When I graduated from high school, I was 5-foot-9-inches tall and weighed around 145 pounds. By the time I came home for the summer, after my first year of college, I was 6-foot-1-inch, 160 pounds, and had finally finished growing….up.

My girth increased, ever so gradually, for the next 30 years; so slowly that hardly anyone noticed, and I was fortunate enough to be able to eat just about anything I wanted, and in whatever amount I chose – and I did. Somewhere around my early 50s, either my diet or my metabolism, or maybe both, changed. Suddenly (at least it seemed that way to me), I was buying the next waist size bigger, every time I went to purchase a new pair of Wranglers. The old loose-fitting, size L, Carhartt feeding coat, which I had worn for years, was replaced by a rather snug-fitting XL size.

I also began to notice a trend, when I would meet old friends, that I hadn’t seen for a couple of years, and receive not-so-subtle comments like, “You’re wife must be a really good cook,” or “Looks like you’ve kicked that anorexia in the butt.” My farming buddies would pile on with statements such as, “I sure wish I could buy a load of stockers with your rate of gain,” or “What do you suppose your yearling weight EPD is?” Real friends, huh?

Over the past 10 years, I’ve noticed that I don’t get out of the way of wild calves, protective momma cows or angry bulls nearly as fast as I used to. I blame it on age, and a recent check-up resulted in a check-LIST of all my aches and pains that I experience. After a couple of minutes in silent review of the rather long list, the learned physician stated, “You know, Mr. Crownover, if you could lose a few pounds, that would take a lot of the stress off your feet, knees and hips.” She went on to add, “It would also reduce your chances of a stroke or heart attack, by quite a bit.” 

“Yeah, yeah,” I replied. “That’s the same thing my last doctor said, and I out-lived him.”

Then, yesterday, all the subtle little signs, as well as the not-so-subtle warnings, from people I care for and respect, came to fruition in a life-changing event.

I was on my way back from the creek place, where I had finished feeding hay for the morning. I was driving the tractor on a straight, level, paved county road, when all of a sudden there was a huge POP!, then a WHAM!, followed by an immediate drop of my posterior, of about eight inches, and it felt like my spine had suffered a compression fracture. Immediately, I stopped the tractor and got out to see what the problem might be. Upon exiting the tractor, I quickly discovered that one of the two springs that keep the tractor seat suspended, had broken in half.

I start my diet tomorrow.

Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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