The Antagonistic Relationship Between Extraterrestrial Shapeshifters and Cows

I was recently expanding my knowledge by watching an educational TV program in which men of science investigate extraterrestrial activity at a farm called “Skinwalker Ranch.” The series starts off with the men of science standing around a dead cow in a pasture, and one man of science states authoritatively, “This isn’t normal. It’s hard to kill a cow.” The other men of science agree, which is why my wife has very little respect for men or science. 

Notably, she points out there are no women of science involved in this investigation, which is a good point but easily explained: Likely women of science are too busy trying to cure cancer or other human ailments and not prioritizing what really matters, like whether extraterrestrials are visiting earth and tormenting our cows. 

Apparently, the reason the ranch is called “Skinwalker Ranch” is because the aliens beamed themselves down to earth, where they then use shapeshifting abilities to change skins and impersonate humans, meaning they’re hiding in plain sight and then sneaking off to kill cows in their down time. Of course, the men of science have some alternative hypotheses for the cow deaths, including radiation from UFO spaceships, laser beams from UFO spaceships, and one admittedly outlandish theory that the cow deaths are terrestrial in origin and caused by a yet-to-be discovered cryptozoological species living in a nearby desert cave. 

Speaking of cryptozoological species, the head of security for the investigative team is named “Dragon.” Dragon’s job is to carry big guns everywhere to protect the men of science from the aliens with radioactive laser beams. Dragon takes his job seriously, and on one occasion he gets spooked and shoots a tree, believing it to be an alien shapeshifted into vegetative form, but after closer inspection it was just a tree.

As you can imagine, this show is not only educational but quite entertaining, and frankly it’s not something you’d expect to see on the stuffy ole History Channel. In recent years the History Channel has really upped its historical game with all the focus on ancient aliens, who are much more interesting than their ancient human counterparts who sat around all day chipping away at stones and grunting. Recently, I’ve been trying to better myself by watching more mentally enriching TV like historical alien programming instead of mind-numbing TV like cable news, which spends too much talking about pointless politics and very little time on issues that are important to everyday Americans, like mysterious alien cattle mutilations. 

After about fifteen minutes of watching “Skinwalker Ranch,” I experienced some paranormal activity of my own when the remote mysteriously disappeared and the TV suddenly switched to HGTV. My first thought was to blame my wife–but then I remembered the simplest solution is the most likely, meaning either interference from an extraterrestrial laser beam or my wife is an extraterrestrial shapeshifter. 

That’s Farming

I am not sure what’s the bigger bane of my existence, dead batteries or flat tires. Both have a way of taunting me that is entirely unbecoming of inanimate objects. Just yesterday a tractor battery went, “chug, chug, chug, chug, chug, click” which translated into English means, “You dimwit farmer, did you really think you were going to quickly crank up and go get a hay bale, then be back inside ten minutes later eating supper with your family? Think again, sucker.”

Ten minutes later, I not only had one dead tractor battery but two. I had now drained the battery in the other tractor by trying to jump off the first tractor. That meant I had to get my truck involved. Thankfully, my truck battery has proven more reliable than my tractor batteries, meaning it only dies bi-annually instead of annually. With the truck, I finally resuscitated the tractor and could now get a roll of hay for the cows. So twenty minutes fooling with batteries, ten minutes fooling with a hay tarp, five minutes opening and closing gates, ten minutes chasing a cow that snuck through a gate, and five minutes cutting strings off the hay bale equals thoroughly cold food when I finally made it back inside to eat supper. 

“What took so long?” my wife asked. 

“Dead battery,” I said. 

“You’ll probably want to stick that in the microwave,” she said. “and by the way, can you check the air in my tires. My light came on today when I was driving home from work.”

Alas, a poor dirt farmer like me basically spends six hours a day sleeping, eight hours at work to pay for my farming addiction, and my remaining hours trying to keep my farm from falling apart, which isn’t easy when unruly batteries and tires are involved. 

I take consolation in the fact some farmers have it worse than me. My neighbor keeps a battalion of broken-down tractors in the weeds just to keep a couple of tractors running and operational. How he remembers which parts he has already robbed off of which tractor is beyond me. He more or less mimics the frantic searching method of a bird dog, bobbing in and out of overgrown tractor thickets, to flush a needed part. On a good Saturday morning, he can bag his daily limit of parts and have them marinating in WD-40 by lunchtime. On a bad Saturday morning, he’ll have to go an actual tractor dealership to acquire his needed part, at which point someone will need to resuscitate him from sticker shock, but that’s farming.

The Winter of My Discarded Stomach Contents

Just in case any of you might have been wondering if I finally attempted a farming feat so stupid that it ended in my untimely demise, I’m happy to report I’m still alive; I just haven’t had the chance to write much lately since my intestines have unionized and gone on strike, bringing to a retching halt the normal function of my digestive system. 

