Saturday, January 1, 2011

In which New Year's Day is a great day to raise the roof (of the new barn)

Jim was up early this morning, adding meat and good vegetables to the beans that had been soaking all night. His goal: make enough chili to feed a giant work crew.
And soon enough, the giant work crew started to arrive and set up ladders and extension cords. LOTS of ladders. LOTS of extension cords!

Butch is the King of our construction crew.His "day job" is metal building construction. He got out of his truck, sized up our building-to-be, and took charge.
Butch figures anybody and everybody can gain the skills to do stuff. He assigned Willy the task of drilling patterns into the roofing sheets. Dick (brown jacket) has built a LOT of farm buildings, and he took charge of measuring stuff. He is leading the crew in measuring insulation/vapor barrier.
All day long, we were amazed at the great weather. It's not common to schedule a Swampland work party in January, because we're nearly always under water at this time of year. Haiku Farm's weather gods were smiling: we had blue skies, sunshine, and temps almost above freezing for most of the day.

(Check out my purple overalls! Santa spoke some good words to Jim's brothers and the overalls and the matching fleece-lined purple work jacket were under the tree this year. I was warm and *stylin'* up there on the roof!)

On our ladders, ready to pass the insulation up the roofline, we look like the opening table of "Whack-a-Mole."
It's probably not the method that professionals use to move the vapor barrier up the roofline but it works fine for us.

Coffee and sandwiches provided a bit of warmth.

and then: back to work!
or, errr, play. Willy! Where is your ladder???Despite a great deal of willingness to screw around, it started looking like a roof by mid-afternoon. Clear vinyl sheets let some light into the stalls--that will be nice on winter days! By late afternoon, we were running out of light and running out of roofing panels. I'll have to order more panels at the feed store on Monday--we need 4 more pieces to finish the job.
But that's okay: it's a good time to go inside the house and sample some of Jim's amazing chili. The sunset through the windows was amazing, and the company of friends makes us happy.

Happy New Year!

In which I share a story for the season: a Happy New Years tale!

I love this Japanese story. I hope you love it too. Happy New Year!

New Year’s Hats for the Statues – a traditional story from Japan

A long time ago there lived a poor couple who made a living by weaving reed hats for farmers.

One year on New Year’s Eve, the old man gathered up the five hats they had made and carried them to the village to sell so that he might buy fish, rice and bean cakes for a celebration.

The weather was cold, and heavy snow fell upon the man as he walked the long miles to the village. All day long the man walked up and down the streets, asking for someone to buy his hats so that he could buy a little fish, a little rice, but the people of the village were too busy cooking and cleaning and preparing their own celebrations, and he could not sell even a single hat.

As darkness fell, the old man sadly began walking the long miles home, still carrying his unsold hats. Then he came to the place where six stone statues of Jizo, the guardian god of children, stood by the roadside, covered with snow.

“It is not a good night for anyone to be out in the cold,” said the old man to himself, and that gave him an idea. He carefully brushed the snow from the heads and shoulders of the statues, and then tied a woven hat onto the head of each statue in turn. Realizing that he needed one more, he removed his own reed hat and tied it onto the head of the last statue…and tied his scarf around the neck of the statue as well.

With the snow falling down on the hats instead of their heads, the statues now seemed almost merry, and the old man smiled to see them. “Happy New Year,” he said to the statues, and bowed politely to each in turn.

When he returned home, his wife was disappointed to learn that he did not bring fish or bean cakes to celebrate the New Year, but she agreed that he had been correct to share the hats with the statues.

The old couple went to bed early, for there was no more charcoal for the fire, and the wind and snow blew fiercely against the side of their little house. Feeling fortunate to have a sturdy roof over their heads, and warm quilts on the bed, they slept.

At daybreak, the couple awoke to the sound of voices outside. It sounded like a group of men pulling a heavy load. With hearts full of wonder, they looked out the window…

…and saw the figures of six stone statues lumbering towards their house.

Each statue wore a reed hat and the last statue of all wore a warm scarf as well. All were pulling heavy sacks behind them.

When the couple ran outside, the statues dropped their sacks at their feet, and then bowed politely before turning to leave.

