| Among the Farmyard People|
|by Clara Dillingham Pierson|
|Introduces young children to the animals of the farmyard through a series of engaging stories about the sheep, chickens, cows, and horses that live there. With new animals arriving regularly, we make the acquaintance also of a pig and a peacock, as well as some ducks and guinea fowls. Each story closes with a gentle moral, inspiring children to right behavior. Ages 5-7 |
THE OXEN TALK WITH THE CALVES
T was a clear, cold winter morning, and
the Cattle stood in the barnyard where
great yellow straw-stacks were. They
had nibbled away at the lower part of
stacks until there was a sheltered place
underneath. The Calves liked to stand
the sunshiny side with an overhanging
ledge of straw above their heads. The
did not strike them here, and they could
reach up and pull out wisps to eat when
they had nothing else to do. Not that
they were so fond of eating straw, but
fun to pull it out. There was, however,
usually something else to be done, for
there was always their cud to chew.
 Among all the farmyard people,
there were none more particular about
food. They might eat in a hurry when
time was short, or when the grass was
and green, but after they had swallowed
it and filled the first of their four
stomachs with partly chewed food, they
would find some quiet and comfortable
where they could stand or lie easily and
finish their eating. To do this, they
to bring the partly chewed food from the
first stomach to the mouth again. They
called this "unswallowing it," although
they should have said "regurgitating."
After the food was back in their mouths
again, it was spoken of as their cud,
the stout muscles in the sides of their
faces pulled their lower jaws up and
and sideways, and the food was caught
over and over again between the blunt
teeth in the back part of their mouths,
and was crushed, squeezed, and
until it was fine, soft, and ready to
swallow into the second stomach.
Then the Cattle do not have to think of
it again, but while they are doing
quite different, and perhaps forgetting
all about it, there are many nerves and
muscles and fine red blood-drops as busy
as can be, passing it into the third and
fourth stomachs, and changing the
strength of the food into the strength
Cattle. The Cows and the Oxen do not
know this. They never heard of muscles
nerves, and perhaps you never did
before, yet these are wonderful little
good friends if one is kind to them.
All that Cattle know about eating is
must have clean food, that they must eat
because they are hungry and not just
because it tastes good, and that they
must chew it very carefully. And if
these things as they should, they are
quite sure to be well and comfortable.
 The Oxen were standing by the barn
door, and the Calves were talking about
them. They liked their uncles, the
Oxen, very much, but like many other
world over, they thought them rather
slow and old-fashioned. Now the Colts
saying the same thing, and so these
half-dozen shaggy youngsters, who
hadn't a sign
of a horn, were telling what they would
do if they were Oxen. Sometimes they
more loudly than they meant to, and the
Oxen heard them, but they did not know
"If I were an Ox," said one, "I
wouldn't stand still and let the farmer put
heavy yoke on my neck. I'd edge away
"Tell you what I'd do," said another.
"I'd stand right still when he tried to
me go, and I wouldn't stir until I got
"I wouldn't do that," said a third.
"I'd run away and upset the stone in a
 ditch. I don't think it's fair to
always make them pull the heavy loads
Horses have all the fun of taking the
farmer to town and drawing the binder
the other wonderful machines."
"Isn't it too bad that you are not
Oxen?" said a deep voice behind them.
Calves jumped, and there was the Off Ox
close to them. He was so near that you
could not have set a Chicken coop
between him and them, and he had heard
The Calves did not know where to look
or what to say, for they had not been
speaking very politely. The one who had
just spoken wanted to act easy and as
though he did not care, so he raised one
hind hoof to scratch his ear, and gave
brushy tail a toss over one flank. "Oh,
I don't know," said he.
"I used to talk in just that way when I
was a Calf," said the Off Ox, with a
in his large brown eyes. "All
 Calves think they'll do wonders when
"I know I thought so," said the Nigh Ox,
who had followed his brother.
"Well, if you wanted to," asked the Red
Calf, "why don't you do those things
The others wondered how he dared to ask
such a question.
"It doesn't pay," said the Nigh Ox.
"Do all your frisking in playtime. I
as well as anybody, yet when our yoke is
taken from its peg, I say business is
business and the closer we stick to it
the better. I knew a sitting Hen once
wanted to see everything that happened.
She was always running out to see
or other, and sometimes she stayed
longer than she meant to. I told her
stick to her nest, and she said
she didn't believe in working all the
"How soon did her Chickens hatch?" asked
the Calves all together.
"Never did hatch, of course," chuckled
 the Nigh Ox. "She fooled herself
thinking she was working, and she made a
great fuss about her legs aching and her
giving up society, but she
that nestful of eggs. They had
cold and they knew it, and not one of
them would hatch."
"Wasn't she ashamed then?" asked the
"Didn't act so," snorted the Nigh Ox.
