A Tribute to Uncle Chris

The American Brahman Breeders Association held the National Brahman Show in Hattiesburg, MS this year, and the wonderful folks at the ABBA dedicated the show to Chris Dickens and the Dickens family. We were all truly honored and moved by this amazing gesture. However, displaying a somewhat questionable taste in authors, they asked me if I’d write a piece to be read at the show, and I thought I’d share with you what I wrote. Here it is.

A Tribute to Uncle Chris

When we think about our childhood heroes it’s easy to picture them through the eyes of a child. We build them up. They tower in our hearts and minds like giants. Even to this day I still can’t help but see my grandfather as larger than life figure. But then again, Bobby Dickens is a force of nature. That man has never done anything by half measures. He’s looked every problem of his life straight in the eye, and you better believe those problems have always blinked first.

In contrast when I think of my father, he’s more reserved but just as unbreakably solid. He radiates with a quiet, comforting strength of one who’ll forever stand by your side. To say he’s a rock for his family falls entirely short of the mark. Jeff Dickens is the kind of man you could bend a rock around.

However, when I think about my Uncle Chris I get a strange sense of double vision in my mind, almost as if I’m seeing pictures of two different men. The first is the one seen through a child’s eyes: a slim, young man sporting a handlebar mustache and wearing a wry, crazy smile. He’s dressed in jeans and boots, and rose colored glasses hide a pair of intense, hungry eyes. He’s the very image of a rough and tough cowboy that a young boy idolized.

Uncle Chris loved cattle from a young age, showing calves throughout his childhood. As a teenager he took up bull riding, a passion that drew him out west with a rodeo scholarship to the Oklahoma Panhandle University. From there, he worked as a ranch hand and continued riding bulls, competing in the PRCA and Tri-State Rodeo Association before eventually moving back home to Mississippi to manage his own family’s cattle operation.

That’s when the first picture of Uncle Chris was formed. During my summer breaks I’d help him on the farm. It was something special watching him handle cattle. The man had a rare gift. He could sort and work a group like no one I’ve ever seen. So much of what I know was learned from him during those first few summers. He taught me to love cattle and find the simple joys of tending a farm.

That’s not to say that everything was always sunny between Uncle Chris and me. The two of us were similar in so many ways. We shared a mouthy, irreverent sense of humor and could both be more than a little stubborn and hot tempered. Naturally, we often drove each other insane. Once, during a particularly heated argument, I retaliated to what I felt was an unfair insult by chucking a heavy lead pipe at his head. Luckily, it missed. Nevertheless, I still took off sprinting my short rear-end across the pasture towards home, because he was fuming with anger and I’d just hurled my only weapon. You could say we had a special relationship.

After I graduated high school we fell out of touch and for a few years saw little of each other. I was away at college trying to work through the stress of becoming an adult, while Chris was struggling with troubles and problems of his own. However, I was lucky enough to reconnect with him during the last few years of his life. I got to see him become a father. It was one of the greatest pleasures of my life to see Uncle Chris’s face light with joy as he held his little boy, Hayes.

That’s the second picture that comes to mind when I think of Uncle Chris. He’s a stockier built man, his hair now touched with gray. Those eyes still hold that wild intensity, and he still has that same crazy smile, but it’s softer somehow. In his later years so many of his rougher edges that I remembered from my youth had been smoothed away, and he often displayed a gentleness that I’ve rarely seen in people. We had a closer relationship towards the end, and Chris became something so much more than a childhood hero. He became my friend.

Uncle Chris taught me a lot in life. He taught me how to handle cattle and how to be tough. He taught me how to escape an angry cow and how to laugh at your nephew when he fails in his escapes. He taught me that even heroes are still human, and he taught me what it means to miss a friend.

I’d like to extend the warmest of thanks to all of you for honoring Chris today. You have no idea just how much it means to me and my family. I miss my uncle dearly, but I feel like I still see him every day. I see him in my brothers, in Corey’s kind nature and in BJ’s toughness and innate gift with cattle. I see him in Hayes, as he laughs and jokes with an energy so similar to his Dad’s, and I see him in the smile of every person that mentions his name.

 

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share.

Chase

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Schemes for Surviving Low Cattle Prices

Schemes for Surviving Low Cattle Prices

A couple years ago I purchased my first herd of cattle. The market was booming at the time, and I spent my days counting my calves, twirling my mustache with a greedy grin, and imagining myself becoming a wealthy and powerful cattle baron.

However, before I could purchase a golden scepter befitting one of my noble standing, the bottom fell out of the market. Cattle prices plummeted, and suddenly I wasn’t so much of a baron as I was the pox-ridden peasant that cleans out the royal chamber pot.

After several sleepless nights fretting over my half-price herd, I decided to face the problem head on and come up with a solution to recover my lost profits. Preparing for an all-night brainstorming session, I brewed a pot of coffee, fired up my laptop, and put on my Writing Pants.

(Author’s Note: Writing Pants = No Pants. The greatest perk being a writer is the ability work untroused. And to think, my father wanted me to be a lawyer. Who’s the disappointment now, Dad!?!)

