It was a summer’s day. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and the flies were buzzing. All the cows were grazing in the pasture — all except Mama Moo.
Mama Moo had sneaked away from the others and jumped over the fence. She had taken her bicycle and rode off toward Crow Forest. She was carrying something in the package holder on her bicycle.
Mama Moo knocked on Crow’s branch.
“Hi, Crow!", she whispered.
Crow stuck his head out of his nest. He cried out so loudly that he could be heard a long way off.
“Hi, Mama Moo, is that you!
What are you doing here in the forest?
You should be out in the pasture chewing your cud and staring around like a normal cow.”
“SHHH!” whispered Mama Moo,
“Don’t talk so loud, I don’t want the farmer to hear us.”
FLAP, FLAP, THUD.
Crow flew down from his nest and landed on the handlebars.
“Have you run away again?” he asked.
“I just wanted to ask you if you could help me with something,” Mama Moo said.
Just then Crow caught sight of something.
“Caw! Well what have you got in the package holder?” he wanted to know. “A board and two pieces of rope!”
“It’s to make a swing with, Crow,” said Mama Moo.
“No way,” said Crow firmly.
“Yes, it is,” said Mama Moo quietly.
“I want to swing, you see.
I have long ropes. They’ll reach up to the first branch, and you can tie them there.”
“ME!” he cried “TIE! Well, pull my tailfeathers!”
The crow flew off the handlebars. He flew around Mama Moo’s head as fast as he could.
“I’m not setting up a swing for a COW!”
“But I can’t tie it myself,” Mama Moo answered sweetly.
“But you have wings that are like hands.
And I can’t reach up to the first branch, but you can because you can fly.”
Crow landed on a branch right in front of her nose.
“You are a cow, Mama Moo,” he said. “A strange cow, but still a cow. Cows—Do Not—Swing.”
“That’s just the point,” said Mama Moo. “It’s a pity that poor cows never get a chance to swing.”
“Pity!” cried Crow. “Caw!” Cows walk around grazing, and then they lie down and chew their cud and stare at things. And then they go inside and get milked. They are quite satisfied with things the way they are.”
“Would you be satisfied with that?” Mama Moo asked.
“Not me!” cried Crow, “I’m a crow.”
“I’m not satisfied with it either,” said Mama Moo.
“It doesn’t matter what you say,” said Crow.
“I’m simply not going to do it. Let’s not discuss it any more.”
Mama Moo looked at the crow with her big kind eyes. She spoke in her softest voice.
“Children do so many things that are fun,” she said “The farmer’s daughter told me that she likes to swing, so I wanted to try it too. But then she said it probably wouldn’t work because no one would want to put up a swing for a cow. But I told her that I have a friend, a good friend who is very kind and helps me whenever I need him. He won’t say no when I ask him.
My friend’s name is Crow, and I like him very much.”
Crow sat still and looked at her.
He didn’t say anything for a long while.
Then he sighed.
“Should I put it on the lowest branch?” he asked.
“Oh, you are so very kind, Crow”, cried Mama Moo.
“The lowest branch probably would be best.
Then I can swing out in both directions.”
The crow flew up with the ropes. He tied them around the branch. He tied them fast with his strongest knots.
“Well done, Crow,” said Mama Moo. “Now I’ll test the swing.”
Mama Moo took a few steps backward and then sat down on the swing. Everything went fine for a moment, but then she was sitting still.
“Crow, it’s not swinging. You’ll have to push me to get me going.”
“Push!” snorted the crow. “You expect me to push a cow on a swing. Well, Pull my tailfeathers! If anyone is going to push, it should be you.”
“But, Crow, I can’t push myself when I’m swinging, can I?”
“Forget it then,” said Crow. “I’m not pushing.”
Mama Moo wagged her tail, but that didn’t help.
The swing would not swing.
She wagged her tail and lifted her back legs.
But she only lifted one leg at a time, so the swing would still not swing.
Then she wagged her tail and lifted both the back and front legs, but she lost her grip and nearly fell off.
Finally she shook her horns, wagged her tail and stretched out both back legs and leaned back and then
The wind whistled by Mama Moo’s ears.
Her hair flew in the wind, and there were butterflies in her stomach.
“Now it’s your turn, Crow!” cried Mama Moo.
“Caw!” the Crow answered.
