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Among the Farmyard People

BY

Clara Dillingham Pierson

Author of "Among the Meadow People," and "Forest People".


Illustrated by F. C. GORDON


[Illustration]


NEW YORK
Copyright by
E. P. DUTTON AND COMPANY
31 WEST TWENTY-THIRD STREET
1899




TO THE CHILDREN

_Dear Little Friends:_

I want to introduce the farmyard people to you, and to have you call
upon them and become better acquainted as soon as you can. Some of them
are working for us, and we surely should know them. Perhaps, too, some
of us are working for them, since that is the way in this delightful
world of ours, and one of the happiest parts of life is helping and
being helped.

It is so in the farmyard, and although there is not much work that the
people there can do for each other, there are many kind things to be
said, and even the Lame Duckling found that he could make the Blind
Horse happy when he tried. It is there as it is everywhere else, and I
sometimes think that although the farmyard people do not look like us or
talk like us, they are not so very different after all. If you had seen
the little Chicken who wouldn't eat gravel when his mother was reproving
him, you could not have helped knowing his thoughts even if you did not
understand a word of the Chicken language. He was thinking, "I don't
care! I don't care a bit! So now!" That was long since, for he was a
Chicken when I was a little girl, and both of us grew up some time ago.
I think I have always been more sorry for him because when he was
learning to eat gravel I was learning to eat some things which I did not
like; and so, you see, I knew exactly how he felt. But it was not until
afterwards that I found out how his mother felt.

That is one of the stories which I have been keeping a long time for
you, and the Chicken was a particular friend of mine. I knew him better
than I did some of his neighbors; yet they were all pleasant
acquaintances, and if I did not see some of these things happen with my
own eyes, it is just because I was not in the farmyard at the right
time. There are many other tales I should like to tell you about them,
but one mustn't make the book too fat and heavy for your hands to hold,
so I will send you these and keep the rest.

Many stories might be told about our neighbors who live out-of-doors,
and they are stories that ought to be told, too, for there are still
boys and girls who do not know that animals think and talk and work, and
love their babies, and help each other when in trouble. I knew one boy
who really thought it was not wrong to steal newly built birds'-nests,
and I have seen girls - quite large ones, too - who were afraid of Mice!
It was only last winter that a Quail came to my front door, during the
very cold weather, and snuggled down into the warmest corner he could
find. I fed him, and he stayed there for several days, and I know, and
you know, perfectly well that although he did not say it in so many
words, he came to remind me that I had not yet told you a Quail story.
And two of my little neighbors brought ten Polliwogs to spend the day
with me, so I promised then and there that the next book should be about
pond people and have a Polliwog story in it.

And now, good-bye! Perhaps some of you will write me about your visits
to the farmyard. I hope you will enjoy them very much, but be sure you
don't wear red dresses or caps when you call on the Turkey Gobbler.

Your friend,
CLARA DILLINGHAM PIERSON.

Stanton, Michigan,
March 28, 1899.




