12

Is Sammy Squirrely? – Part 2

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Where we are: All during the fall, Sammy had been acting oddly. Rather than working with the other squirrels to get ready for winter, he spent all his time on the computer. His friends and neighbors think he might be losing his mind.

It was a hard winter. It started snowing in November and didn’t let up. Soon it was higher than the squirrels. The families relied on the nuts they had stored in their trees for a long time. Finally, it was time to go out and get the nuts they had buried in the ground. It wasn’t easy.

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Sarah: Three squirrels in my class missed school today. They had to go hunt for food.

Peter: There were five gone from my class.

June: This is the worst winter I can remember. I’m glad we built our nest in such a huge tree and were able to fill it. Spring is almost here, so we should be OK. Especially since your cousin was nice enough to send us all that food for Christmas.

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Peter: My new favorite nut is the pecan.

Sarah: Those were pretty yummy. But I liked the dried fruit.

Sammy: We need to do something nice for Joey in the spring. Living in Georgia is good for food, but we can think of something.

June: I wish we could do something to help our friends.

Sammy knew it was time to see if his idea worked. He was extremely grateful to Princess ERin for telling him about the Global Peanut Positioning Satellite (GPPS). It was a little odd that a cat would be so helpful, but it sounded useful.

Between the GPPS and the data he had collected, he should be able to find the nuts the family had buried.

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Sammy: We can share the nuts we buried last fall.

Peter: If the other squirrels could find their nuts, they wouldn’t be hungry. How can we find ours?

Sammy: The project you were all laughing about last fall should tell us where the nuts are.

Sarah: Do your really think it will work? That would be wonderful.

 Sammy: There’s only one way to find out. I’ll go load my data into the positioning system.

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Sammy leaves the room to work on the computer. He finally comes out when June calls him for dinner.

Peter: How’s the system coming Dad?

Sammy: Pretty well. It looks like all of the data transferred. Now we have to wait for the next sunny day.

Sarah: Why does it have to be sunny?

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Sammy: The way the GPPS works is to get the position of the nuts from a satellite in the sky. It has to be sunny for the information to get to us.

Peter: OK. Whatever. Let’s wait for the sun.

The next few days were overcast. Finally, there was a good day.

By that time, the neighborhood knew about the experiment. A crowd gathers to see if it would work.

Sammy: OK, here we go. No promises.

He calls up the first location. The GPPS gives him directions to the nuts. The other squirrels follow him as he tracks the nuts.

Sammy: The first nuts should be here. Peter, you and your friends dig down and see what you find.

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The young squirrels quickly burrow through the snow and the hard ground. Just under the surface, they find a large stash of acorns.

The squirrels watch in amazement and applaud.

Dan: I admit it, buddy. I thought you might have gone off the deep end. But this is incredible.

Kelly: June, you’re married to a genius!

Sammy blushes in embarrassment.

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Sammy: It’s just a little technology, not genius.

Dan: Whatever. You’re set for the winter.

Sammy: We were already set. These are for you folks.

The other squirrels look at Sammy. They go back to thinking he had lost his mind.

Sammy: I’m serious. We have enough nuts. We have piles like these all over the place. We want to share them.

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Kelly: How did you get so many nuts?

Sammy: We probably don’t have any more than your family gathered, but ours are buried in piles instead of one by one. Besides, I have an excellent team of hunters. (He looks at Peter and Sarah.)

Kelly: Are you sure you don’t need them?

June: Absolutely. We’re set for the rest of winter.

Sammy: Dig in. We’ll get the rest of the nuts later and you can divide them up. Next year, we can track everybody’s nuts and won’t worry about starving.

The hungry squirrels devour the nuts in the first hole and take the rest home. Luckily spring arrives before the acorns are gone.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images

 

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12

Is Sammy Squirrely?

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Sammy and his family live with a scurry (group) of squirrels in an oak grove. It’s fall – time to gather nuts for the winter.

The group has planned a “nut gathering party,” and everyone is invited. Sammy’s family is getting ready to go.

