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“Elk X-ing: a short animated comic”

I made this little comic because this particular story is a funny, expressive tale I enjoy telling, but it just doesn’t quite fit into text.  Text alone can’t capture the emotions of the event.  To some the humor in this story may seem a bit morbid, but it all depends on your perspective.  We take it lightheartedly- thus is life living in an area loaded with wildlife.  And no, we didn’t go back to look, but we considered it!

The comic is about 70 seconds long and 10 megabytes in size.   It contains no graphic or explicit content.

I don’t make little animations like these to create masterpieces.  I put just enough time in to convey the story effectively.  Please pardon any funny little quirks in the graphics 🙂  I only spent a few hours on it.  

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“The Goat Poisoned Himself”

Aster and Isöl made a jail break, as goats are prone to doing.  They escaped their fenced area and indulged in some free-ranging around the mountainside.  I didn’t think much of it; I know they’re not going very far and I don’t mind them browsing new area.  A few hours later, however, something seemed amiss.  I couldn’t hear the bells on their collars jingling.  They were either very far away or holding very still.  Goats are like small children; when it gets too quiet, you get nervous.

After some scouting around, I actually found them hiding under the front porch!  I poked my head under the porch (which had a tall open face downhill) to see a very strange scene.  Aster is stalk-still, staring into oblivion, his and chest slathered in frothy green slime.  Isöl is pacing beside him, restless, sniffing his brother and stamping his feet.  
Isöl looks up at me with bulging eyes, “Jen, you gotta do somethin’!  You gotta help him!”  
Poor boy, he was more concerned for his brother than I’ve ever seen a goat choose to be concerned about anything else.

I got both boys back in their pen.  Aster was producing projectile vomit of green foam every so often.  He was unstable his feet and miserable.  

I went back home and had a think on it.  The only explanation was the poisonous bog plant False Hellebore, which grows in our draws.  I had destroyed it in their pen, but Aster must’ve gorged on a bunch while out enjoying his freedom.  Dadgum goats!  So I loaded up a huge syringe with hydrated activated charcoal and marched back down to the barnyard.  I flushed the full dose of AC down his throat and made sure it didn’t come back up right away.

I spent the rest of the day rampaging through the forest with false-hellebore-bloodlust, destroying every plant I came across, whilst intermittently revisiting Aster and re-dosing him with more syringes of AC.  By evening he’d stopped vomiting and seemed stable.  I’m sure he felt like crap.  He and his brother snuggled together in the loafing shed.  Isöl never left his side.  

The next day Aster was feeling much better.  His backside was caked in the crusty evidence of charcoal-black liquid poo.  His chest was a ghastly mess of crusty green

chunks and charcoal stains.  But he felt okay.  His breath smelled okay.  His appetite was healthy and he ate with a normal vigor.  He was up on his feet like nothing had happened.

The next few times I took the boys hiking, Aster would sniff false hellebore and quickly turn the other way.  Yay!  Then I made the mistake of scolding him for giving it a curious nibble.  Everything is a game to goats.  It only took one reaction.  So now they will seek out false hellebore stalks when we’re hiking and they’ll wait until I’m looking, then quickly put it in their mouths and wag their tails because they know it’ll get a reaction out of me.  
And it will!  Dadgum goats!  
Thankfully though, false hellebore is only toxic in larger quantities (that’s relative; while I’ve read 4oz. of leaf can kill a sheep, the point is that

 one nibble isn’t going to hurt, but a whole 3 foot stalk will) and I haven’t had another goat pull the same stunt on me.  In the mean time I’ve mercilessly ravaged the false hellebore in my immediate environment.  I normally don’t like eradicating a species like that, but you know 

what, they can grow everywhere else on the mountain, just stay out of my barnyard!

Normally goats can be trusted to not kill themselves while foraging.  I assume this was the first time Aster had ever interacted with falsehellebore.  The goats and pigs both nibble it incrementally, but I assume they each individually experienced eating enough to get a stomach ache and learned to avoid it.  Aster just made the mistake of gorging on the plant without first learning how it would affect him.

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“Nova’s Tribulations: The Eye Wound”

It had been a cold winter.  We were lounging in the upper deck of the ‘upper greenhouse’, as we call it.  We were having a spot of sunshine and it’s always warmest at the top of the greenhouse. My cats Nochi, Nova, and Mario were lounging with me.

Without warrant, as he was prone to doing, Mario looked sideways at his sister Nova and began terrorizing her in classic cat fashion. They had a momentary brawl and both cats bolted away.

