This carb queen loves her mashed potatoes. Truth be told, I have a burning lust for almost anything that’s classified a carbohydrate. Confession: I still make tracks in my mashed potatoes with a fork,plant my corn and butter in the grooves, cover them up, drop my head and get to work making it disappear. With this obsession in mind, I gave up chips and Coke for lent, the Coke part being a little excessive. Considering I almost mainlined the stuff, it was a difficult habit to kick, particularly when done in conjunction with turning my back on Old Dutch Salt ’n Vinegar chips. Simply put, mere minutes after Ash Wednesday mass, I was fit to be tied. But as the good book says, don’t whine and moan in the streets to draw attention to your suffering. (It’s important to note that I don’t recall verbatim what the Bible says about drawing attention to your suffering, so I made the previous sentence up from pure memory recall. Then I thought that was dangerous, so I went online to do some research; I typed, “Biblical verses on lental suffering” into Google. It then prompted me, “Do you mean, Biblical verses onmentalsuffering?” Touché. Damn computer hurt my feelings. Until I realized that perhaps lentalisn’t even a word.
With Easter upon us, we’ll soon be gathering the troops to descend on our parents’ place in Manitoba to celebrate the holiday and hang out. And let me tell you, the senseless gorging on turkey, ham, meatballs, mashed potatoes, corn, gravy and fresh bread won’t be over until someone takes a knee and outwardly groans, “I have a twist in my stomach. Like a cow. Fetch me a bottle of Bloat-Go.” This statement is really only funny if you grew up on a farm — muttering it around city kids just falls on deaf ears. I once said it during a work conference, after eating far too much food, way too quickly. The snorts of laughter came from the farm kids, the blank stares belonged to the rest.
Any mention of the word bloat takes me back to my teenage years, to a dark, cold night when I was rudely awakened in the wee hours of the morning by one of my brothers. He was in a panic and told me I had to quickly hurry outside to help him with the cows. I’ll always remember it as the night I technically learned how to siphon gas — albeit from the gut of a bloated mammal. Apparently the cows had broken out of their corral in the back and had made their way over to an old, wooden bin full of barley, somehow gained access, and then proceeded to gorge on the grain until they reached an alarming state of belly bloat. Their poor stomachs were ridiculously stretched from excessive gas. By the time we got out there, some were already frothing at the mouth, staggering around like drunkards, while others lay on their sides, calmly awaiting the call of death. My brother had already spoke to the vet and she was on her way with more Bloat- Go, but in the meantime, she told us to prod the cows up and force them to keep walking around. Our goal was to make them belch; it was the only way to get them to expel gas. So what to do? Save for feeding them a Coke through a bendy straw and urging them to burp the vowels, we really only had one alternative. Had we been prepared, we would have had a trocar and cannula on hand, or a sharp knife, and we could have punctured a hole through the sides of their stomachs. Truth be told, we likely could have found a knife but neither one of us had the stomach for that, pun intended.
So that left only one trick… we had to manually siphon the gas. (Translation: set up your sister, who has no idea of the level of stench and horror that awaits her, and then walk away to have a smoke and wait for the vet.) I watched as my brother went up to a cow, stared at it straight in the face, and whispered some soothing words. The Heifer Whisperer. He then inserted a rubber tube into the cow’s mouth, all the way down its throat and presumably into the stomach. He told me that within a few seconds, the insertion of the tube itself should lead to the release of gas; I just had to stand there and supervise. But if I really cared about these animals, he added, I should quickly blow on the tube to make sure it wasn’t obstructed, and then, if nothing was happening, he told me to start sucking to help get the gas out. With the gift of hindsight, I can now say with certainty that my brother had no clue what we were supposed to be doing, he just knew there was no way in hell he was putting his mouth on the tube. He said he’d help do it if he didn’t have such a weak stomach. (Cue walking away, lighting a smoke…) So I was left standing face to face with this mammal, both of us extremely uncomfortable with the violation of personal space. As I stood there staring into its big wet eyes, hairy jawline, snotty nose and very sloppy mouth, it reminded me of similar disastrous dates throughout high school.
After blowing through the tube to clear it, I counted to three to work up my nerve and then I started to suck. Moments later, the response was explosive. Success hit me with a mouthful of gas so rancid that it could be bottled and used for chemical warfare. The cow stumbled back and looked at me with such gratitude that I almost felt good about what I was doing.Almost.No kidding, I seriously thought I was going to collapse and perish from the vile vapours attacking my senses. But since I was certain my brother would tell the vet to save the cows before helping me, I resolved to stay conscious. Not that the vet and her extra bottles of Bloat-Go would have done me any good at that stage anyways.
On that note, Happy Easter my friends. And remember, before you reach for that third helping of mashed potatoes and gravy, there’s no such thing as Bloat-Go for humans. So unless you trust one of your family members to administer a stomach tube, just put your plate down and call it a day.
JanitaVandeVeldegrewuponafarmnear Mariapolis,Man.Sheholdsabachelorof sciencedegreeinagriculturaleconomicsfrom theUniversityofManitoba,andhasworked forafinancialinstitutionsincegraduating. ShelivesinRegina,Sask.,withherhusband RoddyandtheirchildrenJackandIsla.Her firstnovel,PostcardsNeverWritten,was therecipientoftheSaskatchewanReader’s ChoiceAwardandalsolistedbyCBCasone ofthetopfunnybooksin2009.Shedonatesa portionofproceedsfromthesaleofherbook toWorldVisiontohelpthoselessfortunate. Formoreinformation,ortoorderherbook, visitherwebsiteat www.janita.ca