First, it was Flu B, then it was a pre-Christmas stomach bug, followed by a repeat stomach bug last week. I have upchucked more in three months than I have in thirty years. I blame my son for all this projectile vomiting: we shower him with big Tonka trucks, and all he gives us are microscopic germs. He seems mostly impervious to the weekly germs de vogue that circulate at daycare, barely slowing down from hyperactive to active for a tummy ache, meanwhile his mom and dad are taking turns jettisoning the contents of their stomachs for days on end. 

I thought it was supposed to be the other way around. I thought adults were supposed to have more fortifications against microscopic invaders than children, but alas my white blood cells have apparently fallen asleep on duty; meanwhile, I can’t sleep at all because I’m too busy guarding a porcelain throne. 

Anyway, I hope everyone had a good holiday season and here is hoping for a good 2023–full of new farming feats, fewer daycare germs, and a return to normality, at least for my digestive system. 

We Flu the Coop

There are certain times in my life, like last week, when I’m particularly glad I wasn’t born several centuries ago. For starters, it would have been an even longer ride to Myrtle Beach–if you think traffic is bad going around Charlotte now, just think what rush hour must have been like with a toddler in the back of the horse-drawn wagon. 

Second, if your toddler, unbeknownst to you, is secretly transporting an incredibly contagious gastrointestinal virus inside himself while you travel to your coastal destination for rest and relaxation, you would likely not have the advantage of having multiple bathrooms in days gone by. Instead, the whole family would be sharing a beach front outhouse as you all spend vacation vacating your stomach contents, violently and repeatedly.

Nor would you have a convenient CVS Minute Clinic nearby to diagnose family members in rapid succession. Had we had the foresight to combine all our prescriptions together, we likely could have qualified for a bulk discount on Tamiflu. 

Puking your guts may not sound like much fun for a family vacation, but I’m trying to look on the bright side: we could have been puking our guts two-hundred years ago when there was no such thing as indoor plumbing. Possibly, the only advantage to going on vacation two hundred years ago is that there were no such things as phones back then, meaning your neighbor couldn’t call you in the midst of your rest, relaxation, and retching to inform you that one of your cows is wandering around the pasture with a five-gallon bucket stuck on his head. This literally happened. 

So not only am I sick, I’m now worried sick that one of my cows is going to die from suffocation. My farming reputation is already pretty low, but losing a cow to a stuck five-gallon bucket would make me the laughing stock of every gas station grill in the county. Thankfully, my neighbor called back about an hour later to inform me that the cow had managed to self extricate his cranium from the bucket, at which point I breathed a sigh of relief before continuing my regularly scheduled regurgitation. 

So the moral of this story is a) animals always do stupid stuff when you go on vacation and b) get your flu shot. This year, flu b is no joke. 

I Told You So

It only took 97 needles in my back for an allergy doctor to confirm I’ve made poor life choices. And I’m not sure what was worse—the 97 pricks or the intense itching afterwards. 

ALLERGIST: “Where do you work?” 

ME: “At my local agriculture office, but I spend about half my time in the field working with farmers.”

ALLERGIST:“You picked the wrong profession.”

ME: “Well, I like working outdoors.”

ALLERGIST: “You may like it, but your immune system doesn’t. It looks like you’re allergic to the whole grass family. To be honest, I’m surprised you’ve survived this long.”

Normally, I don’t profess to have psychic powers, but as the allergist continued to examine the welts on my back, each corresponding to a prick infused with a different contagion, I had a strong premonition, namely that of my wife’s delight in uttering the words, “I told you so.” Don’t you hate when medical professionals confirm what your wife has been saying for years?

For years, she had been telling me to ask a doctor for an Epipen because I keep bees. Of course, my rebuttal was that I wasn’t allergic to bee stings, so that was stupid and a waste of money. But here’s the thing I’ve learned the hard way: Life is full of irony.

Yes, it’s a little ironic that I chose agriculture as a profession when I’ve had a lifelong allergy to hay and grass, which the allergist confirmed in the skin-prick test. But I wasn’t there because I was worried about sneezing and watery eyes from hay fever. I was there because my favorite food rebelled against me. For decades, my shrimp intake rivaled that of a krill-gulping whale. But that was before an insurgent shrimp infiltrated my stomach through a bowl of shrimp and grits and convinced my white blood cells to try to strangle me from the inside out. That’s why I was at the allergist. 

The doctor confirmed that I now have a severe shrimp allergy and that if a shrimp ever got anywhere near my gullet, I’d likely go into anaphylactic shock. She said that it wasn’t uncommon for adults to suddenly develop a severe allergy, even to something they’ve been exposed to often. At this point, I mentioned that my wife was worried I might suddenly become allergic to bee stings.

“Absolutely, it could happen with bee stings,” the doctor said. The doctor said that, given my allergy history, I shouldn’t work with bees without an Epipen nearby. 

ME: “You mean, I should listen to my wife?”

ALLERGIST: “Exactly.”