Volume VII, No. 1, Fall 1979


by Lance Collins

Old Mac Donald had a farm... and on this farm he had a rooster. His cock-a-doodle-do echoed through the early morning mist and triggered a sequence of events that stirred the animals to action.

The milk cows headed slowly toward the barn, arriving just as the farmer was readying for the milking chores. Beef cattle appeared at the feedlot at their established time. If the farmer varied his schedule, a few of the impatient cattle returned to the pasture while the rest stayed behind to keep vigil, mooing impatiently.

On the farm, the animals developed unusual customs and characteristics. By changing his environment one goat's personality was greatly modified. A newborn kid, abandoned by his mother, was discovered near death. The family nursed him back to health and raised him apart from the herd. His companions were the children and a friendly airedale dog. The little kid developed amusing characteristics and a personality similar to the dog. He learned to participate in games with his companions. Whenever possible, the frisky little kid tagged along with the group when they explored the farm.

The kid matured into a typical inquisitive creature with some rather untypical traits--the ability to tree a squirrel, flush out a rabbit, play kick the Can, hide and seek and even croquet. HiS playful antics were delightful, as well as annoying. He seemed attracted, in turn, to the clotheSline, chicken yard and the rose bushes. The parental instincts of the dog kept him out of trouble on more than one occasion. When the goat came near these attractions, the dog maneuvered him in the opposite direction. To avoid a confrontation with the dog, who had learned the lesson years ago, the goat sought other forms of amusement.

When the time came to place him with the other goats, he feared his own kind, and in turn he was rejected by them. Unhappy and insecure, he bleated constantly from being left on his own in the pasture. After a few weeks he became resigned to his separation from his playmates and the only home he'd ever known, but from this time forward, he was a loner, keeping a distance between himself and the herd. He looked forward to the visits from the children and the dog, for their fondness for one another was permanent.

The other goats observed from a distance the exchange of affectionate greeting among them. They gazed curiously and their keen minds questioned why the young goat was not afraid for it was their nature and instinct to be wary and avoid close association with people.

Along with this instinct, most animals are very protective of their young. Even the most gentle of animals have been known to injure people who were surprised at the behavior of a new mother. A curious young lady on her way home from school walked nonchalantly toward a gentle mother cow to sneak a look at her newborn calf. She was soon horrified when the mother pawed the earth, lowered her head and charged toward her. Quickly throwing her books and newspaper at the angry cow, who immediately trampled the articles into shreds, the frightened girl climbed over the nearest fence.

Equally defensive was a small but cantankerous mother hen. The same curious young lady was sent scurrying from the chicken yard when her attempts at feeding were mistaken for an attack on the newly hatched offspring.

Whether protecting their young, following their daily habits, or growing accustomed to their surroundings, farm animals display an amazing sense of forewarning and time. Some people believe animals can even predict bad weather.

When a horse develops an extra thick coat, people take this for a sign of a severe winter. Sheep ranchers contend when a mother ewe gives birth to healthy twins and will accept only one of them, they can expect a poor growing season. Their reasoning is based on the animal's natural instinct to survive. Since overpopulation means a scarcity of grass, the ewe's actions foretell a drought.



Domestic animals are very good at predicting time. One little dog knew exactly when the school bus would arrive--until daylight savings time came. It took some adjusting, but soon she was right back on schedule.

Equally talented for knowing feeding time, the pig also knows how to enjoy life to the fullest. With an oink! oink! here, he lets worries pass him by as he lies contentedly in a mud hole, far away from rising gas costs, the growing danger of pollution and the possibility of a war.

Old Mac Donald's farm could have been anywhere in the Ozarks any day of the week. E, I, E, I, OH!

Photos courtesy of Jane Collins, Ruth Massey, Lea Ann Anderson, Lance Collins, Darrell Pollock, Doug Sharp, Darrell Pollock, Jane Collins, and Mary Schmalstig.


Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.

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