Tuesday, 7 August 2012

RRC #70 The Reluctant Cow

RRC 70 the Reluctant Cow

The sun crept over the mountains shining brightly on the valley of the farm belonging to Farmer Fritz.

“I think this is definitely the day to go Hans” said Farmer Fritz to his son, who was in charge of the cow shed amongst other chores.

“I was sitting up most of the night polishing the cow bells, so at least the work wasn’t in vain” Hans answered his father.

“Call your sister son, and your mother, if she has fed the chickens, and tell them to finish the flower arrangements. I will dress in my Sunday jacket. In the meanwhile I would advise you to do the same.”

After a while Hans and his son appeared at the door to the cow shed dressed in their black velvet jackets, with short sleeves of course. Their arms had to be free to guide the cows. They had a long and tiring journey ahead of them.

The cows shifted on their hooves and mooed. They were excited, except for one cow. Monny the youngest cow in the herd had just woken up and was surprised to see the farmer and his son so early in the morning looking so neat.

“Bluebell” she asked the cow standing next to her “how come the farmer looks like he does on a Sunday when he goes to church. All dressed in his best jacket, the one he wears when he goes singing in the yodel choir with the rest of the farmers around here. And what is his son doing with those big bells on the leather straps.”

“Monny, at last it is time for the Alp climb. Fresh grass, green and soft, oh I can’t wait.”

“ What is the alp climb Bluebell?” asked Monny

“The Alp climb. Why every self respecting milk cow knows what that is, although you are forgiven. You are the youngest and havn’t been there yet. It looks like we are all going up to the mountain pastures for fresh grass; finished with all that dried stuff we have been eating through the Winter.”

“Mountain pastures” said Monny with a worried undertone in her voice “you mean up there where the peaks are sometimes hidden in the clouds. High up! No way Bluebell, you must be kidding. I cannot stand heights. I even get giddy when I have to climb the platform in the milking shed. Forget it. You go on your own. I will stay here.”

“What did she say Bluebell?” and Daisy joined in the conversation. “Those young cows have no idea; typical. Of course the first alp climb is a bit of a shock, but once you get used to it, there is nothing better. Up on the alps, meeting other cows from other farms. Eating as much as you want and spending the nights outside. Monny, I can tell you it is fantastic. When you arrive you can look down to the valley and see how small our little farm is. You can hardly see our cow shed.”

“Exactly Daisy, that is what I mean. I do not want to look down on anything. Here in this cow shed, where I was born, by the way, I am happy. I have no intentions of climbing anywhere. And what are those big cowbells for that the farmer’s son has. Now his wife and daughter are coming with a whole wheelbarrow full of wreaths. I didn’t know we cows got wreaths. Thought it was only for humans.”

“Monny”, said Bluebell, “the bells are for us cows. They tie them around our necks so that they can hear us when we walk. Of course, it all has to do with the importance of the occasion as well.”

“But this is getting worse Bluebell. Do you really think I want to walk around with a bell around my neck.”

“Don’t worry Monny, you only get a small bell being a small cow. It is the real professionals like me and Daisy that get the big bells. It is the same with the flowers. The leading cows get the flower decorations.”

“I am not going anyhow” answered Monny “I don’t want a bell or flowers and I don’t want to sit up in the mountains all summer long. I am bound to get headaches all the time. Daisy did you say something about meeting other cows? I am happy with the herd here and don’t need to meet strange cows.”

“Monny, it is all part of the tradition” said Daisy. “We all meet on the way up and walk together. The humans love it. They take photographs of us all, and some of the photos even appear in the “Farmer’s Weekly”. Bluebell was on the front cover last year as the most beautiful cow; so quiet now Monny, the farmer is coming.”

“What do you think Hans, Shall we take Bluebell in the lead again this year. She did it so well last year.”

“I think so dad, just hold her while I put the bell around her neck.”

Of course Bluebell was brimming with pride, being the lead cow again, and stood still while Hans put the nicely polished bell around her neck. Afterwards the farmer and his daughter tied a wonderful bunch of fresh flowers to her horns. The next cow to be decorated was Daisy and soon the whole herd were ready with one exception.

The nearer the farmer and his son approached Monny, the further away she moved. She was eventually in the darkest corner of the shed, trying to bury herself under the straw so that she would not be noticed.

“Where’s Monny” asked the farmer

“I think she is half buried in straw in the corner” answered his son, Hans.

“Whoa Monny, come’on” called the farmer, but Monny tried to bury herself deeper in the straw.

“Hey dad, I think we have a reluctant cow. She doesn’t look very happy.”

It was then that the farmer packed Monny and pulled her out of the straw. Monny was not happy and tried to kick him, so Hans came along to help. Together they managed to put a bell around her neck. As she was a small cow, she got a smaller bell.

“Hans, I think we will take Monny at the end of the procession. She might start to act up on the way and disrupt the other cows.”

“I think you are right dad.”

and the procession started; Bluebell at the front, followed by Daisy and Monny at the tail.

Monny found it was not so bad at the beginning. They followed the small road leading to the farm, but afterwards they branched off. Earth and stones replaced the smooth surface of the road and the climb started.”

“Bluebell” Monny called out with panick in her voice (this was of course translated by a loud MOO for the farmer) “I am not happy. This path is very narrow, what if I fall?”.

“Then don’t fall” answered Bluebell “Now and again the farmer does loose a cow on the way, but not very often.”

This was not very reassuring to Monny, so she decided to turn back. Hans was behind her so he gave her a firm push in the right direction. They were getting higher and higher, and Monny felt miserable. Eventually she decided to close her eyes and just follow the smell of the cow in front. After a few hours they arrived at the top.

The cows were now let free. Monny just stood still and didn’t make a move.

“Monny” said Bluebell to her. “We are there, you can relax, it wasn’t so bad after all, now was it.”

“Can I open my eyes now” answered Monny “I won’t fall down the mountain will I?”

“Monny, you are really a stupid cow” said Daisy. “We all arrived safely at the top and can now spend the summer here, eating fresh grass. Why don’t you try it?”

Monny bit off some grass and found it so good, that she started eating for a while.

“So now you are one happy cow Monny” said Bluebell. “When you are back at the farm in Winter you will realise how good the summers on the alps are.”

“Err, Bluebell, you mean we go back down again. We go down that dangerous path at the end of summer. And we have to carry those heavy cow bells round our necks and dress up in the flowers again. I would rather stay here Bluebell.”

“Now don’t start all over again Monny. You are a cow and cows go up mountains and come down again.  In any case my time is probably now over as leading cow and I can imagine that you will be the leader next year.”

That night the cows slept soundly on the fields. It was a pleasant warm summer night. Monny also slept, but her dreams were filled with cows clapping as she arrived at the alp in the following year as the leading cow dressed in a beautiful headdress of flowers and carrying the biggest shiniest bell she had ever seen.

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