Bodacious The Shepherd Cat By Suzanna Crampton

Posted at 09:43am on 16th May 2019

'What I love about Book Club, is that it makes me read books I might never, otherwise, have chosen.'

So said one member of our group when we met, yesterday, to discuss our take on Bodacious, The Shepherd Cat. How right she was! A book, supposedly written by a cat? Is that something you would buy?

There were a couple of ladies who had struggled with the concept but who, following our discussion, decided that they would resume their reading.


This was a gentle read, with lyrical descriptions of each season of the year, and the beautiful Irish countryside in which the Black Sheep Farm is set. Plus a frequent flicker of humour! Relating the Shepherd's story, Bodacious is reminded of when she went to the bathroom and he heard her 'flush her litterbox'. When it came to counting 'his' sheep, Bodacious does so by counting the legs and dividing by four. Likewise, he recounts the way in which a horse rocked his rider in a slow prancing canter when they encountered a man playing his bagpipes in a woodland glade. At one point, Bodacious had to learn the hard way that a pond covered in green duckweed might carry the weight of a frog, but definitely not that of a cat.

'It's still a natural law,' he reflects, 'that experience is the thing you acquire just after you needed it!'

How true is that!


'We abuse land because we see it as a commodity, belonging to us,' writes the author. The need to see it as a community to which we belong - in order that we might begin to use it with love and respect - sparked a meaningful discussion. As did the concern for farmers and their high suicide rate, due to cash flow, crop failure, and labour shortages. In response to which, we talked of the huge profits made by supermarkets at the expense of those who produce our daily fodder.

Later in the book, the Shepherd points out that sheep are prey and have eyes on either side of their faces so they can discern approaching danger from a wide angle. That, concluded one member of the group, would mean they see only two-dimensionally. Conversely, we humans are predators, with eyes pointing forward and three-dimensional vision. Perhaps this explains the abhorrent nature of those whose success in life is entirely at the expense of others?


Without exception, we felt we learned new things from this book. Some knew that soup could be made from wild nettles, but none of us knew that their deep taproots enrich the quality of our soil by pulling up essential vitamins and minerals. Nor did we know of a species of bees that lives underground. Or that sheep rub their heads and bodies against the stems of parsley, so as to cover themselves in the juice and thus repel flies.

'Did you know that zebras have fewer flies than horses because of their stripes?' asked one member of the group. We laughed as we thought of the stripey clothing that might do likewise for us.

We learned, also, that because sheep wool requires more oxygen and burns at a higher temperature than other fabrics, it is naturally fire retardant.

'What is your first language?' asks the Shepherd when, in order to counter the financial problems of farming, she begins selling her specialist wool, and attracts visitors from all over the world.

'English,' is the response from most people.

The Shepherd politely corrects them: 'Our universal first language is Body Language.'

And she demonstrates by staring at one person, stepping up to him and invading his space. Instinctively, he backs away, almost tripping on Bodacious.

Naturally, this prompted a good deal of discussion in the group.

'Think of a baby being given something to eat; something it doesn't like,' I suggested.

Screwing up your face to express your dislike would be a natural result of body language, we surmised, unlike smiling in response to another's smile.

And we smiled as we gathered our things together, and nibbled the cake and biscuits that remained, before bidding one another farewell until our next encounter.

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