17

Happy Easter Billy Bilby!

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We’d like to introduce you to a special animal, the Easter Bilby. He’s a celebrity in Australia although he may be less known by some of you. The Easter Bilby is busy this time of year, so we’re going to talk to a close friend.

Billy Bilby, welcome to Cheeseland. Thank you for taking the time to introduce us to the Easter Bilby.

No worries, I’m happy to be here and spread the word about the Easter Bilby. After all, we bilbies are having a problem with our population declining and want people to be aware that we even exist.

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On that note, can you tell us a little bit about bilbies?

We’re small, furry marsupials who live in the desert. Our bodies are about 55 cm/22 inches long and our tails about 29 cm/11.5 inches. We weigh about 2.5 kg/5.5 pounds. We have long noses (excellent sense of smell) and large ears (excellent sense of hearing and help keep us cool). The ladies are about half the size of the gents.

We have extremely soft fur that is mainly blue-grey with white tummies. Bilbies live in fancy burrows. We only come out and night and will eat anything.

Two fun facts about bilbies?

The word bilby is from the Aboriginal Yuwaalaraay language. (I wouldn’t try to pronounce it unless you belong to the group.)

We don’t drink water. We get all we need from what we eat.  (Like koalas)

So how did the Easter Bilby replace the Easter Rabbit in Australia?

Unfortunately, rabbits are not very popular in Australia. They were brought in by the Brits in the 19th century and reproduced until they had taken over the country. Rabbits drove some of the native animals and plants to extinction.

In the 1990’s, the humans decided that the rabbit had to go as the symbol of Easter. They wanted something native to replace it. Since we look something like a rabbit (ears only), we got the job. We’ve been around Australia for a very long time.

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And the tradition has stuck.

Yes, but we’ve lost the association with the anti-rabbit people. Now it’s more of a survival issue. You see, we’re endangered in some parts of Australia and vulnerable in others.

That’s awful. What happened?

The usual: loss of habitat, hunting. I am actually a Greater Bilby. There used to be Lesser Bilbies, but they died out about 70 years ago. (Unless the humans lost them.)

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Is the Easter Bilby tradition working?

It seems to be. There is much greater awareness of who we are and why we are important residents of Australia. In fact, The Commonwealth of Australian Endangered Species Program has chosen us as a mascot, so we’re becoming famous.

They have even started to introduce populations of us into places that haven’t seen bilbies in a very long time. Did you know that we once populated 70% of Australia? And that’s a big place!

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What does the Easter Bilby do?

Pretty much what the Easter Bunny does. Except he delivers chocolate bilbies instead of chocolate rabbits. And he runs rather than hops.

Do you think the idea of the Easter Bilby will spread?

Probably not. The rabbits pretty much have a lock on the market. But that’s OK. We only live in Australia and want to continue living here for a very long time. We have no plans to invade Britain.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

I’m happy to share.

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Trivia – In March 1968, 9-year-old Rose-Marie Dusting wrote “Billy the Aussie Easter Bilby.” She published it 11 years later.

Sales Pitch: Chocolate bilbies are produced by Pink Lady and Haigh’s Chocolates. (Cadbury pulled out of the market shortly before Easter.) The companies give a percentage of sales to conservation efforts. Pink Lady parent company, Fyna Foods manufactures chocolate bilbies as part of the Australian Bush Friends Easter chocolates. A percentage of the Bush Friends sales is also donated to the Save the Bilby Fund.

 

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8

Why We Don’t See the Easter Bunny – Part 2

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Previously – Gunnar, a current descendant of the original Easter Bunny (a real bunny), has decided to see what was happening with Easter now that the family has outsourced most of it to the humans. So far, he is not happy. He is going to see the Easter Bunny at the mall for an explanation.

Gunnar arrived at the mall. He had never seen such a thing. The mall was huge. And full of humans. Rather scary for a small rabbit. He hopped past all the signs for Easter sales. They were on almost every window: clothing stores, technology stores, mattress stores, perfume shops. Do people really give each other mattresses for Easter?

