The Cow on the Roof

Image of Jack the Giant-Killer from Cardiff Castle | Source

(As told by a Denbighshire Teamsman)

Siôn Dafydd always grumbled that his wife could do nothing properly in the house. Neither a meal nor anything else ever pleased him. At last his wife got tired with his grumbling, and one day told him she would go to weed turnips and that he should stay to take care of the baby and the house, to make dinner, and some other things which she used to do. Siôn easily agreed, so that she might have an example.

In starting to the field, the wife said: ‘Now, you take care of the baby, feed the hens, feed the pig, turn out the cow to graze, sweep the floor, and make the porridge ready for dinner.’

‘Don’t you bother about all that,’ said Siôn, ‘you see to the turnips.’

The wife went to the field, Siôn to the house. The baby awoke. For a long time, Siôn rocked the cradle, and tried to sing to the child, which seemed to make the poor thing worse. Siôn then remembered the pig, which was squeaking very loudly. He went to get some buttermilk to make food for it. He spilt the milk on the kitchen floor. The pig heard the sound of the bucket, and made such noise that Siôn could not stand it.

‘You wait a bit, you rascal!’ he said to himself, but he meant the pig, ‘you shall go out to find food for yourself!’

So he opened the door to turn out the pig. Out went the pig like a shot, right between Siôn’s legs, throwing him into the dunghill. By the time he got up and tried to scrape a little of the dirt off his clothes, the pig was out of sight. Siôn went into the house. There the pig had gone to lap up the milk from the floor, and had, besides, overthrown another pot of milk and was busy with that.

‘You rascal!’ shouted Siôn, and catching hold of an axe, he struck the pig a blow on the head. The poor pig wobbled like a man in drink, then fell by the door and parted with this life.

By this time it was getting late, and Siôn thought of the porridge, but the cow had to be turned out to graze, and he had quite forgotten the hens, poor souls. The field where the cow had to gather its daily bread, as it were, was some distance from the yard, and if Siôn went to take it there, the porridge would never be ready in time. At that moment, Siôn happened to notice that there was some fine grass growing on the roof of the house. There was a rise at the back of the house, and the roof reached almost to the ground. Siôn thought the grass on the roof would be a good meal for a cow, and in order to be able to make the porridge as well, he took a rope, tied it round the cow’s neck, ran up the roof and dropped the other end of the rope through the chimney. Then he went to the porridge. So that he might have his two hands free, he tied the end of the rope round his ankle. In grazing on the roof the cow, without thinking, as it were, came to the top and slipped over suddenly. Siôn felt himself being pulled up by the leg, and into the chimney he went, feet first. Somehow, his legs went one on each side of the iron bar from which the kettle was hung over the fire, and there he stuck. Just at that moment, the wife came back from the turnip field, and was horrified to see the cow dangling in the air. She ran to the door and fell across the dead pig, and without seeing anything else, picked up the axe and ran to cut the rope and save the poor cow. Then she ran into the house, and the first thing she saw there was Siôn, standing on his head in the porridge.

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