Don’t Kill The Cow Too Quick

With my monitor being out on my primary PC, it forces me to do other activities. While I still check my email a couple of times a day, I have been filling in other time by reading, which I need to do more.

In the last four days, I have finished two books. One of them I read from start to finish, yesterday, and that is the subject of this post.

Here is how I came to move yesterday’s book to the front of my “to be read” book list.

The other evening, Lilliam and I decided to take a walk. It was cool and the air was pleasant so off we went. We retraced one of our normal routes through the nice neighbor hoods nearby.

As we approached a nice looking house, a car pulled into the drive way and the driver got out. In a most pleasant British accent, he asked how we were doing. We started a conversation. Before we left, as I normally do when I encounter and English speaking person that I haven’t met before, I gave him a card for Chiriquí Chatter. He took it, but didn’t look at it immediately. As we talked, he looked at the card and said, “Oh, so you write Chiriquí Chatter”.

Then he told me that he had done some writing and said he had written “Don’t Kill The Cow Too Quick”.

As soon as he said the title, I knew I had seen it in the house. I didn’t remember buying it, but I knew it was there and I had intended to read it. We concluded our short visit and Lilliam and I continued our walk.

As we walked, I tried to remember where I had last seen the book. When we got home, I went to where I thought I had put it and there it was. I opened the book and now knew how it came to be in the house. It was inscribed;


Who gave me the best eye examination of my life.

With many thanks,

Malcolm Henderson

Now the mental mystery was solved. This was Dr. Susan’s book. Susan, you remember, is Sofia’s mother and one of my best friends in Panama, and probably the reason, I am still living in Panama.

Yesterday, when I finished my previous book, I picked up Don’t Kill The Cow Too Quick, and sat down and opened it up. It turned out to be one of those books, that when I pick it up, I can’t put it down. The book is not a novel, but is Malcolm’s real life adventure of homesteading in Panama. The writing style is humorous, colorful, and very accurate, based on my six years of living in Panama.

In fact, it is one that I would recommend that anyone who is considering moving to Panama read. Panama is not for everyone and Malcolm’s experiences, point out many of the mistakes that await those that are too trusting.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I can tell from our brief visit that his adventure has not ended and I can understand that. Once you accept Panama as your home, you learn to expect the unexpected. Life, by itself, can throw you some curve balls, but when when you move your life to Panama, then they become knuckle balls.

I am sure that many, who live in the US, may read the book and wonder why a person would continue, when faced with the obstacles that Malcolm encountered. I have encountered my share while living here, but I can’t think of any place I would rather be.

I have always said that there is no reason to fear death. What one should fear is the potential of never having really lived. When you work your way through Malcolm’s book, you will see that he has a passion for living. You will laugh at some of the experiences he has had, seeing them through his eyes.

You will also shed some tears in some chapters, such as the one when he learned that his horse, Lluvea had died.

This is a must read for anyone that intends on moving to Panama, especially those that are considering living in a remote area. I hope that I can see Malcolm again one of these days and find out his latest adventure.

Get the book, you won’t regret it.

22 thoughts on “Don’t Kill The Cow Too Quick

  1. dear don ray,

    i often thought of ordering “don’t kill the cows too quick” but i believe the setting is in bocas area? so i hesitated. you have me leaving chiriqui to order the book. thank you ellen

  2. Hi Don:

    I just read a couple of excerpts from Henderson’s book. I grew up in Changuinola which is located in the Province of Bocas del Toro. From the photographs, I can see that his house is located in Isla Colón which is the capital city of the province.

    Thanks for this post, it brought many memories when I was a young boy growing up in the banana plantations of the then United Fruit Company. We used to take a launch to Isla Colón to take advantage of its pristine beaches.



  3. Hi, Don;

    A female friend of ours bought that house from Malcom. It needed extensive work because it had not been properly termite proofed but she’s been quite happy there since having it redone.

    She also had some new cement footings and a patio area laid down which was an adventure since at the time there there was one (repeat ONE) cement mixer available anywhere in Bocas and it had to be brought to Isla Carenero on a landing craft. Unfortunately, the shoreline was too shallow for even a landing craft which lead to an interesting photo op..

    Photos of the operation can be found about halfway down in this photo album


  4. Hi Don,
    As you said, it’s a teriffic read. I bought and read it over two years ago, on our first trip to Panama. Bonnie and I were staying in the old Fruit Company office in Bocas, now converted into a pleasant hotel. It was a wonderful, old wooden hotel, and full of history. The old payroll safe is still there, too. The proprietor had the book on display, and said that he knew Malcolm well.

    I especially enjoyed Malcolm’s self-deprecating sense of humor, as when he was learning how to operate his boat and kept bumping into things.

  5. Amazon carries it. I don’t know how you receive your mail. I use mail forwarding out of the US and have no problems with getting books.

  6. This is a must read for anyone trying to do works. He writes about helping a rural school and how difficult it was. I believe it is about chapter 40. I own the book and have loaned it to a friend.

  7. Hi Don,

    We are considering a move to Panama so really appreciated a blow by blow on Malcolm’s life there. We are small scale organic farmers in BC Canada – you can imagine how fortunate I felt to come across this book in the used bood store! If anyone has anymore tips regarding a move there or the lifestyle, we would love to hear from you! (

  8. Hi Dolores. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. All of my tips are contained within this blog. At least it reflects my experiences over the last 6 years.

  9. Hi Don Ray,
    Even though Nena is a Chiricana and I feel like I have spent half my life traveling in Panama, I bought the book anyway! The chapter on the plane crash alone was worth the price, I’m still laughing because it’s just so Panama.
    Some of the best times of my life were in Panama and I’m still married to one of their greatest national treasures: Nena!!
    jim and nena

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