Socks and the Fox

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is FOX. A nice simple word; a creature we’re all familiar with even if we haven’t personally made one’s acquaintance. Since my Socks tale was well liked, I’ll do a second story about the beloved pet pig who saves the day — and include the illustration I drew just yesterday. 🙂

Socks And The Fox

The crow watches silently as a fox slink its way along the fence, aiming for Farmer Rushton’s chicken coop. Hope springs eternal and, to the fox, smells like chicken dinner.

But here comes Rushton’s pet pig, Socks, lumbering around the corner of the barn, sniffing the air curiously. Now, what can a pig smell besides pig? Fox, evidently. Socks gets a whiff of the different scent and lets out a questioning squeal.

Fox freezes. Socks, curious about this odd scent, snuffles her way toward its source, stopping now and then to peer around with her small piggy eyes. When she finally catches sight of Fox she squeals like a banshee and dashes toward him.

Fox has been blessed with a natural adroitness, so he scrambles up the fence rails and sits on the top one, glaring down at Socks. Putting her front hooves on the first rail, she’s staring up at him, snuffing and grunting like half a dozen magpies.

Now the crow joins the katzenjammer. In spite of the racket, Fox’s keen ears catch the sound of the farmhouse door slamming and human voices approaching. Fox has no fear of this knuckle-headed pig, but a human is another creature entirely. Recalling the loud crack crack that often came with the farmer, and seeing puffs of dirt explode all around him, he leaps off the fence and dashes for the nearby woods.

No chicken dinner tonight. He might have made it, too, if it wasn’t for that disgusting pig!

Image by Viola — Pixabay

Socks Our Hero!

It’s Thursday and high time for my response the Six Sentence Story prompt, hosted by GirlieOnTheEdge. This week’s word is TERM. If you go to her blog you’ll see the InLinkz button to click on so you can read the other responses to this prompt.

Here’s a story I’ve been wanting to write for awhile. Someday I’ll planned to flesh it out more but for now I’ll squeeze it into six (okay, some very long) sentences to meet the writing challenge. Hope you enjoy it.

SOCKS, OUR HERO

Sheriff Wilson, trying hard to look stern, explained to Farmer Rushton, “I’m here to investigate a complaint made by some fellow who came here last night that you have a – his term was ‘vicious wild boar’ – running around your farmyard.”

“There’s nothing vicious about Socks,” Rushton exclaimed, “and furthermore, she’s a sow, not a boar. But our Socks is as friendly and playful as a puppy; you know yourself she’s been Tommy’s pet ever since she was the runt of the litter last year – and she loves to meet our farm visitors.”

“Well, this fella stopped by last night when you folks weren’t home and says he was just having a look around – I’d use the term skulking myself – when he came past the barn and suddenly this vicious pig was charging at him, screaming like a banshee.

He ran but hit some slime, slid, and went head-first into a huge puddle of ‘barnyard sludge’–” Sheriff Wilson couldn’t hold back a chortle “– and the ‘berserk beast’ came wallowing in right after him so that he barely escaped with his life – and without whatever else he might have been hoping to take away, I might add.”

Rushton grinned, then shook his head and said, “Well, I’ve sometimes grumbled about how much water my kids use when they make a mud puddle for Socks to cool herself off in, but I won’t begrudge Socks her beauty baths from now on.”

Original image by Iris Hamelmann at Pixabay

Cutting the Mustard

Good morning everyone. The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is MUSTARD — and yesterday’s prompt was HORN. I’ll touch on the two in one quick sweep.

I wonder how many prompt followers will think of the old song, “He’s Too Old to Cut the Mustard Anymore.” Probably not many, as this song was popular before I was born. I only dimly remember it, and my mom singing snatches of it around the house sometimes. In this song a fellow is blowing his horn about all the things he could do when he was young…but the frailty of old age has set in and his mobility is limited. Once the girls were all eager to spend time with him. Now “they push you around in a four-wheeled chair.” If you’re interested, you can read the lyrics here.

