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Mortimer Snert and the Swamp Biscuits

It was a pastureal day in the neighbourhood when Mortimer Snert arrived at the farm. Now this was no ordinary farm, in fact, it was one of two farms which Mort had been thrust into the position of operating due to a series of unfortunate circumstances. And to make matters more confusing, this was not the farm, the one where people lived, this was the t'other farm. The one that had been neglected for 20 years, the one where only cows and rats and the occasional skunk lived, the one with no reliable water, no habitable house, and so forth. You get the picture.

Mort had been in the process of trying to straighten this particular farm out and hopefully make it so that one could move out away from the city and have a place to stay that would closely resemble a semi-permanent residence. So far, all he had managed to accomplish was burying some electrical wires, cutting down a few trees, mowing the pasture once and fixing a cow watering thing that would work even in freezing weather. Mort certainly had his fair share of projects to contend with, plus helping his long time buddy Demas Tootle with a construction project which was occupying one of the barns.

However, on the day in question, Mort was miraculously devoid of immediate projects, and found himself quite at a loss for something to do. It was at that point that he decided to take a tour of the fences around the cow pasture. It had been a while since he had last done that, specifically since last summer when he had seen the condition of the aforementioned fences from the front of a Toro Groundsmaster 580D which he was using to mow the pasture in an attempt to eliminate some noxious weeds. He had noticed a few sections of fence which concerned him a tad, but not enough to dismount the Toro and initiate an immediate repair session on them.

Since that time there had been a vicious ice storm which had left thousands without power and had wreaked havoc on trees and such likes. Namely trees which were in the vicinity of certain fences around certain cow pastures. Mort was quite astounded at the number and size of some of the branches that were on the fences. So going back to the barn, he unearthed the trusty John Deere tractor with the trusty bale spike on the front, and set about to attempt to collect the broken branches and form them into some type of a pile that could at some time in the future be ignited, hopefully in such a fashion that it did not cause the local police and/or the county sheriff, and/or the volunteer fire department to come around. He spent the morning happily spiking branches and piling them up in a pile. After lunch, he moved to another section of pasture where there were massive trees concentrated in a small area, all with massive broken branches lying across the fence. Mort discovered really quickly that these branches were quite beyond the capacity of the John Deere, which was a bit on the puny side, to successfully lift without the back of the tractor coming off the ground. This called for a different approach, one involving logging chains and clevises, and actually towing the branches to the pile with the back of the tractor.

Going back to the barn, he accessed the big pile of logging chains. What he really needed was a chain about 20 feet long with hooks on each end that he could attach one end to the tractor and the other end to the branch, and be on his merry way. What he discovered in the logging chain pile were several short chains, none of which looked very stout, and none of which were more than 5 feet long. In addition to this, the hooks that were attached to the ends of these chains were not compatible with the other chains in the pile, which presented a bit of a problem. Instead of being able to hook one chain directly to the next, one had to make a loop on the end of each chain, hooking the hook back to the chain, and then making a loop on the next chain, going through the initial loop on the original chain, and hooking back to the second chain. So instead of one nice continuous 20 foot chain, he had 7 stumpy chains which were looped together, and in such a fashion that none of the hooks would stay attached to their own chains. Which meant that any time the chains were moved, or if the tension was not kept on them correctly, the hooks would unhook, and there would be a mess of chains that were not chaining anything to anything else.

But, it was what Mort had to work with, and he was famous for doing the best that he could with what he had. It didn't take too long of hoisting chains and hooking on tree branches and reconnecting hooks for Mort to become a tiny bit on the impatient side. More time was spent dealing with the stupid chains than was spent hauling broken tree branches. Eventually, all the massive branches were in a pile, and Mort had almost mastered the process of chaining things together without completely losing his patience. It was at this point that he noticed a series of dead trees lurking in the creek. Dead trees always annoyed Mort, they were constantly doing obnoxious things like falling over or shedding branches in inconvenient places. So he decided that now would be a good time to see about extracting these trees, since he was in the mood to do something destructive.

