The Bitter Cow
There was a cow named Elderflower. She had too much to do. She had to get up at 4 am every day to give milk to the farmer and his family. She had to eat the encroaching weeds from the southeast corner of the field, but it always grew back fast. She had to go in and out of the barn, up and down the hill, back and forth across the field, day in day out. She was exhausted.
One day the dog came trotting up to her. “What’s wrong, Elderflower?” he asked.
“You wouldn’t understand,” the cow said. “I just have so much to do! I’m busy!”
“Busy!” the dog laughed and laughed, rolled on his back laughing until Elderflower felt quite affronted. “Busy!?” He said again when he could breathe. “You don’t have anything to do! The dog has to do everything around here. I have to keep you all and the sheep from wandering into the neighbor’s pasture. I have to come running whenever the farmer calls me. I have to keep the kids from getting hurt, I have to keep the animals from fighting, and I have to run off the coyotes.”
“Pft,” said the cow.
“Alright,” said the dog. “I challenge you then. We’ll swap jobs.”
“Oh, that’s a tired trope,” said the cow.
“Excuses,” the dog muttered, and walked away.
The next day she got up and saw that the night’s rain had made the weeds explode over a quarter of the pasture. She couldn’t take it anymore. “Dog,” she said, “Don’t you think you could help me?”
“Only if you help me,” the dog said.
So the dog dug up her weeds, she kept the cows in line. It was hard to pay that much attention to where they were going, but she managed alright. She saw something that might have been a coyote in the woods, took a run at it until it fled. She almost got lost on her way back, but the sunlight guided her back to the homestead. Then the chickens started fighting, and she had to go break that up.
She was so busy, she forgot to stop for her milking. By the time she realized the discomfort she was in, the farmer had already gone in. Her udders were fit to burst!
“Achh,” Elderflower said. “I missed the milking!”
“Don’t worry, I’ll get the humans,” said the dog. “Lay down, be dramatic. You’re good at that.”
“I hate you,” the cow retorted, but she did as he asked, laid down and lowed like her life depended on it.
The dog went to the door of the little stone farmhouse and barked, barked, barked. Eventually the farmer came to the door and saw the cow. He shook his head, but he gave Elderflower her milking anyway. All the while the children pulled at her ears and poked her face.
“Never again,” Elderflower said as the family walked away with a bucket of milk.
“Did you learn a lesson about positive thinking?” the dog said.
“No! My life is so terrible. Never again will I miss a milking. I can’t stand the cost. Everything is awful.”
The dog laughed and laughed, until Elderflower kicked a clod of mud on him. He stopped laughing to dodge the clod, but his tail kept wagging, which was just as annoying in its own way.
“I’m going to change your attitude one of these days,” he said as he went to his kennel. “I’ve got a new mission!”
“Never,” the ornery cow replied. “Come back tomorrow and try again. Do your worst!”
She went to the barn and curled up with the rest of the herd. The wind cut through the loose board in her stall, just like it did every night. Somehow, it didn’t feel as cold as it used to.