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He finally found a sign for the Easter Bunny. He saw a large group of people lined up before a throne. On the throne was a creature in some kind of costume with large ears and fake whiskers. There was a sign next to him that said “Easter Bunny”.

“Oh my carrots, is that what the humans think the Easter Bunny looks like?” wondered Gunnar. “That’s not even a rabbit.” He got as close to the line as he could without being seen. He wanted to hear what the humans thought of the fake rabbit.

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“Mommy, is that the real Easter Bunny?”

“Of course he is.”

“Is he going to bring me a basket with toys?”

“Yes, dear. On Easter morning.”                                                                           

Gunnar moved along the line.

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“Mama, he looks kind of scary. I didn’t think he’d be so big.”

“That’s OK. He’s actually very friendly.”

“Do I tell him what I want for Easter?”

“I don’t think that’s the way it works. We’re here to have your picture taken with him. Grandma wants to show it to her friends.”

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Gunnar thought about it. People were standing in line to take pictures of their children with a big, scary fake rabbit. Humans were very strange.

Then he heard a grumbling at the front of the line. Hopping up he saw a sign, “The Easter Bunny will be taking a short break. His assistants are available if you have any questions about the photo packages. No personal checks.”

Gunnar went behind the screen to see if he could talk to the “Easter Bunny.” He heard voices from a small room. Gunnar was speechless. The man in the costume had taken off the head. He was unshaven and didn’t even look clean.

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Gunnar wrinkled his nose. The man didn’t smell clean either. And he reeked of cigarettes. Gunnar listened.

“Whoever designed this thing should have to wear it for a while. It’s hot,” smelly and I can’t even see out of the eyes.”

Gunnar wanted to tell the man why the costume smelled, but continued to listen.

“I need to go outside for a cigarette.”

“You know the rules. No leaving this room without the head.”

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“I can’t smoke with the head on.”

“That’s OK. The Easter Bunny doesn’t smoke. Besides, it’s time to go back out.”

“Great. The next kid that tries to rip off my head is going on the floor.”

“Eddie, you can’t do that. No hurting the children.”

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“Fine. But the next one that pees on me is going back to Mom.”

“That’s why we got you the plastic sheet to go under the blanket on your lap.”

“The talent agency never told me what a miserable job this is.”

Gunnar left without talking to the man. How could someone who didn’t like children pretend to be the Easter Bunny? And who would believe that disgusting man was really the Easter Bunny?

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As he was leaving the area, Gunnar noticed a sign, “Brunch with the Easter Bunny.” It had a picture of the same rabbit imposter who was on the throne. “What a disgusting idea,” Gunnar thought.

Depressed, Gunnar returned to the forest. He poured himself a large glass of carrot juice and thought for a while. His relatives had made a huge mistake. The humans had changed the idea of the Easter Bunny almost beyond recognition.

“I wonder who I call to give the humans responsibility for the rest of the Easter goodies.”

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15

Why We Don’t See the Easter Bunny

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At one time, the Easter Bunny roamed freely during the late winter and early spring. He handed out painted eggs and other springtime treats to animals and humans. It was a job taken on by one family and passed on through the generations.

As time went by, the process got combined with Easter. And the baskets began to get more complex. Chocolate eggs and jelly beans were added. Then marshmallow bunnies and chocolate bunnies. Finally, all types of candy went into the basket.

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The bunnies decided to outsource some of the activities to the humans. It was a difficult decision to make, but the process had gotten out of hand. The bunnies handed off everything except the boiled eggs, chocolate eggs, and jelly beans for the humans. They would continue to bring treats to the animals at the beginning of spring.

They also licensed the name “Easter Bunny” to the humans and allowed them to create a more generic representation of it. The bunnies had made the baskets as a gift of friendship and assumed the humans would continue the tradition.

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Gunnar Kani, the current representative of the original bunny family, wasn’t sure he liked the deal his relatives had made. He really didn’t like humans since he had learned that they kill and eat rabbits. Gunnar went on a research trip.

