Allison's Book Bag

Creature Features by Tim Rowland

Posted on: February 28, 2013

Creature Features by Tim Rowland is a collection of over seventy-five columns about mostly farm animals. In preparing to review this collection, I bookmarked those columns which made me most laugh. Some of the anecdotes I couldn’t resist reading to my husband, because they described quirks which are shared by our pets. Other stories I enjoyed because they gave me insights into animals which I haven’t tried to raise. Although Rowland did sometimes ramble and confuse me with some of his tales, I appreciated his clean humor, willingness to share embarrassing moments, and the light-hearted philosophical twists at the end of many of his columns.

First, there are ample pages that will give all of you dog and cat owners reason to chuckle.  Consider the story about the dog Opie, who loves everything but coffee grinders. Every night when Rowland grinds beans for the morning brew, Opie  goes nuts. Scolding doesn’t stop him. Counseling doesn’t help. Letting him sniff the grinder doesn’t work. Not even holding him by the collar makes a difference. Anyone relate yet? By this point, I’m already enjoying Rowland’s column. But there’s more to the story! One day, as Rowland is driving home and listening to the radio, he hears a new idea. Instead of disciplining the dog, one should discipline the appliance. Apparently, this shows that the dog that the owner is in control. And so, Rowland explains, he tells the coffee grinder that it is BAD. When this causes his dog to cock his head instead of bark, Roland becomes more assertive. Next, he slaps, shakes, yells at, and even calls the coffee grinder names. When he turns around to see his dog’s reaction, “Opie wasn’t there. Beth was…. I’m going to stop writing now.”

Second, there are columns about all the other kinds of animals one might find on a farm. For example, you can read about chickens, cows, geese, goats, horses, pigs, and roosters. There are even a few pages about squirrels and (of all things) a bear. The roosters especially receive a lot of press coverage. There’s the story about the rooster who started out being on sale for $1000 but ended up not being available for any price because of his ability to demolish stink bugs with one graceful hop and peck. Then there’s the summer, Rowland and his wife purchase a run of fifteen chickens. Eleven of them end up being male or having date with destiny in November. “After the roosters had been duly dispatched, the hens began to cautiously emerge into the sunlight. They were understandably timid at first—all except Chuckles, who suddenly became as bold and fearless as Captain Cook.” Chuckles follows Rowland around like a dog, pecking at his feet, chasing the other girls, stretching her neck—and then one day, she crowed. The unwritten rule at the Rowland farm is that any animal with a name is safe from slaughter. And so Chuckles received a reprieve.

What about the philosophical twists? Those are plentiful too, starting with one that involves a pig and water. Rowland reports that for a while, he tried to keep running clean water for Magellan. However, Magellan kept fouling it in one way or another. Rowland gives up on the process as hopeless “when I noticed him in the corner of his pen comfortably munching on a hunk of mud. To him, water is water. In this way, the pig is smarter than the celebrities.” Another example involves the family’s horses. When Crappy and Brooke first arrive, they’re what Rowland referred to as “a two-mare support group, clinging together like equine Velcro as they attempted to get a handle on their new surroundings.” Ten days in, the two mares remember a fundamental truth: They hate each other! Two horses start baring teeth, pinning ears, stomping, and even kicking. In the middle of a fight, the one will decide she’s hungry and start to eat. This infuriates the other horse, until she realizes that the grass does look. For a short time, the two mares placidly munch, nose to nose. Rowland concludes, “It’s discouraging that on a farm, I find myself in the exact same situation I used to find myself in my younger, urban days: Trying to understand women.”

Creature Features is an eclectic assortment of tales, with no particular order. The beauty of this structure is one can read the columns as arranged or however one pleases. If one doesn’t amuse, simply skip on to the next. There’s bound to be several that will, for Rowland has an uncanny way of finding humor in the even the minutest aspects of farm life. You’ll feel happy after reading his essays.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

4 Responses to "Creature Features by Tim Rowland"

Just wanted to say a special thank you for the review of Tim Rowland’s Creature Features on your blog. It means a lot to have folks like you enjoy Tim’s book.

And because of the requests we received after your and other reviews on Tim’s tour, we made his earlier book All Pets are Off available as an ebook. It’s available on Kindle now and is coming to seven other platforms over the next weeks.

Thanks again and all the best,

Beth Rowland

Thanks for your visit! Creature Features isn’t the type of book I typically pick up and so I’m glad to have discovered it through a tour.

Thanks for inviting me to be a host for this Virtual Author Book Tour.

I’m glad you enjoyed Creature Features so much!

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