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 Ethel The Manx Cow and The Disease in the Breeze

In this highly depressing time for Road Racing and Agriculture, we are trying to lift the doom and gloom with the help of our good friend, John Shand. Read his latest piece, which relates to both farming and racing. Enjoy!

Ethel the Manx cow was quietly chewing away at some spring growth on the lazy slopes at the foot of Snaefell. It was a sunny day with a gentle breeze floating from offshore. Then along came the farmer with a rifle under one arm and sat down beside her and related to her his problem.

"Ethel" He said "That nice breeze we sit in here, brings a danger to us both" "You see, it carries a virus, a disease, a sickness for you" He added "It will give you a bloody sore mouth and sore feet for about three weeks, but after that you will recover and be OK again"

"But this sickness is very contagious which means that not only you will catch it, but every poor animal on this island that has got two toes such as pigs and sheep" "So its no idea to let all the animals catch this disease, we shall shoot most of you all instead and have a big fire that will burn for a couple of days"

Ethel kept on chewing and waited for more information. She was trying to figure out why the sickness, which will only last for a short time, and one she will recover from, be a reason to be shot.

"Ethel, you know that each day I pump out all the milk you have" "Well I sell it to this big factory in the town and they sterilize it and package it up and they sell it at a pint a time" "Sterilize, my dear Ethel, means they take away all the germs from the milk so we don't catch any diseases you may have" The farmer tried to impress her with this logic. "Also I have inoculated you from catching any of these diseases yourself in the first place to be double sure we don't get anything you have" "But you see Ethel, this disease is only for animals such as yourself so I didn't bother to give you an injection because its been a few years since we had it come by"

Ethel pondered on this one.

"Now, the problem is, that your milk yield will go down if you catch this disease and I will not sell as much milk afterwards so I will not make as much money as before, which means I have to keep my tractor longer, which means its better to shoot you now and get a new cow that has not had the disease before"

Ethel took another long lick at the spring grass and swept it into her mouth.

"Its tough being a farmer Ethel". "Do you remember the time the nice lady came along and stuck a glass tube into your private parts and a few months later your children Bert and Bessie were born"? "That is why we keep male cattle called bulls in another paddock about a hundred miles from here" "The nice lady collects some stuff from the bulls and we give some of it to you to save you the complication of having to bring the bull to you" "Well you don't need to know about that, but that's the way it is".

Ethel's eyes narrowed as she wondered who put the glass tube in the nice lady when it was her turn to have some young ones.

"Anyway Ethel, Bert and Bessie went away across the sea after we took them from you, so we could get them to put on some weight, and then we could sell them and get the new tractor sooner that later" "Well we gave them some special food made in a factory Ethel". "Bert and Bessie didn't get to eat any grass because this stuff is better, and we use some stuff called protein, which you need to grow bigger" "We made a bit of a cock up though Ethel, because we used some brains from dead sheep in the mixture" "We know you cows are not supposed to be cannibals Ethel, but these brains had some of this protein stuff, but we didn't know it had some other disease in it that made you son and daughter real crazy and they died last season" "Sorry about that Ethel, I should have told you this sooner"

A small tear formed in Ethel's eye and rolled down her sad face.

"Count your blessings though Ethel" the farmer pointed out "See that big shed down there, about a mile away" "Well in there are 500 pigs and they don't get to go outside that shed for their entire lives" "Somebody brings them their food each day to save them having to go looking for it" "We know that pigs in the wild and in their natural living spaces, grow up to be OK and seem to enjoy the outdoor life". "But its easier for us to keep them in a shed and then we don't have to go looking for them when their turn in the food chain comes up" "We make this stuff called bacon from them and it makes for a tasty breakfast" "And see that other shed about 500 yards to the left of that one Ethel, the one with the red roof"? "Well in there is the other half of the tasty breakfast" "What we do is keep thousands of chickens in there in little cages so they don't get to move about a lot and waste good egg laying energy". "Even more clever is that we leave the lights on during the nights so the extra light and shorter periods of darkness fools them into laying one extra egg per week" "Imagine how many extra eggs we fool them into producing each year" "That's why he has a new tractor" "But you get to stroll about this paddock in the sun each day and have a good time compared to them Ethel"

Ethel flicked her tail across her back, now swayed from carrying ten gallons of milk to the strange machine each day.

