| 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 |
WHY THE SHEEP RAN AWAY
T was during the hottest summer weather that the
wind-storm came. The farmyard
people always spoke of it as "the" wind-storm, because
not even the Blind Horse, who
had lived on the farm longer than any of his neighbors,
could remember anything like
it. "I recall one time," he said, "when a sweet-apple
tree was blown down in the
fall. The Hogs found it and ate all the fruit before
the farmer knew that it was
down. You should have heard them grunt over it. They
were afraid the farmer would
drive them away before they had eaten it all. Eh,
well! They ate all they wanted,
but one of the Pigs told me afterward that it made them
sick, and that he never
 to see another sweet apple as long as he
lived. That was a hard storm,
but not like this, not like this."
It had come in the night when the farmyard people were
asleep, and there was much
scampering to shelter. The fowls, who were roosting in
the old apple-tree, did not
have time to oil their feathers and make them
water-proof. They just flew off their
perches as fast as they could and ran for the open door
of the Hen-house. When they
were once inside, they ruffled up their feathers and
shook themselves to get rid of
the rain-drops. Fowls do not like wet weather, and it
vexes them very much to be in
the rain. Their neighbors know this so well that it
has become their custom to say
of an angry person that he is "as mad as a wet Hen."
The Cows were in their part of the barn with their
necks between the stanchions, so
there was nothing for them to do but to keep still and
think of those who
out of doors. The Horses were in their comfortable
stalls. They had been working
hard all day and the farmer had gotten a good supper of
oats ready for them in their
mangers, so that they could eat quickly and go to
sleep, instead of staying awake
and walking around to get their own suppers in the
Out in the meadow the Sheep huddled close together
under a low-branching tree, and
stood still until the storm passed. They had been so
warm that the cool rain made
them comfortable, but the wind pushed them and swayed
the branches of the trees.
The loud thunder made the Lambs jump. They liked the
lightning and made a game out
of it, each one telling what he had seen by the last
flash. The clouds, too, were
beautiful, and flew across the sky like great dark
birds with downy breasts,
dropping now and then shining worms from their beaks.
At last the air became cool and clear,
 and the
clouds flew far away toward the
east. Next, the stars peeped out, first one, then two,
then six, then twenty, and
then so many that you could not have counted
them,—more than the leaves on a
maple-tree, more than the grass-blades of the meadow.
The Sheep ran around a little
to shake off the rain-drops and warm themselves, then
they huddled down again to
When the sun arose in the eastern sky, his warm beams
fell upon the Sheep and
awakened them. "How cool and beautiful a day," they
said. "What a morning for a
"I can beat you to the tall grass!" called one little
Lamb to the rest, and they all
scampered around the field, throwing up their heels for
joy. They had been away
from their mothers for a while, and had learned to eat
grass instead of milk. They
were quite proud of the way in which they broke it off,
jerks of their heads, and their teeth were growing
finely. They did not expect any
upper front teeth, for in place of them the Sheep have
only a hard pad of flesh.
Soon they came running back to the flock. "There is a
Dog over there," they cried,
"a strange Dog. He doesn't look like Collie. He is
coming this way, and we are
Their uncle, the Bell-Wether, looked over to where the
strange Dog was, then turned
quickly and began to run. The bell around his neck
clinked at every step. When the
other Sheep heard the bell they raised their heads and
ran after him, and the Lambs
ran after them. The strange Dog did not follow or even
bark at them, yet on they
went, shaking the shining rain-drops from the grass as
they trod upon it. Not one
of them was thinking for himself what he really ought
to do. The Bell-Wether
thought, "I feel like
 running away from the Dog,
and so I will run."
The other Sheep said themselves, "The Bell-Wether is
running and so we will run."
And the Lambs said, "If they are all running we will
Along the fence they went, the bell clinking, their
hoofs pattering, and not one of
them thinking for himself, until they reached a place
where the fence was blown
over. It was not blown 'way down, but leaned so that
it could be jumped. If a
single one of the flock, even the youngest Lamb, had
said, "Don't jump!" they would
have stayed in the pasture; but nobody said it. The
Bell-Wether felt like jumping
over, so he jumped. Then the Sheep did as the
Bell-Wether had done, and the Lambs
did as the Sheep had done.
Now they were in the road and the Bell-Wether turned
away from the
farm-  house and ran on, with the Sheep and the Lambs following.
Even now, if anybody had said,
"Stop!" they would have stopped, for they knew that
they were doing wrong; but
nobody said it.
After a while a heavy wagon came rumbling down the road
behind them, and the
Bell-Wether jumped over a ditch and ran into a hilly
field with woodland beyond.
Because he went the Sheep did, and because the Sheep
went the Lambs did, and nobody
said "Stop!" You see, by this time they were very
badly frightened, and no wonder.
When they saw the strange Dog they were a little
scared, for they thought he might
chase them. If they had made themselves stay there and
act brave they would soon
have felt brave. Even if the Dog had been a cruel one,
they could have kept him
from hurting them, for Sheep have been given very
strong, hard foreheads with which
to strike, and the Bell-Wether had also
curled horns with three ridges
on the side of each. But it is with Sheep as it is
with other people,—if they let
themselves be frightened they grow more and more
fearful, even when there is no real
danger, and now all of their trouble came from their
not stopping to think what they
ought to do.
They hurried up to the highest ground in the field, and
when they were there and
could go no farther, they stopped and looked at each
other. One Lamb said to his
mother, "Why did we come here? It isn't nearly so
nice as our own meadow."
"Why, I came because the Bell-Wether did," she
answered. Then she turned to the
Bell-Wether and said, "Why did you bring us here?"
"I didn't bring you here," he replied. "I felt like
coming, and I came. I didn't make
"N-no," answered the Sheep; "but
 you might have
known that if you came the
Sheep would come."
"Well," said the Bell-Wether, "you might have known
that if you Sheep came the Lambs
would, so you'd better not say anything."
"Baa!" cried the Lambs. "We are hot and thirsty and
there isn't any water here to
drink. We want to go back."
Everybody was out of patience with somebody else, and
nobody was comfortable. They
did not dare try to go home again, for fear they would
have more trouble, so they
huddled together on the top of the hill and were very
miserable and unhappy. They
hadn't any good reason for coming, and they could not
even have told why they ran
to the hilltop instead of staying in the pleasant
There was a reason for their running up, however,
although they didn't know it. It
was because their
great-great-great-  great-great-great-grandfather and -grandmother were wild Sheep in the mountains, and when
frightened ran up among the
rocks where there was nobody to hurt them. They got
into the habit of running
up-hill when scared, and their children did the same,
and their children's children
did the same, and now even the farmyard Sheep do so,
although they long ago forgot
the reason why.
"Bow-wow-wow!" rang out on the still morning air.
"There's Collie!" cried the Lambs joyfully. "He's
coming to take us home. Let's bleat
to help him find us more quickly." All the Lambs
said, "Baa! Baaa!" in their
high, soft voices, and their mothers said "Baa! Baaa!"
more loudly; and the
Bell-Wether added his "Baa! Baaa!" which was so deep
and strong that it sounded like
a little, very little, clap of thunder.
Collie came frisking along with his tail
and his eyes gleaming. He
started the flock home, and scolded them and made fun
of them all the way, but they
were now so happy that they didn't care what he said.
When they were safely in the
home meadow again and the farmer had mended the fence,
Collie left them. As he
turned to go, he called back one last piece of advice.
"I'm a Shepherd Dog," he said,
"and it's my work to
take care of Sheep when they
can't take care of themselves, but I'd just like to be
a Bell-Wether for a little
while. You wouldn't catch me doing every foolish
thing I felt like doing and
getting all the flock into trouble by following me!
Nobody can do anything without
somebody else doing it too, and I wouldn't lead people
into trouble and then say I
didn't think. Bow-wow-wow-wow!"
COLLIE AND THE BELL-WETHER.
The Bell-Wether grumbled to himself, "Well, the rest
needn't tag along
they want to. Pity if I can't jump a fence without
everybody following." But down
in his heart he felt mean, for he knew that one who
leads should do right things.
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