I didn’t think anything of the spat. Mario has always been mean to poor little Nova. The next afternoon I was opening a drawer in the greenhouse and jumped back in surprise- there was a big grey animal in the drawer! I quickly realized it was Nova. I teased her and greeted her but she didn’t respond. She was curled up tightly in a ball. Very unusual. So I pried her up and out of the drawer, only to find myself in a mild panic at the sight of her left eye; it was a giant mat of blood!

I rushed Nova inside, nestled her into the covers on the bed, and took stock of what needed to happen. Foremost in a situation like this, the blood needs to be cleaned up. So with many changes of warm, wet towels I washed the caked blood from her face and eye. I had no idea what I would find under her eyelid- was her eye destroyed? How bad was this? In the moment I wasn’t sure what could have possibly happened!

Once the excess blood was out of the way, I made a hot tea of holy basil (antiseptic pain relief) and usnea lichen (antibiotic). I laid with Nova and loved on her while holding the hot, juicy tea compress over her eye, making sure the tea could seep in and around the eye, which was caked shut with blood. I didn’t want to pry it open because I didn’t know the extent of the damage I was dealing with.

Nova was miserable. She slept day after day, only getting up a few times- which signaled me to whisk her outside so she could relieve herself. Twice I let her out to do her thing and she didn’t come back. It was frigid outside and I still didn’t know how bad her condition was. I set about calling her and searching high and low for her. Eventually she reappeared, waiting by the back door for me to let her in. Phew!

About a week passed before the constant daily tea soaks had un-crusted her bloody eye. She was squinting out of the eye ever so gently. Her eye was solid blood red. I was overcome with sadness for her- surely she had lost vision in the eye if it was so full of blood!

My treatment for her remained unchanged. Usnea and basil flushing and compresses to the eye. Around day 10 she was improving greatly.  It had become apparent that when Mario jumped her, he had raked his claws across her eye and actually sliced her eyelid open from the back corner of the eye up towards her ear. It was pretty gross and I was highly displeased with Mario for it. I was still unsure if Nova’s eyesight would recover.

Once the majority of the healing was complete and her pain levels dropped, Nova became restless and I evicted her once again from the house. She stayed close to home and I kept an eye on her. She seemed to be doing quite well.  After a few weeks her eye was open again fully, her eyelid had healed without the slightest hint of infection, swelling, or complication.  Her eye, however, was a deep dark brown color from all the blood, and her pupil was pronouncedly dilated at all times.

It took a few months for the dark coloration in her iris to fully disperse. I tested her eyesight thoroughly (laser pointers do have their practical applications!) and she appeared to have no loss of vision in her left eye. Phew! To this day though, her left pupil is always slightly more dilated than her right. A legacy from Mario that reminds me of him every time I look into Nova’s eyes.

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“When Pigs Fly”


Andy: “Jen, Bill’s stuck.

Me: “What?”
Him: “I went to see why ravens were gathering in the pasture.  I thought he was dead, but he’s just stuck.
Me: “How is he… stuck?”
Him: “Come check it out.”
We go investigate Bill the boar.  Bill the 1,000lb Hampshire boar.  Indeed, Bill was accustomed to sleeping on the steep dusty hillside.  He normally laid down with his feet facing downhill, making it easy to roll over right into a standing position.  But this time he laid with his feet pointing uphill.  Now he was stuck, almost on his back, with his short, fat legs poking helplessly up into the air.
The ravens know a down piggy when they see one! They knew he wasn’t getting back up on his own and were gathering in anticipation of his eventual death.
We tried a few times to simply heave Bill over onto his other side.  But as you can imagine, a 1,000lb pig kicks with a lot of strength.  He was tired and cranky and didn’t appreciate his legs being used as handles and levers.  Flipping him over wasn’t going to be that simple.
Our next plan of action was to dig a trench on the downhill side.  In theory, we’d just give him a little tip and he’d plop over onto his other side in the ditch.  It sounded reasonable enough, so we dig the trench out and prepare to heave Bill once more.
One, two, THREE!

We levered Bill backward with his thrashing legs and sure enough, he flipped right on over.  But he didn’t roll into the ditch.  Bill’s massive frame caught air and the giant pig went flying down the mountain side.  We watched in horror, both of our minds instantly conjuring scenarios of what happens next and how we’re going to extract a 1,000 pound carcass that’s wrapped itself around a tree at the bottom of the draw…

Bill flew downhill about thirty or forty feet, and like a half-ton cat he righted himself in mid-air and landed on all four legs with a jarring thud, just in front of the first big conifer trunk in his path.  We were both stupefied and relieved.
Bill saved himself and lived to see another day.  It wasn’t too much later though that we had to butcher him.  A pig that large is just… too large!  The event of butchering Bill is a story in and of itself…