June (his wife): Sammy, are you ready to go?

Sammy (at the computer): You and the kids can go ahead. I need to finish what I’m working on.

Peter: Dad, you never gather nuts anymore.

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Sammy: I’m retired. That’s what I have you for.

Sarah: Daddy, be serious. It’s embarrassing. All the other fathers are there.

Peter: Besides, it’s a party.

June: Honey, you can take a break for one afternoon, can’t you?

Sammy: Sorry, I really can’t. I need to finish before winter. Remember to bring the nuts home instead of burying them.

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Sarah: That’s just weird, Daddy. Why? My friends are all going to laugh at me.

Sammy: I’m working on an idea to make it easier to find our nuts this winter. Did you know that some squirrels never find more than a few of the nuts they’ve buried?

Peter: We always have enough to eat.

Sammy: I know. But I think we should know where ours are.

June (sighing): C’mon kids. Let’s get going before all the good ones are gone.

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The three of them leave the nest. It’s a beautiful afternoon, and there are nuts everywhere. The kids run off to search with their friends. June finds her friend, Kelly.

Kelly: Hey, June! Great to see you. Where’s Sammy? I haven’t seen him around much.

June: He’s working on some top-secret project about the acorns.

Kelly: That’s strange. It seems like he’d want to be out here in the sun. But I guess if it’s that important, he should be doing it.

June: I suppose. But I think the rest of the scurry is beginning to believe he’s crazy.

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Kelly doesn’t answer. She’s looking at the other squirrels gathering and burying acorns. She spots Peter and Sarah. They each have a pile of nuts near them.

Kelly: Are Peter and Sarah all right? It looks like they are just piling the nuts up instead of burying them. Aren’t they feeling well?

June: They’re fine. It’s part of Sammy’s plan. He wants to know where each one is buried.

Kelly: That’s a little strange. Why does he want to know?

June: I have no idea. He just said it’s vital to his project.

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Kelly starts to feel sorry for June. She thinks the other squirrels may be right. Sammy’s mind was starting to go. He was becoming “squirrely.”

Before long, the sun starts going down and the squirrels return home.

Peter: Hi Dad. We’re home.

Sammy: Did you get lots of nuts?

June: It was a good afternoon. A lot of the squirrels said they were done for the season.

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Sammy: That’s great! So where did you put ours?

Sarah: They’re still where we found them. In piles.

Sammy: I thought you were bringing them home.

Sarah: It was way too embarrassing. Everyone else buried theirs. The other squirrels thought we were just being lazy. Mom said we could bury them from where they are.

Sammy: I suppose she’s right. Let’s go.

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Peter: I’m tired. I’ve been hunting nuts all afternoon.

Sarah: Besides, it’s getting dark.

June: I’m sure they’ll be fine until morning.

Sammy finally agrees, disappointed.

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The next morning, the family starts burying the nuts. It’s a slow process because Sammy wants to write down exactly where each nut is. Several hours later, they finish.

Sammy: Great job, everyone! Thanks for your help.

They return to the nest, where Sammy immediately goes onto his computer. He works intently for the next few weeks. Running between the computer and where the nuts are buried. He finally has to stop when the snow starts to fall.

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Next week: Is Sammy crazy or is he a squirrel with a plan?

Pictures are courtesy of Google Images

26

Cat Forum: Mid-Winter Get-Away

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Snoops and Kommando Kitty here. Are you a freezing feline? A shivering Siamese? A chilly callie? If so, you’ve come to the right place. This winter has already been brutal, and it’s not even half over. Our special guest today is Trixie Tuxedo, who owns Trixie’s Terrific Travel. She specializes in cruises and tropical vacations for the discerning cat. Thank you for joining us Trixie. Why don’t you show us the recommendations you have brought for our followers?

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Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be here. I’ve got a lot of great ideas for the perfect mid-winter vacation. As cats, we all love the sun don’t we? And you won’t find better sun this time of year than on a tropical beach.

