A Cow Barn’s Musical Christmas Story

Hobie Morris

The old wooden barn was silent and dark.  Snow lay on its roof and clothed the landscape.  It was Christmas Eve.  It was the night before Christmas when all through the cow barn not a creature was stirring except for the mice.   The cats looked asleep but with one eye always open.  The cows sleep contentedly on fresh bedding.  A cat stretched out on the warm back of a cow named Daisy.  A few cows stood, contentedly chewing their cud.  Once in a great while this quiet was interrupted by a rattling metal stanchion, as a hungry cow searched in the manger for a few spears of hay.

The late December Christmas Eve night is inky black and cold.   Every little while a slip of moon momentarily peeked through the moving clouds, allowing a burst of twinkling stars shining for many millions of years ago from the deepest recesses of the universe.  Inside the barn the warmth from the cows keeps the outside cold at bay.

On towards morning the cows hear a familiar sound.  Their Santa Claus is approaching as they hear the crunch, crunch of his feet on the hardened snow path.  Several cows let out a welcoming “moo.”  The door to the milk house opens and a light flicked on.  It’s time for the farmer to feed the cows.  Sweet smelling square bales of hay from the overhead loft are broken open and given out as are scoops of grain.  The farmer’s adult son turns on the dusty old radio stuck on the cobwebbed overhead rafter.  Cows like music.   It seems to calm them down and does have a positive influence on milk production.  For several mornings now the radio has been playing popular Christmas music.

After feeding the cows the farmer and his adult son return to their warm kitchen for a hearty breakfast.  Soon they’ll return to the barn and begin milking the well fed cows.

Recently this simple country man did a musical survey.  The vast majority of cows like to listen to (naturally) country and western music.  One local farmer actually sings to his cows.  Do they like this?  Do they respond with a pleasurable (or displeasurable) moo, or is it a boo?

Barnyard musical authorities place C&W music at the tail end of the highbrow musical world.  Barn yard cats, however, have a far different musical appreciation.  Their musical preferences are far more high- brow compared to their Holstein neighbors.

In this particular old wooden barn the Alpha cat is a distinguished looking feline named “Beethoven”  (Mr. B. to his friends).  Mr. B. is both the barn’s musical maestro and impresario.  Mr. B. has in fact created in the overhead hay loft a sound proof area among the hay bales where the feline barnyard symphony has been practicing almost weekly since July, when the Christmas Day music was selected by Mr. B. at a committee.

The orchestra is small, with four violinists, three French horns, one cello, two trumpets and a squeaky clarinet.  A few nights before the scheduled Christmas Day concert, Mr. B. had a super secret dress rehearsal.  Mr. B. had on a black tuxedo with tails, a sparkling white shirt and black bow tie.  He let his hair and whiskers grow and as they were both white, he was quite a commanding presence, with his sparkling eyes and Chesire smile.  He let his white whiskers grow long and his eye brows thick.  With all the orchestra members poised he raised his baton and the rehearsal began…

Cats have many musical advantages over the other barn occupants.  Cats have good ears for listening and playing  and, yes, singing from time to time.  In fact, cats have 32 muscles in each ear and can make over a hundred vocal sounds, leaving dogs with only around 10 sounds and cows barely breaking the plus side of the chart.  Of course, cats have been nurturing their musical interests since they were domesticated around 9,000 years ago.  Seemingly disinterested  in humans, they do, in effect, enjoy our company more than toys, food, catnip and even the smell of other cats.

Their musical tastes indicate a strong indifference to pop music, an earth shattering rejection of heavy metal but, by all studies, relish the classical music.  One study indicates a particular preference to music by George Frederick Handel, including in their musical appreciation repertoire Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann, William Boyce and baroque music.

That is why in July Mr. B. selected Handel’s famous Christmas Oratorio to perform on Christmas Day in this old wooden barn in the hills of rural central New York.  Mr. B. ran into only one obstacle.  The mice who had previously agreed to sing in the oratorio refused to sing when Mr. B. couldn’t guarantee them a free hunt zone from their traditional barn enemies—the cats.  So Mr. B.’s symphony orchestra will only play Handel’s majestic music.

Around noon time, on Christmas Day, with the barn full of four legged, energetic and animated creatures, Mr. B’s classical musical concert went off beautifully, with many bravos signified in different ways by the barn occupants, including the farmer, his son and all the surrounding farming neighbors who had been invited to the concert.   It was one of the most beautiful and loving concerts that they had ever enjoyed.  There was indeed peace on earth as all the enemies sat and listened in peace and harmony to the inspiring and uplifting music some feel sent to Handel from God Himself.

Hobie Morris is a Brookfield resident and simple country man.

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