What follows is a list of moneymaking schemes I wrote during that sleep deprived brainstorming session. You’re welcome to use any of these to help supplement your own cattle income. However, the author is not responsible for any legal, physical, or emotional damages that might occur while implementing said schemes.

11:14 PM + 1 Cup of Coffee

Scheme #1: Marketing Strategy

Marketing is like a pair of brass knuckles on the fist of business. Your business may pack quite the punch on its own, but you’ve got to slip on the cold, unfeeling metal of marketing if you really want to knock out some teeth.

(Author’s Note: The teeth would represent your customers, I guess? The analogy kinda got away from me there.)

A simple shift in marketing strategy may help you turn a heftier profit. Capitalizing on whatever health craze is currently sweeping the nation has always been a tried and true marketing strategy.

For instance, grab a pair of clippers and shave all your cows. Voila! They’re now marketable as “Hypoallergenic and Dander-Free.”

Or just walk into the field and inspect your cows. Are they made of wheat? No? Then congratulations, you can proudly advertise them as “Gluten Free Beef.”

For a more aggressive strategy, cut out the middleman and sell your beef directly to the grocery stores. Then, late in the night break into those stores and use a label maker to remove the letter “g” from all the Certified Angus Beef products. Soon, you’ll be outselling one of the most successful beef brands in history.

12:11 AM + 3 Cups of Coffee

Scheme #2: Advertising

 Billboards have been around since the first industrious caveman hung a sign that read, “Hot Deals at Grog’s Fire Factory!” And they’ve changed very little since, only becoming flashier and more annoying. That is, until now…

I give you, The Bullboard!

Think about it. While cattle are lumbering around grazing and pooping, each one possesses several square feet of prime advertising real estate on their sides that’s just going to waste. You could simply rent that space to companies and slap their ads right on the side of your cows.

This idea could even stretch into the show ring. NASCAR drivers have corporate logos on their cars, and they drive too fast for people to even read them most of the time. It should be a cinch to get sponsors to advertise on slow moving show cattle.

Mark my words. One glorious day you’ll see a bull led into a show ring with “VIAGRA” printed in big bold letters on his side.

1:22 AM + 5 Cups of Coffee

Scheme #3: A Dude Ranch

 People are always forking over good money to be miserable, just look at your local gym or Red Lobster. Why not cash in on some of that sweet, lucrative misery by opening a Dude Ranch?

A dude ranch is a place that charges customers of questionable sanity for the experience of working on a ranch. These usually involve cattle drives and other cowboy stuff, but I don’t see why you couldn’t run a similar business-plan/scam on your smaller farm. Just imagine people paying you just for the privilege of working. Hey, if it works for the U.S. Government, it could work for you too.

You could even market it as a summer camp for children. Parents will gladly cough up some dough to ditch their little burdens for a week or two as long as you promise to teach their kids the value of a hard day’s work. Sure, the children’s tiny hands and lack of tractor driving skills may cut into the efficiency of your cattle operation. However, those plucky kids will more than make up for that with their boundless energy and complete ignorance of child labor laws.

2:04 AM + 7 Cups of Coffee

Scheme #4: Running of the Bulls

 Giving back to your community always feels nice and certainly doesn’t hurt business. Why not bring a little culture to your community by starting your town’s first annual Running of the Bulls? It wouldn’t take much overhead since you already have the livestock. You wouldn’t even have to advertise it much. Just release the bulls in town square, and I guarantee your fellow citizens will join right in with the festivities. Running from bulls catches on pretty quickly like that.

Unfortunately, some folks can’t recognize the makings of a grand tradition when they see it, and some of the fussier and less spry of the community may ruin the Running of the Bulls for everybody.

(Author’s Note: You’re always foiling my schemes, Grandma!)

But fret not, you can salvage the day by segueing into my next scheme…

2:32 AM + 8 Cups of Coffee

Scheme #5: Bank Robbery

If watching dozens of sappy westerns has taught me anything, it’s that stampedes make fantastic distractions while robbing banks. If your cattle are in town from the botched Running of the Bulls, most of your work is already finished.

I’ll admit, I haven’t exactly worked out the logistics of this scheme, like where to hire a gang of banditos or how to roundup your herd once all the thievery and stampedery is complete. To be honest, this brainstorming has slowed to a brain-drizzle. I probably just need more coffee.

2:59 AM + 11 Cups of Coffee

Scheme #6: Innovation

INVENT CAFFEINATED COWS!

3:26 AM + 11 Cups of Coffee + 3 Laps around House + 1 Soft Cry into Pillow

Scheme #7: Time Travel

 Time travel is pretty complicated, so you’ll need to befriend a mad scientist or Time Lord. Those sorts can usually be found driving DeLoreans or hanging out in blue phone booths. After gaining his trust and hopefully a sweet hover-board, implement a clever ruse to steal his time machine.

(Author’s Note: I’ve heard stampedes are great for thievery.)

Once you’ve procured a time machine, paint a calf gold and travel back in time several thousand years until you find some Hebrews wandering the desert. Eventually they’ll get bored and start worshiping the golden calf. Sell to them for a hefty profit. Watch out for the guy coming off the mountain though. He might throw a stone tablet at you.