Dragging the sacks into the house, the old man and old woman discovered that each sack was full of food: rice and wheat, fish and bean cakes, and enough wine for a year of feasts.

"Ojizo Sama, thank you," they shouted to the retreating statues.

But six statues did not turn to look back. They continued to walk down the road the way they had come, disappearing into the whiteness of falling snow, leaving only their footprints to show that they had been there.

Friday, December 31, 2010

In which I share a story for the season: a winter kind of tale

Here's a nice little "pourquoi" story from the First Nations Slavey tribe of Canada.

The Living Water - a tale from the nomadic Tofalar people of Russia

This happened a long, long time ago, when the cedar, the fir, and the pine still had needles that yellowed and dropped in the fall instead of staying green all winter. Once day in late winter, a man went out into the woods to hunt. He walked and walked, and he came farther than any hunter had ever dared to go. He saw a bog so vast that no beast could have crossed it, no bird could have flown across. And the Tofalar said to himself: If our animals can't run across this bog, and our birds cannot fly across it, what kinds of animals and birds live on the other side?

The more he thought about it, the more curious he became. "I must find out," he said to himself. "Whatever happens, I must see what is over there."

And so he took a good running start, and leaped right clear across the bog. He looked around: the same earth, the same grass, the same trees….but there, in a little clearing stood seven rabbits wearing little tiny saddles on their backs. The rabbits stood quietly, waiting. Then seven people came out of seven burrows in the earth, exactly like people, only tiny. When the rabbits flattened their ears, the people were taller than the rabbits. When the rabbits' ears stood up, the people were smaller than the rabbits.

The hunter remembered the stories of his grandparents, and he knew that these must be the immortal people. He bowed down before them, and introduced himself.

“If you are a hunter, would you hunt for us?” asked the tiny people. The man bowed again, and said that he would.

They told him that a huge, terrible beast had come into the land of the immortals, and had caught and killed one of the people. The immortal people do not die, but they can be killed, you know.

The man agreed to hunt and kill the terrible beast, but he didn’t know how he could do such a thing. He went out to track the beast, but could find nothing except rabbit footprints. Suddenly, among the rabbit prints, he saw the tracks of a black sable.

"Oh, that's too fine a quarry to miss" he said. "First I will get the sable, and then I'll go on looking for the terrible, huge beast." He found the sable and killed it. Then he skinned it and went on with his search. He walked the length and breadth of the little people's land, but could not find any trace of the beast. So he came back to the little people and said to them: "I could not find your terrible, huge beast. All I have found was this sable." And he showed them the little sable skin.

"That's it, that's it! "they cried. "Oo-h, what a huge skin, what thick paws, what terrible, sharp claws" And the eldest of the little men said to the Tofalar: "You have saved us and our people! And we shall pay for your kindness with kindness. Wait for us. We'll come to visit you and bring you living water. You'll wash in it and will become immortal too."

The hunter jumped back across the bog and went back to his valley and told his people about the little men. And the people began to wait for their guests, the immortal little men. They waited one day, two days, three days, many, many days, and many many months. But the guests did not come, and the Tofalars forgot about them.

Winter came. On the coldest day of the year, everything around was frozen, and even the bog was covered with a coat of ice.

One day the village women went to the woods to gather firewood. Suddenly they saw a little herd of rabbits galloping their way. They looked again, and saw that every rabbit was saddled, and in every saddle sat a tiny man with a little pitcher in his hands. The women burst out laughing at the sight

"Look!" they cried to one another. "They are riding on rabbits! Look how funny how they are!”

Now, the immortal people were a proud race. They were insulted by the laughter. The one in front, with white hair and a long beard, shouted something to the others, and all of them spilled out the contents of their pitchers onto the ground. Then the rabbits turned and hopped away so fast that you could only see their white tails flicker.

And so the people never got the living water. It went instead to the pine, the cedar, and the fir. And this is why they are fresh and green all through the year. Their needles never die.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

In which our best-laid plans don't work out, and Fiddle becomes a tripod

"A day off! Let's go riding with Patty and Sirie and Dory!" said Maddie.

But when we got up in the morning:

The roads around the farm were in pretty good shape, but the roads leading to our favorite trailheads are in the shade, and they don't get enough traffic to warrent the salt-and-gravel treatment from our hardworking county road crews.