"So, Ethel this breeze may be carrying this new disease to us at any moment or maybe a passing seagull might shit on you and poof! You have caught it." "As well as that Ethel-see that road down there" "It's the time of year when all those motorbikes arrive and go racing around this island again" "It can be Ethel, that those people bring the disease with them" "We will never know of course because the disease is invisible to yours and my eyes and we need a special machine to see the little buggers" "But just in case they might have the disease with them Ethel, I am going to get out the old tractor and block the road so they cant come near you" "Just imagine if the disease got into that pig shed down there, they would all get ill in one day"

Ethel considered going down to the pig shed and kicking down the doors to lessen their chances of being contaminated if they could be in the wild, but she didn't know how to get past the funny wire line that have her a bad jolt every time she touched or licked it. She also considered doing the same to the chicken shed but she remembered that the farmer told her that they could not fly. The man with the new tractor had cut their wings.

"The disease is called a virus Ethel" The farmer showed his superior knowledge. "Matter of fact, we get one ourselves fairly similar to this one on the way" "Its called the flu" "We get sick and feel like shit, but we go to bed for a couple of days and it soon goes away" "We get it a few times in our life, but overall it seems to do us no harm" "Difference is this Ethel---we don't shoot people who have the flu, just you animals" "That's because we are more intelligent than you are" "We are higher up in the brain chain and us humans rule the whole world"

Ethel knew they must be more intelligent as she could see the smoke signals they sent to each other from special pipes on the top of each house and other big buildings almost every day. She had figured out that's how they communicate with each other.

"Now this business about you getting shot Ethel is a bit of a worry" "You've been a real good cow and cranked out a few thousand gallons of milk over the years" "But its not really me who shall decide you must be killed, It's just me who has to do it" "We have these people who figure it all out in terms of some stuff we call money" "These are the people who will decide your fate" "In fact if I shoot you they will give me some money so I don't feel so bad about your demise and can go out and buy another cow when this is all over, maybe even a new tractor"

Ethel was a bit confused by all of this and her interest was also on the wane as the pressure of the milk began to build up in her belly. Some discharged from her milk glands and wafted away in the breeze across the green meadows.

"So Ethel I may have to shoot you or I may not" "It all depends on things which you, and even me sometimes, just don't really understand, but whatever it may be, you can be sure that we will do the right thing, because we have the extra brain power" "So don't concern yourself over a small thing like life or death or even those who control who and what must live or die".

Ethel looked across the fields to a black and white object in the distance that was getting larger by the second. She made it out to be an animal a bit like herself but without a milk bag underneath.
The animal came roaring across the fields having no concern for the funny pieces of jolty wire. It smashed into the pig shed and within seconds out came hundreds of pink animals squealing and grunting and running all over the place with abandon.
Next it charged into the other shed and out came thousands of small white birds that ran and fluttered and clucked all over the place. Soon it picked up the scent it could feel in the breeze and reared its majestic head towards Ethel the Manx cow. What a sight for old Harold the bull. Even the same paint job.

In a flash Harold was in the same paddock. He gave the farmer and his rifle one good toss of his strong ivory horns and they were both laid in a heap on the ground, the farmer quite unconscious and his rifle bent in two.

Harold gave Ethel something she had never experienced in her whole life and in the same place that had been only ever serviced by a glass tube. Ethel thought she was in heaven and would happily die tomorrow if only Harold could muster up the strength to do this mighty deed once more.

Harold the bull was also a happy animal and wondered if he should light up a Marlboro to relax in the afterglow of his manhood and ask her

"Was it good for you too"? Then he took a look down to the slowly recovering farmer.

Before he mounted Ethel once more, he dumped the biggest load of bullshit on the prone human the Isle of Man has ever seen before or since. There was bullshit everywhere. Big bits, small bits, runny bits, smelly bits and all of it disease free. You have never seen or heard so much bullshit in your entire lives. The air was thick with it!! There was so much bullshit flying about that some of the people in the houses that sent out the smoke signals had to leave town. What a day.

His younger brother Paul, who had also picked up Ethel's scent, soon joined Harold the bull but he had arrived too late. Paul knew he had a bit to learn yet but was at least an eager learner.

Paul said to Harold "Look, see there are more cows down in the next paddock." "Why don't we run down before the farmer shuts the gate and hump a couple of them"?

Harold was a wise old bull. He had seen enough of human beings to last a lifetime and had a suspicion of them and their ways.

He said to Paul the young bull "We shall not run down there and hump a couple of those cows" "We shall stroll down like gentlemen and hump the whole lot"

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