4:45 AM + 13 Cups of Coffee

Scheme #7.5: Time Travel Again

Upon further reflection, conning Biblical figures may be construed as a frivolous use of a time travel, if not downright evil. So, restart the time machine, then just travel back to when cattle prices were high and sell your entire herd. Of course, that’ll mean future you no longer owns any cows, leaving you no reason to steal a time machine and thus making it impossible that you traveled back in time in the first place. This will create a paradox causing the very fabric of time to rip and the universe to implode in on itself.

This probably won’t improve your profits much, but at least you won’t need to worry about low cow prices anymore. Plus, maybe then I’ll finally get some sleep.

The End

I hope everyone enjoyed the article today. If you did enjoy let me know by commenting on the blog or on Facebook. I’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to publish this article or any of my other work in your own magazine or journal, don’t hesitate to send me an email. My contact info is on the top menu of this page. And finally, if you happen to be an epically awesome person, and I know you are, you’d be doing me a huge favor by sharing this post on Facebook. I could use all the exposure I can get. Hope you all have a lovely day.

Tootles,

Chase

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The Cow Chase

The Cow Chase

A soft breeze sighed across the secluded farm. Countless birds perched in the surrounding pines raising their voices in praise of spring. Their twittering songs were so lovely and so sweet that one could almost forget that if you could translate birdsong into English the lyrics would almost certainly read something like, “Well hey there, pretty chicky, those’re some mighty fine tail feathers you got there.”

The melody of flirty fowls echoed through the fields, everywhere except one far corner currently occupied by a single cow. The birds there were strangely quiet, as if they were worried that hooves and a long ancestry of herbivores might not stop this particular bovine from climbing a tree and devouring them if their music offended her.

She’d never been given a proper name. Although, people who’d wandered too near sometimes referred to her as, “AAAHHH!” However, that was difficult to pronounce, so she simply thought of herself as Cow. This was not to be confused with just cow. She was The Cow with a capital C, and she ruled her farm with an iron hoof. All the regular, lowercase cows gave her a wide berth and spoke of her only in hushed moos.

A truck door slammed, echoing across the pasture, and Cow’s ears perked up. Sounded like someone was trespassing, a capital offense on her farm. She trudged off towards the noise, her long face set in a scowl. Not an expression one expects from a bovine, but Cow managed it quite well, really put the cow in scowl, you might say.

Across the field a pond was nestled in a steep hollow. Booted feet clomped along its banks, and the sound of happily whistling lips skipped across the water. One might’ve recognized the wandering tune as the theme song from Disney’s Robin Hood, but only if they’d never seen the movie or heard someone whistle.

What a beautiful day, Chase thought to himself. The sun’s shining brightly. The birds are singing lewdly. Hopefully, the fish will be biting…

He paused in his train of thought, reaching for an appropriate adverb.

Bitingly?

Chase smiled and nodded with the self-satisfaction of a writer who has only a tenuous grasp of the English language. With his brand new rod gripped in his hand, he strolled his way to his favorite fishing spot, a red clay embankment. His boots sank into the sticky muck, and digging a plastic worm from a pocket, he baited the hook.

Drawing back to cast, Chase caught movement from the corner of his eye. He turned, rod still held dumbly over his head. A few dozen yards down the bank a cow was charging determinately towards him. And, oddly enough, it seemed to be scowling.

The human mind is a strange thing. It has the ability to create beautiful works of art or a mathematical formula proving black holes. Yet, that very same mind can walk through a door frame and suddenly be unable to remember whether it came to the room to search for car keys or to pluck a chicken.

Chase’s mind was stranger than most, but he fancied himself pretty adept with words. In fact, a thousand very appropriate curses zipped through his mind at that moment. Some were clever and witty. Some were terrible, bordering on blasphemous. All were unfit for this publication. However, Chase was rather surprised that when the time came for him to properly articulate his unfortunate situation the only word he was able to scream was, “Cow!”

The bovine mind is significantly less complicated. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the only thing Cow thought as she charged was that someone had finally gotten her blasted name right. It made her glad. Not glad enough to, you know, not murder the fellow. He was trespassing in her field after all, but it felt nice to get a little recognition.

Chase’s mind stopped cursing and reminded his feet that they should probably be getting on with it. He spun and took off running. Or sort of did anyway. While he was technically running, the taking off part proved a bit problematic. The red clay was so slippery that it apparently transformed him into a Looney Tunes character. Chase’s feet could find no traction, leaving him running in place like the Road Runner right before he shoots away from Coyote.

If bovines could laugh Cow would’ve been rolling as she neared the silly trespasser flailing a stick and running in place. She was mere feet from him now. All of the sudden the little man jumped to a dry patch of ground and in one fluid motion spun and swung his stick directly into Cow’s face. She veered away, closing her eyes and shaking her head in pain.

When she opened her eyes again the stick lay in several broken pieces at her hooves, and the man was already several yards away and moving fast. For reasons that Cow could never possibly understand he yelled over his shoulder, “Beep! Beep!”

Cow charged after him.

Not even one cast! Chase thought furiously, sprinting towards his truck. But he had to admit a broken fishing rod was better than a broken skull. He risked a look behind, and a terrified squeak escaped his lips. Not only was the creature still in pursuit, she was gaining.

