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Women and physical labor
Old 09-06-2013, 02:13 PM   #1
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Women and physical labor

Just wondering how unusual a middle-aged woman I really am. I don't know another woman any age - let alone late middle age - who works as hard, physically, as I do, and I'm wondering if that's only because I hang with relatively inactive women.

Today I was off work, so I climbed an extension ladder (Mr. A. set it up and stabilized it for me), carrying an electric hedge trimmer, to trim one of a pair of 20-foot columnar yews on either side of our front entryway. I held the trimmer over my head like a Jedi light saber to get the bits at the very top.

After climbing down, I then trimmed about 100 square feet of yew and barberry hedge, cleaned up the trimmings and transported them to the compost heap at the bottom of our 3.5 acre yard.

I proceeded to use an electric pole saw to cut the bottom-most limbs off a large maple tree so Mr. A. can get under it to mow the grass. I cut up the limbs into smaller pieces with a lopper and hand pruner, disposed of the leaves in the compost heap and placed the cut-up branches and twigs into the garbage cans.

Then I used a mattock to tackle a four-foot-tall, 18-inch-diameter rotten stump of a Bradford pear which had fallen in a storm 4 years ago. Inside of an hour, I reduced the stump to about 25% of its previous size (the rest still needs to rot some more) and got rid of all the pieces.

This is an average day of outdoor work for me. I've also done laundry and worked out at the gym today. I'm an average-sized female, 5 feet 7.5 inches tall, about 130 pounds, no bulging muscles or anything.

My father raised me to do this kind of work, but he could never get my sister to do it. Do any other women do anything similar? Or am I truly an odd duck? I don't even mention what I do around other women any more, because they all act sorry for me, and say they hire people to do that kind of work, or their husbands and sons do it, etc.

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Old 09-06-2013, 02:55 PM   #2
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Sounds very impressive..... and not your typical day for a man or a woman...


We only have a normal sized yard, but I have seen my DW trim hedges, put extra dirt and mulch in the 1000 sq ft (estimated) of flower beds that she has... she moved 8 cubic yards of dirt and 8 cubic yards of mulch (with the help of son... I was told to stay out of it as she wanted to do it her way).... now, this is not a typical day, but she can do it whenever she wants...
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Old 09-06-2013, 03:16 PM   #3
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I know women who work that hard. They are rare.
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Old 09-06-2013, 03:33 PM   #4
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Amethyst....I too am physically active both in the yard and around the house and always have been. I have stood on all sorts of ladders both in the house and in the yard to spray trees against bagworms or to siding clean the back of the house, trimmed 450 linear feet of wax myrtle hedges standing on a ladder with gas powered hedge trimmers (sometimes twice a summer - finally got rid of those things, built a fence and put in trees instead), pruned (still do) every tree in my yard spring and fall, strip and stain 3 decks by myself (still doing this). planted every tree and bush in my yard, lay 26 yards of mulch in my beds wheelbarrowing it around the yard from where it was delivered onto my driveway, created new planting beds, edging them out, putting in top soil and plant material, laying stones, painted every room in the house (some 3 and 4 times), paint my kitchen cabinets (probably about 5 times so far in 22 years), power wash the house, dug a 400 linear foot trench in side yard so rain water would shed off the yard, etc. etc.
Now all of that said at age 58 I can tell you I am slowing down a bit. I did stain the decks this year, still do the yard work but wheel barrowing that mulch is a killer for me now. Don't mind doing 6 or so yards but when I have to do the entire yard I try to get some young guys to help me. Next project on my agenda is to repaint the master bathroom.

I try to do what I can because (1) I'm impatient and want it done (2) there are some things I can't do (electrical, plumbing,etc. ) and (3) there will come a time I can't do it and will have to pay someone (4) I enjoy being busy and having projects.

But I hear you, none ...I mean, absolutely none of my friends do these things either.

Oh...and my father did this too. As children, we all worked in the yard.

Also...I was working full time and raising 3 children. :-)

Edit: I'm petite, 5'3", work out at the gym 4 times a week, so for all you guys out there the answer is no, I'm not big boned and husky either! LOL!
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Old 09-06-2013, 03:47 PM   #5
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I guess it depends on what would be middle age. I suppose if I used '40', that would be middle age for me. If I consider my 55 years of living as middle age, does this mean I expect to live to 110?

Ever since I was a teenager, I've worked like a man.

Lifting furniture (moved 10 times with the help of DH and a friend or two), mowing, landscaping, painting...the list goes on.

In the last couple of years, I've cut back quite a bit. All of the above hard work has taken a toll on my body. Pain does not go away as quickly as it used to...
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Old 09-06-2013, 03:58 PM   #6
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Ever since I was a teenager, I've worked like a man.
Not that impressive, by what I see around here.
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Old 09-06-2013, 04:14 PM   #7
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Go to the fields and see if you can hang with the berry pickers for a day. Then you will know if you are exceptional.
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Old 09-06-2013, 04:20 PM   #8
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Well there is that Diana Nyad person

I think I'm a lot older than you, Amethyst, but I did mow with a push mower, shovel snow, plant shrubs, move all the furniture, paint all the interior rooms, etc. (not all in the same day haha) besides most of the housework, a job, and childcare duties as DH was away 12 hours a day. Now that I'm 63 I worry about getting hurt, especially falling and breaking a bone, so I've scaled back a lot. I think you have stepped up to do what needs to be done where you live, which makes you even stronger. You are an e-r.org ninja chick!
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Old 09-06-2013, 04:31 PM   #9
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I don't know the answer but I wish you lived closer.
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Old 09-06-2013, 05:30 PM   #10
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Why is that? Were you thinking of hiring female yard labor? I warn you, I cover up completely even in hot weather Lyme disease, you know!

