Beautiful Joe
Chapter 30, Page 2

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Please be aware that this book was originally published in 1894 and may contain words, descriptions, or other passages that may be considered offensive today.


CHAPTER XXX: A JEALOUS OX (continued)

There were doors at each end of the stable, and just now they stood open, and a gentle breeze was blowing through, but Mrs. Wood said that when the cattle stood in the stalls, both doors were never allowed to be open at the same time. Mr. Wood was most particular to have no drafts blowing upon his cattle. He would not have them chilled, and he would not have them overheated. One thing was as bad as the other. And during the winter they were never allowed to drink icy water. He took the chill off the water for his cows, just as Mrs. Wood did for her hens.

"You know, Laura," Mrs. Wood went on, "that when cows are kept dry and warm, they eat less than when they are cold and wet. They are so warm-blooded that if they are cold, they have to eat a great deal to keep up the heat of their bodies, so it pays better to house and feed them well. They like quiet, too. I never knew that till I married your uncle. On our farm, the boys always shouted and screamed at the cows when they were driving them, and sometimes they made them run. They're never allowed to do that here."

"I have noticed how quiet this farm seems," said Miss Laura. "You have so many men about, and yet there is so little noise."

"Your uncle whistles a great deal," said Mrs. Wood. "Have you noticed that? He whistles when he's about his work, and then he has a calling whistle that nearly all of the animals know, and the men run when they hear it. You'd see every cow in this stable turn its head, if he whistled in a certain way outside. He says that he got into the way of doing it when he was a boy and went for his father's cows. He trained them so that he'd just stand in the pasture and whistle, and they'd come to him. I believe the first thing that inclined me to him was his clear, happy whistle. I'd hear him from our house away down on the road, jogging along with his cart, or driving in his buggy. He says there is no need of screaming at any animal. It only frightens and angers them. They will mind much better if you speak clearly and distinctly. He says there is only one thing an animal hates more than to be shouted at, and that's to be crept on — to have a person sneak up to it and startle it. John says many a man is kicked, because he comes up to his horse like a thief. A startled animal's first instinct is to defend itself. A dog will spring at you, and a horse will let his heels fly. John always speaks or whistles to let the stock know when he's approaching."

"Where is uncle this afternoon?" asked Miss Laura.

"Oh, up to his eyes in hay. He's even got one of the oxen harnessed to a hay cart."

"I wonder whether it's Duke?" said Miss Laura.

"Yes, it is. I saw the star on his forehead," replied Mrs. Wood.

"I don't know when I have laughed at anything as much as I did at him the other day," said Miss Laura. "Uncle asked me if I had ever heard of such a thing as a jealous ox, and I said no. He said, 'Come to the barnyard, and I'll show you one.' The oxen were both there, Duke with his broad face, and Bright so much sharper and more intelligent looking. Duke was drinking at the trough there, and uncle said: 'Just look at him. Isn't he a great, fat, self-satisfied creature, and doesn't he look as if he thought the world owed him a living, and he ought to get it?' Then he got the card and went up to Bright, and began scratching him. Duke lifted his head from the trough, and stared at uncle, who paid no attention to him but went on carding Bright, and stroking and petting him. Duke looked so angry. He left the trough, and with the water dripping from his lips, went up to uncle, and gave him a push with his horns. Still uncle took no notice, and Duke almost pushed him over. Then uncle left off petting Bright, and turned to him. He said Duke would have treated him roughly, if he hadn't. I never saw a creature look as satisfied as Duke did, when uncle began to card him. Bright didn't seem to care, and only gazed calmly at them."