The cow or demon, whatever it was, was clearly in superior shape. Chase consoled himself by reasoning that if he spent every day chasing innocent folks around fields, he’d be in tiptop shape as well. Murder rampages were probable great cardio.

Hoof beats thumped right behind Chase as he neared the truck. He heard an odd high-pitched squealing noise, but realizing it was only him, he closed his mouth. He made a grab for the door handle, but the Hell-beast was too close. No time. He sprinted around the front of truck. Cow followed.

Chase and Cow were on their third revolution of the truck when Chase decided to try something stupid. He swung wide, luring the cow away from the pickup. As they’d circled back to the driver’s side again, Chase turned and bolted directly towards the truck. Mustering every ounce of athletic ability he had left, he dove headfirst through the open window.

Unfortunately, he only made it about halfway. Stubby legs thrashed and kicked from the window. Never one to pass up such a fine opportunity, Cow charged forward and gleefully head butted all those dangling limbs until the rest of Chase had been squeezed into the truck.

Chase’s face ended up stuck in the cup holder. His left foot had somehow gotten wedged behind the review mirror, and he was pretty sure his spleen had landed somewhere near the glovebox. A pained whimper escaped his lips as he gingerly unfolded himself. However, the whimper turned into a scream as Cow shoved her snorting face through the window. Still screaming, Chase push her back by the nose the best he could until finally finding the window button. It happened to be where his kidney had landed earlier.

Chase peered through the now closed window at the terrible thing pacing around his truck. Sure, it looked like a cow, but he knew better now. Shaking his head he shifted into drive and sped away. As the pickup bounced across the field, Chase glanced in the review mirror, then locked the doors just in case.

Cow watched him drive away. An oddly sorrowful expression spread across her long face, like a child who’s just lost a favorite toy. Somewhere across the farm, a dog barked. Her head popped up, ears pulling back, and Cow set off across the field with a scowl.

The End

I hope you enjoyed the story today. If you are new to my stories or would just like to reread some you my older stuff, you can peruse my past articles in the archives section of this blog. If you’d like to get in touch with me for whatever reason you can shoot me an email or connect with me on Facebook. Both links are in the top menu of this page. If you really want to be my hero and earn my eternal love, you can share this article with all your friends on Facebook. You can either share the post from my page or just click the Facebook button at the bottom of this blog post. Thanks for reading.

Tootles,

Chase

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The Dickens Guide to Preparing for Show Day

Hi everyone, I hope you’re having a lovely day wherever you may be. My latest magazine article came out recently, and I’m going to share it with you today. This article isn’t one of my usual stories from my seedy past. Instead, I decided to take another shot at being somewhat educational. I, of course, failed miserably at this, but I hope you enjoy it all the same.

The Dickens Guide to Preparing for Show Day

Ah February, the slimmest and sexiest month of the year. For most folks this month means Valentine’s Day flowers, chocolates, and romance. But for junior cattlemen in Mississippi February holds a much more important event, The Dixie National Livestock Show. Every year hundreds of junior cattlemen descend upon Jackson looking to distinguish themselves in the show ring. However, before they can even make it to that ring, they must first be prepared, and once again I have taken it upon myself to educate our youthful exhibitors. So come children, drink from the fountain of knowledge, and let Uncle Chase teach you how to prepare for show day.

Step One: Getting an Early Start

The morning of the show can be a hectic time. With hundreds of calves in the barn and a limited amount of wash rack space, it’s nice to get a head start by beginning your day bright and early. Unfortunately, my father’s definition of “bright and early” was what most people would describe as “dark and late,” better known as the middle of the night. I believe he reveled in the sight of sleep deprived children. However, I can honestly say that I was never once late for a show, even if I did have to rise at an hour when the only rational people awake were still drinking in bars.

Step Two: Washing the Calves

Once you’ve cleared your bleary eyes and properly cursed your father’s name, it’s time to wash the calves. Washing is pretty straightforward. There are a myriad of different soaps, brushes, and combs you can use, but I won’t get into that any of that right now because it’s boring and I simply cannot imagine a world where I write about soap. Unless of course you’re reading this and happen to own a magazine about soap, in which case, hit me up. I’m very hungry. Anyway, just make sure your calf is thoroughly clean and free of any dirt and manure.

However, you can use this opportunity to exact a little revenge on your early rising father with a well-placed squirt of the water hose. When he gets mad blame your calf for fidgeting. Calves are cool and won’t snitch on you. If he starts yelling about you getting him wet in the middle of February, try pointing out the fact that he’d probably dry a lot faster if the sun was actually out.

Step Three: Cleaning the Beds

Now that the calves are washed and tied up, it’s time to grab the pooper-scooper and clean the bed. Once again this is another pretty straightforward step. It doesn’t exactly take a PhD to scoop poo, and if you really need me to explain the intricacies of the process you might want to reconsider handling large animals as a hobby, or any sharp objects for that matter.

However, if you have a unobservant sibling with you and want to save yourself a little time, you can attempt a little covert poo relocation. When he suspiciously points out that his calf appears to have defecated a midsize sedan, tell him that it’s not a contest and that he shouldn’t brag about his calf’s pooing prowess.

