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Farming Is Good for your Health! Usually...

| 9/1/2011 12:04:20 AM

Suzanne HeadshotA recent doctors visit left me facing my doctor with a most baffled look on his face. As he shook his head I began to worry until he said, “I want to know what you’re doing. Everything looks great. Better than normal actually.” Now, at 28 weeks pregnant with our 3rd child that was not what I was expecting to hear. You see, Andrew and I lost two pregnancies before our daughter. I looked healthy and fit, felt fine and had never had any health problems. So when I carried Macey farther than my miscarriages I thought we were in the clear. However my blood pressure went up at 23 weeks and within 3 weeks I was in pre-term labor. Thanks to a diligent doctor and 10 weeks of bed rest, I managed to carry her to 37 weeks.

Only 5 months after Macey was born we found out I was pregnant again. After an initially calm first and second trimester, I once again started having blood pressure problems, and added high sugar to the mix as well. It was ultimately this that caused me to be induced at 38 weeks.

So having my doctor look at me and tell me everything is normal was actually quite a shock! My blood pressure has stayed lower than my pre-pregnancy measures, my sugar is on the low side of normal, and I had gained 15 pounds as opposed to the 41 and 38 I had gained at the same time with my other two. I have had very little swelling, all of my blood work is normal, and I think the doctor has truly been baffled!

Andrew has also experienced some changes since our move. Normally when I am pregnant he gains weight, too. This time, however, he’s lost nearly 30 pounds since January. He doesn’t complain as often of aches and pains that he used to have, and his energy level seems to have improved.

So what has changed? Well besides the fresh country air and more playtime outside, we’re all working harder and eating better. There is never a shortage of things to be done, and we are active much more than we used to be. The kids even wrangle chickens, help chase the sheep into catch pens, dig for potatoes, and their favorite, gather the eggs from the laying boxes! They rarely complain about these “chores” because they have fun doing it! We recently entered several entries into our local fair. Including some eggs and potatoes the kids helped gather. We won ribbons on all of them! The kids were thrilled, and keep asking when we get to do that again.

Blue Ribbon Kennebec Potatoes 

Suzanne Cox
9/3/2011 11:20:07 PM

Dave, you are right. So many things are different from how they used to be! I don't think it is just one thing though. It seems to me that the more "clean" our culture becomes the more succeptible we are to disease because like you said, there is no immunity build up to it. But also, antibiotics are added to EVERYTHING these days! All commercial meat is produced by feeding animals tons of antibiotics to prevent disease, which leads to these super bugs that are resistant to everything. So we are making ourselves succeptible to disease while we're making the bugs resistant to treatment. Very scary! I was amused by one womans response to my sickness in the hospital. She said "I bet you won't be messing with those animals any more will you?" Well, now... how would you run a farm without messing with your animals? Sure, I'm following doctors orders and staying away from them for the rest of my pregnancy, only 5-8 weeks or so. But that is because my immune system response is so low now, to not do so would most definitely risk this baby and maybe even my own health. However, once my pregnancy is over and my immune system rebounds, why would I not handle the animals that I love? That is what we do, it is what we enjoy, and our life is so much richer with them in it. No sense in over reacting! But, at the same time... I will probably be more cautious of some things in the future. Like drinking from that water hose that just came from the stock tank!

Nebraska Dave
9/3/2011 7:55:30 PM

Suzanne, bacteria, germs, viruses are all swimming around us in every thing we touch, breathe, drink, and sometimes eat. It would difficult to live in a sterile environment and it really would be bad for us. Our immune system needs a few of these things to get into our bodies to build up an immune system against them. Am I saying that we shouldn't be concerned about the things you have mentioned. Certainly not. I would say not to build up a fear about every time we touch something to wash, wipe, or scrub ourselves down. Always there are some that need to be more careful than others. With the super germs, viruses, and bacteria around these days we all need to be aware of hygiene more than in the past. I have come from the old school era where there were no vaccinations for childhood diseases like Mumps or Measles. I definitely am not saying we should go back to those days because I would not want anyone to suffer through those diseases. It's just a different time that we must live with the super bugs of the day created from over use of certain medicines. I certainly am glad that no problems came to your unborn child and I would not want you to change any of the hygiene things that you are doing. Times are much different from when I was a kid and when my now 40 something kids were born. I hope that there are no issues with this child at all. Have a great day on the farm.

Phillip Whisnant
9/2/2011 9:45:24 AM

Suzanne, I am so glad your misadventure turned out OK. As you know since I have worked in the meat industry for the past 30 years I am always careful about fully cooking meat. To the point that your mother has threatened me with my meat thermometor when I check behind her on her Thanksgiving turkey. With that being said, I have always been careless about washing fruits and vegatables before I eat them. Since your bad experience I have been throughly washing or peeling my fruits and veggies.Even us old dogs can learn if we live long enough. The important thing is that you are living healthier and eating better which is apparent from no complications with your pregancy and how much more active your kids and you are. You have inspired your mother and I to decide to live the dream we had at your age of doing what you are doing. Keep up the good work and never lose faith in yourself and what you are capable of doing.

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