You need to decide what type of trip you want to take. Your first option is a cruise. Cruises are exciting adventures for many:

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but also offer opportunities to relax:

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We offer cruises to the Caribbean and Mexico. The advantage to a cruise is that you don’t have to get off the ship at all until the end of the trip if you don’t want to. You can visit the sites if you’d like, but be sure to get back in time for departure. We had one poor kitty who had to stay at Customs for several days after missing a ship.

A significant disadvantage for many cats is that cruise ships are full of humans.The humans are not checked for cat-compatibility which has caused some stress in the past. Although it was the humans who complained, not the cats.

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Some cats prefer to relax in one spot for the entire time. We offer 4-day, 7-day, and 14-day packages to a variety of locations. Some of our more popular destinations are Aruba, the Virgin Islands, and Key West. Are you looking for a romantic getaway? We can find you the perfect place.

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More of the outgoing type? We have something for you as well:

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Regardless of what type of trip you are taking, remember to protect yourself from overexposure to the sun. There’s nothing worse than coming home from vacation with burnt ears.

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Does all of this sound like a budget-buster for you? I understand that sometimes we just can’t afford to get away no matter how purr-fect it would be. Unlike other travel advisers, I won’t try to tell you that you can afford it. You won’t be happy if you’re worried about money.

Instead, how about a weekend trip to a local bed and breakfast to spend some quality time in front of a nice warm fire?

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The most important part is that you get away from your regular routine and relax. Stretching out in the sun is a cat’s right. Don’t let the winter weather get in the way. Visit my website trixiestrips@cat.cat and we’ll get started today.

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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.

Image result for groundhog burrow in winter

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)

 

6

There’s No Place Like Home

 

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Mr. Groundhog was getting ready to build his den for the winter. It had been a warm autumn but cold weather was predicted.

Mr. G: Dear, would you prefer moss or dry leaves to sleep on this winter?

Mrs. G: Sorry, I wasn’t listening. What did you ask?

Mr. G: What type of bedding do you want in the winter den?

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Mrs. G: We don’t need a winter den.

Mr. G: Of course we need a den. If we don’t have one, we’ll freeze to death.

Mrs. G: Don’t you remember? We’re traveling this winter.

Mr. G: We’re groundhogs. We sleep all winter.

Mrs. G: Of course we’ll sleep. We just won’t do it at home.

Mr. G: Have you been eating those old berries? You’re not making sense.

Mrs. G: Didn’t I tell you about den2den? You travel to another state and spend the winter in someone else’s den.

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Mr. G: That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. Why would I want to sleep in someone else’s den?

Mrs. G: In the spring you get to see a different part of the country.

Mr. G: Great. Foreign grass. Where did you get this wonderful idea?

Mrs. G: From Margaret. Someone told her about it.

Mr. G: Margaret’s crazy, you know. Do I have to listen to her the entire trip?

Mrs. G: As a matter of fact, you don’t.

Mr. G: Are they going somewhere different?

Mrs. G: Actually, they’re not going. Bob said it was a stupid idea and refused to sign up.

Mr. G: I knew I liked Bob. I’m not going either.

Mrs. G: It’s too late. I’ve paid in full. In fact, the shuttle will be here shortly.

(Mr. G grumbles and paces. Before too long he hears wheels.)

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Mrs. G: C’mon dear, it’s time to go. Are you packed?

Mr. G (sarcastically): My spare fur is at the cleaner.

(They sleep for the entire trip.)

Driver: Well, here we are.

Mr. G: Where is here? I’m freezing.

Driver: Not really sure. I just follow the GPS.

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Mr. G: So where is this den?

Driver: Right over there.

(He points to a small opening at the bottom of a hill.)

Mr. G:That doesn’t look like a groundhog den.

(The driver looks at his printout.)

Driver: Says here it belongs to a mole.

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Mr. G: I thought it was den2den. Moles live underground. They don’t have dens.

Driver: Hmmm. Guess there was some kind of mix-up.

Mr. G: So fix it.

Driver: I’m just the driver. You need to talk to your agent.

(Mr. G looks at Mrs. G.)

