THE rain is coming in sideways and out in the paddocks you can feel the water trickling down your neck. How does a lie down in a warm room sound?
I’ve found a particular way to escape the cold and the wet so the good wife, Jodi, and the two girls, Madi and Milla, benefit too. So do the ducks.
In Port Campbell, at least two women specialise in offering excuses for farmers to step out of the mud, if only for an hour. Olivia is an osteopath with a new bub, and Dot a massage therapist.
I spent a good chunk of this year feeling every bit of my 25 years (those numbers may need to be reversed) and had pain in places I’d never had before. Yet, instead of doing something about it, I conjured the rationale this was something all young people deal with when they have a crack at farming.
I’ve seen both women for various ailments but hadn’t been to Dot for well over a year when Jodi finally made an appointment for the masseuse and I to get re-acquainted.
During my first visit back to Dot’s table I realised what a berk I had been to neglect my health for so long. The woman has the hands of an alchemist and I could feel my muscles getting a desperately needed working over.
The day after my first visit, the pain in one of my hips had diminished so significantly I knew I should have returned sooner.
During my second visit, Dot gave me all the gossip on what locals are up to and suggested I write about their various misdemeanours. No, hang on, that’s not right – she shared a few of her insights on farmers’ health practices.
Dot thinks farmers should view massage therapy much like income protection. She reckons regular massage is one of the easiest ways to ensure we farmers can keep working.
Farmers regularly service their many vehicles – tractors, utes, trucks – and in many cases, during regular servicing, small problems can be attended to before they become catastrophes.
The same rationale can apply to our bodies, suggests Dot. But even if your body doesn’t need to be a temple, consider this – mental and physical health are related, according to Dot’s experience.
She offers this point to reinforce her opinion – nine times out of 10, if the farmer is male, it’s his wife who books the massage, fed up with her husband’s grumpiness.
After Dot’s second massage, the pain in my hip was almost gone. Taut muscles that had skewed my hips and back felt almost supple, as if I was 20 again, rather than 25.
My mood changed as well. Grumpy? The three girls in our family have never seen me grumpy (though I will be after I get struck by lightening for writing such bollocks).
No longer am I in a hurry to herd the ducks from the paddocks to their sheds each evening. Carrying weighty buckets of grain to the feeders is almost a painless exercise. And I look forward to helping the girls with their homework (and learning maths) instead of lying like a corpse on the couch.
Good massage therapists aren’t cheap and cost can be an issue with regular visits. If I keep to monthly appointments I will spend around the same amount a year as I do on the annual service cost of one of our vehicles.
The good wife and the two girls are convinced Dot’s warm massage room is a fine place for me to spend at least a small part of winter. The ducks and I are finding it hard not to agree.