The Animal Tales! • The Fourteenth of Several Fables

14. Better Idle
A Fable That Follows: One Part Genius

Fox C ~ Fox Gets the Goose (Block Print)All day, the farmer muttered to himself: “If not this then that, not that then this.” Maybe the fox had the right idea: easier to steal chickens than raise them. “Ol’ Jack Smith took a few unwarranted shots at me!” Then he said to himself: “Jack owes me some chickens for that! Aye!” The farmer went that night and stole four of Jack Smith’s chickens. The next morning he slept late and so didn’t notice when Smith’s wife came for advice as to how foil a fox.

When the farmer returned the next night, he soon heard Jack Smith’s wife at the door of the coop. He leapt onto the nearest shelf. “Well, well, well,” she said, “you all look like chickens but I see that one has lost his feathers. Are you ill?” The wife took the chicken by his nose, squeezed until he opened his mouth and poured some castor oil down his throat. “That will help!” she said. Once she left, the wretched farmer staggered out of the chicken coop, coughing and choking. “Such a racket!” said Jack Smith’s wife and she came out of the farmhouse.

When she saw the fat old chicken doubled over in front of the coop, she took a rug beater from the laundry line. “Can’t stand up straight?” she asked. “You need to improve your circulation!” Then she whacked him on the behind with the rug beater. Off he ran, and old Jack Smith’s wife followed him as far as the barnyard fence. “Now you’ll lay a good egg or two!” she called after him. The next morning the farmer sat uncomfortably on the porch. “Will you be hatching any new plans, husband?” his wife asked sweetly.

“Humph!” he answered irritably. “Better idle than ill-employed.”

The Animal Tales! • The Thirteenth of Several Fables

13. One Part Genius
A Fable that follows: Better Nothing for Thanks

The fox soon ate more chickens. The farmer could not bear it. “Genius is one part inspiration and nine parts perspiration!” he bellowed. “Then you shall sweat yourself out of all nine parts!” his wife shot back. “And we shall see!” answered the farmer. “I’ll have his skin and you shall make me a hat!” Then neither spoke again but ignored each other, like bad neighbors with a good fence.

That evening the farmer went to his neighbor. (If he couldn’t catch a fox, he’d fool his wife, at least.) The farmer thought he’d seen the neighbor’s nose before (a little long) but he said anyway: “I’ve come to buy a fox’s pelt from you.” “I just happen to have one!” answered the neighbor. “What will you want for it?” asked the farmer. “I wouldn’t mind if your wife cooked my six chickens.” “It’s a bargain!” said the farmer. The farmer put on the fox’s pelt and the neighbor took his chickens to be cooked by the farmer’s wife.

After the neighbor ate his chickens and was gone, the farmer burst in. He was sweating from head to foot and pale as a June tomato. “That was the fox you cooked for!” said the farmer. “And where have you been?” asked his wife. “Why I’ll tell you! Jack Smith’s been shooting at me this whole night!” “And why would he do that?” asked his wife. “‘Cause that fox stole Jack’s chickens!” “I swear!” his wife snorted. “And what were you dressed like a fox for?”

Then she said,

“Stupidity is nine parts perspiration and one part inspiration!”

Be it known that this fable is followed by: Better Idle

The Animal Tales! • The Fifth of Several Fables

5. The Best Advice

A fable that follows: A Pig out of Mud!

Woodcut Full Fox Print (Color Corrected)The farmer was plum out of ideas. He needed advice as to how to catch a fox. “And who will you ask?” his wife demanded. “It won’t be you!” answered the farmer irritably. “Sure as I know a thing or two,” she said, “an ounce of doing cures a pound of talk. You’ll see how far advice gets you!” “And I will!” retorted the farmer. Off he went! One neighbor told him one way, another neighbor told him another. And some said the opposite.

Late afternoon the farmer met a neighbor with a very long snout. “I know just how to catch a fox!” said this neighbor. “And how would that be?” asked the farmer. “I will tell you for the price of a chicken,” said the neighbor. So the farmer gave his long-snouted neighbor one chicken. That night the farmer tied some twine to a chicken’s toe and the other end to his own toe. That way, the neighbor had told him, you will know when the fox is stealing the chickens.

In the middle of the night, the fox retied that twine round a sleeping bull’s tale and bit the bull darn hard on its behind. Off the charged the bull and out came the farmer, bed and all, dragged behind him by the big toe! When the bedraggled farmer finally returned, days later, his wife said sweetly: “You know…”

“The best advice comes with no strings attached.”

Be it known that this fable is followed by: Greener Grass: The Sixth of Several Fables!

The Animal Tales! • The Fourth of Several Fables

4.  A Pig out of the Mud

A fable that follows: One Bad Apple!

“Sad!” said the duck to the cow, “a very sad story! Why, if we were pigs, we’d be living in mud!” They decided the pig deserved better, and so they pushed some apple crates together and made a little parlor. Woodcut Pumpkin (Color Corrected)It was clean and tidy. They brought straw for bedding, made a pillow of leaves and decorated the walls with flowers. The animals congratulated themselves on their kindness and generosity.

The farmer and his wife returned from church. As soon as the mare was unhitched from the carriage and saw the pig’s new parlor she pricked her ears and stomped her hooves. “Why don’t we live in places like that?” she snorted. “All I have is a stall!” “Why should a pig? — a pig! — of all animals! — have its own house?” “You?” said the goose. “Why not me? Those are my feathers in the farmer’s pillow!” “Outrageous!” crowed the rooster. “Shouldn’t we all live like pigs!”

They marched that night into the farmer’s house. “What the heck!” the farmer cried and fired his gun. The animals fled but once they’d gathered their wits they went straight to the pig’s parlor. His straw was trampled, he had eaten the flowers and the leaves were scattered hither and anon. He had made his parlor into a pig’s sty. “Snort,” he said happily. Maybe the animals didn’t want to live like pigs after all.  “You can take the pig out of the mud,” they all said, “but—”

“You can’t take the mud out of a pig.”

Be it known that this fable is followed by: The Best Advice: The Fifth of Several Fables!

The Animal Tales! • The Third of Several Fables

3. One Bad Apple

A fable that follows: Where Luck Goes!

Turnips“Disgusting!” said the Magpie, riding atop the pig’s back. “Why would anyone want to eat chicken!” “Snort,” answered the pig. “Why,” said the Magpie, “if I weren’t so smart, I’d be a chicken too. Barbaric! Imagine eating me! And look at you eating those muddy apples! Who wants a muddy apple? Yuck!” And that was when the magpie pointed to all the shiny red apples at the top of the nearby apple tree. “Look!” said the magpie. “All you have to do is walk onto the roof of that shed and you can have as many shiny apples as you want!”

“Snort!” It was true! The pig wanted those apples! The pig climbed the barrels stacked next to the shed but with his very first cloven step on the tin roof, down he slid! Just as the pig was about tumble from the roof to the ground, he wrapped his tail round the lowest apple branch. And there he hung and hung. The animals came and went. “Such an ugly apple!” they said. “Like a peach with hooves!” said others. “It shall not be a good year for apples,” said the farmer’s wife. “Snort! Squeal! Snort!” squealed the pig. At last the branch broke and the pig landed on its nose, flat from that day forth; and its poor tail never uncurled. The lesson was all too clear.

“You can always shine a muddy apple.”

Be it known that this fable is followed by: A Pig Out of Mud: The Fourth of Several Fables!