Farming With Ankylosing Spondylitis
Last updated: April 2023
“Farmers don't just work till the sun goes down, they work until the job is done.” - Unknown
After years of being suburbanites, my wife and I moved to a farm. Okay, it is not exactly a “farm,” but we have 3 acres, 2 barns, and a few stables for goats or some other small animals. So, let’s just say we now live on a farm.
I grew up around animals and agriculture. I went to preschool on a farm. Sheep, horses, goats, and cows all came to visit us at the playground fence, and I learned early to enjoy the smell of manure and hay. So, when we had the chance to move away from the suburban community equidistant from 3 different Walmarts we had lived in for 15 years, I was rather excited.
For me, peace, quiet, and nature has always been an intricate part of my treatment plan, and the two years I lived next to a highway caused me to flare like mad!
But, with the farming land, comes the farming life, and the farming life ain’t easy.
If I don’t do it, nobody will
Along with having land and barns, we also have a log cabin that was built in the 1860s and an addition built in 1950, needless to say, it needed a lot of work. And, with a lot of work comes a lot of construction trash.
After the stress and strain of moving, the work was not over. Our contractor threw all the refuge in a dumpster, but there was still plenty of broken glass and sharp metal hiding in the grass and leaves. I want my dogs to run and play, so I have to make it safe for them. I spent hours with a rake, leaf blower, magnet, and trash can trying to remove anything that could injure a paw...And there was a lot to pick up.
If I didn’t do it, nobody would.
With this mindset, I have been working nonstop. A rolling stone gathers no moss, and, for me, a moving Spondy doesn’t lock up. If I stop and think about what I am doing, I will also stop to think about my pain, and I have no time to be in pain.
Is this solid advice? Of course not! Please take breaks, but when the work has to get done, I have to do it.
When the grass gets long, I will have to cut it.
When the leaves fall from our many trees, I have to rake them.
When the snow falls, I have to shovel it.
It is a fact of life.
Goats and chickens
My wife is super excited about getting goats and chickens. Like, waking me up at 2am to show me pictures of ones we can get, and she already has a hookup to get chicks and eggs. The goats have also already been named. So, it seems like it’s happening.
I, of course, am excited about this prospect. I love animals, and I love the idea of goats eating my grass and chickens laying my eggs. There is also talk of getting mini cows whose milk is apparently big business.
But, the more animals we add, the more work there will be. And, honestly, I don’t know how to feel about that. I like to think I will take on my “If I don’t do it, nobody will” mantra and find the strength and energy I need to power though. So far, as I am writing this, I have been able to keep rolling and not gather any moss. But, I also know a flare could pop up at any moment...Let’s just say I am cautiously optimistic.
Plus you should see some of these chickens we can get! So cute!
If I don’t build it, they can’t come
At this moment, we have barns and stables that might work for keeping animals. However, we also have foxes, coyotes, and raccoons. We need to improve the safety and security for our animals. I would hate to lose all our feathered friends to a hungry predator. So, I have to build it.
We have a chicken coop already lined up, but we are seriously lacking fencing. With the help of someone who knows what they are doing, I will have to put up what seems like miles of chicken wire to provide plenty of room to graze and stretch their wings.
Again, I am positively optimistic that I will be able to accomplish this. This is something that I want, and I know what I need to do. As long as AS doesn’t get in my way, I should be fine.
Family farms: the life for me
I always prefer being out in nature and away from the stress that comes with neighbors, and noise. I have written many times about how I always get a boost of energy from peace and quiet. On my land that we are calling “Family Farms”, my hope is that I will be able to adapt painlessly to this new life as a “Farmer”, or more accurately a guy who is trying a new hobby that involves farm type activities.
It is not going to be easy, this I know. However, I also fully believe that this will be a good move for me. I have had the need to return to nature, have a garden, and be able to sit outside and be alone with my thoughts.
Farming with AS will be an adventure, and a lot of hard work, but I know, in the end, it will be worth it.
Have you ever had to take a leave of absence from work due to your symptoms?
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