Step Four, Part I: Taunt the Long Haired Cattle Exhibitors

Those of you showing short haired cattle breeds may get a little break in the preparations at this point. If you happen to be bored I suggest using this extra time to point and laugh at your long haired exhibitor friends because while you’re basically finished they still have to give their calf a perm, frost its tips, or whatever it is those guys do all day. I wouldn’t know. I showed Brahmans, and even with the extra mass in the humpular area they were a breeze to clean.

Exert from The Dickens Family Dictionary

Humpular Area – a term referring to the humped region of a Brahman’s back and is totally a word no matter what spellcheck says.

Remember that the joking is all in good fun. The trick is to be just mocking enough to illicit a few sneers and groans but no so much that you get stabbed in the face with a fitting comb.

Step Four, Part II: Retaliate Against Short Haired Cattle Exhibitors

Don’t think I forgot about you long haired cattle folks. You guys may not have as much free time, but those fabulously fluffy calves don’t happen by accident. And sure, the mocking from your short haired friends may ruffle your hackles in a way that no amount of brushing can comb flat, but don’t get mad. Get even!

You simply have to wait until your friend is leading their short haired calf on the way to the show ring and then fire up that industrial sized blow dryer of yours. Being unaccustomed to any type of loud drying apparatuses, the calf can only assume that it’s just encountered some type of terrifying snakelike creature that wields all the mighty power of the wind. As your friend’s calf inevitably drags them away, feel free to shout something biting like, “Good luck! I sure hope I didn’t… blow… your chances at the show!”

Laughing manically afterwards is option but highly suggested. However, once their panicked screams for help fade into the distance, you probably need to get back to being your calf’s makeup artist, or a Cowsmetician if you may.

(Author’s Note: Two puns in one entry? I’m going to have to rename my column, Pun Like the Dickens. Boom! Bonus pun!)

Step Five: You Got This

With all the other preparations complete it’s just a matter of adjusting your hat, listening to the obligatory talk from your (still damp) father about how real men never let go of the rope, and then leading your calf towards the arena. Just remember, you got this. Sure you’re only an eighty pound kid in an oversized cowboy hat leading a half ton of beef by a three foot leather strap, but you totally got this.

The End

I hope you enjoyed the article today. If you’re new to my blog feel free to peruse through some of my older work in the archive section. If you’d like to get in touch with me for any reason you can shoot me an email or contact me on my Facebook page. Both links are in the top menu. Go ahead and like the page while you’re there. And hey, if you want to do me a huge favor you can share this article with all your Facebook friends or social media thingy of your choice, I would greatly appreciate. We writers subsist solely on caffeine and attention, and I’ve already had coffee today. Now, I just need you to share.

Tootles,

Chase

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Attack of the Killer Donkey

Hi everyone, I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season wherever you may be. Sorry I’ve been a little bit silent the last few weeks on Facebook and the blog, but I’m back from my holiday break to share my latest magazine article with you. So without further ado, here is a lovely little story about my dear father and a much less dear donkey.

 

Attack of the Killer Donkey

“Yes sir, that there’s the finest ass I’ve ever raised,” said the lying donkey farmer.

Dad turned from the overall clad farmer to examine the animal on the trailer. The old, graying donkey was squat and homely. It looked a little like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. That is if Eeyore had a pack-a-day habit and Christopher Robin had beaten him with a logging chain. Its left eye was milked over, and one ear was notched and torn. Dad leaned in closer to the trailer, and the donkey pulled back its ears, a low rumble reverberating from its chest.

Dad took a slow step back and asked, “Did that thing just growl at me? You don’t often hear that from donkeys.”

“Naw, he’s really an ole softy,” the farmer said. “He’s just purring at ya, kinda like a sweet baby kitten. I call him Fluffy.”

Dad glanced back and forth from the grizzled donkey to the farmer wearing a too wide smile. He only needed the animal to keep coyotes out of the field, not for a petting zoo. Plus, the price was fair. So, with a shrug Dad paid the man and got into the truck to haul Fluffy to his new home.

Making a loop in the cow pasture, Dad put the truck in park and walked around the trailer. Fluffy was making that weird “purring” sound even louder now, so Dad very cautious opened the gate and quickly got out of the way. The little gray donkey bolted out of the trailer and into the pasture, bucking and hee-hawing in what no sane person would describe as sweet baby kitten behavior.

Fluffy eventually spotted the cows grazing just a few yards away and broke into a full gallop heading straight for the herd. At first Dad thought this was a good thing. We’d had donkeys in the past that tended to shirk their duties and stay far away from the cows they were meant to protect.

However, just as he entered the herd Fluffy let out another sharp “Hee-haw!” and kicked the ever-loving snot out of the nearest cow. Dad barely had time to gape in surprise when the donkey charged a week old calf, bit down on the back of its neck, and began violently slinging the poor baby back and forth.

Perhaps, the Fluffy had gone blind and senile in his old age and honestly thought he was doing everyone favor by taking out what he thought was herd of coyotes in the field. Or perhaps Fluffy simply was what he was, a crazy old jackass. Regardless, Dad found himself shouting, “That’s the opposite of what you’re supposed to do, Fluffy!”

