What a lovely day to graze in the meadow, thought Bessie, the chestnut mare, as she trotted out the paddock gate. I hope I’m the first one there. I just can’t abide that old cow, Nan. She always poops right where the best grass grows and bellows at the most inappropriate moments. As she neared the meadow, she smelled something odd, musky and heavy. Bessie flattened her ears and broke into a canter for there was something amiss. Rounding the tree-lined lane, the meadow opened before her. And there, smack in the middle, right where she’d saved a tall stand of grass for herself, stood a site that brought her to a skidding stop. A huge, red bull was finishing off the last blades of luscious, juicy, and hitherto untouched forage. The nerve! The audacity!
Bessie shook her head and kicked up her heels in protest. She neighed, “This is an outrage! Who are you and what are you doing here? You have no right to eat my pasture!”
The bull cast a lazy eye at Bessie, flicked his tail at a pesky fly, and went right back to gnawing the last of the brome to stubble.
Well, this sure didn’t sit right with Bessie, so she kicked and snorted and neighed until Bucky, a buckskin gelding, left his fine ration of morning oats to see what the fuss was about. His fat belly swayed side to side as he ambled toward the meadow, thinking about the oats left in his manger, and that Bessie was typically given to overreaction. But he, too, became indignant as he beheld the ruined pasture.
“What’s going on here? And who is that?” he whinnied, emphatically thrusting his long nose at the bull.
“That! That thing took our grass! We must sound the alarm! It’s an invasion!”
“It certainly seems that way. Let’s chase the stranger off!”
“Just look at that monster! He’s too big for us to do it by ourselves. We need numbers. Let’s whinny and get Lucy and Tyrone to come and see this travesty.” So Bucky and Bessie whinnied and whinnied and pretty soon Lucy, a dapple gray pony, and Tyrone, a palomino Percheron gelding, trotted from the barn. Joining Bucky and Bessie, the four snorted protests and demanded the bull vacate their pasture. Pretty soon Nan, the cow, arrived along with two ewes, Geraldine and Tucker, who bleated their ire at seeing the ruination.
Some distance away, five crows were feasting on a carcass of fine raccoon flesh, made finer by the fermentation it had undergone. One of the older crows, Gomer, cocked his head at the distant ruckus. “I say, !caw! there’s something !caw! afoot at the Brown Farm.”
“Caw, caw, caw!” the crows shouted. Bossy Gertrude, his sister, scolded, “I’m eating. If you’re so interested, go take a look !caw! and report back.”
“I believe that’s exactly what I shall do,” announced Gomer with a loud squawk. Gomer spread his long, black wings and beat the air, sweeping upward. The noisy protests of the horses and sheep and the cow grew louder the closer he got. He circled above the pasture, taking in the scene. Not again, he thought in his crow brain. It was the same as all the other farms where the bull crashed a gate, found the best forage, and left nothing for the residents.
Gomer glided onto Bessie’s back, alighting with a !caw!. Bessie twitched and shied until Gomer cawed again, saying, “It’s only me, you old nag. Settle down.”
Bessie snorted, shook her mane, stamped her foot. Crows were considered deplorable for their habit of eating roadkill, not well-liked by the farm animals, and Bessie was a bit indignant Gomer used her back as a perch. A much bigger issue, however, loomed in front of her. She snorted as only a horse can snort and said, “Will you look at this? We need to get rid of this, this monster! This beast! We’ll go hungry and fight over food and then nothing will be the same ever again! Someone, help us! We need an army. Gomer, go tell all the animals on the neighboring farms, get them to jump their fences, crash their gates, come and help us be rid of this marauding creature before it destroys all our pastures!”
Gomer clucked and cawed for that’s the way crows laugh. “Bessie, my friend, this bull has already been on all the farms and eaten every bit of grass while all the animals stood around and did nothing. Why would they come to help you, now that their food is gone?”
Bessie was stunned. Why wouldn’t the animals protect their pasture, chase off the intruder? And so she asked Gomer.
Gomer preened his chest, shook his feathers and cawed, “Because of the rule.”
“What rule?” Bessie indignantly snorted.
“The Council of the Fortunate decreed four months ago that all pastures were now the property of the state. All grazing rights were ceded and a great hoard of invaders just like this bull who you see here hurried to our fair lands. There were protests, but the Council has many friends who jailed and beat anyone who refused to accept the edict.”
Bessie lowered her head and her tail sagged. “Then we’re doomed, are we not? There’s nothing we can do.”
Gomer brought his wing to his beak, deep in thought. “We can do something. I’ll send a call to every murder of crows within a hundred miles. We’ll flock together, we’ll peck and flap our wings and drive out the intruder. For this, you must agree to share your morning grain.”
Bessie lifted her head. “It might work,” she said. “But only if you drive off the intruder shall you be rewarded.” This was agreeable to Gomer and with that, a convening of the farm animals commenced. Bessie, Bucky, Lucy, Tyrone, Geraldine, Tucker and Nan huddled, discussing Gomer’s proposal. Nan was disinclined to share her grain with anyone, and would not give her consent until Tyrone neighed, “Better to have some than have none.” Nan chewed her cud a while and farted. She saw the logic in Tyrone’s reasoning, but being stubborn, it took her another long chew before she mooed, “I suppose.”
With that, Gomer flew off Bessie’s back to the tippy-top of the highest tree. He sent crow signals, alarms that traveled from murder to murder and soon the sky was black with the army of ready volunteers. The harriers quickly drew up a battle plan and began the assault. They dove, and pecked and beat their wings at the behemoth. This went on for three days, the bull standing his ground as if cemented in place. Upon the fourth day, the bull, so harassed it hadn’t been able to eat and now quite hungry, thundered with great fury, shook its body, and galloped away.
All across the land, armies of crows were engaged in similar battles, bravely fighting in concert with farm animals that joined the fray, kicking and snorting, butting and bleating until every last invader was forced off the land. The Council members, having lost all control, went into hiding.
The animals had been saved from certain starvation and a great victory celebration was held. From then on, crows became respected and revered for their bravery and no one complained to share their grain. Except Nan who had oppositional personality disorder and always felt a little cheated.