4

Breaking News; Film at 11

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It’s been a pretty exciting day in Cheeseland, and we’re here to bring you the latest on the following stories:

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Cat Burglars Break into Another Animal Mart 

The stealthy felines are at it again. Early this morning, security cameras captured two cats running away from the store with what appeared to be a trout apiece. Unfortunately the video is rather fuzzy, so it’s unclear what they actually look like. A passerby said that one was a tabby and the other a calico. Police are requesting the public’s assistance. If you have any information, you can call 555-HELP.

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Iguanas in Need of New Home

Two young iguanas have left their humans after an extended dispute over the reptiles’ diet. It appears that the humans insisted on sharing their own tastes for arugula and bean sprouts, while the iguanas wanted collard, mustard, turnip, and dandelion greens.  They all agreed on kale and beans, but the iguanas were feeling more lethargic than normal for their species. Animal Aid is hoping to find a reptile family that can foster them. Please note that the two have not reached their full size and could potentially grow another foot in length.

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Dry Weather Affecting Berry Crops

The unusually dry spring and early summer has resulted in a markedly smaller berry crop this year, particularly strawberries and raspberries. As a result, animals that rely on these fruits as a staple in their diets are having a hard time finding them. The berries that are available are extremely expensive. Some bears have been seen foraging in human orchards. We recommend that you go to our website to find the best prices and alternative food sources.

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Protection Against Fleas and Ticks

As you are probably aware, July 21 – 28 is Flea and Tick Awareness Week this year. Unfortunately, the more appropriate dates in May were taken over by the Cicada Welcome Celebration. You can get a free exam at the Health Center all week, as well as information on non-chemical treatment and prevention options.

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Rabies Hospice Center Needs Your Help

Since there still is no cure for rabies, the best that we can do is try to help these animals in their suffering. Since each patient must be kept in isolation, it can be an expensive undertaking. Any financial donation is welcome. The Hospice says that they are well-stocked in poison for those who wish to end their own suffering. Please visit our website for more information on how you can help.

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Preparation for Winter

If you are an animal who hibernates or goes into torpor, it’s not to early to start thinking about your needs for this winter. The Center for Seasonal Studies at the College of Animal Wellness is offering a free seminar on the necessities for survival.It is open to anyone interested in the subject, The seminar is free, but space is limited. Registration is required. Contact the Center for further information.

These are just the highlights of the stories. Join Biff and Buffy tonight at 11 for these stories and more, plus the weather and sports.

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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)

 

0

Guess What I Learned!!

To celebrate the kids going back to school tomorrow (finally) and the truly lovely weather we’ve been having, I have put together a little quiz. You can see whether any of the mind-numbing number of facts “experts” have been giving out have been sticking. We will be using the honor system here, so I trust there will be no cheating. If somehow you are caught cheating, you will be shipped to the Arctic Circle and handcuffed to a polar bear.

1. Which of the following is not something painful that can happen to your body in cold weather? a. Chilblain; b. Creeping Crud; c. Deep Frostbite; d. Frostnip; e. Superficial Frostbite; f. Trench Foot

2. The following are the symptoms of what disease: sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches, congestion,cough? a. Bronchitis; b. Common Cold; c. Flu; d. Strep Throat; e. Whatever is currently going around that someone has given me; f. Whooping Cough

3. Which of the following is not true of the differences between a cold and the flu? a. Cold symptoms come on more quickly; b. Flu lasts longer than a cold; c. I get more sympathy when I tell someone I have the flu; d. There are many more things that cause a cold

4. Influenza A is the most common type of flu virus. What area has not been identified as a starting point for one of the viruses? a. Asia; b. China; c. The local high school where the kids share everything; d. Russia; e. Spain

5. What species are the only ones susceptible to Influenza B? a. Ferrets; b. Humans; c. People who steal the food and office supplies of sick coworkers; d. Pigs; e. Seals

6. Which of the following cities is not in the top ten in average annual snowfall in the U.S.? a. Amherst, NY; b. Clay, NY; c. Cocnino, AZ; d. Duluth, MN; e. Niagara Falls, NY

7. How many states have an average winter temperature of less than 20 degree fahrenheit? a. Three; b. Five; c. Seven; d. Nine; e. Who cares, I’m tired of slipping on the ice?