My Dad Vance would have identified with this song. Always a physically fit and active man, when he was in his seventies he’d walk the seventeen miles from Moose Jaw to Belle Plaine to visit his sister, no problem. But his one hand was starting to shake — the beginnings of the Parkinson’s disease that finally immobilized him. He hated the thought of being tied in a wheel chair, but for him it became a reality because he couldn’t get up and walk by himself.

Of course there’s the MUSTARD plant…and wild mustard. This is canola country and wild mustard, a close cousin to canola, is a real nuisance if it infests a canola field. Wild mustard seeds remain viable in the soil for many years, they sprout mid-spring, plants establish quickly, and anything that will kill it will kill its cousin, too. Worse, here in western Canada it’s developed a resistance to most weed killers. This picture is from Cornell University’s Agricultural Weed ID site.

For comparison, here’s a Pixabay photo of canola in bloom:

Image by GayleenFroese2 — Pixabay

I think that’s enough about old age and wild mustard. Monday morning laundry is waiting for my attention. Have a great week, everyone.

Marginal Ideas

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is GOODBYE/HELLO
And Sammi has published another Weekend Writing Prompt

.
 Carnivores, goodbye!
 No more inefficient beef.
 Hello, veggies and grain to feed the world!
 So they ploughed the pastures,
 even the marginal lands.
 And the winds came…
 and the land blew…
Image by Couleur — Pixabay

My response springs from a discussion I had with Mr Bump earlier in the week about using land for grain and vegetable production rather than pasture. This 31-word tale describes what happened here on the prairies when the settlers came. The “Dirty Thirties” taught us that some land just can’t be cultivated.

The Worst Ever!

For Goodness Sake, Read History (Part 2)

A few days ago I received an interesting phone call from some lady wanting to share a few Bible verses with me. She started out by quoting Jeremiah 29:11-12, then began talking about having peace during these troubled times. Especially with this pandemic – the worst that’s ever been!

Reader of history that I am, I reminded her of the Black Death. In the 1300’s the Bubonic Plague was brought back to Italy by sailors returning from the orient; it subsequently swept through Europe in several waves and wiped out about a third of the population of the western world. A person could argue that Covid-19 could have been as bad; however, we’ve taken extreme precautions and also have access to an infinitely better health care system.

Plus, our lot is easier because we have less corruption. I read once that in some Italian cities men were hired to go house to house and bring out any that were diseased. These toughs were given free rein to “diagnose” and haul away anyone they didn’t like or demand payment – in whatever form – from the home’s occupants. Occupants unwilling to pay risked being tossed on the cart with those already infected and/or dying.

Pardon me, but the only reason anyone can say this is the worst pandemic in history is because they don’t know history. Even the Spanish ‘flu was worse, as health care was limited and whole families sometimes died. People may be pretty panicked now, but there’s nothing like the superstition of the Middle Ages. No one has resorted to self-flagellation as some did during the Bubonic plague, going from town to town whipping and slashing themselves to gain the sympathy of the gods in hopes of averting the plague.

Climatic Disaster and Famine

Last night in Bible Study we were going over Joseph being sold into slavery in Egypt and Pharoah’s dream, which Joseph interpreted. (Genesis Ch.41) Joseph predicted seven years of plenty, followed by seven lean years. According to the Bible account, this was a widespread catastrophe. It dawned on me that the drought and famine in Egypt would have been a lot like our “Dirty thirties” years.

People in the Thirties may have said, “This is the worst climatic disaster in history,” but I suspect there have been various climatic disasters before that one. Most of us have never heard about them. In most cases records weren’t kept; the accounts became simple folklore.

Thankfully, the Great Plains people learned a lot from those dry years; farming practices have changed drastically since the drought and soil moisture conservation has become a priority.

As to the Middle East famine, Joseph was able to guide Egypt through those years and preserve his own family as well. But over all, the land that was once a breadbasket is now desert sand.

Buying, Selling, and Lessons Learned

One good thing is that Egypt didn’t have a stock market to crash like ours did in 1929. In that sense the Thirties delivered a double-whammy here in North America. Then with a war looming — things must have looked pretty bleak indeed to our grandparents.