CONTENTS


PAGE
THE STORY THAT THE SWALLOW DIDN'T TELL 1

THE LAMB WITH THE LONGEST TAIL 12

THE WONDERFUL SHINY EGG 20

THE DUCKLING WHO DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO 33

THE FUSSY QUEEN BEE 47

THE BAY COLT LEARNS TO MIND 64

THE TWIN LAMBS 82

THE VERY SHORT STORY OF THE FOOLISH LITTLE MOUSE 96

THE LONELY LITTLE PIG 106

THE KITTEN WHO LOST HERSELF 116

THE CHICKEN WHO WOULDN'T EAT GRAVEL 136

THE GOOSE WHO WANTED HER OWN WAY 149

WHY THE SHEEP RAN AWAY 160

THE FINE YOUNG RAT AND THE TRAP 172

THE QUICK-TEMPERED TURKEY GOBBLER 186

THE BRAGGING PEACOCK 199

THE DISCONTENTED GUINEA HEN 213

THE OXEN TALK WITH THE CALVES 232




ILLUSTRATIONS


PAGE
THE SWALLOWS ARE COMING 2

THE LAMB WITH THE LONGEST TAIL 16

THEY HAD A GOOD SWIM 40

HAD A SORE MOUTH FROM JERKING ON THE LINES 77

FEEDING THE LAMBS 84

EVERY BROWN PIG RAN OFF 110

"I AM THE WHITE KITTEN" 130

THE GRAY GOOSE TRIED TO GO THROUGH 156

COLLIE AND THE BELL-WETHER 170

THE BIG GOBBLER CAME PUFFING TOWARD
HER. _Frontispiece_ 194

THE PEACOCK WAS STANDING ON THE FENCE, 208

THE RED CALF AND THE WHITE CALF 243




THE STORY THAT THE SWALLOW DIDN'T TELL


"Listen!" said the Nigh Ox, "don't you hear some friends coming?"

The Off Ox raised his head from the grass and stopped to brush away a
Fly, for you never could hurry either of the brothers. "I don't hear any
footfalls," said he.

"You should listen for wings, not feet," said the Nigh Ox, "and for
voices, too."

Even as he spoke there floated down from the clear air overhead a soft
"tittle-ittle-ittle-ee," as though some bird were laughing for
happiness. There was not a cloud in the sky, and the meadow was covered
with thousands and thousands of green grass blades, each so small and
tender, and yet together making a most beautiful carpet for the feet of
the farmyard people, and offering them sweet and juicy food after their
winter fare of hay and grain. Truly it was a day to make one laugh aloud
for joy. The alder tassels fluttered and danced in the spring breeze,
while the smallest and shyest of the willow pussies crept from their
little brown houses on the branches to grow in the sunshine.

[Illustration: THE SWALLOWS ARE COMING.]

"Tittle-ittle-ittle-ee! Tittle-ittle-ittle-ee!" And this time it was
louder and clearer than before.

"The Swallows!" cried the Oxen to each other. Then they straightened
their strong necks and bellowed to the Horses, who were drawing the plow
in the field beyond, "The Swallows are coming!"

As soon as the Horses reached the end of the furrow and could rest a
minute, they tossed their heads and whinnied with delight. Then they
looked around at the farmer, and wished that he knew enough of the
farmyard language to understand what they wanted to tell him. They knew
he would be glad to hear of their friends' return, for had they not seen
him pick up a young Swallow one day and put him in a safer place?

"Tittle-ittle-ittle-ee!" and there was a sudden darkening of the sky
above their heads, a whirr of many wings, a chattering and laughing of
soft voices, and the Swallows had come. Perched on the ridge-pole of the
big barn, they rested and visited and heard all the news.

The Doves were there, walking up and down the sloping sides of the roof
and cooing to each other about the simple things of every-day life. You
know the Doves stay at home all winter, and so it makes a great change
when their neighbors, the Swallows, return. They are firm friends in
spite of their very different ways of living. There was never a Dove
who would be a Swallow if he could, yet the plump, quiet, gray and white
Doves dearly love the dashing Swallows, and happy is the Squab who can
get a Swallow to tell him stories of the great world.

"Isn't it good to be home, home, home!" sang one Swallow. "I never set
my claws on another ridge-pole as comfortable as this."

"I'm going to look at my old nest," said a young Swallow, as she
suddenly flew down to the eaves.

"I think I'll go, too," said another young Swallow, springing away from
his perch. He was a handsome fellow, with a glistening dark blue head
and back, a long forked tail which showed a white stripe on the under
side, a rich buff vest, and a deep blue collar, all of the finest
feathers. He loved the young Swallow whom he was following, and he
wanted to tell her so.

"There is the nest where I was hatched," she said. "Would you think I
was ever crowded in there with five brothers and sisters? It was a
comfortable nest, too, before the winter winds and snow wore it away. I
wonder how it would seem to be a fledgling again?" She snuggled down in
the old nest until he could see only her forked tail and her dainty head
over the edge. Her vest was quite hidden, and the only light feathers
that showed were the reddish-buff ones on throat and face; these were
not so bright as his, but still she was beautiful to him. He loved every
feather on her body.

"I don't want you to be a fledgling again," he cried. "I want you to
help me make a home under the eaves, a lovely little nest of mud and
straw, where you can rest as you are now doing, while I bring food to
you. Will you?"