8. What sport will finally be ending its television season in February? a. College Football; b. Curling; c. Detroit Pistons basketball; d. Pro Football; e. Southern Hemisphere Beach Volleyball; f. You mean my significant other really hasn’t been watching reruns of the same games since November?

9. How many Olympic Sports require ice skates? a. Three; b. Five; c. Seven; d. Nine; e. You mean it’s already time for the Olympics again?

The answers are below.

1. b (a form of jungle rot); 2. c; 3. a (cold symptoms come on gradually); 4. b; 5. all but d; 6. d.(it’s #15); 7. c (Alaska, N. Dakota; Minnesota; Maine, Wisconsin, Vermont, S. Dakota); 8. d; 9. b (curling, figure skating, ice hockey, short-track speed skating, speed skating).

Scoring (Number Right):

8 – 9: Obviously you have spent too much time in front of the TV/Computer Screen. Go out and learn how to ski jump or snowboard.

4 – 7: You may be obsessed with winter germs/diseases. Go to the mall and practice the safe hygiene tips you have learned.

1 – 3: You may have spent time reading an actual book or interacting socially with other people. Go get your flu shot and start washing your hands more.

0: You have been asleep for the past two months. Return to your hibernation.

2

Nothing Says Last Day of Summer Like Trim-a-Tree

According to my calculations (which should be double-checked), there are 95 days until Christmas. It’s almost time to start nagging my family for suggestions, so I get them by December15th if I’m lucky. Otherwise, it’s fall to me. Our burning bushes have just begun to burn, the weather’s getting cooler, and we have less roadkill because the genetic pool of the animal world has finally been downsized to those who understand why their parents told them not to play in the road.

Not so in the retail world. A point of pride at Ralph’s is that we are always the first with new merchandise for the season. I’m not sure how it’s tallied, so I’m guessing that’s like being the most famous. Statistics can be used to prove anything, but should be limited to those who know how to use them safely. For example, last year summer got an early start. So we opened our garden center two weeks early. (I know this because it was part of a presentation later in the year.) It’s that kind of thinking makes Ralph rich. Of course, this year summer decided to visit us on it’s vacation from other spots, so we had an end-of-season sale like you wouldn’t believe.

Halloween candy has been out for weeks. Of course, everyone knows that’s just a cover for us to buy it for ourselves now and buy the “real” Halloween candy on October 30. It’s the beginning of “The Holidays” when we’re allowed to eat what we want because it’s only once a year. The Holidays used to be between Christmas and New Year’s, then we pushed the start back to Thanksgiving. Now we’re moving in on Halloween. Maybe we could do like the bears – eat everything in sight for a couple of months then sleep it off til spring. It would beat slogging around in the ice and snow. I bet I’m not the only one who wished they could lose a couple of pounds overnight.

But everything pales in comparison with Christmas. I know some of you still associate Christmas with the Nativity, but you probably still give thanks on Thanksgiving too. It was over 80 degrees and humid yesterday, but as I walked through the back end of the store on my way out, there it was… the first Trim-a-Tree box (artificial tree with its own decorations). I had been expecting something since the big toy sale a couple of weeks ago. By Monday, there will be more. Pretty soon it will be an invasion waiting for Halloween.

The small stuff will start sneaking in soon. Things like cards and ribbon. Sparklely sweaters and Santa boxers. On November 1, the big stuff will make its appearance. We’ll have trees, door decorations, fake greenery, blow-up Santas, tinsel, and all that other stuff the Whos put up in Whoville. Part-time Christmas music between Halloween and Thanksgiving then All Christmas All the Time. People will complain it’s too early, but they’ll start looking and slowly start buying. Those people who have everything up by the middle of November must have bought it somewhere.

The big sales were traditionally the day after Thanksgiving. It’s still a big day, but unless you want to stand in line and fight for the 5 HDTVs that will be available at 4a, you might as well sleep in. December has become one huge rotating sale. Best of all, the stuff that we convinced you was must-have at the beginning of November is on sale in the middle of December. By a couple of days before Christmas, almost everything has been marked down. (No, this does not give you permission to wait until December 23 to remember you have to give your wife a present without a cord.)

My advice? Eat as much Halloween candy as possible. With a little luck, you’ll hibernate until the whole thing is over.