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Livin’ by the food chain

“Gather up your teats and make a break for it.”

I live on an island and I thought I was finally going to be peaceful.

I had only filled out a change of address card. I hadn’t got a brain transplant.

Oh look, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s not a beautiful place to live. Some days it’s bursting spring. Some days the tomcats roam the fields like Deadbeat Dads who won’t make support payments. The deer with dusters for tails go down to the lake, for a couple of cold ones, until they get shot by one of the McGinns, which upsets the city folk, until they hit one of the deer with their Audis or BMWs, then they call one of the McGinns to come and put them out of their misery. The deer, that is. When I lived in an urban area I wasn’t connected to the food chain. Now I live across from a field of cows. Did you know that  the cows do come home? There is a hierarchy in the herd. There is a lead cow. I guess she’s Bossy! And there’s always two older cows standing by the fence, chewing their cud like waitresses at an all-night diner, waiting for you to place your order. “You be wanting fries with that chicken sandwich, durlin’?” And the calves are so cute; almost makes you want to be a vegetarian, until someone starts up the BBQ. Then its veal sandwiches all ‘round. My point is I have watched cows for a lifetime and while some people see these beasts of burden as part of the rural, bucolic landscape, I see the disgorging of methane and manure as a sign of repressed hostility.

One day I was attacked by a pack of marauding cows.

I have a ritual. I let my dog Rascal off the leash and we both do our business. Her business is to chase cars and roll in anything that is rotting on the shore. My business is to wait for the artistic Muse to settle delicately on my brow and bestow a gift of inspiration. And when it doesn’t, I yell at the dog over the sound of the wind, “Get out of that crick, or I’ll tan yer…Most days, I walk to the end of the road where it curves toward the river. I usually turn right, but that day, I turned left. I thought I would take a short cut through the field.

I maneuvered my creaky bones with relative ease under the electric fence; however, the real shock came when I looked up and saw a herd of cows staring at me.

I was pleasant enough. I said a hello and walked by them whistling. Then I heard the pitter patter of many hooves. They were tailing me. I walked faster. They walked faster. I slowed down. They slowed down. I edged toward the beach, closer to the beach, hoping that if I didn’t make eye contact I didn’t exist – however maybe that only works with black bears. Or is it Grizzlies? Suddenly one cow ran toward me and stopped dead in its tracks. This was obviously the ringleader; let’s call her Bossy. Her bovine body language said, “You’re on heifer turf now, Two Legs”. She started backing me into the lake and as I slipped on a rock, soaking my new shoes, Jimmy Reid’s face flashed before my eyes.

Jimmy Reid is my neighbour, a farmer, who has on more than one occasion, witnessed me practicing the lines to my latest one-woman show while he was sitting on his verandah. From his vantage point, I looked like I was putting on a performance for his cows and this was a great source of amusement for him.

As I struggled for balance, I could hear him in my head. “You don’t want to die this way, Deb. As the granddaughter of a cattleman, it would be a tragic, somewhat ironic end, but among your shallow show business friends, it would make you a laughing stock. Can you see the Toronto Sun headlines? ‘Comedienne trampled to death by angry heifer.’ Get up. Be an islander.”

So I stood up and with all the energy I could muster, I yelled what I heard my Grandfather yell at his animals so many times before.


I guess Bossy understood Pig Latin, because she retreated, sauntering back to the rest of the herd and chewing her cud, acting for the rest of the herd as if nothing had happened.

You don’t see them fretting:

“Oh, Bossy went away in a truck and she hasn’t been back.”

If it bothered them, don’t you think just once they’d run, stand up on their hind legs, and make a break for it?

“Run Mildred, gather up all your teats and make a break for it.” Either that or they’re just dumb as posts. No wonder we eat them. As I got back to the road, a car slowed down. Inside it were people with Tilley Hats and binoculars, asking if I knew where the Snowy Owls were. Its mid-day and in the middle of June. There wasn’t an owl to be seen for miles or hours or months. So naturally, I pointed toward the field and said: “If you shimmy real careful-like under the electric fence you might find one there.”

There might be a shortage of peace in my mind on the island, but never a shortage of entertainment.

(from Reality is Over Rated book (look for it in The Shop at

Tell your story!  Sign up for Writers Retreat. One pen. One page. One Chair. `March 12th (under the Shop)

Creative Writers Spa – Amherst Island – March 12-2011
10-4 pm.
Great for anyone 12 to 100.
Get your stories finished. how to write and build characters that people care about.
And know when your creative story is finished. (under The Shop)

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About the Author: Deborah Kimmett is not just a funny face. She knows a thing or two about life. Whether on the stage, or in the conference room, this witty and wise woman knows laughing matters. With her hilarious stories and interactive exercises she ignites, inspires and offers strategies for success. Side Effects: You might get your sense of humor back. Visit her at or on youtube at

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