Category Archives: Nature

Celebrity Babe of the Month: December

Congratulations, you survived the end of the world!

BUT. Survival skills are still essential for…er, survival. If you ever find yourself in a situation requiring you to obtain your own food from the wild, there’s a man you need to know about.

Babe Winkelman

Al...? Al Borland? No, that's Babe Winkelman, king of the outdoors.

Al…? Al Borland? No, that’s Babe Winkelman, king of the outdoors.

Real Name: None ‘a ya business (Seriously, the man deserves his privacy.)

(not Babe Winkelman)

(not Babe Winkelman)

Babe-ification Story:

When The-child-who-would-be-known-as-Babe was a year and a half, his father bestowed upon him his first baseball and bat. He dragged them around with him everywhere he went and played with them constantly, so his dad started calling him Babe (after the Great Bambino, of course).

For a guy who’s 6’3” and 250 pounds, a nickname like Babe works out just fine. But growing up, Babe had to issue a few forceful reminders that he was not, in fact, named after Baby Huey

Celebrification Story:

Babe Branches Out

Although he started out constructing buildings, Babe’s heart was always in the outdoors. Growing up on a farm, he was in constant contact with nature and taught himself to fish. Six years after starting the Winkelman Building Corporation with his father, he sold his shares in the company and pursued a career in two seemingly disparate media: television, and the wild.

winkelman fish

Hey! Good Fishing!

Babe Winkelman Productions formed in the early 1970s, and by 1980 he had started hosting “Good Fishing” – tagline: “Until then…hey! Good fishing!”  The show was picked up for syndication in ‘85 and is still America’s most-washed fishing show. He also brought hunting back to television in the late ‘80s with “Outdoor Secrets” – tagline: “Master the patterns of nature.”

That deer’s like, “Oh. Em. Gee. Seriously? Just after being shot? Do. Not. Tag me. In that photo.”

The Patterns of Nature

Babe credits his outdoor prowess (and, consequently, his television success) to his early discovery that wildlife operates in predictable cause-and-effect patterns. His mastery of the patterns of human nature may be a bit more dubious; he’s currently on marriage #3 (although with five daughters, it seems like by now he ought to be pretty good at predicting the cause-and-effect patterns of women).

More Babe Stuff:

  • Babe’s television shows are a family affair. Some of his daughters have hunted with him, his wife Kris does a cooking segment, and his brother wrote and performed the original theme song for “Outdoor Secrets.”
  • The Winkelmans live on 260+ acres of woodland in Minnesota, where Babe has established a bird sanctuary and is working on a native tallgrass prairie.
  • Watch Babe wrestle a massive sturgeon on an episode of “Good Fishing.”
Master of camouflage.Kidding. This is actually Babe with one of the thousands of trees he has planted.

Master of camouflage!
Kidding. This is actually Babe with one of the thousands of trees he has planted.

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R.O.U.S.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the movie The Princess Bride. This presents me with a plethora of post potential, but I have finally decided to focus on R.O.U.S.: Rodents of Unusual Size.

So in honor of this guy…

Rodent of Unusual Size

…let’s take a look at this guy…

a real-life ROUS

…a real-life R.O.U.S.

That there is a capybara.

Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world. A full-grown cap (my nickname for the capybara — not okay if you’re talking to someone who cares about accurate rodential nomenclature) can be the size of a baby hippo.

The Neighborhood

If you want to find a capybara in its native ghetto, try the South and Central American rainforest & tropical grassland, near or in water. But caps also travel – this one went on holiday in Cali.

The neighbors usually stick together, led by a dominant male. You might see 10 or 20 or even 30 caps hanging out together in a family group, and sometimes family groups will band together into herds of up to 100. Everybody keeps a lookout for bad guys (jaguars, caimans, anacondas, and folks with guns), and whoever spots danger alerts the rest of them so they can run or swim away. All I’m sayin’ is, it ain’t easy to bust a cap in this ‘hood. (Er, sorry…I had to try it.)

This is not a picture of an anaconda. It’s a picture of a capybara. Inside an anaconda.

Dining Out

These critters are herbivores, so their daily grub is mostly grass and water plants. In fact, if they don’t eat enough tough grass, their teeth will get too long (because like all rodents, their 4 incisors keep growing their whole lives). On occasion, caps will partake of a bit of gourmet cuisine, like melons or squash.

Mostly, caps eat out during twilight time, which makes them crepuscular. But if there are lots of bad guys near the ‘hood, they’ll behave a bit more nocturnally.

The other important c-word to describe the cap’s eating habits is coprophagy. In order for food to provide enough nutrients, it requires two rounds through the capybara’s digestive system. So caps eat their own poo. Don’t worry, it’s cool. They like it.

cap teeth (heh)

Love

Boy capybaras emit a paste from their nose which they wipe on the girls to “claim” them, making capybaras not entirely unlike 1st graders. They also chase the girls in and out of the water to show them they’re interested (also 1st grade behavior). When the boy and girl finally reach an agreement, capybaras do it in the water.

A litter is usually 4 or 5 babies, and all the gals in the family group will take care of everybody else’s kids. I told you it was a tightly knit neighborhood.

Adorable.

I never thought I’d put “adorable” and “rodent” in the same sentence. But I just did.

Capybaras: The Trivia Night Run-down

  • They can stay underwater for nearly 5 minutes at a time.
  • Some people keep them as pets.
  • They’re very vocal. Babies purr, and adults communicate with barks, grunts, chirps, and whistles.
  • They have webbed feet.
  • They dig wallows, which are shallow ditches that fill with water and mud. Then they…well, wallow in them.
  • In the wild, caps live 8-10 years.

Okay, folks, that’s all I’ve got for you on real-life R.O.U.S.

To find out more, you can visit The Capybara Page.

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