Most of the trees in question were positioned directly in the creek. Which meant that he would have to go wading. Mort owned a fancy schmancy pair of chest waders, and was not beyond going back to the barn and getting those and putting them on. However, they were awfully cumbersome, and the process of removing these trees not only involved wading in the creek, but also climbing in and out of the tractor 57 times in a row. So he checked the depth of the creek where the trees were and discovered that it was about halfway up to a cow's knees. And since cow's knees were much shorter to the ground than Mort's knees, he determined that he should be safe with a pair of vintage rubber wading boots, which went about 3⁄4 of the way to his knees. Returning to the barn and getting the boots, he made his way back to the creek. Carefully wading in, he discovered that the water only came up about halfway on the boots. So dragging the nest of chains across the creek, he firmly attached one end to the first tree in a cluster, and the other end to the tractor, and with a mighty heave ho, the John Deere yanked the tree out of the water and landed it upon the bank. While this tree was firmly attached, Mort decided to haul it up to the pile. Having dropped it off, he returned to the same spot, backed the tractor up to the bank and went wading again. The second tree responded exactly like the first one, and Mort was on his way now to completely obliterating the dead trees. Backing up to the last tree, Mort jumped out of the tractor, dragging his chain cluster, and waded up to it. Now it should be mentioned here that the trees that Mort attacked first were a cluster of about 5 trees right together, and in pulling them out, it also caused the roots to come out, leaving a bit of a hole where the trees were. Mort did not discover this fact, partly because he was wading in from different directions on each tree, and partly because the next to the last tree that he pulled out had the grand daddy of all the tree roots so far.

As he was wading up to the last tree, he suddenly felt cold water in his boot, and looked down to find that his right leg was mostly submerged, with no sight of the top of his boot. His first reaction was to yank his foot out, which he did, and which left him standing in a creek on one leg, while the other one, minus boot, was waving in midair. This caused him to overbalance, and in a futile attempt to keep from diving fully into the creek, he let the foot with no boot back into the water. Where it promptly went right into the hole that the roots had provided, overbalancing him in the other direction. Yanking the other foot up to try to keep from falling in resulted in his other boot being dislodged. Now he was knee deep in the creek in his wooly sox, and no sign of either one of the rubber boots. And to make matters worse, he had not managed to snare the tree with the chains, and to make matters even worse than that, with all the flailing and dancing that he had just done, all the stumpy chains had undone from each other and were now submerged in the creek.

As Mort was standing there, trying to comprehend what had just happened and trying to not totally freak, one of the ever present cows, which had just waded in to see what all the fuss was about, decided to add to the fun by depositing about 5 gallons of cow pee right upstream from Mort. That was it. His little OCD enhanced brain just locked, and left him standing there for who knows how long, staring into space, completely disconnected from reality. Reality was not to be ignored, and Mort snapped to at the exact instant that a big slobbery cow tongue started licking at his chin, and continued up his nose and across his glasses. Wanting nothing more to do with cow fluids, or cows in general, he leaped out of the creek, miraculously retaining both of his wooly sox, and sloshed over to the John Deere to consider his options. He could bail out now, drive back to his house which was 20 miles away, change clothes and come back. Which seemed stupid, because he still wouldn't have rubber boots. And since there were more trees to extract, and since the day was still young, he decided to wade back into the creek, retrieve his boots and the chains, and continue on. Who knew how many more times that day he would be submerged. Now that he knew it was a possibility, he was definitely more careful.

And so the day went on. There were several other occasions where water got in his boots, but since he was already soaked and cold and disgusted, he didn't react nearly as badly. He did, however, stop on a regular basis and wring out his sox and dump water out of his boots. By the end of the day, he had removed a massive pile of dead trees, had managed to not lose his patience too badly, and had feet that looked like prunes. But tomorrow was a new day, and there was no telling what other exciting adventures awaited him.