The Pregnant Farmer

Sometimes people worry about me–“You’re not hauling huge loads, are you?” or “Are you worried about contact with manure?” However, people are mostly the same ol,’ same ol.’ They either think farming is an adventurous and interesting career choice, or they don’t. For those few folks who have worried about my life as a pregnant farm worker, I assure them that my job is safe, fun, and probably much healthier than many other jobs I could have!

The Pregnant Farmer in non-farming clothing.

You see, I only farm about twenty hours per week. It is true that after a long day of harvesting veggies, carrying bins of CSA shares and hunching over a washtub my back does hurt a bit. It definitely hurts in ways that it has never hurt before–down by the sciatic nerve. But after thirty minutes of rest and perhaps a bit of heat or ice applied, the pain is gone! It is fleeting pain, mostly due to repetitive movements rather than strain or too much overwork.

One of wheel barrows full of flowered broccoli, that I–the Pregnant Farmer– pulled out of the beds without incident!

The most uncomfortable times I’m having right now are actually when I’m in bed, not moving. My hips hurt, my legs cramp up, I can’t get comfortable. This has led me to realize that sitting at a desk all day could possibly be the worst thing for me to be doing right now. I am SO happy I’m not stuck staring at a computer all day (this will be my role in the coming weeks as I work on my thesis…). I can picture myself constantly shifting, constantly standing up and walking around, constantly Googling the best positions for pregnant ladies to sit while at a desk, constantly snacking on ANYTHING I could get my hands on.

This snacking–that’s where farming is really beneficial for pregnancy! If I was at a desk, I would snack on what I could get from the vending machine (generally not good for me), what I could get from my own snack supply (generally good for me!) and any food offered for birthdays or special office days or whatever (generally not good for me). Now, the snacks available to me are largely amazing organic produce–carrots just minutes out of the soil, cucumbers straight off the vine, the wayward sugar snap pea (you have to calibrate which ones are good once in a while, right?), the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever tried, and freshly sliced kohlrabi. Of course, there is the random treat delivered by the girls on the farm–sometimes ice cream, sometimes home made crackers, sometimes their newest gluten free cookie concoction. Plus, all of this good foods gives me a little leeway to bring some not-so-good-for-me snacks with me (Like fancy chocolate!).

Beautiful greenhouse veggies harvested and displayed for CSA box packing. You’d never guess that it is actually SNOWING outside the harvest shed…

I am not very far a long in my pregnancy–only five and a half months. I think that is largely why farming has worked out so well. We planned it this way partly so that I could farm during the more comfortable stages of farming, have the baby in the winter, and maybe even be ready to start farming again next spring (we’ll see about that, though…). I wonder how many female farmers end up planning on and having winter babies? It seems like the most logical way to do things, if possible.

The biggest obstacles I’ve faced seem minimal in retrospect–I was a bit nauseous in the first trimester at times, but I always had a pocket full of ginger chews (which often led to me like a trail of crumbs because they fell out of my pockets!). Sometimes I worry when I get cold; this problem has recently started with early morning frosts and even some snow. However, the baby seems to take it in stride. He or she doesn’t care if I can’t feel my fingers! I’m also very cautious of how much I haul. If I’m uncomfortable at all, I just make multiple trips instead of hauling it all in one go. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that I don’t push myself as hard as I normally would. Hopefully this is not to the dismay of my employer…I don’t think it is!

There are only two more weeks left in the Alaska farming season for me. While it’s sad to see it go (it’s especially sad to see the fresh produce go!), I’m happy to rock some baby bump friendly clothing. The orange Carhartt bibs that I have been wearing lately just don’t flatter anyone–especially a pregnant lady. Plus, my farming jackets can’t be zipped comfortably anymore. It’s time to retire all of the dirty gear for the season and snuggle up with big comfy sweaters and yoga pants!

With the end of the farming season comes the beginning of Farm School. I’m not teaching quite as much this year because of my thesis prep. But it is another great job to have while pregnant. The hours are very manageable, the kids are fun, and I often get a delicious, nutritious snack every day!

The Magpies make their own personal composts to observe throughout the semester.

Natural Numbers and Nouns enjoy harvesting birch bark on a sunny fall day!

Along with the excitement of the end of the farming season comes the finishing of the yurt! As mentioned in the last post, it is finished and all of our possessions are under one roof. We finally put in the woodstove (just in time for the first snow!), and I’m slowly learning how the stove wants to be operated. I would love to show you some interior picture of the yurt–but it is a disaster area! Before having the stove in, we were reluctant to move from the comfort of the electric blanket on our bed. But now, the heat from the stove encourages organization and making our yurt feel like a home! I promise to share more photos of the yurt as it becomes less embarrassing to show off. Until then, enjoy this picture of our Christmas lighted and prayer flag hung wall:

A latticed yurt wall, with computer screen.

In sadder news, Evan’s grandmother Isabelle passed away last week. She was such an amazing woman! I still can’t really grasp that she won’t be around on our next visit to Valley City. Evan relayed to me that the day before she passed, she held her husbands hand and said to him, “We had a good life.” I couldn’t help but hope that Evan and I share a moment like that in the distant future. It feels slightly odd to hope for something like that, but it’s all so beautiful in it’s own way. I wish our baby could have met his or her loquacious and talented great grandmother, but I’m sure he or she will have some of that same Bous go-get-em attitude! We love and miss you Grandma Isabelle!

So as the cycles keep on turning–from farming life to winter life and from new life to old, I hope today finds you well!

Sending you peace and love,

Alex, the Rural Farmgirl

  1. Meredith says:

    Don’t worry about farming while pregnant! I did it through my whole pregnancy, and even though my daughter had to arrive by c-section, I was feeling back to normal in a matter of days. The Dr. said it was because I was in great shape while pregnant and my muscles were strong. So do what you want to and don’t fret about folks worries, it’s your body and you alone know what it can and can’t do at this point! Your body will bounce back faster and your baby will be healthier if you keep at the work that makes you happy! Good luck!

  2. Beverly says:

    Oh what a beautiful posting! It brought back memories of my mother gardening when she was pregnant with my little sister some 40 years ago. You know your limits! Love the photo of the garden spot, especially the wheelbarrow. Getting mine ready for Fall Greens ( lettuce). I can’t believe you have snow!
    Happy Harvesting!

  3. Nella says:

    I really enjoyed your post and wish you well with your pregnancy…such a healthy environment to be in. Please keep posting the yurt progress too, looking forward to seeing how that comes along.

  4. Nina says:

    Great post! I thinks it’s awesome how you’re enjoying everything about your pregnancy and having to farm at the same time- exhausting.

  5. Nina says:

    Great post! I thinks it’s awesome how you’re enjoying everything about your pregnancy and having to farm at the same time- exhausting.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    You go girl! From an OB nurse of many years you can do anything your body tells you is OK.
    Just pay attention to your body’s little whispers. Many rich blessings for a beautiful birth.

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