We started out anyhow, but hadn't got far when we got a phone call from Patty: "We just hit black ice. We don't want to keep going. Other ideas?"

Well, a motion to go out for lunch is always in order so we did that first.

Then, we went over to Fish Creek so that Dory could give us a Really Hard Lesson:But then Fiddle....stopped.

To pee.

And then took a few steps.

And then...stopped again.

To pee. Again.

Yes, it's true. At the end of freakin' December, less than 10 days from the shortest day of the entire year, my mare is in full-blown heat.

When Fiddle is in heat, she doesn't want to walk. She doesn't want to trot.

What she wants to do is eat bon-bons and watch sad movies.

And pee. Again.

That's how Fiddle got assigned the task of acting as the Universe's Largest Living Camera Tripod.We stood in the center of the arena. Fiddle peed. I took pictures. Sigh.

Neither of us was very happy, but we agreed that standing in the center of the arena in the sunshine was a lot better than standing just about anywhere else in the pouring rain.I'm glad I got one good picture of Bev and Ariana (below). They're both so sweet, it's easy to shoot right past them.

Speaking of sweet, here's somebody who is too sweet to be my real sister, so we just pretend. (Patty, I mean. Shade isn't anybody's sister--he's a gelding).

Madeline loves riding Sky!

Nikki was having one of those sub-optimal days that 13-year-olds have frequently. She won't believe us if we tell her that we all understand about those days. But we do.
Life gets better, Nikki. I promise it does!
Speaking of something that is sub-optimal, check out the non-roundness of the trailer tire!
Could be worse: we aren't at the side of a busy road. It isn't dark or cold. Heck, it's not pouring rain.

There's even an air-compressor on site!
Hook that puppy up, Sis!
Hold on. I hear air hissing OUT faster than I hear it pumping IN....
You think the NAIL sticking out of the tire might be part of the problem?
Get the PRISTINE spare tire out of the trailer dressing room. I've had this trailer more than 5 years, and the spare tire has never done more than act as a drying rack for my soggy mittens. I guess that's pretty good, right?

Roll the trailer up on the Jiffy-Jack. (We learned the hard way with a friend's rig that the little plastic editions aren't worth the broken ball-point pens they're made from. We cracked her plastic jackstand in half the first time we needed it! The metal one works fine.)
I've lost track of the number of times that Maddy has changed trailer tires for me. Several times, anyhow. She has skills. That's a good thing.
Maybe I'll get to ride on the trails next week. I hope so.

Meanwhile...somebody pass me the bon-bons?

In which I share a story for the season: a long winter story

We must all hope that OUR winter won't last nearly so long!

The Long Winter – a folktale from the Slavey people of Canada

Before humans walked the earth, when the world was the land of the animals, a very long winter set in. The sun did not come out for three years. It snowed all the time. The animals were suffering very much from this long winter.

The lack of food bad enough, but the cold made it unbearable.

The animals called for a grand council to be held. Animals of all shapes and sizes were invited. When everyone gathered, the animals looked around and realized that one creature from the animal world was missing: Bear. They realized that no one had seen any bears for three years.

All the animals agreed that the most important thing to do was to find out what had happened to the heat. Without heat their sufferings would never end. They decided that heat must be found and it must be brought back again. It was decided that several quick and brave animals would go on a search mission to the upper world. That's where they believed the heat had been taken.

The animals chosen for the mission were Lynx, Fox, Wolf, Wolverine, Mouse, Pikefish, and Dogfish.

After traveling far and wide through the air, the group finally found the hidden doorway that opened to the upper world. They all climbed upward to the world above.

They found a lake. By the lake, there was a tipi. By the tipi were two young bears.

They asked the cubs where their mother was, and were told she was off hunting. Inside the tipi, a number of big, round bags were hanging up.

The animal visitors pointed to the first bag and asked the cubs, "What is in this bag?"

"That," they said, "is where our mother keeps the rain."

"And what is in this one?" the animals said, pointing to the second bag.

"That," the cubs answered, "is the wind."

"And this one?"

"That is where mother keeps the fog."

"And what may be in this next bag?" said the animals.

