Farmer Dan had the smartest animals anyone had ever seen.
Ed, the rooster, didn’t just start the day with a “cock-a-doodle-do”; sometimes he would crow “warm and wonderful” or “cloudy this afternoon.” Ed could predict the weather.
Charles, the big horse, was not only very strong, he also knew how all the farm machines worked. He had learned this by watching Farmer Dan fix things when they broke.
Charles knew how everything went together, came apart, started and stopped.
And cows are smart anyway. After all, they can eat green grass and turn it into tasty
white milk. Farmer Dan’s cow, Miss Alice, could do this of course, but she was also
blessed with a great singing voice. What would start out as just a simple “moo” would grow into a musical scale and then pretty soon into a song. She loved to sing “You Are My Sunshine” and “The Farmer In The Dell”. “Home On The Range” was her favorite song.
Nathan, the pig, was smart too, but not in a very nice way. He had a talent for talking, or sometimes tricking, the other animals into doing things he wanted done.
One beautiful morning, just after Ed had given a forecast for “sunny today, rainy tonight,” Farmer Dan loaded his truck with ripe tomatoes that were still wet with dew. He headed into town to sell them at the Farmers Market.
The cloud of dust down the roadway had hardly settled when Nathan started looking around for some mischief to stir up. He hadn’t eaten breakfast yet and decided that he would trick Charles into fetching some food for him.
The plump pig strolled over to the horse and asked quietly, “Charles, can you count?”
Well, I’ll bet you can’t count nearly as well as I can,” said Nathan. “I’m so good with numbers that I’m sure I could count the kernels of corn on each ear . . . if only I had some corn. If you can even count up to five, Charles, I’ll be surprised. Why don’t you find us five ears of corn and I’ll show you what a whiz I am at counting those kernels.”
The big trusting horse was happy to fetch the corn for Nathan. He wanted to see how the pig would be able to count all those tiny kernels.
“The only way to get a correct count,” said the tricky piggy after five big ears had been laid at his feet, “is to count the kernels as I eat them. This might take a while, Charles. I’ll let you know when I have the answer.”
The horse had no interest in watching the pig eat corn, so he wandered off to find some hay for his own breakfast. Nathan plopped his fat self down, ate the corn and was soon snoozing in the warm morning sun.
When Nathan awoke, the sun was so high in the sky that the pig’s shadow was directly under him. Of course, he was so fat that he couldn’t see it anyway. He was full from the corn he had eaten earlier but he still had a hunger to play another trick. He remembered that Charles was proud of the fact that he understood the workings of the farm machines.
“Charles,” said the sly porker, “you’re so smart I’ll bet you know how to start the conveyor belt that moves the hay bales up to the barn loft.”
“Indeed I do,” said Charles. And he was telling the truth because indeed he did know just which button started the belt.
“And you’re so strong, continued Nathan, “that you could probably pull that big machine all the way across the barnyard.”
Charles just looked at the pig, wondering why anyone would want to move the conveyor across the barnyard, but nodded that he certainly could do it if that job needed to be done.
Nathan knew that his trap was set now, so he started thinking of how to spring it. What could he do to trick the noble horse into doing something foolish? On the far side of the barnyard was a big oak tree. High up in that tree was a dandy tree house that Farmer Dan had built for his children.
“You know, Charles,” said Nathan, “when Farmer Dan drove down the road this morning, I think some tomatoes fell off his truck. If they did, we should pick them up and save them for him until he gets back.”
All the animals loved Farmer Dan, and the pig knew Charles would be sad if any of the tomatoes were lost.
“Bring the conveyor over to the tree house,” Nathan continued, “and I’ll ride up there so I can see if there are any tomatoes spilled on the road.”
The big horse didn’t stop to think. Pulling the conveyor belt across the yard was easy; pushing the start button was simple. The pig could hardly believe that his plan was working so smoothly. He hopped onto the belt, rode up to the tree house, and assured the horse that no tomatoes could be seen on the road. With a piggy giggle, he hopped onto the belt and rode back down.
This might have been the end of the conveyor belt caper had not Miss Alice noticed what was going on. She strolled over and insisted that she be allowed to ride, too. As carefully as a cow could, she climbed onto the belt and rode up to the tree house. She loved the view. Looking out across the green pasture, she saw wonderful areas of grass that she would visit and sample later on. She was so happy that she started mooing and then singing.
Charles was growing tired of the whole thing and insisted that Miss Alice come down at once. When she did not, he decided to end his part of the adventure. He turned the machine off and pulled it back to the barn where it had been to start with.
After a while, Farmer Dan returned, having sold all of his tomatoes. He parked his truck and then checked to see that all of his animals were okay. Everyone was fine. The pig was asleep in the sun, the rooster was chasing a bug, the horse was munching hay, and the cow was in the tree house singing “Home On The Range.” !?!?
Farmer Dan sat down and stared at the cow, not believing what he was seeing. Then he went into the house and called the fire department. The firemen came, but all they could do was scratch their heads. They had rescued kittens from trees before, but never a cow from a tree house!
The sheriff came by and a man from the newspaper came and took a picture of Miss Alice. Neighbors stopped by and stood around listening to the cow in the tree house singing her song. By now, she had finished “Home On The Range” and, with her eyes closed and her head extended high into the air, was now bellowing “You Are My Sunshine” at the top of her lungs. Finally, a construction company sent a large crane to the farm. Someone wrapped a wide cloth belt around Miss Alice’s tummy and the crane gently lowered her to the ground.
As the crowd was leaving, Nathan, that rascal pig, rolled onto his side and opened one eye. He was sorry to see everyone going so soon, but he felt proud of himself for having caused such a big fuss. He grunted happily and was soon sleeping again.
Charles was upset; he had been tricked not just once but two times by that mean pig.
“Miss Alice,” Charles said to the cow, “I’ve got an idea that might teach Nathan it’s not so funny to play tricks on us. Here’s what we’ll do.”
Miss Alice chuckled and said she would be happy to do her part.
“Oh, Nathan,” she called to the sleeping pig in a voice that sounded like the beginning of a new song. The porker raised his head. “Charles just told me how smart you are at counting kernels of corn,” she continued. “While I was in the tree house, I saw several ears of corn up there that the squirrels had hidden. Maybe you could show me how you can count those kernels.”
Nathan couldn’t believe what a great day he was having; not only were his tricks working perfectly, he was also being fed while the other animals were being fooled! Charles was already pulling the conveyor belt back over to the tree house. Nathan hopped on, smiling at how clever he was, licking his piggy lips at the thought of the dinner he would soon have.
As he stepped lightly from the conveyor belt into the tree house, he could hear the horse moving the machine away. That’s odd, he thought, but what was even odder was that he didn’t see any corn anywhere in the tree house. As he turned to ask Miss Alice where the corn was, he saw both the animals looking up at him. Miss Alice smiled and started singing “Goodnight Irene” while Charles gave out a big hearty horselaugh. They had tricked the naughty pig!
It was starting to get dark. Farmer Dan had already gone in for the night. No one would find Nathan in the tree house until the next day. He would spend the night alone, up a tree, and with nothing to eat. A big fat tear rolled down each cheek of the greedy pig. Just then a raindrop hit the end of his nose and another plopped right between his eyes.
Nathan started counting teardrops and raindrops. Oh, how he wished he had never told anyone he could count kernels of corn!