He saw a sign that said “Homemade Easter Baskets.” He went in and looked around. The baskets were woven willow and filled with hand-painted eggs and various types of homemade chocolates. Gunnar thought that maybe he was mistaken about the humans until he saw the price tags on the baskets.

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Gunnar went outside to think. The baskets were very nice and had obviously taken a lot of work. And humans had to pay for the ingredients. He left the shop satisfied that they were properly representing the spirit of the bunnies.

He went further along the road into town and found another shop that said “Easter Baskets for Sale.” Gunnar hopped in and looked around. These baskets were made out of some type of woven reed and were obviously mass-produced.

Gunnar sighed and looked into the baskets. The only eggs in the basket were plastic and filled with some kind of candy Gunnar had never seen before. There were chocolate eggs and various types of candy.

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He expected that these were unfinished baskets that were waiting for additional treats. Then a human came in and told the person behind the counter how nice the baskets were and bought three of them.

Gunnar was appalled. There was a picture of a rabbit on the sign and these people were selling inferior baskets! His family would have been embarrassed to give out something like that. He continued into town.

He found something called a mega-store. There were signs advertising all kinds of Easter sales. He found a lot of clothes with sale signs. He hopped past these racks. He didn’t understand why humans didn’t just grow fur like animals.

Next Gunnar found piles of factory-made candy for do-it-yourself baskets. That wasn’t too bad. He also found dyes for coloring eggs. Not what he would do, but humans lacked the bunnies’ skills and traditions.

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Then Gunnar saw something that made him stop in his tracks. They were pre-made baskets. They weren’t the lovely ones he had seen at the first shop. They weren’t even the rather pathetic ones he had seen at the second shop.

These baskets were made of plastic made to look like reeds. Inside was cheap “chocolate-type” candy. But the worst was on the top. It was some type of cheap toy. What did that have to do with Easter baskets? It wasn’t even related to spring!

Gunnar was getting a headache. He left the baskets and looked around the store. There were stuffed animals for Easter. Some of the rabbits were rather handsome. But then there were bears, dogs, and even a dinosaur.

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He found door hangings and other decorations. He found signs for the front yard. There were even lighted plastic eggs to hang from a tree outside. And a few he thought were rather clever.

At the back of the store he found computer games and toys being sold as Easter presents. Easter presents! What was going on?

Gunnar could barely find his way out of the store. He sat on a bench in a daze.

Next week – Gunnar goes to the mall to meet the “Easter Bunny”.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

Ed. Note – Twitchy Twilight, who was interviewed last week, is moving to a new site. He is currently unavailable. We will let you know when he is all settled.

19

Animal Resolutions for 2018

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Greetings furry and non-furry friends. We at Cheeseland have discovered that humans do something called “making New Year’s resolutions” this time of year. We weren’t sure what that meant since most of us track time by food or sun. When we looked it up, it said that humans make promises to themselves to improve something about themselves. It also said that most of these promises were broken in a short period of time.

So that explained the shortage of pizza everyone once in a while. And the strange furniture that appeared with the Christmas tree and then went downstairs. It would make funny noises for a little bit and then make a great bed.

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We weren’t sure that animals needed to make resolutions. After all, most of us are pretty close to perfect the way we are. So we send our renowned cat-on-the-street team to interview various animals to see what they could find out.

As expected, most of the animals had no idea what we were talking about. However, a few decided to think about things that would make the humans happier. Names have been changed to prevent ridicule from friends and family.

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Cliff (cat) – I resolve to not to put anymore mice into the human’s shoes. Unless she starts wearing those tail-crunching high heels again. Or irritates me.

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Beverly (hedgehog) – I resolve to not prick my human anymore. Unless she puts her cold hands on my tummy. Or puts a costume on me.

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Josephine (llama) – I resolve not to spit at people. Unless they get too close. Or do annoying human things, like try to pet me when I’m relaxing.

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Ralph (bear) – I resolve not to try to scare campers. Unless they have really yummy food. Or try to catch my salmon. Or try to camp near my berries.

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Mollie (raccoon) – I resolve not to break into people’s houses. Unless it’s really cold. Or they leave food near an open window or door.