"Oh, we cannot let you know that," said the cubs, "for our mother told us it was a great secret, and if we tell, she will be very angry."

"Don't be afraid," said the fox. "You can tell us. She will never know."

Then the cubs whispered, "That is the bag where she keeps the heat."

"Aahh ..." said the visitors. They glanced at one another, and said their good-byes quickly.

Once outside the tipi, they rushed to a hidden spot and held a quick council. How were they to capture the bag with the heat?

"We need to distract the old mother bear somehow," said Fox.

"I know!" said Lynx. "I'll change myself into a deer on the other side of the lake."

"Good idea!" said Wolverine. "The mother bear will see you across the lake and she'll want to hunt you. She'll have to paddle her canoe across the lake, and that will give us time to get the bag with the heat."

"Better yet," squeaked Mouse, "I'll chew a deep cut in the bear's paddle near the blade, so it will take her even longer to canoe across."

"Yes!" cried the others.

So Lynx went around to the other side of the lake and turned into a deer. Now as a Deer, he wandered near the edge of the lake to attract Bear's attention. In the meantime, Mouse scrambled into Bear's canoe and chewed a deep cut in the handle of her paddle close to the blade.

The others hid near Bear's tipi.

When one of the bear cubs saw the supposed deer across the lake he cried out, "Look at the deer on the opposite shore!" The big mother Bear immediately jumped into her canoe and paddled toward it. Deer walked slowly along the beach pretending not to see the canoe, so as to tempt Bear to paddle up close to him. Then all at once, Deer turned about and ran the opposite way. Old Bear threw her whole weight on the paddle to make it go faster, and the paddle broke suddenly where Mouse had gnawed it. The force of Bear's weight threw her into the water.

The other animals were watching the hunt from the other side, and as soon as they saw the mother Bear floundering in the water, they ran into the tipi and pulled down the bag containing the heat.

They tugged the bag through the air toward the opening to the lower world from where they had come. They hurried to get back to the opening as fast as they could, but the bag was very large, and none of them was able to keep up the pace for long. Whenever one tired out, another would take the bag, and in this way they hastened along as quickly as they could, for they knew that the old mother Bear would soon get ashore and return to her tipi, and that when she did she would discover the missing bag. Then she'd be furious and follow their footprints to catch them!

Sure enough, the old mother Bear was soon in hot pursuit, and had almost overtaken the animals when they spied the opening to the world below. By this time the stronger animals were all so tired, they could hardly move at all.

Now Dogfish took the bag and pulled it along a good way, and finally Pikefish managed to inch it along some more. At that very moment, Bear lurched toward them. All the animals together pushed the bag until it tipped through the hole to the lower world and they each jumped in after it to safety, just in time.

As soon as the bag dropped to the world below, it broke and all the heat crammed inside the bag rushed out. Warmth spread at once to all parts of the world and quickly thawed the ice and snow. Flood waters ran high for many weeks, but then the waters subsided.

The trees, bushes, and flowers which had been covered by ice grew green leaves once more, and springtime bloomed.

From that time till now, the world has always seen a warm season returning after a cold one, just as we see it today.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In which I share a story for the season: another stable tale

I was lucky to know storyteller Chuck Larkin for several years before his death in 2003.

He maintained a toll-free number so that friends and family and just any old lonely person could call and talk to him for hours, and many a time I did just that. Chuck told me a lot of stories, each one crazier and funnier and more profound than the last.

He knew about me and my horses, so of course he told me this one, but I borrowed the text for it straight from his website. If you like this story, you might want to explore more of his tales. You will find them here.

Ms Horse, Ms Mule and Ms Cow a story from Chuck Larkin, bluegrass storyteller

Mary sure did have some problems living in that barn.

When baby Jesus was born, Joseph needed a crib, so he put some fresh hay in Ms Horse’s feeding trough. Back in the old days a horse’s feeding trough was called a manger. Nobody asked Ms Horse if they could use her manger for a crib. Then her manger was filled with fresh hay and nobody said Ms Horse wasn’t supposed to eat that fresh hay in her manger. Fact was, just about every time Ms Horse noticed no one was looking, she would pull some hay out from under baby Jesus for a snack. Ms Horse loved to eat hay.

