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No rocking chair for this octogenarian

Managing editor

Aldina Martens of Lehigh has worked hard all of her life and sees no reason to slow down at 80.

“I’ve got to keep busy all of the time,” the petite grandmother said.

And busy she is.

Martens’ day begins at 6 a.m. with taking care of the five lots where her home is located, about a dozen chickens, and three gardens. And that’s just the outdoor chores.

She cleans, cooks, bakes, quilts, sews, crochets, puts together jigsaw puzzles, and cans about everything.

“I go to bed when I’m ready,” Martens said, and that might be 10 or 11 p.m. or later.

“I’m not a napper,” she said. “I might take a five-minute nap in the evening but if I sleep too long, I won’t be able to sleep when I go to bed at night. I have never needed much sleep.”

To what does she owe her ability to stay active? Well, by staying active.

“I can still bend over and touch my hands to the floor,” Martens said, standing up and demonstrating. “How many people my age can do that?”

She believes being active keeps her muscles and bones healthy. By crocheting and embroidering, her fingers remain nimble.

“I have to have something in my hands even when I’m sitting down,” Martens said, which probably helps keep her hands from stiffening.

She doesn’t have arthritis, knee, or hip problems. She’s on medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol and Martens blames that on her family’s history.

“I’m pretty healthy,” she said, recalling five surgeries in her life with only one being serious — and that was 30 years ago.

Martens drives herself wherever she cares to go and travels to Alaska with her son, Gayland, about every year. She uses a cell phone on a regular basis with Gayland most recently teaching her to text.

“I don’t know how I did all this when I worked,” Martens said with a smile.

She worked from 1978 to 1987 at the former Sterling Drug Company in McPherson, now Hospira.

“When I got home at night, I was tired,” Martens recalled, “but I would go out and work in the yard and found I had more energy. I felt better afterward.”

The spry woman keeps her sense of humor and has a positive attitude.

While giving a tour of the chicken house, she pointed out that her large rooster was named “Orphy” because he was an “orphan.”

When asked if it is difficult to eat fowl she has named, Martens said, “No, that’s their purpose.”

She also traps and eats rabbits that come into her yard.

Four years ago, Martens recalled butchering 145 chickens.

“Now, that was a job,” she said.

These days, she’s content with a dozen or so laying hens and fryers.

As she surveys her lawn, Martens takes a great deal of pride in her accomplishments.

To what does she attribute her longevity and health?

“I eat right, don’t drink or smoke,” she said, “just good clean, country living, I guess.”

Martens hopes to be able to continue living at the place she’s called home for more than 50 years as long as possible.

“The day I can no longer take care of my yard is the day I’ll leave,” she said.

Last modified May 6, 2010

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