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I didn't believe it could happen to my friend. Not till he phoned to say he was back from his holiday in the Okanogan. Just a pleasure trip was the plan. See the scenery, do some boating, kick a little sand. "I bought cows", he muttered as we were about to hang up. "Well, sure," I replied. "You've wanted to get a few more head, haven't you?" There was a long silence punctuated by the sound of a boot scuffing.

Finally he spoke. "I didn't buy a few cows" he confessed. "I bought a lot of cows. I had to hire trucks to get them home!"

Well, you know how it is. A man goes along for years convinced he can take cows or leave them alone. Time passes and cows are not an issue. Then, one day, he finds himself thinking about cows. Angus, Hereford, Charolais. Maybe even Holsteins.

The urge overwhelms him. "Just one cow." he says to himself, finally. "What harm could there be in a single cow?" Of course, one cow sounds a little lonely. "May as well get two cows. Having a couple more cows can't hurt." But, it seems pretty silly to go to all that trouble for just a couple of cows. If he's taking the time, why not get ten? Ten's a good round number. Not a excessive amount of cows, still, a man knows he's gotten something substantial for his effort. But, the question is, which ten?

And, so it goes. Before he realizes what he's done, our cow addict has bought an entire herd and is down at the livestock transport office arranging to have them shipped to his ranch.

Where he'll likely try to pass them off as a pre-planned surprise for his wife. "Look, dear! A truck of Simmentals.! Why?? Well, isn't your birthday coming up? Bet you thought I'd forget, didn't you?"

The cow addict's cheery "Honey, I'm home!" usually gets a wary wifely, "How many have you bought this time?" response.

It's not just cows, of course. Horse people suffer from addiction too. Many a bewildered horse fancier has gone to an auction just to see old friends and cast a skeptical eye over the stock on sale, only to find himself leading away some equine disaster because the impulse to 'get a horse for the kids' was too strong to resist.

Can anything be done for these folks? I doubt it. Setting up a buddy system where the addict buyer phones a friend to come talk him out of it would likely have both of them taking home animals they hadn't planned on purchasing.

The truth is, these people are the modern equivalent of the stealthy Pawnee sneaking into a neighbouring tribe's camp to seize their horses; of the daring reivers driving purloined cattle over the Scottish border.

Masai cattle lords in the Serengeti or Mongolian horsemen on their vast steppes would sympathize. The desire to acquire more stock crosses all cultural boundaries. It seems to be a basic human instinct. We'll just have to live with it!


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(Trudy is a freelance writer living in Kamloops, B.C.)

Other articles by Trudy Frisk

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