Well, before long, baby Jesus would be laying on the hard boards of the manger and wake up cranky and yowling, like any little baby. Mary would say, “Now Ms Horse, stop eating that hay! You’re upsetting the baby.”

Mary would then fetch some more hay for a mattress and baby Jesus would go back to sleep. As soon as everybody had their backs turned, Ms Horse would sneak over and snack on some more hay and the whole problem would start again. Baby Jesus would wake up wailing. Mary would lecture Ms Horse and Ms Horse would lower her head and look real remorseful, you know, real sad. As soon as no one was looking, Ms Horse crept over and nibbled on the hay until
baby Jesus was laying on those hard boards.

Well, it didn’t take long, Mary got a little bit nettled, you know, kind of mad like, just like the rest of us. Mary said, “Ms Horse, from now on, you and all your kith and kin and all your children’s children will never get enough to eat. You will have to eat all the time.”

Have you ever seen a horse out in the field? They are eating all the time. If you ever own a horse you will understand. When you own a horse you are feeding them all the time.

Ms Mule also was naughty in the barn. First, Ms Horse was eating up the hay mattress and waking up baby Jesus. Next, every time baby Jesus fell asleep, Ms Mule would go “Hee haw! Hee haw”!

Let me tell you, you have never heard a baby cry, until you hear one cry after a mule goes “Hee haw, hee haw.” Oh my, how Mary would speak to Ms Mule. I was told that almost every time the barn would get quiet, Ms Mule would start in, “Hee haw, hee haw”! She’d wake up baby Jesus from his nap and he’d start in crying.

Ms Mule was so loud, even the grown ups would jump.

Mary got so aggravated, she said, “Ms Mule you are not fit to be a parent! From now on, you and all your kith and kin will never become parents”! Do you know, to this day, a mule has never had a baby.

Now Ms Cow, she was different. Ms Cow was something else. Yep, she sure was. Ms Cow was a big help to Mary in that barn. For example, Ms Cow would stand with her back next to the manger and wave her tail back and forth over baby Jesus, to keep the flies off him. There were lots of flies in that old barn. Ms Cow gave fresh milk, to both Mary and Joseph, and to some of the other visitors to the barn.

She and Jack, the Donkey, would take turns baby sitting whenever Mary and Joseph had to run an errand.
Later, when Mary was packing up to go down to Egypt, she said, “Ms Cow you have been such a helpmate to me and baby Jesus, I want to thank you. From now on, you and all your kith and kin and your children’s children, whenever you finish eating your lunch on a warm summer day, you can go lay down in the shade of a tree and continue to enjoy your lunch with a chew of grass.”

The next time you see cows out in a pasture after lunch laying in the shade, you will see them chewing away like they had a big wad of chewing gum. The farmers say the cows are chewing their cud. Yep that’s why horses always eat, mules don’t ever get to be parents, and cows get to chew their cud after dinner.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In which I share a story for the season: a tale from the stable

This is another story for Lytha. Apparently, I gave her this story years and years ago, and then forgot about it--but she remembered and asked about it. I could find not hide 'ner hair of it...until about a month ago, when a storyteller was telling a story about the story. I queried Barra, and she sent me the tale. This is my version, borrowed from Barra, who heard it from her Nana.

"Bride" is pronounced "BREED-ay".

Bride (Bridget) at the Stable – a tale of Bethlehem by way of Scotland

Came one day out of the hills a young woman down to the little town of Bethlehem. She knocked on every door, and at every door she was refused, though she asked for work of the humblest sort.

Finally, at a little inn on the outskirts of town, a man called Carter hired the lass, for though his inn was small and shabby and had almost no business at all, his mother on her deathbed had made him promise never to turn anyone away. So the lass, called Bride or Bridget, came there and did the work of cooking and cleaning, and became a friend to the neighbors while Carter earned money by carting supplies around the area. She started serving dinners in the evenings, and Carter couldn’t complain, for it brought good business, but it also brought trouble. There were Roman soldiers in the town, and strangers too, come to be recorded by the census, and some of these meant no good to the people of the town.

