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Whether a rancher, a vegetable farmer, a farmer florist, or home gardener, growers of all sorts can empathize with one another at the height of long days and overflowing harvests known as “peak season.” From sunrise to sunset, many farmers take advantage of the extra daylight, necessarily so, as everything is in full bloom, leaving most on their feet for some 10-12 hours (or more!) every day. Yet, while the plants have got us workin’ overtime, we’ve got to remember to take care of ourselves if we have any hope of continuing our work season after season. And, there’s no better place to start than our bodies’ foundation–the feet!

Extended time on foot can leave one feeling more than just achy–tight, dry skin, swollen ankles, and much more. Keep your forgotten feet feeling fresh each night by trying out a few of these recommendations.

Foot Soak

Foot soaks don’t have to be fancy. In fact, water alone will do wonders. The trick is utilizing both hot and cold water foot baths in an alternating sequence. Fill two foot tubs with water; one with water as hot as you can handle, the other with cold water–maybe even a few ice cubes.

Start by soaking your feet in the hot water for 5-10 minutes. After the time is up, switch to the cold soak for 3-5 minutes, and then back to the hot soak. Repeat this sequence for up to 30 minutes. The alternating between hot and cold water allows for contraction and expansion of the blood vessels in the feet, ankles, and calves which essentially reduces inflammation and pain while increasing circulation and flexibility. If you’re feeling extra fancy (or extra sore!), dissolve some epsom salts into the hot water bath for added relief!

Yoga

Yoga, or even daily stretching, becomes a necessity for those of us on our feet all day, every day. There are particularly two yoga asanas, or postures, that can be of utmost benefit to relieving aches and pains in the feet while offering healing to the whole body.

The first posture is called viparita karani , also known as “legs-up-the-wall pose.” Find a comfortable, open place where you can bring your backside close to the wall, laying on your back. Then, extend your legs up the wall, keeping them elevated for 20-30 minutes. You can also put a blanket under your low back for added support. This posture helps to improve the lymphatic system of the body, which does not have its own means of circulation in the body. Thus, in order for us to improve our lymph systems, we have to invert the body for the lymph system can flow in the opposite direction with the help of gravity.

Another yoga posture that can be helpful to farmers and gardeners, alike, is called vajrasana , or lightning bolt pose, with toes tucked under. This posture is not for the faint of heart; however, powerful benefits can be felt throughout your feet, ankles, and knees. Kneel down on both knees, then sit back on top of your heels. Tuck your toes under and continue to sit back onto your heels for as long as you feel comfortable. You should feel an intense stretch throughout the foot with some warmth building. Just know relief is on it’s way!

Self-Massage

Take time for yourself each morning or night, and give yourself a simple treat with a foot massage. Use oil, such as sesame, jojoba, or even ghee, mixed with your favorite essential oil, to help deeply moisturize those toesies all dried out from the sun and dirt while offering yourself some much needed relaxation. If your hands are too tired to do the job, try a rolling a lacrosse or golf ball under your feet as you sit back and relax. You can also freeze a plastic water bottle and use this similarly to the lacrosse ball, rolling each foot back and forth on the frozen-solid bottle. The iced water bottle will also aid in reducing swelling and inflammation on your foot’s surface.

I know, taking care of yourself first is difficult for farmers. But, by giving yourself a little extra love and care, especially during the height of the season, you’ll find each day to be more and more productive, and you’ll soon come to see your work on yourself is as valuable, if not more, valuable than any work that you can do on the land!

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The Best Farm Animals to Keep In the City

If you’ve ever visited the countryside, you know the joy of having animals on the farm that you can take care of. In the city, you’ll never see a cow except for on a milk carton and the same applies to other farm animals. The obvious reason for this is that larger breeds of farm animals need a specific environment to live in; so the city’s pollution and noise are a big no-no. Luckily, you can keep a few kinds of farm animals at your city home. While it does depend on your area’s jurisdiction, these animals pose the least problems.

Chickens

I’ve already written about the basics of how you can raise chickens from chicks and then move them into a coop. Chickens are also very quiet (not talking about roosters!) so you won’t get in trouble with the neighbors either. Not only will you be raising home-bred chickens that taste better, you’ll also get fresh eggs at home. You can choose to sell these products to your neighbors or consume them yourself. Moreover, they also provide high-quality manure that works well as fertilizer or an addition to compost. You can choose from a variety of breeds, based on whether you’re raising them for the eggs or meat.

Quail

For city dwellers, quail are the best farm animal to keep if you have minimal space. Though they mature a little slowly, you will find that they’re much more fun to keep than chickens. When 24 weeks old, quail begin to lay eggs so if you want to grow some chicks, you’ll require an incubator. While the bird itself tastes delicious, their eggs are too; you can raise a fine amount selling quail eggs.

Ducks

If you can handle their sometimes-aggressive attitude and loud quacking, I recommend that you raise ducks. Now, most people don’t consider duck meat and eggs to be a delicacy, but they are expensive from their ordinary chicken-based counterparts.

Therefore, whether you have a taste for duck eggs, want to make some extra money on the side, or simply think ducks are adorable; you have your answer. You’ll find that a few rare species can even lay almost as many eggs as a chicken, which would be a score. You’ll need more space for these ducks, not to mention a small pool, but other than that you’ll be fine.

Pygmy Goats

Enough about the birds, you want a herd, don’t you? Pygmy goats aren’t just your ordinary petting zoo animal, but they make great urban farm companions as well. Although they don’t serve as a large source of meat and milk, you can’t underestimate certain breeds like Nigerian Dwarfs.

If you’re interested in drinking fresh organic milk, you’ll be happy to know that they can produce up to a liter of milk every day, as long as you feed them good quality produce. However, if you are not interested in keeping them for their meat, there is always the option of having them as pets that produce manure that is rich in nitrogen.


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