Mary Mu-Kau was different from the other cows on her little farm in Warroad, Minnesota. Her father was a champion Mongolian bull, and her mother a prize black-and-white Holstein. Mary was an experimental cross-breed to fight the cold Minnesota winters. This gave her a shaggy mess of hair between her horns (which Mary tried her best to keep nicely trimmed) and made her a little bit smaller than the rest of the cows on the farm. But, even on top of that, Mary was a very peculiar cow.
The rest of the cows on the farm concerned themselves with one thing: eating. Grass, hay, silage, corn, it didn’t matter; the cows liked to eat and eat a lot… but not Mary. One day, while the farmer was giving the young cows their afternoon hay, he heard a very polite voice speak up in stall number 12:
“No thank you. I’m still full from breakfast.”
The farmer was amazed by this. “How did you learn to speak?” he asked.
“Well, we all speak cow, sir,” Mary replied, “But I learned English from hearing you and your sons talk, and from the radio in the milking parlor.”
The farmer scratched his head. He was sure this was some sort of dream, or maybe he’d just spent too many late nights on his tractor. But Mary talked to him the next day, and the next day, and soon they became very good friends. Mary was very eager to help out on the farm: organizing all the cows for milking time, calculating the market prices of the milk, and even letting the farmer know when it was time to expect a new calf. The farmer loved having Mary on the farm, but she was a very small cow, and she didn’t eat a lot. She was more concerned about organization and preparation than eating, and as a result her milk was very low. One night, the farmer called Mary into the milking parlor and turned off the radio.
“Mary,” he said sadly, “I don’t know how to say this…”
“It’s simple,” Mary replied in her polite little voice, “I’m not producing enough, and it is costing the farm money.”
“Wow!” the farmer said, “how did you know that?”
“I ran the numbers,” Mary shrugged, “and your wife told me about all the bills at the farmhouse yesterday.”
“I’m so sorry, Mary.”
“Don’t be sorry, Michael,” she smiled a little cow smile, “It’s just business.”
“But what am I going to do?” the farmer started to cry, “I don’t want to send you away!”
“But you have to,” Mary replied, “and I know just the place.”
She told her farmer about a place she had heard about on the radio, a new farm in New York that was taking in all sorts of odd animals.
“It sounds like just the place for a cow like me, sir.”
“I’ll say it does,” the farmer replied, “but it will be expensive to send you to New York.”
“I’ve already contacted them,” Mary smiled her little cow smile, “There will be a truck here next week to take me there free of charge. Your phone was very hard to use with hooves, by the way. If you and your family ever have a chance, you should come out and visit me there.”
“We will, Mary,” the farmer gave her a big hug, smelling the fresh cowhide, “we will.”
The next week, Mary left her little farm in Warroad and traveled the 1498 miles to her new home in New York. When she got there, she found the farm in a troubling state: animals everywhere, things stacked up all over, no rhyme or reason to be seen. What’s worse, it seemed like every animal on the farm was upset with everyone else.
“I need to see the manager immediately,” Mary thought. She found Susan Regina Rat in the farmhouse office, with paperwork stacked almost to the ceiling.
“Help!” called Regina, “I’m trapped under these remittances!”
Mary helped pull Susan out and they got to talking. It seemed that Sue hadn’t put much thought into what it actually took to run a farm, and she was having a lot of trouble. Mary took one look at the stacks of papers and smiled her little cow smile.
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”
Within weeks, the office was neat, tidy, and organized: Mary paid the bills, managed the accounts, and most importantly she taught Sue how to delegate. Instead of doing it all herself, Mary made sure Sue found other animals to help her. Soon, all of the animals found they had something to do, and it made them all much happier. As they worked together, they started to make friends, and Sue was delighted at what she saw.
“Thank goodness you came here, Mary Mu-Kau!” she squeaked, “You’re making my dream come true!”
“We all are… together,” Mary smiled, “right here at Oddsborough Farm.”