The Houseproud Cow
Well now, I’m not one to gossip – but you should see the goings on here this evening. Last year’s soldiers’ winter festival had nothing on it. They just got noisy and sang in the streets; they didn’t come into our home. I don’t know what to make of it really. I mean – whatever happens out there, usually we’re left in peace. You kind of expect it really, don’t you? To be left in peace and quiet in your own home.
It’s not as if the home is much really – it’s a bit cramped, and it does have to be said that some of the others are a bit untidy, so it’s not always showcase perfect. But it’s ours, and we like it the way it is; it’s warm and cosy, and it’s got everything we need.
During the day now, I don’t mind folk coming in then. They’ve got to, really. I can’t go hauling my milk up to the big house easily, can I? So they need to come here and get it. But that’s expected. I know when it’s going to happen, and I can get things a bit tidied up and sorted. It’s being taken unexpected that flusters me. I mean, what will people think if they just see the place when we haven’t got it fixed up, and when we’re all settled down for the night. We’re used to it. We know that we’re not – well, slobs, I suppose. But it might look like that to somebody coming in. I mean – there’s not a lot of room, and when we’re all in here for the night, it does get untidy. But I keep it clean; you could eat your dinner off the floor if you wanted to. Actually, we usually do. And the foodstall is never stale. With my lot around, no food lasts long enough to get stale! And when I can get near enough, I usually give the windows a bit of a lick, just to keep them clean. But by the end of the day, well, when we’re all in here, it’s a bit of a crush, and I don’t usually bother. We expect the people in the big house to leave us in peace until the morning, and I’ll tidy up ready for then, once everybody’s up and out the way.
But today’s just been mad. The streets were full of people all day, and there was constant coming and going at the big house – I think they were getting a bit frazzled up there too; they seemed to be constantly running out of milk, so I was constantly having to find some more, so I didn’t really have time to get things sorted as I usually do. And then there was so much to see – I must admit I spent more time looking out into the street than I usually do – people coming and going from all over the place; all sorts of clothes too. You should have seen them – all colours and styles; some of them a bit – modern – too. Well, I suppose what else can you expect with folk coming from all over the place. Fair stirred up our little town. But it got quieter towards evening, and I was really quite pleased when the door was closed, and we could all settle down. Ok, so I was a bit lax in the clearing up, but I thought it wouldn’t matter. After all, there’s always tomorrow, and nobody ever comes to see us after the door is closed – at least, they don’t usually.
But of course, the one day I don’t tidy up, there’s a knock at the door – well, less a knock truth to tell, more a pushing in as if they owned the place, by the folk at the big house. Actually, I suppose they do own the place, but that’s beside the point. It’s our home.
Anyway, in they come, bold as you like, and me trying to sort out the piles of bedding and push some of the food back into the stall and sweep the floor and lick the window all at the same time. But they didn’t seem to notice. Just as well really! The man from the big house had two new folk with him – I didn’t know them at least. I was so ashamed; bad enough people I know seeing the state the place had go into, but strangers!
Mind you, I don’t think they were in any condition to notice; he was trying to be big and brave, but he’s just a lad and tired out. And as for her – well, I don’t know what they were thinking of bringing her away from her own home in her condition. Nine months if she’s a day, and fit to drop. In here, says the big man – it’s not much – not much; it’s my home! Anyway; it’s not much, he says, but I can let you stay here
Never asked us mind you. But – well, what can you do. They clearly needed it, so we shuffled up, and left them some space – and off he went, the big man, muttering about needing to get things sorted out at the big house. Closed the door and left us all to get on with it
Well! I wasn’t wrong – nine months and then some, and it was obvious what was going to happen. She needed a bit of privacy, poor dear, so I stood near her, kept her shielded as best I could, and after it was all over, my youngest nudged the foodstall over so they could lay the baby there. It wasn’t too bad, because we’d all given it a bit of a scrub out early in the day; chasing the last of the grain to tell you the truth. He – the young lad – piled together some of our straw bedding to line it, and they laid the wee one in. Left us a bit short of anywhere to sleep, but you couldn’t really grudge them.
I thought it might quieten down a bit after that – and tomorrow I could tidy up, before I got more embarrassed.
But no! Bad enough we have people in here when it’s a mess; but just half an hour ago, all this light floods in. Now all my shortcomings as a housekeeper are all too clear – no place to hide the mess. Light in every corner and everything up there to be seen. And as if that’s not enough, the music – drawing attention from everywhere to our little home. I was awkward enough that all the mess was on view, but why call everybody to look at it.
Admittedly, nobody seemed that interested in the lack of a tidy floor. There were people turned up, certainly. But they wanted to see the baby, not my messy floor or dirty windows. And it was nice. They came to see the little one, and made quite a fuss of him and the parents. Presents and songs and celebrations and so on. Nice. Peaceful too, in an odd way, even with all the light and music. And nobody seemed to mind too much that it wasn’t – well, as tidy as I would have liked. In fact, well, looking at that baby, strange as it sounds, I almost forgot just how untidy it was, just how dirty the floor was. I know it probably sounds a bit soft, but it didn’t seem to matter quite so much – as if, well, almost as if my keeping the floor clean wasn’t the most important thing in the world for a bit.
I liked that. I liked that we could think about something else, and make the little one feel safe, and care for his mum and dad. I dare say I’ll go back to worrying about the floor – but maybe not quite so much.