One day, Carter had to go on a journey that would take three days and two nights, and he worried for Bride’s safety while he was gone. He made her promise not to open the door between sunset and sunrise. She spent the first day cleaning the inn from top-to-bottom, and even cleaned the stable free of dust and spiderwebs. At dusk, she went into the inn and locked the door behind her as she had promised. Just as she was taking the first bite from her simple supper, someone knocked at the door.

Well, she’d promised not to open it.

But she hadn’t promised anything about the windows, so she opened a shutter and looked out. There in the courtyard she saw a donkey with a young woman on his back. The woman was heavily pregnant, and a man with a kind face held the donkey’s rope. The man explained that they had travelled far, the other inns were full, the donkey was footsore from the journey, and he needed to find shelter for his wife.

Bride explained about her promise not to let anyone come in during Carter’s absence. Then she remembered the stable, freshly cleaned. She had promised not to open the door, so she climbed out the window with a basket containing her supper, and took them to the stable. She brought blankets and later, when Mary’s pains came, warm water and soothing herbs. Bride had helped to birth babes since she was eight years old, and so she was the very first to hold that special child and to swaddle him in clean cloths.

Meanwhile, Carter had a feeling on that day that he should not be away from home. He dreamed of his mother, who told him to go home to the inn to receive a special guest there.

Carter woke up and started for home at once, despite being delayed by three people who asked for help. He was surprised by the brightness of the stars, but these enabled him to travel quickly on the familiar road.

When he arrived home at last, he found the family in the stable, and Bride there with them.

During the next few days, Carter doctored the donkey and welcomed all who come to see the child. The extra business from the Wise Men and their entourage paid well enough for Carter to give up travelling, and he stayed home from there on. He married Bride, who became a midwife, known far and wide for her gentle care of new mothers, as well as herds and flocks.

To this day in Scotland, midwives will open doors and windows at the beginning of labor, calling out to Bride to come and help with the birthing of a new child.

Monday, December 27, 2010

In which I share a poem for the season: the talking animals

Cathryn Wellner is a storyteller, poet, and farmer. She wrote this poem about an incident that happened on her farm in Alberta, Canada, and she posted the poem to a storyteller's listserv last month. As soon as I read it, I knew I wanted to share it. She kindly gave permission.

Stock Talk Christmas Eve

One wintry night the relatives
Were gathered in our barn.
They'd all come from their city homes
For Christmas at the farm.

'Twas Christmas Eve, and just before
The wassail was passed 'round,
We donned our coats and headed down
To hear the magic sound

Of animals at midnight,
For then the power of speech
Is given to all sheep and cows,
Or so I'd heard it preached.

My husband, he was skeptical,
The relatives amused.
They figured I'd gone round the bend
Since donning country shoes.

But to the barn they gamely trooped.
They'd humor me this time.
We flipped the switch and walked into
A scene that was sublime.

The sheep were calmly bedded down.
They looked, then turned away,
For we'd disturbed their peaceful rest
And hadn't brought them hay.

I thought of tales of talking beasts.
"Let's sing to them!" I cried.
Embarrassed silence met my plea.
"Let's not," my husband sighed.

No word came from those woolly heads.
I blushed and murmured low,
"They prob'ly talk when we're not here.
I guess we'd better go."

Then coming from a darkened stall,
We heard a little cry,
Soon followed by a throaty one
That pulled us to draw nigh

And watch a newborn struggle up
To reach her mother's teat.
She crumpled, rose, and tried again
On tiny cloven feet.

While ewe and lamb crooned soft and low,
We cleared our throats and sang
Of friendly beasts and silent nights
And bells that angels rang.

Then all the livestock in the barn
Began to bleat and crow
And oink and quack and gobble
In the languages they know.

The relatives fell silent
Till one softly observed,
"That's the closest thing to talking
This city dude has heard."

So maybe friendly beasts don't speak
In English or Chinese,
But if you listen close
You'll hear them talk on Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

In which I share a story for the season: Bremen-Town Musicians

This story is for Lytha, who now lives in Germany (with her man the musician!) and has visited Bremen!

The Bremen Town Musicians – a story from Germany

There once was a man who had a donkey that had carried the grain sacks to the mill tirelessly for many long years. But the donkey’s strength was failing and he was growing more and more unfit for work. So his master began to consider getting rid of him. But the donkey, who became aware that his master had something wicked in mind, ran away and set out on the road to Bremen. There he thought he could surely become a town musician.

