So, we have been putting in a lot of hours in the garden/ paddy these last few weeks. 10 hours last Sunday, four hours (eked out from around my classes) each weekday (starting at 7:30 so we could get the work in) for the last week and yeah, just lots and lots of time out there.
gardenwear farmwear to workwear and then sometimes back again and then occasionally back again again really does my head in and means many many showers so you think I'd be the squeaky cleanest person around.
Farming comes with a whole cornucopia of challenges to mind and body but the body really cops it.
First up there's perma-dirt. This is a word neighbour and co-farmer W and I coined to describe the inground grime that takes up residence in your heals, elbows, where your cuffs have been rubbing, and around you finger and toe nails. This dirt is resistant to soap, loofahs, hot water, soaking, scrubbing brushes- everything!! I thought nail polish might hide it but it just draws attention to the area....
Then there's cracks. Cracks in your heals, in your toe pads, on your knuckles... Rice paddies are wet. Well they're underwater so derrr... You spend a lot of time getting in and out of the rice paddy and it's not good on the poor feetsies. I have quite the collection of creams and potions and magic polyurethane socks but I am still fighting to keep on top of this painful problem.
Sunburn. Slip, slop, slap I know. I know and I do. But the sun reflects up off the water in the rice paddy and when you're out for four, five, seven, eight, 10 hours you get burnt. Or tanned. Normally I am naughty and quite like a tan but a rice paddy tan is uneven to say the least. All the splotches of mud act as sunscreen and you end up quite dappled. Mottled, really. Last year I gardened in a t-shirt that rode up a bit when I bent double to weed or whatever. I ended up with a dark tanned strip across my lower back. This year I have along sleeved shirt for gardening that comes all the way down to my butt to be safe. I also admitted defeat and traded in my baseball hat for a ninja-obaachan wrap around hat. The thing about being a red-neck? Noone tells you how much it hurts! The collar on your shirts, the strap on your bag, even your hair- everything hurts your poor sunburnt neck. So yup, joined the dark side and I look like a scarecrow but feel much better. And I am holding onto my pride by claiming that my black ninja hat is really rather cool and ironic compared to the usual floral ones which are undeniably naff. Right? Right???
Injuries. Sore muscles are a given. If your muscles don't hurt you were probably slacking off I reckon! Just walking in a rice paddy is a trial as you are fighting the forces of mud and water at every step. But hidden in the mud are little pointy pebbles and sticks and all sorts of scratchy unfriendly things. W and I have both had toenails lift when something poked between the nail and the toe. I have three broken toe nails, cuts underneath two toes and a divet out of the arch of my left foot. Ouch....
So, every night when we get home we spend quite a time slathering on creams and lotions and wrapping up sore places in soft cotton.
But I wouldn't swap it for anything- even if I am walking around with a white patch on the cheek of my tanned face and hands noone would shake without a second thought!