"Went around talking about her great
disappointment, and said she
why the other Hens had so much
The Off Ox chuckled. "He told her that
he guessed it might have been something
besides bad luck, and that the next time
she'd better stay on her nest more.
she asked him how many broods of
Chickens he had hatched. Ho-ho-ho!"
Everybody laughed, and the Calves
wondered how the Nigh Ox could think of
being angry. "It wouldn't
 pay to
be angry," he said. "What's the use of
wasting a fine great Ox temper on a poor
little Hen rudeness?"
This made them think. They remembered
how cross and hot and uncomfortable they
often became over very small things that
bothered them, and they began to think
perhaps even Calf tempers were worth
At last the Black Calf, the prettiest
one in the yard, said, "Do you like
that flat wagon which hasn't any
wheels, and scrapes along in the dust?"
"The stone-boat?" asked the Off Ox, "We
don't mind it. Never mind doing our
work. Wouldn't like to pull the binder
with its shining knives and whirling
for whoever does that has to walk fast
and make sudden turns and stops. Wouldn't like
being hitched to the carriage to
carry the farmer's family to town.
to take care of
 the Sheep,
like Collie, or to grow feathers like
Geese—but we can draw stone-boats and
all sorts of heavy loads, if we do say
The Red Calf, who was always running and
kicking up his heels, said, "Oh, it's such
slow work! I should think you'd feel
that you would never reach the end of
"We don't think about that," answered
the Nigh Ox. "It doesn't pay. We used
though. I remember the time when I
wished myself a Swallow, flying a mile a
instead of step-step-stepping my way
through life. My mother was a sensible
and wore the bell in our herd. She
cured me of that foolishness. She told
Swallows had to fly one wing-beat at a
time, and that dinners had to be eaten
mouthful at a time, and that nothing
really worth while could be done in a
She said that if we were forever
thinking how much
 work we had to
do and how
tiresome it was, we'd never enjoy life,
and we wouldn't live long either. Lazy
Oxen never do. That's another thing
which doesn't pay."
The Red Calf and the White Calf spoke
together: "We will always be sensible.
will never lose our tempers. We will
never be afraid to work. We will be
"Might you not better say you will try
to be sensible?" asked the Nigh Ox.
know it is not always easy to do those
things, and one has to begin over and
"Oh, no," they answered. "We know what
we can do."
"You might be mistaken," said the Oxen
"I am never mistaken," said the Red
"Neither am I," said the White Calf.
"Well, good-morning," called the Oxen,
 as they moved off. "We are going
talk with our sisters, the Cows."
After they had gone, the pretty Black
Calf spoke in her pleasant way: "It
me I shall be an old Cow before I can
learn to be good and sensible like them,
am going to try."
"Pooh!" said the Red Calf. "It is easy
enough to be sensible if you want to
easy as eating."
"Yes," said the White Calf. "I shall
never lose my temper again, now that I
it is foolish to do so."
"Dear me!" said the pretty Black Calf.
"How strong and good you must be. I can
only keep on trying."
"Pooh!" said the Red Calf again. Then
he lowered his voice and spoke to her.
along," said he, "and let me stand
beside you in the cubby while I chew my
"Don't you do it," cried the White Calf.
"I want that place myself."
 "I guess not!" exclaimed the Red
Calf. "I'll bunt you first."
"Bunt away, then," said the White Calf,
"but I'll have that place."
"Oh, please don't fight!" exclaimed the
Black Calf. "I'll let one of you have
"Don't you move," cried each of them.
"I want to stand by you." Then they
their heads and looked into each other's
eyes. Next, they put their hard
together, and pushed and pushed and
pushed. Sometimes the Red Calf made the
Calf go backward, and sometimes it was
the other way. Once in a while they
still and rested. Then they began
THE RED CALF AND THE WHITE CALF.
While they were quarrelling in this way,
getting warmer and more angry all the
and losing those very tempers which they
had said they would always keep, a young
Jersey had stepped into the cubby beside
the Black Calf, and they were
hav-  ing a pleasant visit. "What are those
fellows fighting about?" he asked.
The Black Calf smiled a funny little
smile. "They are fighting," said she,
which one shall stand in the cubby with
me and chew his cud."
The Jersey Calf was a shrewd young
fellow of very good family. "Perhaps,"
"I ought to stay and guard the place
until it is decided who shall have it."
"I wish you would," said she.
And that was how it happened that the
two Calves who lost their tempers had a
tiresome, and uncomfortable day, while
another had the very corner which they
wanted. When night came, they grumbled
because the Jersey Calf had come out
of them, and they thought it very
strange. But it was not strange, for
who are quiet and good-natured always
come out ahead in the end. And the
are so very
 sure that it is easy
to be good when they really want to, are
the very ones who sometimes do not want
to when they should.
The Black Calf was right. The only way
to be sensible and happy is to try and
and try, and it does pay.
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