A chainsaw, a tractor and a better back

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The Friday before the big rain, I thought I could do some work that I had been putting off for about a year.

I hurt my lower back over a year and a half ago. It took forever, but I finally got an MRI and saw a neurosurgeon. It basically gave my back a break from the blame game. Despite a few bulging discs and a bit of shrinkage, he said my spine was in good shape for a 65-year-old man, especially one doing the kind of work I do.

He also said, “If a farmer complains of pain, he suffers.

It’s like our daughter Margot says, “If a professional ballerina says her pain is 2, the doctor will tell her your pain is 8.”

It’s constant physical stress, repetition and the attempt to improve. It’s the nature of a profession that almost requires you to take no time to recuperate.

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In my case, the goats need to be fed. There is almost constant feeding, maintenance, handling of animals and materials, etc.

So, I made the decision that if I didn’t always work my body so much, would I start to recover?

The only way I could figure out to achieve the goal of not bending, lifting, pulling starter ropes and the like was to buy an electric chainsaw and tractor that wasn’t as old and flimsy as I’m headed towards.

The electric chainsaw is great. I often have to cut a branch, roughen a plank or push a fallen tree out of my way. Daily stuff that is sporadic.

If I need to, I can run a saw for a long time, for example cutting rounds from a few trees to split them. I can handle pulling the starter cord the 10 times it often takes to start a gas saw. My back really starts to hurt if I do this multiple times a day.

Along with the tractor, I bought a grapple and a loader bucket. With it, I can pick up whole logs, avoiding the cant hook, the log jack, squatting to saw and bending to lift the rounds. I put a wheelbarrow under the log that I am cutting and I drop the pieces into it.

I can also easily pull up garden scraps in a few passes using the grapple rake. Also, I can bring tons of food and fodder to goats or poultry without trying to be Hercules.

I’m sorry about that, because it takes me further away from my great experience, of being Forrest Hardway trying to be somewhat self-sufficient.

On the other hand, it allows me to continue doing what I love without constant pain.

As my back pain eases, I return to a place where I can feel happy and positive most of the time.

It took a visit to a doctor to at least realize that I had been in pain for a while. It’s not a good thing to do for yourself if you can avoid it or improve your situation.

I really think that suffering for so long has led me to depression and questioning my life choices.

I guess the moral of the story is, “sometimes you have to make a few changes, even if they’re hard, to stay not only physically happy, but also mentally happy. And that even though they’re obviously necessary , you sometimes need a little outside help to get out of repetitive damage cycles.

Forrest Hartley lives in Hadley, NY He doesn’t say, “Oh! My back hurts. Leave a message at [email protected].

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