Mr. G: Who’s our agent?

Mrs. G: I don’t know. I bought the booking from Margaret.

Driver: That’s against the rules. You couldn’t stay here even if you wanted to.

Mr. G (gritting his teeth): So what do we do now?

Driver: Well, let me think.

(He makes a couple of phone calls.)

Driver: The Mouse House and Rodent Inn are both full. You probably don’t want the Fox Den or Eagles’ Nest. How’s the park sound?

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Mr. G: Fine. We’ll make arrangements to get home in the morning.

Mrs: Margaret told me about a great ride service. You call a number and an animal will drive you in his personal vehicle. I think I have the number on my phone.

(Mr. G glares at her.)

 

 

 

6

Critter Capers: Wintertime Blues

Super Snooper (SS): It’s good to finally be back.

Kommando Kitty (KK): Yeah. Mom’s been sick so much this winter that she keeps putting off typing our article. It is nice having her around to sleep with, though.

SS: Particularly when she turns on that bed warmer thing.

KK: It’s really nice when she turns it on and goes away for a few minutes. We can lay on the warmest spot before she gets in bed.

SS: And she finally understands that it’s impossible to move both of us at the same time. The only bad thing is that they shut the door to downstairs down. So we have to find someone to let us up there.

KK: Dad keeps talking about how much it would cost to heat the upstairs as warm as the downstairs. He makes it sound like it’s warm downstairs.

SS: I know. We have to sleep together to keep from freezing. And we have fur!

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Horatio Hedgehog (HH): What are you two yowling about now?

KK: How cold it is. Mom won’t even open the drapes sometimes. She says the old windows let cold air in. Why don’t they just buy new windows? Why should we have to suffer?

HH: It doesn’t feel very cold to me.

SS: That’s because your cage is heated!

HH: I come out to explore sometimes.

SS: Dad puts you on a heated blanket before you go anywhere!

HH: Maybe he just likes me better.

(low growls)

HH: Well, you know I am more popular. My introduction was the favorite story last year according to that report Mom got. (https://cat9984.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/horatio-hedgehog-intrepid-explorer )

KK: Yeah, we saw it. You were a couple of spots above the one talking about fake cheese (https://cat9984.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/cheez-whiz-love-it-or-hate-it )

HH: You’re just jealous. There is one problem with Mom being sick. Dad forgot to tell her that I was almost out of treats before she stayed home from work. No wax worms for days!

KK and SS: Awwww. Poor hedgie!

HH: Fine. I’ll just go back to my nice warm bed and sleep.

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SS: Let’s go see if there’s any food left in the kitchen.

KK: OK. Then we can go back to sleep.

6

Christmas in the Forest – Part 2

Mrs. G looks around. It appeared that everyone had arrived. She goes over to Mr. G. He is speaking with Stag.

Mr. G: I don’t want a repeat of last year. The does are here to enjoy themselves, not to fend you off. It’s too late in the year for that nonsense.

Stag: Some of them enjoy the attention.

Mr. G: And some of them don’t. If you can’t behave properly, this will be your last “truce”. You look like you might be a tasty post-hibernation snack.

Mrs. G: Dear! I told you – none of those jokes tonight.

Mr. G (looks at Stag): Who says I’m joking?

Stag: Very well. Point made. (Walks off.)

Mrs. G: I’m going to serve dinner.

She motions everyone to be quiet.

Mrs. G: Welcome everyone! I hope you’re having a good time. The food is ready, so enjoy.

The carnivores settle in one place, the herbivores in another. The herbivores are not at all comfortable watching the bears eating other animals, even if they weren’t relatives.

Mr. G is in a bad mood. He doesn’t like being near his favorite snacks and not be able to eat them. It was risky for Mrs. G to go to the ranches to get the cows and sheep. What if she got shot for the benefit of some stupid deer?

Mr. G: Darling, why is Mrs. B sitting with the carnivores? She says she doesn’t eat anything except berries. She should be over there with the mice and squirrels.

