Monday, July 4, 2022

The ERJ physical fitness plan

Bears are not the only animal that shits in the woods. Foot included in picture for scale
As I aged I found that I need longer recovery periods between exercise sessions.

Getting stronger is a process of challenging muscle fibers...actually creating micro muscle tears...and then letting them heal. The muscle cells also call for more blood-flow which results in the muscles becoming shot-through with larger, higher capacity blood vessels to supply the increased need.

A moderate exercise session (pre-accident that would be a three mile walk with Mrs ERJ) might only need an over-night rest. A more-than-moderate session (mowing the lawn) might need a lay-off day between sessions. A big exercise session usually required two days.

With my intake session for Physical Therapy scheduled for Thursday, I had planned to be very active today with much lighter days on Tuesday and Wednesday. I planned to do a lot of stretching (also known as bending over and pulling weeds) and to walk for more than an  hour on pavement with as much distance as possible without the cane.

Little boy blue, come blow your horn. The sheep in the meadow the cows in the corn.

That was before the cows escaped.

Zeus and I were walking toward the garden at 7:00 this morning when I noticed that Zeus stopped in the gap in the hazelnut bush hedge along the north side of the garden and was looking across it. I followed his gaze and saw Lucy, the almost-Hereford standing in the garden.

I called Zeus and directed him to go to the kennel. He complied! Good dog! 

I locked him in.

Then I got a bucket of corn and started shaking the bucket to rattle the corn in the bucket. I also started sweet-talking "Fresh paddock! Fresh paddock. Come on you beautiful girls. Fresh paddock."

Lucy and Brutus popped their heads out of the orchard and then compliantly followed me into the closest of my paddocks.

The two cows still in Sprite's paddock started bellowing and I made an executive decision to move them as well. I did not think they would stay put and I wanted to deal with it before we went to Mom's. The last thing I wanted was to have them wandering around...potentially into the road...and me being twenty miles away.

I sent Sprite a text letting her know what I was doing. She was good with the plan and asked if I wanted help. I declined. Often, fewer bodies are better as they are less likely to get excited. Excited = unpredictable.

I partially filled another bucket with corn and hobbled down the fence-line to where it would be easy to drop the wires. I popped the wires off the insulators (No, Virginia, the fence was not electrified at the time) and started shaking the bucket.

The two cows that were still in Sprite's pasture were not interested in crossing where the fence had been. It took a good fifteen minutes of wheedling and sweet-talking to get the two cows heading the right way.

Not a big deal. Only sixty yards of downed poplar trees to thread our way through, through the orchard, the garden, the yard and then into the paddock with their two buddies.

It shouldn't have been any kind of problem. Cows are social animals. The two stragglers should have been eager to join their buddies.

Except the two that were in my paddock came out and joined the two who were not in the paddock.

I admitted I needed help after about ten minutes of trying to get them through the gate and into the paddock. They were too interested in eating the lawn and sampling hazelnut and persimmon and grape leaves. Mrs ERJ's phone was on the charger and she was sleeping. That left Sprite.

I called Sprite and got a third bucket of corn.

Sprite played it perfectly. She walked over from her property.

We coordinated by putting our phones on "speaker" and stuffing them into shirt pockets. No yelling required to communicate. Again, excited cows are unpredictable cows.

She pressured them from behind just the tiniest little bit. That is all it took. Between Sprite behind them and me shaking the bucket of corn in the paddock they slid through that gate like shit-through-a-goose.

Based on the dried surface, Lucy and Brutus had been slipping through the fence for a while. This was not their first time off-reservation.

The rest of the time before visiting Mom was spent finding a stock-tank and a block of salt to throw over the fence. Filling the tank and then walking to the back of the property (a 1/4 mile, one way) to close the back-gate to the pasture.

I got that wrapped up at 10:25 AM.

Mom noticed that I was a little bit tuckered out and asked if I was feeling OK. I told her I needed a nap and I would be just fine afterward. That reassured her. She knows I like naps.

I share these details because you need to know that I am not as organized as I present myself to be. Also, I think people are encouraged to learn that other people have random strings of chaos injected into their lives and things still turn out just fine.


  1. Reminds me of the time I was at work in the law office about an hour's drive away and got a call from a neighbor that our bull was out and trying to get into their pasture with their cows.
    That was one nerve wracking drive home.

    1. Bulls are an entirely different kettle of fish.

      Heifers and steers are basically stomachs with legs. Bulls have personality and testosterone.

  2. Sound like you has a mooving experience this morning.

  3. “I think people are encouraged to learn that other people have random strings of chaos injected into their lives and things still turn out just fine.”

    Thanks for that!

    I’ve often contemplated the possibility that the ancient Greeks were right, and there are a bunch of infantile, mean, malicious, deities with seriously doubtful senses of humour, up there … specifically targetting me.

    My cows (Jerseys) have literally no interest (on doing a Colditz) in ‘my’ garden, much preferring my neighbours – and doesn’t that say it all.

    Still, it is reassuring that such 'travails' aren't aimed 'solely' at me ;-)

    The meme “The Lord only gives us only what we can cope with. The Lord obviously thinks I’m some kind of bad-ass” has often seemed to describe my life (mostly the previous ‘military’ portions of it, although I’m beginning to think I was being unfortunately ‘optimistic’ in considering homesteading as a ‘trauma free' option). The fact that so many recent ‘tests’ have included recalcitrant (and often downright devious – I swear they coordinate) livestock has me wondering just what ‘He’ has lined up for me in the future.

  4. Large livestock can provide tests of your patience. Last year, a drought caused one of the cows to reach through hard enough of the fence to push over a fence post, allowing them exiting the property, which is adjacent to a state highway. Luckily, the two animals stayed away from the road way and summoned Texas Department of Public Safety officers who responded were able to get them back onto our property without any harm. That was close.

  5. Keeping organized when the cows are out is indeed a challenge.
    Sounds like it added to your rehab routine.

  6. My old neighbor was pretty poor with fences and his cows were frequent visitors on our place. No big deal, they would herd up pretty easily and I would gently push them back. The quarter horse enjoyed the work. They ended up getting on to I-65 one night and the KSP called him and helped getting the critters off the road and back on his place. His wife called the troopers and said he never came home. They found his body in the pasture, dead of cardiac arrest.

  7. Ah yes, cows and fences... At least y'all did it the right way!

  8. There is an old cowboy saying (supposedly) that you never want to herd black cows at night!

    I'm also reminded of the time our neighbor and his dad tried to attend to a newborn calf. The mother tried to, and almost succeeded in killing them, wrecked their pickup truck, and then they ended up having to shoot her.

    Lots of interesting cow stories out there.


Readers who are willing to comment make this a better blog. Civil dialog is a valuable thing.