Page images
[ocr errors]

feet, have always filled my heart with love and wonder. Horses are miserable creatures, invariably doing precisely what they ought not to do, kicking when they ought to go, going when they ought to stand still, balking when their owner is in the most frantic haste; forever sick, or lame, or requiring to be shod--a pest, a nuisance, and a bore. But cows do not balk, or run, or go lame, or need shoeing; and although they occasionally kick over the milkpail, it is probably with good reason or with the best of intentions. They have nice long coats that keep them from catching cold in winter, and have an odd way of perspiring through their noses that is as curious as it is interesting. A cow is a model-without referring to this last peculiarity—for a wife; she is gentle, good, and beautiful, and never makes a fuss. The first point, therefore, was to buy a cow.

I had a friend living at Flushing named Augustus Weeville, who had been there several years, and who had acquired great knowledge of the intricacies of rural performances, and, among other things, was learned in cows. In fact, he was learned in most farming matters, and, being naturally proud of his adopted village, and interested in my success in emigrating thither, gave me throughout his valuable advice and assistance.

[ocr errors]

Of course, his aid was called in on the cow question, and equally, of course, he knew an Irishman by-the-by, what can be the reason that Irishmen are the only people that have cows to sell? Is it because they love cows, or hate them? The whole world knows their “strong weakness” for pigs, but do they collect rare specimens of cows out of pure affection, to dispose of to curiosity-seekers having good homes? Or is it that they love pigs too well to endure the presence of a rival, and dispose of the bovine race as fast as they obtain them? However that may be, if you ever want a cow, an Irishman will want to sell you one; and this particular Irishman had a particularly fine animal-just the thing for the occasion.

Before purchasing, I made a few elementary inquiries--as to what cows eat, how much exercise they needed, in what manner they were to be stabled, and how many quarts of oats they would require daily. My friend replied that they preferred a warm mash, to be given three times a day; and when he saw from my countenance that my mind was a blank on the subject of warm mashes, he explained that hot water was poured upon bran and meal mixed, and that the mixture was then usually called a mash, although why and wherefore he could not distinctly

[ocr errors]

say. Then, carried away by the extent of his knowledge, and rousing to the subject, he went into the habits of cows in general; that he thought ship-stuff was an excellent change of diet; that they liked hay, turnips, carrots, potato-peelings, bread, slops of all kinds that were not greasy; that they were not fed oats, and required no exercise and no care in the stable, but stood in the sun all day long, winking and blinking with contentment, and put themselves to bed at night; that the one he referred to was not young, but gentle and a good milker; and mentioned incidentally that he hardly knew where I would keep her in the city, as no cow would ever go down the area steps and through a narrow hall-way into a back yard.

Now I knew nothing of bran, and meal, and shipstuff, and only listened with an attempt at an intelligent smile, satisfied that the articles could be purchased by name, and without explaining their nature; but I was well aware that the yard was the only place in which to keep the cow, and that the road to it was down the steps and through the lower hall; at least, if there was any other way thither, I had not yet discovered it, and I had owned my house then some twenty years. So this casual objection was quite a serious one, and we were compelled to discuss the

[ocr errors]

feasibility of leading the animal up the front stepsa proceeding, however, which would have required her to go down the back ones—or hoisting her over the fence. As these measures did not seem practicable, and a cow must be had, my friend mildly suggested that several Irishmen with a stout rope might drag her through the passage-way; and as my faith in the nature of cows was illimitable, it was determined to make the purchase on the chance. The weight of a cow was to me an utterly unknown quantity, and the floor she was to pass over having once, on a previous occasion, and without any great strain, given way, a carpenter had to be called in to strengthen it. He, in his enthusiasm, and being probably as ignorant as myself, used so many supports that it would have been strong enough to carry an elephant, while four able-bodied men were engaged from a neighboring stable, and provided with a goodsized rope, so that we were fully prepared for any emergency.

In order that there may be no mistake in the debit and credit of this transaction, it must be known that the cow cost $100, to be delivered at the door free of charge. So this sum must be charged to principal as so much invested in stock, whether it ever entered my back yard or not; and the interest on it will hereafter be one of the current expenses, amounting, at seven per cent., to exactly $7 a year. It is essential that these matters should be watched; “look after the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves;" and the point would be whether the cow's milk and so forth would hereafter pay $7 annually net profit.

The day appointed to receive my new pet arrived, and with it the animal, while four brawny, red-handed Irishmen, strong enough to pick her up and carry her if she resisted, were at the door. They at once became excited, and prepared for action, and the cow looked wild and threatening as they closed in around her. Her owner, who was leading her with a cord, called out “s00-so-o-o” in a deprecatory manner, that evidently produced no effect; he, however, got her head to the first step, where she hesitated, and began to sniff suspiciously. The moment of action had evidently come, and I was about to shout to my supporters, who had been carefully instructed as to their duties, “Up, guards, and at her," when the lower door opened, and an intelligent Irish female appeared, holding a turnip in her hand. The effect was magical; the creature's countenance changed instantly; turnips evidently had been scarce with her, or her owner, not thinking it worth while to waste food

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »