Orthotics in My Wellies (or Market Gardening at 55)

If you want to raise eyebrows among your middle age friends and acquaintances, announce that you’re going to single-handedly launch a market garden!  Reactions range from mild dismay to frank incredulity. It just so happens that I’ve never bought into the idea of Freedom Fifty-Five–I have too many projects in mind to quit working just yet. Nope, no Adirondack chair on the end of the dock for me folks, I’m too busy living the dream!

I’m actually a freelance translator by trade. I still work at it in the winter months, but by about mid-February, the siren call of the greenhouse begins to disturb my concentration and I find myself taking longer and longer breaks from my online bilingual dictionaries to peruse online seed catalogues instead! 

Launching a market garden at an age when you’re significantly past the first flush of youth requires a special skill set. Beginning even before you get out of bed in the morning is the inventory of aching and ailing body parts.  It’s important to be able to gauge how many mg of ibuprofen it will take to be functional by the time the second coffee is in and the boots pulled on to go move the chicken tractors and feed and water the birds. Trips back to the medicine cabinet during the day mean wasted minutes of valuable weeding time!

Fashion Forward

 Seriously though,  having to work within your physical limitations teaches you strategy and redefines what’s efficient. For instance, buying smaller bags of peat moss may cost a bit more, but if it allows me to haul them without getting help, I’m actually ahead. And did you know you can actually drive a 17″ Husqvarna rototiller into the bucket of a farm tractor and transport it to the end of a field? I figure that with some judicious massage therapy, the odd chiropractic adjustment and orthotics in my wellies, I can give a younger farmer a run (or at least a very brisk walk) for their money.

Often, while harvesting in the rows before the sun comes over the ridge, I smile a secret smile as I think of all the people scrambling out of bed to head out on the highway for another day of work at the office. No traffic, telephones or meetings for this girl. Just the soothing rhythm of bending, picking and shuffling down the rows as the birds herald the beginning of a new day.

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