"Yes," she cried. "Tittle-ittle-ittle-ee! Oh, tittle-ittle-ittle-ee!"
And she flew far up into the blue sky, while he followed her,
twittering and singing.

"Where are those young people going?" said an older Swallow. "I should
think they had flown far enough for to-day without circling around for
the fun of it."

"Don't you remember the days when you were young?" said the Swallow next
to him.

"When I was young?" he answered. "My dear, I am young now. I shall
always be young in the springtime. I shall never be old except when I am
moulting."

Just then a family of Doves came pattering over the roof, swaying their
heads at every step. "We are so glad to see you back," said the father.
"We had a long, cold winter, and we thought often of you."

"A very cold winter," cooed his plump little wife.

"Tell me a story," said a young Dove, their son.

"Hush, hush," said the Father Dove. "This is our son," he added, "and
this is his sister. We think them quite a pair. Our last brood, you
know."

"Tell us a story," said the young Dove again.

"Hush, dear. You mustn't tease the Swallow," said his mother. "They are
so fond of stories," she cooed, "and they have heard that your family
are great travellers."

"But I want him to tell us a story," said the young Dove. "I think he
might."

This made the Swallow feel very uncomfortable, for he could see that the
children had been badly brought up, and he did not want to tell a story
just then.

"Perhaps you would like to hear about our journey south," said he. "Last
fall, when the maples began to show red and yellow leaves among the
green, we felt like flying away. It was quite warm weather, and the
forest birds were still here, but when we feel like flying south we
always begin to get ready."

"I never feel like flying south," said the young Dove. "I don't see why
you should."

"That is because I am a Swallow and you are a farmyard Dove. We talked
about it to each other, and one day we were ready to start. We all had
on our new feathers and felt strong and well. We started out together,
but the young birds and their mothers could not keep up with the rest,
so we went on ahead."

"Ahead of whom?" said the young Dove, who had been preening his feathers
when he should have been listening.

"Ahead of the mothers and their fledglings. We flew over farms where
there were Doves like you; over rivers where the Wild Ducks were feeding
by the shore; and over towns where crowds of boys and girls were going
into large buildings, while on top of these buildings were large bells
singing, 'Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong.'"

"I don't think that was a very pretty song," said the young Dove.

"Hush," said his mother, "you mustn't interrupt the Swallow."

"And at last we came to a great lake," said the Swallow. "It was so
great that when we had flown over it for a little while we could not see
land at all, and our eyes would not tell us which way to go. We just
went on as birds must in such places, flying as we felt we ought, and
not stopping to ask why or to wonder if we were right. Of course we
Swallows never stop to eat, for we catch our food as we fly, but we did
sometimes stop to rest. Just after we had crossed this great lake we
alighted. It was then that a very queer thing happened, and this is
really the story that I started to tell."

"Oh!" said the young Dove and his sister. "How very exciting. But wait
just a minute while we peep over the edge of the roof and see what the
farmer is doing." And before anybody could say a word they had pattered
away to look.

The birds who were there say that the Swallow seemed quite disgusted,
and surely nobody could blame him if he did.

"You must excuse them," cooed their mother. "They are really hardly more
than Squabs yet, and I can't bear to speak severely to them. I'm sure
they didn't mean to be rude."

"Certainly, certainly," said the Swallow. "I will excuse them and you
must excuse me. I wish to see a few of my old friends before the sun
goes down. Good afternoon!" And he darted away.

The young Doves came pattering back, swaying their heads as they walked.
"Why, where is the Swallow?" they cried. "What made him go away? Right
at the best part of the story, too. We don't see why folks are so
disagreeable. People never are as nice to us as they are to the other
young Doves."

"Hush," said their mother. "You mustn't talk in that way. Fly off for
something to eat, and never mind about the rest of the story."

When they were gone, she said to her husband, "I wonder if they did hurt
the Swallow's feelings? But then, they are so young, hardly more than
Squabs."

She forgot that even Squabs should be thoughtful of others, and that no
Dove ever amounts to anything unless he begins in the right way as a
Squab.