Picking up a stout stick, Dad took off at a full sprint to save the calf from the sadistic donkey. When he was only a few steps away, Fluffy dropped the unfortunate calf, turned, and charged at what he probably thought was a man-shaped coyote wielding a stick. Dad let out a squeak and, hurling the stick at Fluffy, turned tail and ran. The insane animal chased him several yards to the hay barn where Dad flipped over the gate to safety.

Dad had barely hit the ground when Fluffy turned and galloped back to the herd to continue his crusade against the calves. He kick and bit at any calf that would get within his reach. Dad had no idea what to do. He didn’t have a gun in his truck, and a stick clearly didn’t intimidate the hell-beast in the least. He glanced frantically around, looking for anything at all that could be used as a weapon. His eyes stopped on the big blue New Holland tractor and the nice and pointy, three-pronged hayfork protruding from its front. Dad smiled a terrible smile.

The tractor’s engine roared as it ramped a terrace row, and Dad hit the oddly high pitched horn with a sharp, BEEEEEP! He of course did not want to skewer a donkey with a hayfork. Just the thought of that made him queasy. He’d try to run him off first. However, those calves were his responsibility and livelihood, and Fluffy the insane donkey might not leave him with any other choice.

Dad shifted to a higher gear and sped towards the herd. Fluffy paused in his attempt massacre when he spotted the tractor with a man hanging out of the door shouting, “Who’s the big man now, Fluffy!?!” BEEP! BEEP! BEEEEP!!!

Showing an impressive amount of agility for a gamey little creature, Fluffy darted to the side just in time to dodge the tractor. Dad turned in his seat, and to his disbelief the possibly possessed donkey had immediately ran to the next calf and continued trying to bite and stomp it to death.

Dad jerked on the wheel, spinning the tractor around and gunning it towards the donkey. Say what you will about Fluffy, but that little jack wasn’t scared anything. Instead of running or even dodging, Fluffy kicked back with both feet at the front tire of the moving tractor. This, predictably, did not go well for Fluffy, and the little donkey was sent skidding forward and tumbled face first into the mud.

Apparently Fluffy’s fall made him lose his appetite for murder, because the donkey leapt up from the mud and took off galloping across the field away from the calves and the madman on the tractor. Dad threw the tractor back into gear to give chase, leaning out of the door and shouting, “Yeah! Looks like someone brought hooves to a tractor fight!”

After going on a merry chase across the field and all around the farm, Fluffy eventually ran himself right into the catch pen. After closing the gate and making a lot of rather crude celebratory gestures at the Fluffy, Dad checked on the calves. Except for a few scrapes and some possible PTSD, all of the calves made it out just fine. As for Fluffy, he went straight back home to live with the lying donkey farmer’s family. I assume none of them survived.

The End

 

I hope you enjoyed the story today. If you happen to be affiliated with some sort of publication and would like to publish some of my work, feel free to send me an email or contact me on Facebook. The links to both are in the main menu of this blog. If you read the story and decided that I’m a pretty swell guy, maybe you could do me a huge favor and share it on Facebook or whatever social media thingy you use. I’d greatly appreciate it. If you are apprehensive about sharing a story with the word “ass” in it, just remember that Jesus also said “ass” like a lot, so I’m pretty sure you should feel bad for judging me and share my story as an apology.

Tootles,

Chase

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The Christmas Lights Calamity

Hi everyone, I know it’s been a while since I last posted on here, but I hope you’ve been having an enchanting winter wherever you may be. The last few months have had a lot of ups and downs for me, and I just haven’t been getting as much writing done as I need to. Hopefully, I can make up for it just a little bit today by sharing my latest magazine article with you. With the holidays right around the corner I’m going to once again jump on the bandwagon, run right over Thanksgiving, and tell you a Christmas story.

The Christmas Lights Calamity

“Does that look straight to y’all’? Dad called down from the roof of the house, holding up a string of Christmas lights.

“Maybe a bit higher,” Corey answered from the yard.

It was an exciting day at the Dickens household. Every year my brothers and I would beg our parents to hang Christmas lights, and every year they’d yell “Bah humbug!” and crush the dreams of their innocent children. However, all of our pestering had finally worn the Scrooges down, and at long last our twinkling Christmas dream was coming true.

Leaning an old wooden ladder against the house, Mom and Dad had climbed to the roof. Being a man of profound wisdom, Dad had concocted a masterful plan to safely hang the lights. Taking a length of rope, he’d tied one end around his waist and the other end around Mom’s. The plan was that they’d stay on opposite sides of the roof’s peak and act as counter weights to each other in case one of them slipped.

Dad tacked down the cord and walked carefully across the roof to retrieve another string of lights. Reaching into a box labeled, Tina’s Christmas Junk, he grabbed a cord and pulled, and all the lights came out in a tangled mess. After muttering something probably unsavory under his breath he said, “I don’t know why we’re hanging lights on a house a mile off the main road.”

“So Santa Claus can see where to land,” I called up to him excitedly.