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I don't know the answer but I wish you lived closer.
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Old 09-06-2013, 07:13 PM   #11
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Amethyst,

I am one of the whimps. It's not the age thing. I couldn't do the stuff you do when I was young either...
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Old 09-06-2013, 08:12 PM   #12
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Why is that? Were you thinking of hiring female yard labor? I warn you, I cover up completely even in hot weather Lyme disease, you know!

A.
You could wear a jump suit and army boots if you'd work that hard. I got tired just reading your description. In fact, I had to sit on the couch and drink a beer to recover.
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Old 09-06-2013, 08:29 PM   #13
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Amethyst, your original post reads like an episode from "Little House on the Prairie". I'm saying good for you. You go girl!
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Old 09-06-2013, 08:59 PM   #14
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You're not an odd duck. There are at least two of us. My dad gave me power tools for Christmas. I regularly work hours in the yard, clean my own gutters, fix the roof, get rid of skunks, etc.
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Old 09-06-2013, 09:09 PM   #15
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Oh my. I would never think of you or others as wimps, as long as they don't judge me, and imply that real, successful women get someone else to do such things. That perception of "judging" was what was puzzling me, and led to this thread (Which I have greatly enjoyed).

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Amethyst,

I am one of the whimps. It's not the age thing. I couldn't do the stuff you do when I was young either...
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Old 09-06-2013, 09:10 PM   #16
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Regularly get rid of skunks? Are they a recurring plague, like ground hogs? (Which I have no idea how to get rid of, BTW).

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You're not an odd duck. There are at least two of us. My dad gave me power tools for Christmas. I regularly work hours in the yard, clean my own gutters, fix the roof, get rid of skunks, etc.
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Old 09-06-2013, 10:27 PM   #17
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Sounds like my DW when she decides to do something. She's been turning 29 the last half decade (or more!) so not sure if she would self describe as middle age just yet.

We hauled 20 cubic yards of wood chips to various spots around our property using a wheelbarrow and a shovel to load said wheelbarrow. In the middle of summer here in the south. And she hauled a couple tons of rocks to do some landscaping borders. Not all in one load of course.

She's 5' 2" (when she wears heels).

I think she gets it from her mom. She's not quite 5' 2" (let's be charitable and call her 4' 10") and she recently turned 60. She has a small commercial garden that she works by hand most days (here in the South). And she babysits 5 of her grandkids under age 5 (that's a lot of diapers and bottles and butt whoopins). And of course she has to cook and clean for the 9 of them that live in the house. This may sound dire, but it is way better than the life she would have had in the country from which she escaped!

But if you are asking do most middle class and upper middle class women do lots of physically demanding manual labor, I would say no, that isn't typical. They either have hired help, or a husband that gets the privilege.
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Old 09-07-2013, 05:44 AM   #18
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I suppose it would be impolitic to ask one of you ladies to give DW lessons?
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:27 AM   #19
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You're not an odd duck. There are at least two of us. My dad gave me power tools for Christmas. I regularly work hours in the yard, clean my own gutters, fix the roof, get rid of skunks, etc.
LauAnne...there are at least 3 of us and this reminds me of my battle with the possums in my garage. I was able to trap the babies that were born and that had been living in an old sofa in my garage (and take them to the river) but had to call animal control for the "large" mommas. When he came he had a noose on a stick (for lack of a better name to call it), looped it around her neck, picked her up by it and dropped her into his trap. Not to be outdone, I hoofed it to the local hardware store, bought the stuff to make my own "loop on a stick". When my husband got home that night, he was impressed!
We had been having problems for years with possums off and on. It's because we have outdoor cats we feed (can't let them go hungry!)

I think a lot of what I did and do is because it is difficult to find people that want the smaller jobs and they want too much money for the bigger jobs. Got quotes of $900 a room to paint a room, $3,000 to do my decks, $100 dollars to cut my grass (and I cut it twice a week) so....as I have said to my husband I have saved us tens of thousands of dollars thru the years. Money that can be better spent elsewhere.

When my daughter was younger she fell in love with a white bedroom set from Ethan Allen. The price tag was $9,0000. Instead, we went to an antique store, bought pieces of the old solid wood mahogany bedroom sets with a vanity. I refinished and painted each piece. I think it cost me $350.00 for the double bed, the dresser and the vanity. I had an old bookcase and sewing machine from my grandmother I added to this mix, using the old sewing machine as an end table (took out all the machinery).

I suppose I get a kick out of doing things for less.
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:51 AM   #20
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You sound like my darling MIL....IF you could get her to stand still long enough to wet her down with a hose, she'd weigh in at a whopping 98 pounds or so...along with everything else, still does ALL of her own yard work at 74 years young.

Her nickname is "Mighty"....and rightfully so!
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