THE LAMB WITH THE LONGEST TAIL


The Sheep are a simple and kind-hearted family, and of all the people on
the farm there are none who are more loved than they. All summer they
wander in the fields, nibbling the fresh, sweet grass, and resting at
noon in the shadow of the trees, but when the cold weather comes they
are brought up to the farmyard and make their home in the long low
Sheep-shed.

That is always a happy time. The Horses breathe deeply and toss their
heads for joy, the Cows say to each other, "Glad to have the Sheep come
up," and even the Oxen shift their cuds and look long over their
shoulders at the woolly newcomers. And this is not because the Sheep
can do anything for their neighbors to make them warm or to feed them.
It is only because they are a gentle folk and pleasant in all they say;
and you know when people are always kind, it makes others happy just to
see them and have them near.

Then, when the cold March winds are blowing, the good farmer brings more
yellow straw into the Sheep-shed, and sees that it is warm and snug. If
there are any boards broken and letting the wind in, he mends them and
shuts out the cold. At this time, too, the Horses and Cattle stop often
in their eating to listen. Even the Pigs, who do not think much about
their neighbors, root in the corners nearest the Sheep-shed and prick up
their ears.

Some bleak morning they hear a faint bleating and know that the first
Lamb is there. And then from day to day they hear more of the soft
voices as the new Lambs come to live with the flock. Such queer little
creatures as the Lambs are when they first come - so weak and awkward!
They can hardly stand alone, and stagger and wobble around the little
rooms or pens where they are with their mothers. You can just imagine
how hard it must be to learn to manage four legs all at once!

There is one thing which they do learn very quickly, and that is, to
eat. They are hungry little people, and well they may be, for they have
much growing to do, and all of the food that is to be made into good
stout bodies and fine long wool has to go into their mouths and down
their throats to their stomachs. It is very wonderful to think that a
Cow eats grass and it is turned into hair to keep her warm, a Goose eats
grass and grows feathers, and a Sheep eats grass and grows wool. Still,
it is so, and nobody in the world can tell why. It is just one of the
things that are, and if you should ask "Why?" nobody could tell you the
reason. There are many such things which we cannot understand, but there
are many more which we can, so it would be very foolish for us to mind
when there is no answer to our "Why?"

Yes, Sheep eat grass, and because they have such tiny mouths they have
to take small mouthfuls. The Lambs have different food for a
while, - warm milk from their mothers' bodies. When a mother has a Lamb
to feed, she eats a great deal, hay, grass, and chopped turnips, and
then part of the food that goes into her stomach is turned into milk and
stored in two warm bags for the Lamb to take when he is hungry. And how
the Lambs do like this milk! It tastes so good that they can hardly
stand still while they drink it down, and they give funny little jerks
and wave their woolly tails in the air.

[Illustration: THE LAMB WITH THE LONGEST TAIL.]

There was one Lamb who had a longer tail than any of the rest, and, sad
to say, it made him rather vain. When he first came, he was too busy
drinking milk and learning to walk, to think about tails, but as he grew
older and stronger he began to know that he had the longest one. Because
he was a very young Lamb he was so foolish as to tease the others and
call out, "Baa! your tails are snippy ones!"

Then the others would call back, "Baa! Don't care if they are!"

After a while, his mother, who was a sensible Sheep and had seen much of
life, said to him: "You must not brag about your tail. It is very rude
of you, and very silly too, for you have exactly such a tail as was
given to you, and the other Lambs have exactly such tails as were given
to them, and when you are older you will know that it did not matter in
the least what kind of tail you wore when you were little." She might
have told him something else, but she didn't.

The Lamb didn't dare to boast of his tail after this, but when he passed
the others, he would look at his mother, and if he thought she wouldn't
see, he would wiggle it at them. Of course that was just as bad as
talking about it, and the other Lambs knew perfectly well what he meant;
still, they pretended not to understand.

One morning, when his mother's back was turned, he was surprised to see
that she had only a short and stumpy tail. He had been thinking so much
of his own that he had not noticed hers. "Mother," he cried, "why didn't
you have a long tail too?"

"I did have once," she answered with a sheepish smile.

"Did it get broken?" he asked in a faint little voice. He was thinking
how dreadful it would be if he should break his.

