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The Grasshopper and the Cow

A Texan in Australia:  A Texan farmer goes to Australia for a vacation.  There he meets an Aussie farmer and gets to talkin. The Aussie shows off his big wheat field and the Texan says, “Oh! We have wheat fields that are at least twice that big”!  They walk around the ranch a little, and the Aussie shows off his herd of cattle. The Texan immediately says, “We have longhorns that are at least twice as big as your cows”.  The conversation has, meanwhile, almost died when the Texan sees a herd of kangaroos hopping through the field. He asks, “And what are those”? The Aussie replies with an incredulous look,
“Don’t you have any grasshoppers in Texas”?

Well, as a matter of fact, yes we do – a whole lot of them! When I was little, I had a Disney record version of one of Aesop’s fables: “The Ant and the Grasshopper.” In the fable, the ant is busy and industrious, scurrying around to gather food and prepare for the winter. The grasshopper spends his time playing. When winter comes, the ant is snug and fed, while the grasshopper is left begging for the ant’s charity. The ant refuses, the grasshopper starves to death.

First lesson: Never confuse Aesop with modern-day fairy tales. Aesop was very dark.

In the Disneyfied version, the grasshopper is an entertainer, singing and playing his fiddle. Winter comes, but before he freezes to death, the little ant heroically saves the him and the grasshopper learns his lesson. I’ll put the original cartoon clip at the end,  just for fun (this clip is rated as one of Disney’s top 4 Silly Symphonies). Do any of you remember the song from The Grasshopper and the Ants?

Oh the world owes me a living
Deedle dardle doodle deedle dum
Oh the world owes me a living
Deedle dardle doodle deedle dum

If I worked hard all day I might
Sleep badder when in bed at night
I sleep all day so that’s alright
Deedle dardle doodle deedle dum

Second lesson: If you’re going to loaf around, at least be entertaining.

Third lesson: There’s an interesting life philosophy here that seems to have caught on.

Stories about grasshoppers predate Disney and even Aesop. Locusts make up a large segment of grasshoppers. As I’m sure you know, they caused a big problem in Egypt. When Moses appeared before Pharaoh to demand that he let the Israelite slaves go free, Pharaoh refused. God sent 10 plagues on Egypt; one of the plagues included swarms of locusts that ate all the surrounding vegetation.

It feels like we have a grasshopper plague here in Texas, they’re so thick. Stepping outside is like stepping into a field of green and brown popping corn. I have to shake them off every time I come in from the gate at night. First the tarantulas wanted to make friends with me, then I was a mobile salt lick for the calves and a playmate for a Festus, now I’m a giant grasshopper launch pad.

There seem to be more every night. There probably are more every day since female grasshoppers lay approximately 400 eggs at one time (I can’t imagine who does these studies).In drought conditions like we have right now in Texas, pretty nearly all of those eggs hatch – and they hatch hungry.

It isn’t just the heat and the humidity; it isn’t even just the drought and dried up ponds that are forcing ranchers to sell off their cattle;  it’s the legions of grasshoppers that don’t just hop in the grass, but devour it. They’re eating so much grass, there’s nothing left for the cows! No kidding.

Grasshoppers are herbivores. Right now, in Texas, it isn’t the story of The Grasshopper and the Ant, it’s the story of The Grasshoppers and the Cows and incredibly, the grasshoppers are winning. Guess we’re looking for another hero in the shape of a hurricane. Sounds like an Aesop solution.


6 thoughts on “The Grasshopper and the Cow

  1. ~Signs~
    (c)2003 Michael E. Picray

    Darned ants,
    Dashing about
    Raising dust
    Shouting, “MUST
    Prepare for winter.”

    In grasshopper mode
    Kick back
    And prepare to sleep.

    Ant feet
    Running over me

    Ant beat
    Gotta work! Gotta work!
    Makes me want to flee.

    Ant treat
    A dropped morsel.

    Winter is coming
    Ants are running
    Guess it’s time
    To go to work.
    Darned ants.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    • WOW, Michael! What a wonderful poem!! Thank you so much for sharing it! You have the grasshopper and the ant down perfectly! How fun! 😀
      ~ Debbie

      • Thank you!

        My garden grasshopper problem has abated somewhat. I go up to the garden sometimes early in the morning – and there is a pair of birds, possibly doves?, that rise from the garden and fly off over the valley. and this afternoon I saw a cardinal hanging around the bloody butcher corn… no doubt after the corn worms. So perhaps all my bird seed that I put out in the winter is bearing fruit? Paybacks? 😉

  2. Really Cuz, now you are treading on my deepest insect repulsion. I will never be the same, grasshoppers EVERYWHERE 😛 Sleep, who needs to sleep, perchanse to dream, dream of grasshoppers in my soup, grasshoppers loop the loop,…….

    • Cuz – I can’t believe you can wax eloquent about grasshoppers! Heidi tried to count them with each step as they jumped yesterday. She thinks we have about 100 per foot. 😉
      Of course, some of the just have baby teeth…

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