What is it about farmers and retirement?
Almost all the farmers we know are still working, albeit as they get older their work load diminishes. I believe the average age of a farmer is late fifties or something like that.
My farmer is over seventy (just) and any mention of retirement fills him (and me actually) with horror. Because farming is not just a job, it is a way of life. It is a twenty-four hour way of life. If you have livestock - for example cows - they are just as likely to calve in the middle of the night in an awkward place as they are to calve in the straw in the barn. Many is the time when we had a dairy herd I have gone down the field with him at about two o'clock in the morning to see how a particular cow was faring. It was a job I enjoyed as much as he did.
Now we have no livestock of our own. So has he cut down? Well yes, maybe a little. But he has just bought himself a little mechanical digger so that he can do little jobs for neighbouring farmers; he still enjoys a spot of haymaking for various folk around who own single fields; he still enjoys being 'on the go' throughout the day.
Well yesterday it was brought home to him that he is not as young as he thought he was. Four solid days of sitting on a tractor looking over his right shoulder while haymaking, making sure the cutter, then the turner, then the rower and finally the baler were in the correct place, and this morning his right hip was very painful. Getting out of the car after going into town to collect the morning papers at 7am, he somehow twisted his hip further.
The upshot is that he was in agony, very white-faced, sweating heavily and totally unable to function. Now in the middle of the afternoon the pain has eased (good painkillers have kicked in) and he is sitting in his chair reading the newspaper. But walking is quite out of the question at present.
Will he learn from the experience? I doubt it. But at least he is going for a hip X ray next week. A slight break through methinks.