Autumn Elk

Missouri Elk

Today we went to the fall festival at Missouri Town 1855, a 30-acre outdoor history museum located in a park several miles east of the city (I’ll explain the elk in a moment). We spent the afternoon enjoying 1850’s music and dance, watching other people take horse drawn buggy rides, and having a delicious cup of hot-spiced cider. The smell of burning wood, sorghum and kettle corn, were a wonderful introduction to autumn even if the trees still refuse to shift their hues.

As we were walking in, we saw a group of people playing dulcimers and I said, “Oh wow! I’ve played the dulcimer before! My aunt showed me how and… wait… that’s my aunt right there!” After saying hello to my lovely Aunt Barbara, we were serenaded to our own special dulcimer performance! (I was also a Missouri Town dancer once, but that’s another story for another time)

The second highlight of the trip came after, when we stopped at the Elk and Bison animal preserve just outside the town. I love animals, but Philippe is even a bigger animal lover, and he was immediately smitten with our new large furry friends. My midwest roots made me crave a Bison burger while we were there, but luckily I declined because staring into those deep brown googly eyes after, I would have only felt guilty.

We don’t eat much meat, but when we do, we go to an independent butcher as Philippe wants to know the animals received proper care in a normal farm. He fell in love with the pigs in Missouri Town and I was suddenly worried that pork might now be completely stricken from our menu. Knowing we had an Amish farm chicken waiting for us at home for dinner, I cautiously asked about them, and he said, “No, it’s fine. Chickens don’t have a personality.” (the reason he also gives for fish… and yet, each source is carefully researched before we can consume it)

I was particularly enamored with the Elk buck who was holding court in a pasture just next to the Bison refuge. The elk is the second largest species of deer in the world. Only their cousin, the moose, is larger. And this elk was not shy about coming over to say hello to us! Though, he was actually just hoping for a carrot and looked noticeably terse to discover we didn’t have one.

So today I make this humble doodlewash to honor my new Elk friend, Xavier (that’s what I named him, because he just looks like one).  It’s also World Animal Day, which seeks to celebrate and appreciate our relationship with animals and the ways in which they enrich our lives. Even if you’re not a vegetarian or haven’t completely sworn off leather, there’s still much you can do to honor and protect these amazing animals who share our planet. It’s never all or nothing. It’s always about doing a little something, that just might make a difference.

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
50 Comments
  1. Carol King 2 years ago

    Great story. Beautiful Elk! What a rack! LOL!!!

    I’m eating less and less meat and when I do, like Phillippe, I also want to know about the animal.

    Funny about Aunt Barbara and the dulcmer. Now…I really want to know about you being a town dancer!

    • Author

      Haha…some stories just have to wait! Thanks Carol❤️😃…glad you like Xavier! He was a pretty stunning specimen!

  2. Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

    You surprise me with at least one new fact, if not two, about yourself with each post! I fully expect you to confess one day that you were once the king of Iceland but abdicated your throne because you fell in love with Kansas City. LOLOL!!

    That is lovely portrait of Xavier (an excellent name, by the way)!

    Oh, and tell Philippe he is wrong for once: chickens have amazing personalities! We’ve owned them for about 13 years now and my kids could tell every single chicken we’ve ever owned (close to 100) apart! Some are affectionate; some are skittish. Some are demanding, and some are haughty. They are such fun to watch!

    On the other hand, don’t tell him if you hope to continue eating chicken. 😉 We actually butcher our own, and they are far superior in taste than even those from small, local farms. 🙂

    • Author

      Haha! Thanks Teresa! ❤️😃Yeah…I’m likely going to withhold that info since I do rather enjoy chicken from time to time. Lol I spent summers on my grandmother’s farm so got used to having better chickens. And I’m sad to report that I was never the king of Iceland, though that sounds exceptionally cool and I now feel a little sad that I never made that happen. 😥

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        You’re young yet, Mr. Charlie; there is still plenty of time to put “become king of Iceland” on your bucket list! 😀

      • Author

        Oh it’s definitely on there now!!! 😎👍🏻

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        LOL! Don’t forget us little people (literally little when I’m only 5’1″) when you’re king!

      • Author

        Oh I’ll be one of those cool kings who don’t seem like kings at all. Though I’m not sure that’s ever existed, so I’ll be the first king to be like this. 😊😉

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Hahaha! You’ll be the best king ever! 😀

      • Author

        😊👑

    • Kari 2 years ago

      Lol, the king of Iceland!!

  3. Kari 2 years ago

    I’m definitely a carnivore. But I try to be conscientious about where the meat comes from and how the animals are treated. Chickens in particular have been mistreated by some of the big chicken companies.

    I was in Boulder, CO couple of years ago for a gymnastics completion and got to eat at a restaurant famous for game meat. I had elk for the first time there. Delicious! I think if I got to name an elk, I wouldn’t be able to eat it. 😊

    • Author

      Hehe…I honesty would prefer to never meet my food, but I am not a complete vegetarian by any stretch! 😊 But I do love animals! And our dog Phineas is most definitely a carnivore, so we’ll always have one in the family.