Mrs. G: Don’t be silly. She’s a bear and a member of the family. Look at her. Do you really think she’d be that “healthy looking” if all she ate was berries? That’s just another of her acts. Besides, the raccoons are with us and they eat anything.

Mr. G: Exactly. They eat meat.

Mrs. G nuzzles him. He hugs her and calms down.

The talk turns to the coming winter. All the signs point to a worse year than last year. The hibernators wonder if they’d put on enough fat. The small animals worry that they will end up as someone’s meal.

Mrs. G: Enough of the gloom. We’re here to have fun. I have a special treat for dessert.

Everyone waits in anticipation. She disappears into the den and comes back with her paws full of honeycombs. The guests gasp.

Mr. B: Mmm! Where did you find that much honey?

Mrs. G: It’s top secret. (She had found a rancher who raised honey bees.)

She divides the honey between all of the guests, the size of the treat proportional to the size of the animal. The small animals had never tasted honey; it belonged to the bears in the forest. Mrs. G stopped in front of the Black Bears. She gives a large piece to Mr. B and looks at Mrs. B.

Mrs. G: Do you want a piece, dear? I guess probably not, since it’s not berries.

Mr. G smiles at his wife’s cleverness. He could see Mrs. B struggling with an answer. Everyone knows black bears love honey. Finally Mrs. B. gives in.

Mrs. B: Well, I guess I could make an exception this one time. A small piece would be lovely.

Mrs. G: I’m so glad you’ll try it. It really is delicious.

Mr. G has trouble not laughing.

After dinner, the animals play games. The bears wrestle and most of the others run around. Mr. G sees Stag talking with some the does and walks over to see what is going on.

Stag: Mr. G, what a wonderful party you and your wife have put together! We’ve been talking about how great the food was.

Doe: Yes, I’m having a lot of fun. And Stag has been entertaining us with stories of how he has escaped being a trophy on somebody’s wall for the last couple of years. I’d heard that he is rather wild, but he’s been a perfect gentleman all evening.

Stag smiles gratefully. He had hoped someone would have noticed the change. Mr. G nods in approval and returns to his wife.

Mr. G: Well dear, it looks like another success.

Mrs. G: I think you’re right. Have you managed to make it around to say hello to everyone?

Mr. G: I think so.

Mrs. G: Even the herbivores?

Mr. G (low growl): You know I hate talking to them. They’re all afraid of me.

Mrs. G: Well you are the biggest, noisiest bear in the forest. And you look pretty grumpy most of the time. Go show them your charming side.

Mr. G (sighs): Yes, dear.

He heads to the herbivores looking as friendly as possible.

Soon the guests start to leave. Mrs. Snowshoe Rabbit looks around anxiously.

Mrs. S: Has anyone seen my husband?

The herbivores look around nervously. They don’t see Mr. S or Mr. G.

Mrs. S (looking at Mrs. G): You don’t think…

Mrs. G (a little nervous): Don’t worry, dear. I’m sure he’s around somewhere.

Just as she starts toward the trees, Mr. G and Mr. S appear, talking intently to each other. Seeing his wife’s face, Mr. S hurries over to assure her that all is well.

Mr. S: Don’t worry, sweetie. Mr. G was just showing me how to spot those traps the humans put up in the winter.

Mrs. S: That’s very kind of you, Mr. G. Thank you so much. I’m sorry I thought something bad had happened.

Mr. G: No hard feelings at all. I know my reputation. Have a safe trip home.

The Grizzlies start to get ready for bed.

Mrs. G: I’m so proud of you, being so gracious to all the herbivores.

Mr. G (feeling guilty): Well, not quite all of them.

Mrs. G: What do you mean?

Mr. G: Well…. Those skunks who kept running around pretending to squirt everyone really got on my nerves. I took them out back, but they just laughed. So I hit them with my paw.

Mrs. G: So what happened?

Mr. G: Well, the neighbors won’t have to worry about the smell anymore. The bodies are out back. (Waits for Mrs. G’s response.)

Mrs. G: Well, since the deed is done, let’s have a midnight snack.