CrossFarm 2014

In a prior life I did the main page Crossfit Workout of the Day (WOD) every day. I write about this from time to time. Speaking from experience, the main page Crossfit WOD is not for normal humans. All these years later the main page WOD has been accelerated to the point that it’s not even for exceptional humans. It is made for super-humans. Truly elite fitness. But 10 years ago I couldn’t wait to knock out the main page WOD and post my results. I should also add that Crossfit came along at just the right time in my life. If you think I write about Crossfit too much…well, please understand there is more going on here than just push-ups.

Let me summarize what I believe Crossfit is. Crossfit is for everyone. It calls itself the sport of fitness. In short, they put up a workout 3 days out of 4 to measure your own ability to perform work in time. (The fourth day was a rest day and there was usually some suggested discussion topic ranging from history to liberty to economics.) In a normal workout you might deadlift 300 pounds 21, 15 and 9 times. In between deadlifts you might have to do 9, 15 and 21 handstand push ups. Yeah. Handstand pushups. But it’s not enough to just pick up the weight and stand on your hands. The workouts are designed to be completed quickly. You wouldn’t think of lifting 300 pounds as a cardio workout…until you try to lift 300 pounds 21 times in 30 seconds. Total intensity followed by rest. You learn very quickly where your body is weak, where you want to quit and when you really need to quit. Crossfit is for everyone…but you probably need to scale it back for your fitness level, age and ability. Don’t believe me? Pick up a grandchild. That’s a deadlift. If you don’t do it correctly you will probably injure your back.

There was a time when my hands were covered in callouses from deadlifting, the pull-up bar and from gymnastics rings. I became monstrously strong in a short period of time. But as much as I admire the program and its benfits, I don’t crossfit anymore. I have a farm.

I reached a point in my Crossfit career where I wanted to do more than just the main page WOD. I would practice skills like juggling or tumbling. I cut a big oak log out of dad’s woods to carry on my shoulder as I walked through my neighborhood (true story…total dork!). I would use a rotary mower to mow the grass while wearing a weight vest…for time. Yeah.

But things are different with a farm. Now I walk/jog to the barn, grab a 60 pound bale of alfalfa, deadlift, power clean and rest the bale on my shoulder then walk a half mile over an obstacle course, up and down hills to feed the cows. And because I’m almost late for work I have to do this work for time. I have to make decisions about firewood. Should I make one trip up the hill with one big log or should I make 10 trips up the hill with firewood-sized chunks? And because I have 10 other things to do today this too is for time. I pull up fence posts, drive in new fence posts, string electric fence all for time. Then it’s back up the hill to the house in time to fill a wheelbarrow or two with wood to stack next to the wood stove before it starts sleeting (for time). I have to process 100 birds for time. Water the chickens for time.

carrying hay

Everything is for time. Crossfit measured my ability to perform a given amount of work in time. Farming is only a little different. Not only do I have to work hard, I have to get my work done or something might die! But Crossfit also emphasized the importance of rest and proper nutrition. (Clearly this had an effect on me. It’s why we started growing our own food!)

In one of my very first posts on this blog I referred to the action of the livestock working our soil as Crossfit for the farm. The cows, pigs and chickens create a varying and seasonal but intense pattern of disturbance and massively increased microbial action after which the land recovers, heals and becomes stronger than it was before. The varying workload involved in caring for the animals seasonally keeps me both fit and entertained. The hardest part is limiting sugar intake so I can recover more fully between workouts…I mean…chores.

Let me state clearly, I’m not for or against Crossfit. I promise you, the main page WOD is not for everyone. It is probably not for you. It’s for the athletic elite. But if you are planning to move to a farm to begin your adventures in agriculture, I strongly encourage you to consider your physical condition. Maybe find a program that not only builds strength but also builds endurance. ’cause you’re gonna need it. Also pay attention to your diet, rest and sleep cycles. The whole farming adventure can be stressful. Lack of sleep or proper nutrition only compounds the issue.

4 thoughts on “CrossFarm 2014

  1. This has been on my mind lately. As I’m joining the farming community past the AARP signup age, I wonder how I’ll do day after day. I’ve work for a week at a time pruning. I garden with my wife. During season I throw batting practice and hit balls to players. I cut and fetch firewood, though ours is for aesthetics not heat. What will happen when it is everyday.

    Probably it’ll be like eating an elephant, one bite, one day at a time.

    • I don’t really know. I’m still learning about my own body. I know I overdid it today. But it gives me something to write about. Catching and carrying 60 pound pigs was the absolute highlight of the day. But all of those pig-catching muscles are sore.

  2. Too funny, one of my husband’s co-workers is a Cross-Fit junkie. He used to be obese, and lost weight and now he lives and breaths CF and eating “healthy.” He dines every day at Subway, that is healthy 😉 Meanwhile he scoffs at my husband for not doing exercise. Somehow I do not think CF would prepare him for my day’s work let alone what my husband is able to do. We’re 56 he’s 31. At this point I do not want to hurt myself – so I do what I call Work Smart – 5 gallons of water, it goes in 2 buckets of 2.5 gallons each. If I’m not careful I get my self out of whack pretty quick. Slow and even is the name of the game. And you make choices – I spread 250# of amendments today, that’s wheelbarrowing the bags uphill to the garden and using a 3 gallon bucket to carry and dip out of. Tomorrow I’ll haul wood for my recreational lifting.

    Somehow I can’t see you doing CrossFit Chris.

    • Oh yeah. I remember being 31. All these years later I can still do a muscle-up. The rings are hanging in the shed.

      The energy levels required forced us to re-evaluate our diet options. We made some real changes. Not Subway changes. First by shopping the perimeter of the store only, later by growing as much of our own food as we could in suburbia. Now we own a farm. The fitness thing comes naturally now. I still have stacks of plates but they are hidden from view. They may be part of an upcoming housekeeping purge. Yikes!

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