Annually, at this time of year, I become a ‘harvest widow’, as the common terms goes. My partner and I don’t cross paths frequently; I’m asleep when he gets home, and I’ve left for work before he gets up. Over the three months of harvest we generally only get to see each other when it rains, when I’m helping him move machinery or when I go out in the header to take him dinner. I know it’s not for ever, but it can be very hard and draining feeling so isolated during this time. If you live in a rural area and the isolation affects you, please feel free to join my Facebook Group; Healthy Rural Women’s Tribe Click here to join. My goal for this group is to help women in rural areas to come together and connect across a shared desire to prioritise health.
Harvest is such a busy time of year and it’s very important to look after your health throughout this period. I like to ensure meals are healthy and nutritious to provide the right fuel to work the long hours that are often required. Preparation is the key to this; it’s a busy time for my business and when I’m not working I’m catching up on farm and house duties. I plan meals that are freezer safe meals, meals that I can hide lots of veggies in and meals that we like to eat. I dedicate a weekend to cooking big batches of meals and then freeze them into individual meal containers. Some nights I cook fresh meals, especially to incorporate things like meat and salads. However, for the nights that I’m extra busy and short of time I make sure I pull out one of the freezer meals before I leave for the day.
At harvest time stress is high and from a naturopathic point of view, I recommend that famers focus on supporting their adrenals, as they are the stress response glands in our body. If our body is running in a high stress state, we can be greatly affected. In particular, when harvest finishes often burnout and fatigue state can occur. This results in low energy, difficulty getting to sleep, difficulty waking up, sugar and salt cravings, weight loss, and in some cases, people can develop high reliance on stimulants. In my opinion, there are many great herbs that can nourish adrenals and boost energy. I believe that taking an herbal supplement during harvest can be very effective.
Managing stress is important and exercise can be a great way to relieve stress. However, throughout busy times, exercise is not always possible. I encourage you to try to introduce some activity when you’re waiting to be loaded or unload grain. If your header has auto steer, another pro-active idea to help manage stress is to keep a book in the cabin to jot down all the jobs you need to undertake, instead of worrying about them in your head. This also allows you to prioritise jobs and delegate where required, when I do this myself I find to be very calming and it helps me to have clear focus on what I need to do.
Finally, I cannot stress enough that when the rain comes you should take the opportunity to rest. Try not to dig into other work, instead you should try to look at getting a full night’s sleep, focus on small jobs around the farm and relax as much as possible so you can converse energy before you get stuck back into harvest when the crops dry out. Take some time on these days to spend time with your family and if possible try to do something that is away from the farm.
It’s important to remember that harvest isn’t for ever, but if you can manage your health as best a possible throughout this time it’s going to be beneficial in the long term.
If you would like to contact Hayley for more one on one advice for managing your health over harvest, please contact her on 0455 892 129 or via her website.
Please note this article was written for Rural Room