“My turn! To swing? Well, pull my tailfeathers! You’ve talked me into a lot of crazy things, but to swing, no way!
Crows don’t swing. Children swing.”
“And cows,” added Mama Moo as she swung back and forth.
Rumble… Crow heard the rumbling sound of a motor.
“The farmer is coming!” cried Crow.
“Stop the swing! Get off! Hide!
If he sees one of his cows sitting on a swing hanging from a tree in the forest, he’ll have a wing stroke!”
“Stop the swing?” said Mama Moo. “How do I do that?”
She stretched out one leg forward and one leg backwards.
She turned over and lay on her stomach, but the swing would not stop.
“You must help me, Crow,” she said.
“If you stand in the way, it will probably stop.”
“Me stand in the way!” cried the crow.
“And have a cow fall on my head. I’d have a wing stroke! Pull on the brake!”
Mama Moo looked around.
“I don’t believe that there are any brakes on this swing,” she said.
Crow heard the sound more and more clearly. The tractor was getting close now.
“If you can’t stop it, you’ll have to jump,” he called out.
Mama Moo covered her eyes and jumped. She landed on the ground with a crash.
Mama Moo stood behind a little birch tree.
“Hide behind the tree!” Crow hissed.
“But,” said Mama Moo, “I’m already hiding behind a tree.
“What’s the farmer doing here in the forest?” wondered Crow.
“He should be in the barn. It’s very strange.”
“Yes, what is the farmer doing?” said Mama Moo, and she peeked out from behind the tree.
“Don’t look!” hissed Crow. “He can see you! Back with your head, otherwise he’ll see at once that it’s a cow. Hide your horns.
“Hide my horns? But, Crow…”
“Pull in your tail, cow. It’s sticking out from the other side of the tree. At least stop wagging it!”
“I’m trying to pull in my tail…”
“Caw! You are too fat, Mama Moo.”
“I’m not fat at all, Crow.
This tree is too thin.
Crow peered out from behind a stone. He gave her a sharp glance.
“Hmm, I understand exactly more or less,” he said.
“But if I’m standing here I can’t see anything at all,” said Mama Moo.
“It’s not necessary for you to see,” said Crow.
“I can see everything. The farmer has climbed down from his tractor. He’s walking up to the swing. Now he’s scratching his head. He’s looking up into the tree. Very strange.”
“It’s not strange at all, Crow,” said Mama Moo.
“He doesn’t understand what a swing is doing hanging here in the middle of his forest.”
“He’s sitting down on the swing!” hissed Crow.
“No! Don’t swing! Get up! Get out of here! Scram!
Go home and milk your cows. Plow! Take in your hay! Leave! Thanks for coming. That’s it for today. Good bye!”
Crow calmed down a bit.
“The farmer is getting up,” he said.
“He’s leaving. Stay where you are, Mama Moo.
Don’t move, I’ll sneak after him and see what he’s up to.”
Crow crept behind the bushes. He crept over the stones. He ran from tree to tree and hid behind the branches.
The farmer noticed nothing. He just shook his head.
Finally, the farmer climbed back onto his tractor and drove home.
The rumble of the tractor motor disappeared into the forest.
Crow crept back to Mama Moo.
“He’s gone now,” he said. “Great! We made it.”
“Was it fun sneaking after him?” asked Mama Moo.
“Fun! what do you mean fun!,” the crow cried.
“Of course I have to check up on mysterious men who go trailing around in my own forest!”
“The farmer may be going back to the barn to milk the cows,” said Mama Moo. “So I’d better get going too.”
“Caw! Look at that!
The farmer dropped his hat!”
“How nice,” said Mama Moo.
“I’ll take it. I’ve always wanted to try on the farmer’s hat.” She climbed up on her bicycle.
“Shall we take down the swing?” she asked.
“Why should we do that?” answered Crow.
“It can stay here in my forest in case anyone else wants to swing on it.”
“But I thought you said that crows don’t like to swing.”
“They don’t!! Absolutely no crows! I just meant cow might come along who wanted to swing”.
“Good-bye, Crow,” said Mama Moo as she rode off through the Crow Forest.
The other cows had already gone into the barn. The farmer had already begun milking. Mama Moo sneaked in through the back door.
“Ho hum, ho hum, just because I’m a cow doesn’t mean I have to stand around chewing my cud and staring of nothing all the time…”
First Published by National Book Trust, India.