Creature Features features creatures
I hope Tim Rowland, author of the newly released book Creature Features, will forgive the wordplay above, but I just couldn’t help myself.
You see, reading the book puts you, like the many animals on Tim and Beth Rowland’s Little Farm by the Creek in Boonsboro, Maryland, in a playful mood.
Creature Features is a collection of columns written by Rowland for the Herald-Mail between June 2008 and October 2012 about the couple’s adventures and misadventures raising various domestic and farm animals.
The reader meets Chuckles, the female impersonating rooster, Magellan, the riding mower chasing hog, Cappy, the strawberry fearing horse, Stink, the stinkbug eating rooster, Opie, the huge bouvier des Flanders dog who once he gets in a car won’t budge until he is taken for a ride, as well as many other animal characters.
Asked how he and Beth came to own such a wide variety of critters, Rowland said, “We are such animal enablers. Neither one of us can say no to the other. Other people come home with kittens, we come home with pigs.”
When Rowland met his wife, she already had a farm with a couple of donkeys and a couple of goats. He knew a little about agriculture and was interested in animal husbandry. She had always wanted to raise a variety of animals.
“It was the perfect animal storm,” Rowland said.
Creature Features is actually the second volume of Rowland’s books on animals. He authored an earlier book; All Pets are Off, A Collection of Hairy Columns.
“Creature Features tells the story of our hobby farm. The earlier book is more pet-oriented,” Rowland said.
To get a feel for the type of stories in Creature Features - all well written in Rowland’s amusing and entertaining style -you only have to scan the table of contents. Titles such as:
“Cats live to make people look foolish,” “Blondes have more fun – even bulldogs,” “Horse act is neigh-win situation in barn,” and “Cow jumps over the fence, sets sights on moon” keep you chuckling throughout.
I took to reading a story during each commercial while my wife and I watched television in the evenings. There I was laughing quietly to myself while my wife was giving me the - are you ready for the loony bin look.
To quiet her fears about my sanity, I would read her an excerpt such as this one from “Essence of bovinity something to chew on” concerning Rowland’s thoughts after scientists announced they had decoded the genome of the common cow:
Maybe this means we can now trace cows back to the days when they lived in caves and drew crude pictures of people on the wall. Maybe this means there is now a future for cows that have spinal cord injuries that transcends hamburger. I don’t know. You get the idea.
Tim Rowland grew up in Morgan County and early on worked with animals in the 4-H Youth Organization and also helped write a column while at Berkeley Springs High School for The Morgan Messenger called “Smoke Signals and War Whoops.”
He graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in journalism and worked for The Journal in Martinsburg as a sports reporter.
Rowland has held his current position as a columnist and editor at the Herald-Mail in Hagerstown since 1985.
He and his wife have sold the farm in Boonsboro and moved back to a smaller farm in Morgan County where they still keep a variety of cats, dogs, chickens, cows, goats and a troublesome mini-horse named Doodlebug.
“We kept what I call the loser animals, the ones that have no real commercial value,” Rowland said.
Creature Features is available at Berkeley Springs Pet Supplies and online.
In addition to his two books on animals, Creature Features and All Pets are Off, Rowland is the author of Strange and Obscure Stories of the Civil War, Petrified Fact: Stories of Bizarre Behavior that Really Happened, Mostly, Earth to Hagerstown, High Peaks: A history of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene and Maryland’s Highlands: Massacres, Moon-shine & Mountaineering.