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Max (dog) – I resolve not to chew up the pillows. Unless the humans won’t let me sit on the sofa. Or I get bored.

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Those resolutions all sound reasonable to us. And it will be the humans’ fault if they fail.

Perfect.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images.

 

18

Groundhogs of the World Unite!

The opinions presented in this article are strictly those of the author. The do not reflect the position of The Cheeseland Times or its editorial staff. Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2.

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Did you think that because they gave us a special day that the humans think we are special? You’re wrong.

Humans don’t exchange gifts on Groundhog Day. They don’t have cute cards for Groundhog Day. They don’t say “Happy Groundhog Day!” to each other. If you have been living underground, the entire point of Groundhog Day is to pull a member of several of our communities from their nice, warm beds to tell the humans how soon winter is going to end.

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They’ll tell you that the groundhog emerges from his burrow on February 2. Let me give you a clue humans. We go into true hibernation (low body temperature, slow breathing and heart rate, and low metabolic rate). We sleep from October until March or April in the northern places where you want to see us. We do not wake up on February 2 so we can tell you how much longer you will have to scrape off your car.

How on earth would we know when winter is going to end? Do they think the information comes from some otherworldly spirit with special knowledge? Do they think we inherit it with our other attributes? No. They think we can tell because seeing our shadow on the morning of February 2 has some special meaning.

They refer to it as “the groundhog seeing his shadow.” Listen up, humans. When you wake us up and pull us into the cold upper world, we don’t see anything. We are blinking, trying to wake up. The sun is in our eyes. The reason we look grumpy is because we are grumpy. You would be too if someone did it to you.

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The whole thing really irritates the female groundhogs. Do the humans think they always grab a male? No. They can tell the difference. They could change their stupid saying to “the groundhog seeing its shadow.” Get out of the 20th century humans.

They hold us up under the arms and show us off like some kind of prize. Do they think that’s comfortable? They’re lucky we’re not carnivores. We have to pose for pictures and video. Then they throw us back down our holes and expect us to go back to sleep. After they’ve woken up the entire family.

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We are more than furry shadow-makers. Let me give you a few facts about groundhogs.

We are part of the squirrel family. In fact, we are the largest member of the squirrel family. We are technically marmots. We are the big, friendly branch of the family. But not when we are woken from a deep slumber.

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We mainly eat plants. Clover is especially yummy. We also eat alfalfa and dandelions. Occasionally a slug or a snail is a nice treat. Nuts offer variety. If you’ll notice, humans, you consider several of those things pests. Do you celebrate our contributions to containing those populations? No. You want to see our shadow. You know, you have shadows of your own.

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As a proud member of the groundhog community, I’ll tell them when winter is going to end. Winter ends on the vernal equinox. That’s when there are as many hours of sunlight as there are dark because the sun is directly over the equator. This year that is on March 20th.

In the meantime: leave us alone!

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Gregory Groundhog

You may reach me at gghog@info.ghog or follow me on Twitter @gghog

 

(All pictures courtesy of Google Images)

 

5

The Adoption of Bertie Turkey

 

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A flock of wild turkeys were strolling around discussing current events.

Turkey 1: Do you know what’s happening in a couple of weeks? It’s going to be Thanksgiving. Do you know what that means?

(The other turkeys look bewildered.)

Turkey 1: That’s the day that every human wants to have turkey for dinner.

Turkey 2: So what? They hunt for us every day.

Turkey 1: I was talking to a guy who was passing through. Apparently we have some kind of relative called a domesticated turkey. Humans raise them on farms just to eat them.

(The turkeys look appalled.)

Turkey 3: That’s barbaric!

 

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Turkey 1: He said that they have put together a team of freedom fighters called Freedom for All Turkeys (FAT). They are going to try to release as many turkeys as possible.

Turkey 4: What can we do to help?

Turkey 1: He wants us to let them know if we see any of these farms so they can set the turkeys free.

(They all nod and go back home.)

Wilma: Fred, I heard the most horrible thing today.

