Sunday, August 30, 2015

less pain

Over a year ago I started riding a recumbent exercise bike, hoping to burn some calories.  I figured half an hour daily, give or take a day, would be a nice way to fill the gap left when I became unable to walk for exercise.  Recumbent bikes are recommended for folks with bad knees or knee replacement.  

Unfortunately, that old "gotta do it every day for a half-hour" became tiresome and boring and I dropped it completely.

I had noticed when I was riding the bike regularly that my knee pain wasn't as bad.  But I figured it wasn't making enough difference to really motivate me.  

A couple of weeks ago I had a long talk with myself:  "Self," I said, "why don't you just get on the bike for a little while every day and ride as long as you want to?  Forget how many calories you burn and think about the lessened knee pain."  

I figured surely ten minutes wouldn't be much of a grind.  I can play Sudoku on the IPad while I'm riding, and one game, the difficult version, will usually last ten minutes.  

As soon as I got off the bike that first time after fifteen minutes, my knees felt better.  Next day or two there was some soreness from muscles that hadn't been exercised, but then that was gone.  I had previously been taking a couple of Ibuprofen two or three times a week; I realized yesterday I hadn't even thought of taking any pain reliever since starting back up on the bike.

It's hard to rate pain, but I would say my pain is easily 1/3 less than it was.  I find myself walking around outside a lot more than before.  I don't dread getting on the exercise bike because I can get off after five minutes if I want to.  As long as I get on it for a while most days, it seems to be helping.  

In other news, I'm now turning Grace-the-cow dry for two months until she calves.  I'm also weaning the two four-month-old brown calves off Penny and putting the remaining calf, a Holstein, on her after I'm done getting my milk twice a day.  The brown steers have gotten to the point where I couldn't get them off Penny's teats without beating them half to death, so they can just do without.  I'm too old to be fighting three-hundred-pound calves.  I've talked to the dairyman in Higginsville, and he expects to have plenty of bull calves for sale during the month of September, so I may soon wean the Holstein and put a couple of new babies on Penny.

Plans for today include talking to those people near Oak Grove about trading chores occasionally.  I'll be glad to find out how that idea goes over with them after we've met.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Choices and quandaries

Our tractor club will be going on a trip in November.  I really want to be part of this, but I have two milk cows, and their timing in no way jives with the club trip.  I have thought about this until my head hurts, trying to figure out a reasonable solution that doesn't involve selling my cows, and I came up with nothing workable... but there may now be hope, thanks to the mother of the little girl I babysit.

There are some Jersey cows on a little farmstead just north of Oak Grove less that fifteen miles from our house that we have admired often as we drove past the place.  Recently the mother of the child I babysit saw that these people were selling milk, and stopped by to get some (I have since told her if she wants raw milk, she is welcome to some of mine.  After all, the hog gets most of it anyhow.)

She mentioned to them that I was looking for someone with milk cows who would milk for me occasionally, and then I would return the favor if they wanted to get away.  That way all of us would get a break once in awhile.  One of those folks gave her their card, and seemed to be interested in the deal.  

The card has laid here beside my chair for almost a month, because, silly as it sounds, I hate initiating phone calls, especially to strangers.  I kept telling myself we would just stop by and talk to them in person on our way to Oak Grove sometime, but that was just another thing for me to avoid.  

Baby's mamma told me the other day she had stopped by the place again, and the people were wondering why I hadn't contacted them.  That was sufficient motivation for me to spring into action.  OK, "spring into action" may not quite be accurate, since I still procrastinated for three more days.  But yesterday I finally called, and made an appointment to meet them Sunday afternoon and discuss the situation.

I know it's a big "if", but it could work out.  However, the problem still isn't all that simple, thanks to the lousy timing of my cows.  Grace should be due to calve October 27, judging by the last time the bull followed her around.  That's two weeks before the big trip to Kansas.  Of course, maybe the bull followed her after that and I just missed it, although that's doubtful.  BUT!!!!  If that happened, she could end up calving during the less-than-48-hours we would be gone.  Even so, that bull was a very small Jersey, so small I never thought he would be able to climb Mount Gracie and get the job done.  What I'm saying is that if she calves while we're gone, it should be uneventful, as long as we have her penned up securely in the small lot, because chances are the calf will be small.  Although, if you've followed our cattle adventures over the past couple of years, you realize that I can't count on anything.  OK, I'm still willing to take the risk with Grace.  If she calves two weeks or more before the trip, I will get a couple of calves to put with her newborn calf and if she behaves like she did last time, she would be fine to leave.  (Yes, that's another "if" because with animals, just like children, you learn not to count on any certain kind of behavior.) 

But that leaves Penny, who after three months of milking is still giving four-and-a-half gallons of milk daily.  I usually milk out two quarters and let two calves take the other two.  Once in awhile I skip milking her and the calves get it all.  She will still be milking a good amount at the time of the Kansas trip, and the two calves she is nursing need to be weaned now; so she will either (a) need two new calves put on her or (b) be milked twice daily until the middle of January, or a combination of both like I'm doing now.   If I have someone to milk her two or three milkings, she will do fine.

Cliff asked yesterday, "But what if these people we're talking to decide they don't want to milk for you?"

"Then I guess I will sell Penny," I answered.  "I'm seventy years old, and I'm not putting off two-day trips because I'm tied down with cows."  

He just shook his head.  I'm not sure he believes me.  

By the way, if any local folks are reading this and know of someone who might be interested in a trip to Kansas to tour the Agco-Hesston plants, eat in the Amish community of Yoder, and then next day visit the Kansas Underground Salt Museum and mine and then after lunch visit the Hall of Space Museum, there are openings for the bus trip, and you don't have to be a club member to go.  Deadline is September 15.  It's $301 for a couple to go on the trip... I forget the cost for a single person... plus the cost of a one-night stay in a motel.  Yes, I paid last night for our trip, so worst-case scenario, I will have two free tickets to give to someone at the last minute.  

You would love all the people in our tractor club.