In the 1920s the sale of stocks was booming, investors were making piles, and bankers came under pressure to make collateral-free loans to wannabe stock-buyers. All these new players drove the price of stocks up, but seasoned traders were keeping a nervous eye on the trading, knowing stock prices had to level off and maybe even drop.

On “Black Tuesday” Oct 29, 1929 someone(s) got so nervous he/they dumped thousands of stocks on the market. Others investors saw this and figured, “Ah! Someone knows something. Prices are going to drop. We’re selling, too!” Sixteen million shares were thrown on the market that day and more during the rest of the week. By Friday the market was flooded with shares no one wanted to buy. The rest is history.

In the 1990’s the US government, under pressure from builders, increased the sale of new houses by urging bankers to give collateral-free loans with very low interest rates. Mortgages were contracted right and left; new home buyers gave the housing market the shot in the arm builders were hoping for. But when those mortgages came up for renewal at the regular interest rate… The rest is history.

The housing market crash and ensuing depression didn’t hit us as hard here in Canada because a) Canadian bankers are far too cautious to make collateral-free loans and b) you can’t legally walk away from a mortgage you’ve contracted here in Canada. If the mortgage holder defaults, the bank may repossess and sell the house but the holder is legally liable to pay whatever is still owing.

Fifty years from now will someone again come up with some new purchase people must make and urge bankers to make low-interest, collateral-free loans so people can have this new necessity? And it will lead to another depression? Or will our descendants read these histories and learn that this hasn’t worked well in the past?

Saturday Chat

Yesterday morning, standing in front of our south picture window letting the sun warm me, I had to think, “How the worm has turned!” Just last week all the drapes were drawn and we were trying hard to stay cool, the temp outside being 35̊ C. But yesterday morning the house was actually chilly.

After a few cooler days, I understand the worm is turning back again. I’m writing this at 2pm Saturday and it’s quite warm outside. Thursday afternoon we had a wild storm with 3/10″ of rain; in spite of that two hummers have decided to stick with us – our generous feeder, that is – for awhile longer. There’s one I think of as “old mother hummer” because she looks like one. When it comes to feeder-rights she’s obviously at the top of the pecking order; she sits on it like she owns it. I’m thinking this is the same hummer that stayed into Sept last year.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word today is GLITCH. Which reminds me, how are you all making out with the new Block–Ed. Still encountering glitches when you try to post? I still miss the one-shot Block & Justify feature. Doing it paragraph by paragraph is tedious, but it works. Now, if only I could see that is has worked, but that doesn’t show up in the draft. On the other hand, I really like the way I can shuffle paragraphs around with a click, click on the little arrow.

For me this week had a unique glitch in it when I discovered a lump appearing where it shouldn’t and we had to go to the hospital Wednesday morning. Thankfully it was never painful, just out of place, as hernias are. I was thinking this may require a quick minor surgery and went prepared, but the doctor was able to re-place it without too much distress to me. Now I need to do some exercises to strengthen the muscle that should be holding it in place. Fellow couch potatoes, be warned!

One good thing came of it, though. Sitting several hours in Emergency waiting to see a Dr, I finished the e-book I was reading. And when I got home, in the course of taking things easy, I finished a couple more. I’m a bad one for having several books on the go at a time. OCD? Just read another Jeeves and Wooster tale, Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, trying not to laugh too hard.

Covid-19 cases continue to decline here after the last round of fresh ones. To date Saskatchewan has had 1,165 cases, with1,548 recovered and 24 deaths. Out of a population of 1.182 million, so thankfully for us Covid-19 hasn’t been the “grim reaper” some folks were predicting. Most everyone’s wearing a mask now and some stores like Walmart & Costco insist. With my hearing problems, I’ll be so glad when a vaccine is found and we can talk face-to-face again. I can’t imagine how deaf people are making out!

The fields not combined are all golden, but a lot of fields are just stubble now as harvest continues, seemingly unhampered by Thursday’s storm. The crops have looked really lush this summer; now fat round bales are appearing in fields all around us.

And that’s about all the news from our small corner. Take care, everyone, and I hope you all have a great weekend.