Jerking on the giant ball of lights Dad replied, “Naw, it’s so Santa’s chunky, old butt can just do a fly by and drop a ton of coal for you boys. It’s sorta like a Naughty List Air Strike.”

I turned to my oldest brother, BJ, and asked, “Why’s Santa bring coal for naughty kids”?

BJ furrowed his brow in contemplation for a moment then answered, “Parents use the coal to burn their youngest child as a warning to their other kids.”

“BJ! Stop lying to your brother!” Mom shouted. Then she bared her teeth in a wicked smile and continued, “Everyone knows you burn the oldest. They’re the instigators.”

My brothers and I cackled with laughter while Dad was still angrily yanking on cords. The lights were wrapped around his arms and dangling around his legs in a knotted mess.

“Y’all stop goofing around,” Dad ranted. “I’m trying to be festive and spread some stupid cheer here!”

Losing all patience he started jerking harder on the snarled cables and cursing through gritted teeth, “Stupid piece of humpty…”

His rants were cut off with a sharp yelp as he tripped over the dangling Christmas lights. He stumbled a few steps before losing his balance. He hit the roof hard and immediately began sliding down the slope. His safety rope jerked taut, but unfortunately for Dad, physics were not on his side. During his planning he’d forgotten to take this simple equation into account:

1 Tina Dickens = roughly ½ Jeff Dickens

As the rope snapped taut Mom was wrenched forward. Her feet shot out from under her, and she half rolled, half ramped over the peak of the roof. Dad’s slide was slowed but not stopped as he skidded down the incline in a screaming mass of flailing limbs and tangled lights. He flew feet-first off the edge of the roof but somehow managed to drop directly onto the ladder.

His feet crashed straight through the top step, and the old wooden ladder sounded like it was being run through a wood chipper as Dad’s weight propelled him downward, shattering every step along the way. He slammed into the ground amongst a storm of dust and falling splinters and laid sprawled out on his back, silent and still. After the space of a long breath, the two side of the broken ladder slid slowly from the ledge and fell to either side of him.

A lot of panicking and yelling ensued. Mom had managed to catch herself before following her husband off the roof, and after seeing Dad lying unconscious in the yard she quickly ordered BJ to call Pawpaw for help while Corey and I to fetched her an undestroyed ladder.
By the time we got Mom safely down from the roof Dad was just beginning to stir awake, and we all squatted around him as he blinked dazedly at the sky.

“Jeff, are you okay? Can you move everything”? Mom asked fear tinging her voice.

Dad wiggled his feet and gave a small, pained nod of his head. Our relief was almost palpable, and most of the tension drained from all of us. Leaning over Dad, I brushed some splinters out of his hair and gave him a toothy grin, “I guess this means no Christmas lights again.”

Dad stared blankly at me for a long moment before turning slowly to look up at Mom. He placed a trembling hand on her arm and in a soft, shaky voice said, “Tina, if I don’t make it, burn the boy. Burn him with coal.”

The End

Well, I hope you enjoyed the story today. If you are new to my stuff feel free to peruse the archives of the blog to checkout some of my older stories. You can also like me on Facebook by following the link in the top menu of this page. And hey, do you want to do me a big favor? Go share this story on Facebook or other social media site for all your friends to see. If enough of you share I might become rich and famous one day and maybe like get to play tennis with Oprah or something else pointlessly impressive like that. I could so take her. So go share!

Tootles,

Chase

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The Dickens Guide to Surviving a Cow Attack

As a whole cows are pretty docile animals, but don’t let the fact that they look like brisket-filled beanbag chairs fool you. As any cattleman can attest, a small percentage of cows can be quite dangerous. Did you know that cows kill more people every year than sharks do?

That’s a pretty scary statistic, but to be fair cows have much more opportunities for mayhem. How many people a year do you think are killed trying to milk a shark? Probably two, no more than three tops. Besides, cows don’t have to worry about giving themselves away with a dorsal fin protruding from their back.

Author’s Note: The humped Brahman, of course, being the exception to this rule. They’re the Great White Sharks of the bovine world.

The majority of these cattle related fatalities are probably accidents and not the result of vicious attacks. However, there are exceptions. I’ve personally met several cows who’d be more comfortable fighting in a barbarian horde than grazing on a peaceful farm. The danger is out there, yet the Discovery Channel firmly refuses to change Shark Week to Cow Week, no matter how many scathing letters I write.

Who then will teach people how to survive when they find themselves face to face with Bovine the Destroyer, the barbarian cow? The snooty lawyers at the Discovery Channel have asked me to stop sending my letters, even the ones masterfully illustrated with my crayon doodles of axe-wielding cows. So, I suppose this dire responsibility has fallen to me. Therefore, I give you my guide to surviving a cow attack.

The Dickens Guide to Surviving a Cow Attack

Step One: Be Wary
Cows can strike viciously and without warning. However, if you remain vigilant and watch for signs of impending doom, you might be able to avoid the attack altogether. Keep a wary eye on any cow with its head held high and ears pulled back. This is usually a sign of nervousness. Unfortunately, figuring out whether they’re nervously about to flee or nervously considering murder-killing you to death in a storm of hooves can be a little tricky to determine. Either way they probably don’t want you go walk up and pet them.