      • Kari 2 years ago

        And of course your doodlewash is gorgeous! I love the shadows! This is how wonderful your stories are.. I get so wrapped up in the story that sometimes I get distracted.. ❤️

      • Author

        Haha…that’s awesome Kari! Love that! ❤️And thanks!! 😊 Glad you also liked the doodlewash! Hehe

  4. memadtwo 2 years ago

    I’ve never owned a chicken, but having studied photos to draw them, I agree with Teresa…they definitely have personalities. Also, my younger daughter had several fish, and they too have personalities.
    That said, another great story and a beautiful elk.
    And I love that you ran into your aunt! “You can’t make it up” as they like to say, and it’s true.
    I do think we need to take care with what we eat, but I don’t happen to think animals (even though I am one) are superior to plants in any way. We’re all connected and interdependent. The web of life…it’s true. (K.)

    • Author

      I agree Kerfe!! ❤️😃 It’s just a matter of being aware and taking everything into consideration. And personalities are always related to personal experience. For instance, Philippe had a turtle and would say it had one. He was just a pet chicken and fish away from saying the same really. 😉

      • memadtwo 2 years ago

        You made me laugh again and you are totally right!
        Of course I’m a person that things “non-living” objects have personalities and agendas too…

  5. kirkistan 2 years ago

    I like how you seem to use color rather sparingly. I’d like to learn that.

    • Author

      Just move quickly! Hehe…I actually prefer my use of color when I got fast because I don’t have much time like in this one. When I have more time I tend to overdue it! 😊

  6. Jill Kuhn 2 years ago

    Thanks for making me laugh, Charlie! I love how you painted your elk. And if you do ever become a king, be sure to learn how to ride an elk and bring along a good supply of carrots! LOL! 😊😄😊

    • Author

      I will definitely do that…oh wow…now elk riding is on the bucket list too. I’ve got quite a lot to accomplish!! 😳😊😊

      • Jill Kuhn 2 years ago

        And you will DO it! YAY! ((((Charlie)))) 😄

  7. thepaperbaker 2 years ago

    Fabulous elk!!!

  8. An Artsy Appetite 2 years ago

    i love it!!

  9. Jodi 2 years ago

    Great story about an awesome day and an amazing Doodlewash

  10. amaryllislog 2 years ago

    I profess my love for Xavier, again! Nice to see him larger than the little IG square. He really is majestic. Sounds like you and Philippe had a wonderful day. I too love animals. I’m an admirer that only eats a fish occasionally. To each their own I say.

  11. This is one of my favorites, Charlie; really well done! We buy organic meat, mostly to avoid genetically modified food in any form, but I think it’s great that so many here, including yourself, aren’t buying factory-farmed meat. A very good thing – for all of us! Beautiful elk!!

    • Author

      Awww thanks Laura!! ❤️😃 Yeah, I’m super happy to discover just how many people avoid factory meat. That’s awesome! We buy organic and local farm whenever we can… it’s a no-brained because not only is it healthier it tastes soooo much better! 😃👍🏻

  12. Sharon Mann 2 years ago

    Beautiful Elk, Charlie. My brother lives on a ranch in Montana near Yellowstone National Forest. He has Elk and Moose walking across his front yard daily. Lucky guy!

  13. Sand Salt Moon 2 years ago

    How nice to have happened upon your aunt and sounds like a marvelous day, like your humble and elegant at the same time doodlewash, Charles!

  14. Rachel Murphree 2 years ago

    Great sketch and perfect name!

  15. Jishnu Bandyopadhyay 2 years ago

    Cool! Mind checking out my blog? http://iamjishnu.wordpress.com

  16. Jacob 2 years ago

    I’m losing composure here at your drawing, and indeed your entire post. Love love love. Aren’t they amazing? I want a pet elk. (swoon)

    Just to say: chickens are full of personality. I own three. I’ll be sure to set them on Philippe if he’s ever so woefully unfortunate as to be in the vicinity… they’ve a habit of chasing guests (and their owner) down the garden path.

    • Author

      Thanks Jacob! ❤️😃Haha…that would teach him to underestimate the personality of chickens I’m sure! And it always sounds perfectly terrifying. Like when when a bird gets into your house and starts flying around. 😳 Yikes!

  17. artandmoondreams 2 years ago

    Enamored by your portrait of Xavier, nicely done, who can look both terse and majestic. Your stories never cease to amuse and brighten a day. The “noticeably terse” elk gave me the giggles and the run-in with your Aunt was a good laugh. You weave a wonderful tapestry with your story-telling and beautiful sketches, thank you so much for all the smiles and laughter that you share.

    • Author

      Awww shucks, Haunani…you always make me blush with your wonderful words. ❤️😃Thanks YOU for always sending smiles my way and brightening my day! I really really appreciate it!!

  18. […] thing that reminded me of violins was my trip to Missouri Town. While standing on the steps of an old house there, I remembered that I used to play old time […]

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