After he had walked for a while, he found a hunting hound lying on the road, howling pitifully. "Why are you howling so, old fellow?" asked the donkey.

"Ah," replied the hound, "because I am old and grow weaker each day, and can no longer hunt, my master wanted to shoot me dead. So I fled. But how am I supposed to earn my bread now?"

“Come with me," said the donkey, "I am going to Bremen and shall become town musician there. I will play the lute and you shall beat the kettledrum."

The hound agreed, and they went on together. It wasn't long before they saw a cat sitting on the path. "Now then, old whiskers, what has gone wrong for you?" asked the donkey.

"Who can be merry when he is as old as me?" answered the cat. "For many years I kept the mice from the house, but now I am tired and my mistress wanted to drown me. Whatever shall I do now?”

"Come with us to Bremen. You can become a town musician there."

The cat thought that was a good idea and went with them. As the three went on together, they passed by a farm, where the rooster was sitting on the gate crowing with all his might.

"Your crowing pierces right through to the marrow," said the donkey.

"The lady of the house has ordered the cook to chop off my head this evening, said the rooster. “Tomorrow is Sunday and they want to eat me in the soup. Now I am crowing at the top of my lungs while still I can."

"You should come with us!" said the donkey. "We are going to Bremen. You can find something better than death everywhere. You have a good voice, and when we make music together it will sound magnificant."

The rooster liked the suggestion and the four went on together.

They could not reach the town of Bremen in one day, however, and that evening they saw a light shining in the forest.

The donkey replied, "Let's get up and go over there, for the acommodations here are poor."

So they made their way to the place where the light was, and soon saw it shine brighter and grow larger, until they came to a well-lighted robbers house. The donkey, as the tallest, went to the window and looked in.

"What do you see, my grey steed?" asked the rooster.

"What do I see?" answered the donkey. "A table covered with good things to eat and drink, and robbers sitting at it enjoying themselves."

"That would be the sort of thing for us," said the rooster.
Then the animals considered how they might manage to earn a bed for the night. At last they thought of a way: they would perform their music here, for the robbers, in hopes that the robbers would be please enough with the sound that they would offer food and a bed in payment.

The donkey placed himself with his forefeet upon the window, the hound jumped on the donkey's back, the cat climbed upon the dog, and lastly the rooster flew up and perched upon the cat's head. When this was done, at a given signal, they began to perform their music together. The donkey brayed, the hound barked, the cat mewed, and the rooster crowed.

At this horrible shrieking, the robbers sprang up, thinking a ghost was coming in, and fled in a great fright out into the forest.

The four companions then sat down at the table, each eating to his heart's content the dishes that tasted best to him.

When they were done, they put out the light and each sought out a sleeping place according to his own taste. The donkey laid himself down in the grass beside the house, the hound behind the door, the cat upon the hearth near the warm ashes, and the rooster perched himself on the roof. And being tired from their long walk, they soon went to sleep.

When it was past midnight, and the robbers saw from afar that the light was no longer burning in their house, and all appeared quiet, the captain said, "We really ought not to have let ourselves be scared off like that." He sent one of the robbers back to check if anyone was still in the house.

The robber found everything quiet. He went into the kitchen to light a candle, and, taking the fiery eyes of the cat for live coals, he held a match to them to light it. But the cat did not understand the joke, and flew in his face, spitting and scratching. He was dreadfully frightened, and ran to the back door, but the dog, who lay there sprang up and bit his leg. And as he ran across the yard, the donkey gave him a smart kick with his hind foot. The rooster, too, who had been awakened by the noise, cried down from the roof, "Cock-a-doodle-doo."

Then the robber ran back as fast as he could to his captain, and said, "Oh, there is a horrible monster sitting in the house, who spat on me and scratched my face with its long claws. And by the door there's a man with a knife, who stabbed me in the leg. And in the yard there lies a black monster, who beat me with a wooden club. And above, upon the roof, sits the judge, who called out, ‘bring the rogue here to me!’ So I got away as fast as I could."

After this the robbers never again dared enter the house. But it suited the four musicians of Bremen so well that they stayed there happily until the end of their days.