How Old is Too Old to Work

| 11/13/2019 12:37:00 PM

Jonica BradleyAging and working.

J.J. took a running leap, planted her feet in the middle of my back and launched herself into the air. My hands were full. I was fumbling with the gate latch and all I could think was: Please don’t throw out your back! Please, please, please.

J.J. is a sixty-pound dairy goat kid. She is four months old and incredibly playful. A decade ago, I would have been able to take that hit without pain or worry. Today, I worry. Today, I hurt. I didn’t throw my back out completely today. But what about tomorrow? What about a decade from now?

In ten years, I will not yet be eligible for retirement benefits. I need to work another fourteen years for that. Will my body hold out that long?

Operating a working sheep and goat ranch takes its toll on my body. Twice a year we run all the animals through a shoot to give them vaccines and de-wormer medication.

The sheep can be skittish and will try to escape. Sometimes, right over my head. Sometimes, right into me. The goats are stubborn and may need encouragement to get into the shoot. I have to pull or push 100- to 200-pound animals. Sometimes I need to straddle an animal in order to hold it still enough to dock a tail or insert an ear tag.

12/10/2019 12:06:22 PM

It's not a number, it's what you are capable of and comfortable with. Some things are out of the question and others are doable but take longer. I dig with a small shovel because that's what I can lift when it's loaded and my soil is full of clay so it's all I can chop off at one time. What used to be one load in a wheelbarrow is now two. There's no pleasure in a garden that you have to observe from a window because you threw your back out the day before.

12/8/2019 2:28:23 PM

I am a firm believer that you become what you believe. So if you believe that you can keep on working and be healthy for many years, then you will be! But if you focus on all the possible problems or 'what-ifs' that could happen, you invite them to come true. I think you've already taken steps to mitigate any potential age-related issues that might come along, so focus on the positive of having a community of people to help you! P.S. It's 'chute', not shoot.

12/6/2019 5:21:48 PM

I am 64 insulin dependent diabetic with spinal stenosis and will work a desk job until I am 70. I am concerned that when I move north into New Hampshire I will not be able to grow a lot of food or keep some animals such as chickens. I see 70 as a milestone in leaving that desk job that is killing me with inactivity into retirement where I can do what I want to do while getting into the shape I was before the stenosis. Or will I? I ask similar questions but since the stenosis I am an expert on finding alternative ways to do things. Wagons, carts, hand trucks, using weight against itself to lift, using the strength of my legs as opposed to my spine, you get very good at it with practice. But double digging a new garden? Well, what might have taken a day will now take 3, OK, I accept that. But I refuse to plan for arthritis and greater disability. I truly believe that the power of the Mind and the Will, my most powerful tools. I can never fall into doubt and fear or I could loose the battle and then the war.

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