"Not exactly," said his mother. "I will tell you all about it. All
little Lambs have long tails - - "

"Not so long as mine, though," said he, interrupting.

"No, not so long as yours," she replied, "but so long that if they were
left that way always they would make a great deal of trouble. As the
wool grows on them, they would catch burrs and sharp, prickly things,
which would pull the wool and sting the skin. The farmer knows this, so
when the little Lambs are about as old as you are now, he and his men
make their tails shorter."

"Oh!" cried the Lamb, curling his tail in as far between his legs as he
could, "do you mean that they will shorten my tail, my beautiful long
tail?"

"That is just what I mean," said his mother, "and you should be very
glad of it. When that is done, you will be ready to go out into the
field with me. A lot of trouble we should have if the men did not look
after such things for us; but that is what men are for, they say, - to
look after us Sheep."

"But won't they laugh at me when my tail is shorter?" asked her son.

"They would laugh at you if you wore it long. No Lamb who pretends to be
anybody would be seen in the pasture with a dangling tail. Only wild
Sheep wear them long, poor things!"

Now the little Lamb wished that he had not boasted so much. Now, when
the others passed him, he did not put on airs. Now he wondered why they
couldn't have short tails in the beginning. He asked his uncle, an old
Wether Sheep, why this was and his uncle laughed. "Why, what would you
have done all these days if things happened in that way? What would you
have had to think about? What could you have talked about?" The little
Lamb hung his head and asked no more questions.

"What do you think?" he called to a group of Lambs near by. "I'm going
to have one of the men shorten my tail. It is such a bother unless one
does have it done, and mine is so very long!"




THE WONDERFUL SHINY EGG


"CUT-CUT-CA-DAH-CUT! Cut-cut-cut-ca-dah-cut!" called the Dorking Hen, as
she strutted around the poultry-yard. She held her head very high, and
paused every few minutes to look around in her jerky way and see whether
the other fowls were listening. Once she even stood on her left foot
right in the pathway of the Shanghai Cock, and cackled into his very
ears.

Everybody pretended not to hear her. The people in the poultry-yard did
not like the Dorking Hen very well. They said that she put on airs.
Perhaps she did. She certainly talked a great deal of the place from
which she and the Dorking Cock came. They had come in a small cage from
a large poultry farm, and the Dorking Hen never tired of telling about
the wonderful, noisy ride that they took in a dark car drawn by a great,
black, snorting creature. She said that this creature's feet grew on to
his sides and whirled around as he ran, and that he breathed out of the
top of his head. When the fowls first heard of this, they were much
interested, but after a while they used to walk away from her, or make
believe that they saw Grasshoppers whom they wanted to chase.

When she found that people were not listening to her, she cackled louder
than ever, "Cut-cut-ca-dah-cut! Look at the egg - the egg - the egg - the
egg that I have laid."

"Is there any particular reason why we should look at the egg - the
egg - the egg - the egg that you have laid?" asked the Shanghai Cock, who
was the grumpiest fowl in the yard.

Now, usually if the Dorking Hen had been spoken to in this way, she
would have ruffled up her head feathers and walked away, but this time
she had news to tell and so she kept her temper. "Reason?" she cackled.
"Yes indeed! It is the finest egg that was ever laid in this
poultry-yard."

"Hear her talk!" said a Bantam Hen. "I think it is in very poor taste to
lay such large eggs as most of the Hens do here. Small ones are much
more genteel."

"She must forget an egg that I laid a while ago with two yolks," said a
Shanghai Hen. "That was the largest egg ever laid here, and I have
always wished that I had hatched it. A pair of twin chickens would have
been so interesting."

"Well," said the Dorking Hen, who could not keep still any longer,
"small eggs may be genteel and large ones may be interesting, but my
last one is bee-autiful."

"Perhaps you'd just as soon tell us about it as to brag without
telling?" grumbled the Shanghai Cock. "I suppose it is grass color, or
sky color, or hay color, or speckled, like a sparrow's egg."

"No," answered the Dorking Hen, "it is white, but it is shiny."

"Shiny!" they exclaimed. "Who ever heard of a shiny egg?"


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