However, the most dangerous thing to watch for is a cow with a calf. Momma cows can smell and, probably, even taste your fear. Avoid them at all cost, and turn your back to them at your own peril.

Step Two: Evasive Maneuvers
Even with my sage advice you may find yourself unable to avoid an attack. Natural speed and athleticism will play a significant factor in your effectiveness at evading Bovine the Destroyer and her mission to eradicate the human race. However, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to survive.

First and foremost, always have an escape plan. Try to remain within safe running distance of a fence, vehicle, or even a particularly easy to climb tree. I also suggest practicing your fence climbing maneuvers. Whether it’s flipping over the fence like a graceful acrobat or flopping to the ground and rolling under, you never know which technique could save your life.

If you’re unable to escape but happen to have a sibling close by, you can always use them as a handy distraction. Cows, being much like lions, usually seek out the weakest prey. And in my experience few things appear weaker than a recently tripped and abandoned brother.

Author’s Note: In the interest of full disclosure I only had enough helpful information for two steps, and both of those were pretty much commonsense already. However, I need to reach a certain word count for this article. Otherwise my editor, LeAnne, will keep me locked in The Writer Cage until I’ve written enough jokes. It’s kind of cramped in here, and there’s no wifi. So, if it’s alright with you folks I’m just going to make up a bunch of nonsense from here on, which is basically what I do most of the time anyways.
So, if evasive maneuvers don’t work, I don’t know… Maybe, scream like really loud?
Hey! That’ll work. I can totally write about that!

Step Three: Scream Like Really Loud
Loud noises can be both distracting and discombobulating. This is why soldiers use flashbangs during ambushes, and why babies use ear-piercing cries to distract their parents from their evil and nefarious baby schemes. If you find yourself the victim of a cow attack, try screaming really loud. Do your best to emulate what you’d imagine a Pterodactyl stepping on a Lego block would sound like.

Due to their floppy, elongated ears cows possess a keen sense of hearing. Because of this they’re very sensitive to the screams of short, red-bearded farmers making shrill dinosaur noises. You can turn one of their strengths against them to make your escape.

Author’s Note: I’m not entirely sure if that’s how ears work… Or babies for that matter.

Step Four: Establish Dominance
Even if you escape the initial attack from the bloodthirsty bovine, in all likelihood you’re going to have to deal with the hell-beast again. However, if you can establish yourself as the Alpha of the herd, you might be able to avoid all the running and screaming in the future. Unfortunately, there’s not exactly a surefire way to exert dominance over a creature that’s roughly the size of a Ford Focus. But I’m still several hundred words short of an article, so here are a couple of sound ideas that I just made up.

You could challenge the troubling cow to a gentlemanly bout of fisticuffs for the right to rule the farm. However, just because the cow lacks both fists and cuffs does not guaranty victory, but that doesn’t mean you should be too afraid to try. Cows will never be cowed by a cowering coward.

Author’s Note: You have no idea how long I tried to fit the word “cowl” into that last sentence.

You could also try taking a page from the popular book and film franchise, The Hunger Games. In case you haven’t read them, the books are about an evil government that every year takes a couple dozen kids from their respective homes then forces them to fight to the death in a needlessly elaborate arena while the entire country watches. The government does this to set an example and prove that they have absolute power over the people.

I think the book was supposed to be a metaphor about the dangers of too much government power or something, but all I learned was that it’s alright to plagiarize your book as long as you’re only ripping off a Japanese movie that nobody’s ever heard of. However, you could easily employing the same methods to establish dominance over your herd. You simple wrangle up several calves and force them to fight inside your barn. The watching cows would certainly learn who’s in charge then.

Besides the obvious ethical and moral dilemmas with this method, you may have a difficult time getting the calves to properly fight each other. Even if you manage it, the battle would probably be aggressively boring since their stupid little hooves make it nearly impossible to shoot a bow or even hold a sword.

Author’s Note: This would still make a better book than The Hunger Games.

Step Five: Surrender
If all these steps fail to stop Bovine the Destroyer, you really only have one option left. Surrender. You could try ceding her territory and hope she remains in her pasture. However, sooner or later her lust for power will have to be sated. She’ll eventually conquer each field until she is the sovereign ruler of the farm. All you can do then is throw yourself at her hooves and pledge your undying loyalty to her. Her honor demands that she spare your life and accept you as a servant. And she shall be crowned Queen of the Cows.

All hail Bovine the Destroyer, Queen of the Cows.

Author’s Note: I’ll admit this article spiraled out of control and crash landed somewhere in the realm of strange. However, I’ve finally reached my word count, and I can see LeAnne heading this way with the key to The Writer Cage. It seems I’ve finally earned my freedom. At least, until next month…

The End

I hope everyone enjoyed the article today. It is certainly one of the weirder ones that I’ve written over the years. If you’re new to my blog feel free to peruse through the archives to read some of my older stuff. If you haven’t done so yet, you can like my Facebook page by following the link in the top menu of this page. Also, it’s a little known fact that if you don’t share this article on Facebook or other social media, Bovine the Destroyer will find you and destroy you. So go share this article, not for me but for your safety.

Tootles,

Chase

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