Because I have to -- I walk the line
TOWNER, N.D. - I used to fancy myself a marathon runner. Nowadays, I'm mostly a hayfield walker. By luck and perseverance, our ranch has been in the same exact spot for 104 years. We've never gotten real big, but we've stuck with it long enough t...
TOWNER, N.D. - I used to fancy myself a marathon runner. Nowadays, I'm mostly a hayfield walker.
By luck and perseverance, our ranch has been in the same exact spot for 104 years. We've never gotten real big, but we've stuck with it long enough to put together a couple contiguous sections of native hayland.
It's pretty handy to have all our hay in one spot. I hate to say that too loud because I know lots of ranchers aren't that fortunate.
I once told a ranching friend of mine that the wheels on my rake were stuck in field position because I couldn't remember ever having to put them in transport position. I thought he was going to deck me.
We don't spend a lot of time on the open road dragging our equipment along in high gear. But I do spend plenty of time walking our two sections of meadow moving our copious collection of equipment every 80 acres or so.
I wouldn't classify my walking style as power walking. Power walking is what you see the soccer moms doing on the city streets, clipping right along, arms swinging like they're about to fly out of their sockets. They kind of resemble harness racing horses that go as fast as they can without breaking into a lope.
My style is more "have-to walking." I walk because I have to start moving my equipment from one end of the field to the other. I have to leave a tractor here but the pickup is back there. I have to walk because I'm usually out there by myself and no one's around to give me a ride.
"Have-to walking" is purposeful. It's not super fast, but it ain't slow. I try to use every inch of my 6-foot-3 frame and stride to my advantage. I don't dawdle because I want to get to the pickup and get home for supper and a shower.
Some city walkers carry dumbbells or wear wrist weights to add to their workout. I've been known to pack a grease gun or lug a couple of balls of baler twine, and they'll add some strength training to your cardio session.
Walking hay stubble and hogwallows in work boots isn't quite as free of resistance as walking a paved path in athletic shoes. You try for the efficiency of a straight line route, but sometimes you have to walk around a slough or dodge a few hay bales.
Again and againI get to make the trip several times per field because I have separate tractors hooked up for mowing, dump raking, wheel raking and baling. Making the walk three or four times in the heat of midday to ferry equipment back and forth can get tiresome.
I should wear a pedometer on my belt to check my mileage. I'm sure it adds up. I guess you could call it part of the wellness plan here on the ranch. I expect it'll pay off with a long healthy life.
My favorite hike is the end-of-day walk. With the coolness of dusk descending on the meadow, a setting sun, a rising moon and the smell of fresh mown hay, you hardly have time to feel sorry for yourself and the fact that you have to walk back to your pickup in our age of physical ease.
We do get to know a piece of land pretty well. We get to think about the generations who walked those fields before us and we get to wonder about who'll walk those fields when we're gone.
I kind of hope no one gives them a ride. I think they'll enjoy the walk.