Fred: What’s that? (He’s scratching the ground looking for something.)

Wilma: The humans have something called farms where they raise turkeys just so they can eat them!

Fred: Relax. I’m sure it’s just a rumor.

Wilma: No, it’s not. There’s a group called FAT that’s trying to release as many as possible. We have to help.

Fred: What can we do about it?

Wilma: I want you and the boys to go to one of these farms and bring one of those poor turkeys back. At least we can adopt one of them.

(Fred sighs.)

 

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George: Dad, why are we out here in the middle of nowhere?

Fred: Your mother wants us to rescue a turkey from a farm.

Tim: How much farther is it? We’ve been walking forever.

Fred: It should be around here somewhere.

(Finally they see a sign: Tyler’s Turkey Farm 2 miles. They groan and keep walking.)

 

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(They walk up to a large fenced area.)

Fred: Well, I guess this is it.

Tim: Dad, this is stupid.

George: He’s right. Turkeys don’t fly a lot. But we can fly high enough to get over that fence.

Fred: Well, maybe this isn’t it.

(They hear a lot of rustling and gobbling.)

George: Nope, this is it.

 

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Tim: Is that one of them?

George: It’s huge! Guess that’s why they don’t fly away. That thing can barely walk.

Fred: You, there! Are you a domesticated turkey?

Bertie: Yep. My name is Bertie. Are you guys turkeys? You look like you haven’t had a decent meal in weeks. C’mon in. We have plenty.

Fred: We’re here to rescue you.

Bertie: From what? It’s great here. Nice grounds. Plenty to eat.

George: They’re going to eat you! That’s why they feed you so much.

Bertie: Oh dear! That’s not good. How do I get out?

(They look around.)

Tim: Look. A couple of the wires are loose here.

(They pull the rest loose with their beaks and pull the wires back to make a hole.)

Bertie (skeptical): You want me to go through there?

Fred: You have no choice.

(The two boys fly over the fence and push Bertie. Fred holds the wires back as far as possible. After much struggle, Bertie finally pops through.)

 

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They make their way very slowly through the woods, Bertie needing to stop frequently. What had taken a half day going took three days coming back.

So if you’re wandering around the Michigan woods, may just see Bertie hanging around with a bunch of wild turkeys. He looks about the same, although a lot lighter.

 

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(All pictures courtesy of Google Images)

WordPress says this is going to publish on Sat. at 6a.  It is now Sat. at 8p and I am manually publishing it.

9

Halloween: The Well-Dressed Cat

Editorial Comment: We at Cheeseland are not fans of cats dressing for Halloween. However, as a service to those who are, we have invited Tiffany Furreau, consultant on “The Real Cats of Beverly Hills” to show us the latest trends in cat costumes. Please do not let your humans see these pictures.

 

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Greetings from sunny Southern California! I’m Tiffi, stylist to the stars, and I’m here to show you the latest in cat fashion for that special Halloween party.

One of our very favorites is the classic Puss in Boots. You can be every lady cat’s dream date. Don’t you just love the feather in the hat?

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Want something a little more traditional? Witches are always a good look. And as you can see, it’s no longer a black-cat only costume. Party at your house? Add a bubbling cauldron and you have a sure-fire winner.

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Going as your favorite food can be a great conversation starter. The tongue is a nice touch if you’re going for the irony angle.

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Maybe a group of friends could join the fun. This lobster costume is just adorable. I would probably ditch the pot. It looks so common. Besides, you couldn’t circulate and enjoy the food and drinks.

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I think this burger costume is very chic. But I do think it rather overwhelms the poor kitty wearing it. I think it would be perfect for a Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest cat. And after the party, it makes the perfect bed.

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Don’t you think these three would make an adorable selfie?

 

You’re almost certain to be a hit if you dress like a human. What better way to start the ball rolling on how silly humans are than to come as a pilgrim? And the look on this kitty’s face is perfect.

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Editors: Thank you very much Tiffi for your interesting offerings. However, we aren’t convinced. We still feel that the well-dressed cat looks best in fur at home or a party:

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