant women to higher incidence of autism? The story reported by several sources (I have yet to read the actual study) claims researchers point to abnormal blood sugar levels as a potential culprit. May be bogus, but interesting nonetheless.

    I haven’t seen it.

  13. Bridget

    I bet that was a fun workout! Beats staring at the gym walls.

    Greater sense of accomplishment afterwards too.

  14. johnny

    Aren’t you supposed to not be able to perform high volume of work on low carb?

    Be careful, you might drop any minute.

    Good point. If only I ate more carbs, I could have played 72 holes of frisbee golf after the day’s work instead of 36.

  15. Sabrina

    Just a side note regarding the burn pile… Here in Germany we light hughe fires on easter sunday. You now need a permit, but a few years ago nearly every farmer had his huge fire. Your burn pile would have been a perfect easer fire!
    And thanks for writing about the farm. I enjoy that a lot (as well as all the other stuff you write about here)!

    Too late for Easter, but it’ll make an impressive fire some night. We have two burn piles now, thanks to a crew coming in to clear out some dead trees and really annoying thorn bushes.

  16. Fatisfied

    I’m with ya… Moves Like Daffy
    Part of my workout today will be to get some of my plantings under cover… ya’ll expecting frost tonight?

    It’s in the forecast. I hope the frost doesn’t kill Chareva’s plants, but I’ve been enjoying the cool days. For a couple of weeks there, I was afraid we’d gone straight into summer.

  17. TonyNZ

    Looks like it’s all coming together nicely.

    Here’s another story where a celebrity loses weight, people wonder why she loses weight, celebrity says a diet that does not fit with central dogma, celebrity is slammed by “dieticians” who insist she is going to encourage the public onto “dangerous” diets.

    We can take solace that her celebrity pull-power may override the authority of “registered dieticians”. Interestingly enough, they seem to extrapolate that cutting out the gluten and lactose would mean she was eating highly refined gluten-free convenience products. Correct me if I’m wrong, but eating paleo would also cut these things, no? Do we know which option (or even other options) she has followed? No. But we get this article nonetheless.

    I’ll have to see if I can find out more about what she ate. Replacing gluten food with non-gluten substitutes can certainly mean loading up on other carbs, but if she lost a lot of weight, I doubt she took that approach.

  18. FarmerWoman

    Looks like square foot gardening? I read in, get ready for this title: “Pantyhose, Hot Peppers, Tea Bags, and More-for the Garden: 1,001 Ingenious Ways to Use Common Household Items to Control Weeds, Beat … and Save Time,” that taking VHS tape out of its case stretching it along the perimeter of your raised beds and wrapping it (to secure) around the tops of the posts (imagine the ropes of a boxing ring) will cause the semi-taut tape to make a sound when it vibrates in the wind. Apparently, deer and rabbits don’t like this. I’ve never tried it (seems like a lot of work for my size garden), and it’s probably a short-term remedy but if you have VHS you don’t know what to do with and like to experiment…some of the ideas in this book aren’t as “green” as they appear (you’re probably better off letting the pups “mark their territory” a distance from the garden). Deer resistant native plants also work at protecting your garden and attract pollinators. Happy Gardening! And thanks for the link to Dr. Eades “Heartburn Cured”!

    I’m not sure if I have any old VHS tapes other than my old standup shows. If I watched those again, I might decide they’d be better used for scaring off deer.

  19. Kevin

    I will NEVER complain about mowing my lawn again. Great job, I needed a nap after reading your post!!

    It was a lot of work, but I hire out the lawn-mowing, at least until we get some grass-eating critters on the land.

  20. Peter

    Here’s a fascinating clinical story ( comparing normal colon tissues vs colon tumor tissues. The colon tumor cells have epigenetic markers for insulin preference; he surmises it’s due to a constant exposure of high insulin.

    The study’s researcher concluded that ” cancer cells love insulin and studies have shown that tumors feed off of insulin.”

    So I thought, hey, ditch carb and starve colon tumor.

    But then Sapienza, the study’s lead contradicts by stating “This study suggests how and why high fat diets are linked to colon cancer.”.

    Huh? What did I miss? I thought dietary fat is metabolically neutral and can’t trigger insulin. Oh, he’s thinking of frosting and blamed the fat in it as the culprit, instead of the sugar in it for triggering the insulin.

    Due to cognitive dissonance did he curve-fit the root cause to preserve his paradigm or something more insidious as in protecting future research grant $$$?

    Holy @#$%, how did they manage to reach the conclusion that it was the FAT causing the insulin and glucose disruptions?!

    That is truly stunning.

  21. Lynda

    I thought you’d like to see what we are being told in New Zealand.

    Just a snippet in case time does not allow you to read this.

    “When it comes to the specific risk of cholesterol, “it’s basically about what you put in your mouth”, says Jackson. “If you want to reduce your blood cholesterol, there are two ways: change your diet, or change your diet plus take statins. And to change your diet you just reduce your land-mammal fat consumption – that is, the fat on meat and in dairy products. New Zealanders are still the world’s biggest consumers of butter. We still eat more saturated fat than almost any other nation in the world. We eat three times as much butter as the Australians per head. So, if you’re a regular butter eater – have it on your birthday.”

    “The first thing we aim for is weight reduction if we are overweight or obese, reduce saturated fat, and replace the saturated fat, if we need to, with some unsaturated fat and some fibre-rich carbo­hydrate. No argument about that. ”

    Mmmm… that is the sound of me banging my head on the desk 🙂

    Keep eating that butter! I presume it’s the good grass-fed stuff there, since you don’t have a major corn industry to support.

    Here’s a nice article on rates of saturated fat consumption vs. rates of heart disease.

  22. gallier2

    Are you sure Tennessee was such a good choice ?

    Wear a helmet before reading that link.

    I got suspicious when the blog piece linked back to a DailyKos-type “progressive” site that claimed 1) the bill prohibited hand-holding by students in schools and 2) all the Tennessee state senators except one voted for it. There are some hard-core religious types around here, but I couldn’t imagine every state senator except one voting for a bill that prohibited hand-holding. So I looked up the bill. Hand-holding is never mentioned. Here’s what it says:

    Instruction of the family life education curriculum may not:

    (1) Promote any gateway sexual activity or health message that encourages students to experiment with non-coital sexual activity;
    (2) Provide or distribute materials on school grounds that condone, encourage or promote student sexual activity among unmarried students;
    (3) Display or conduct demonstrations with devices manufactured specifically for sexual stimulation; or
    (4) Distribute contraception on school property; provided, however, medically-accurate information about contraception and condoms may be provided so long as it is presented in a manner consistent with the provisions described above and clearly informs students that while such methods may reduce the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases or becoming pregnant, only abstinence removes all risk.

    The idea that this bill would prohibit hand-holding by students was the “progressive” writer’s interpretation, which I can promise you is wildly incorrect.

  23. Laura

    Wow, you have been really busy on your farm. I’m tired reading about all the work you have been doing. Do you also have a burn barrel, in addition to the burn pile?

    Rotties are awesome and so cute. My sister’s dogs eat raw chicken, but the vet doesn’t like it. It did clear up their allergies and skin issues, though. They love cracking those chicken bones.

    I hope you end up with a good harvest. Are you planning to do canning and freezing? My father still plants a huge garden and my mother freezes veggies and cans them. Nothing tastes as good as veggies that are home grown.

    We have some barrels suitable for burning. Chareva has been stocking up on canning supplies and plans to do some canning if the garden produces enough food.


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