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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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“Xena the Warrior Princess”

This is the tale of how we met  Xena, the Warrior Princess.

One day I visited a friend’s farm.  As evening approached, it began pouring rain, so I helped her wrap up farm chores by going out to the back of the property to look for chicken and duck eggs.  Mili the Dog was with me, as usual.  I’m rushing through a literal forest of yellow dock taller than I am, pulling back massive basal leaves, looking for secret nests, when I hear the strangest sound.  It was almost a growl.  But then, almost a hiss.  Yet it was also a whining yowl of some kind.  My first thought was “oh no, SKUNK.”

I follow the sound and hear thrashing and rustling ahead in the sopping wet dock forest.  It was now getting dark and visibility was poor.  By the sound of it, Mili was obviously engaged with the enraged mystery creature.  I braced for the smell of skunk but it never hit me.  

After a brief search I find the action scene.  

Mili is sitting in a somewhat strange manner with a giant smile from ear to ear.  She looks at me, laughing, and says “Haha, hey, Jen.  I’m sitting on it.  It can’t do anything cause I’m sitting on it.”

But what?  What are you sitting on?!  
The screaming, yowling, spitting ball of fur starts to pry itself out from under her butt now and again, and Mili giggles, shifts her weight, and keeps it pinned beneath her bum.  I tell Mili to get up, and to my comedic surprise, what I thought to be a baby skunk was an absolutely tiny little kitten.  It couldn’t have been more than weaning age, just a sopping wet little hairball (with teeth and claws).  Mili didn’t want to hurt it, but this feral spitfire was determined to fight her, so she disabled it in the safest way possible and just sat on it.  She was quite proud of herself.

It’s fairly common for folks to drop off unwanted cats and kittens on this farm, for whatever reason.  My friend takes them all in, vets them, and gives them a home.  This cold, wet kitten was either going to succumb to the elements or get snatched by a hawk the next day if I didn’t do something.

Without proper regard for what I was trying to handle, I palm-tackled the very soggy, very angry kitten and scruffed it tightly.  Regardless, the feral little monster managed to swing its head around and fill my thumb full of tooth holes.  So I scruffed it’s butt-end, too, and held it out-stretched and at arm’s length, away from my face. 

What a little fighter!

 I took the warrior-kitten up to the farm house (having forgotten about eggs at this point) and called out for my friend to come open the door for me.  I greeted her, holding the thoroughly scruffed, dripping wet calico kitten as far away from my body as I could keep it, like I had ahold of a rattlesnake or something.  The kitten moaned and yowled and continued to threaten me and Mili.

“This attacked Mili, so she sat on it.  I need a bandage, it chewed my thumb up.” (my presentation was intentional  to add to the humour)
My friend found the situation hysterical (so did I!).  We got the kitten safely contained and patched my hand up.  I suggested the appropriate name ‘Xena’.  My friend tried out a few other names at first, but eventually Xena the Warrior Princess stuck.

She tamed up to be a fabulous, affectionate farm cat!  Xena’s still alive as I write this, happily hunting mice on my friend’s farm.

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“That Wasn’t a Squirrel”

One day Mili the Dog was out barking up a storm.  I assumed she was after a squirrel.  Then the barking changed tone- she had something cornered or trapped.  Curious, I look out the window.  She was running from end to end on a ten-foot length of six inch irrigation pipe, barking excitedly.

Ah ha!  She’s got a squirrel in the pipe!

Hunting rodents is her life passion, I’m not opposed to indulging her hunting instincts, especially when the squirrels eat all the fruit and nuts off my trees every year.  I’m also quite fond of deep-fried squirrel nuggets.
So I dash out there and peak into the pipe.  Indeed, a bushy tail twitches on the far end in the dim light.  Silly squirrel, it should’ve gone up a tree, not into a pipe!  I lift one end of the pipe and proceed to walk the pipe upright, Mili waiting eagerly on the other end, braced for the fluffy critter to plop out.

And it did.

A gigantic skunk came tumbling out of the pipe.

I was still processing what I was seeing when Mili pounced on it, not five feet from me, still hoisting the pipe aloft.  She did her signature rib-chomp-and-toss skunk move, but the skunk was too big to take out with a single chomp.  It sprayed her in the mouth, and by extension… me.
Still holding the pipe up and not realizing it, I watch the skunk amble toward me, stamping his feet.

Me:  “Mili!  GET IT! GET IT!  C’MON, GET IT!
Mili:  “I just got sprayed in the mouth, yo.  You get it while I eat dirt and drink the entire irrigation ditch.
The skunk stomps past me threateningly, now sporting a pronounced hobbling limp.  I finally put the pipe down.  I ran inside for the .22 but by the time I came back outside the skunk was long gone and Mili was still raking dirt through her teeth to remove the oils from her palate.
And so he got away.  And I stunk.  And my dog stunk.  And the de-skunking commenced.
But the next day I smell fresh skunk spray next to the house.  I dash outside with the .22, but I see no skunk.  And again this happened several days in a row.  Finally one day I bump into my neighbor.  She complained about this darn skunk that’s holed up under her shed for some reason.  Apparently every time it heard a dog bark it sprayed, right there in the hole under the shed.  Everything in her shed wreaked.
She had attempted to starve it by blocking the exit hole.  It retaliated by tunneling out the other side, but there was asphalt pavement on the front side of the shed, and now the asphalt was crumbling inward into the skunk’s filed escape tunnel.  At her wit’s end, she stuffed moth balls and anything that might be poisonous into the hole and re-sealed it.

The skunk smell slowly faded.  We assumed her success and rejoiced an end to the daily respiratory assaults.
A few weeks later I visit a neighboring goat farm for some idle banter.  We discussed chickens for a bit and she said, “Yeah the egg farm next door has been having a rough go of it.  Apparently they have a big skunk stealing all of their eggs.”
I paused.  “A big skunk?  When did it show up?
Her: “Oh, a couple weeks ago.  I saw it out here just the other day in broad daylight!
Me: “Does walk like this with a funny limp?”  I proceeded to mimic the rhythmic, rolling limp of my giant pipe skunk.
Her: “Yeah.  Why?
Me: “That’s our skunk.  We thought it was dead…”  I proceeded to fill her in on the skunk drama of the previous weeks and wished her the best of luck with the new, stinky neighbor.
A note on skunks:
I have no ill will towards skunks.  Frankly I hate having to kill them and I rarely utilize their carcasses due to their smell, which makes killing them even worse.  Skunks make terrible neighbors.  We can coexist with coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and all manner of predators.  But skunks are impossible.  There will be no end to the skunk spray on the dogs, on the cats, on the cars, in the barn, under the porch, in the chicken coop, in your home, and on your clothes.  It’s miserable.
Skunks have also been the biggest predator of my birds, hands-down.  I have lost hundreds of young birds (who still roost on the ground) to skunks, amounting to thousands of dollars in losses.  It’s awful waking up to find a pile of 10-20 dead birds, each one headless.  They are also chronic egg thieves if they can reach your eggs.
So of all the predators I’ve shared my space with, skunks are the one animal that cause me to instantly reach for the .22.  They are relatively fearless; they will not move along if you try to scare them.  They will come to your front porch or your barnyard and move right in, even if they have to spray you and the dogs every single day to try and claim their new home.  They will confidently browse your barnyard in a way other predators won’t, because other predators have healthy fears of you and your dogs.  A skunk will just walk past you in broad daylight, “Hey, don’t mind me, just gonna go eat some more birds.  Come any closer and I’ll shoot.”
It’s just not worth living with!
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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…