As a new farm apprentice, I have a lot to learn. Mostly I’ve tried to listen to Topher and Matthew, who run the farm show around here. They’ve taught me all I know about milking cows, operating tractors, and general livestock management. But there’s one thing no one has been able to tell me: just how did this farm come to be called Cricket Creek?
Fortunately, I’m a clever enough apprentice to know that sometimes you just have to listen to your animals. They are, after all, much better acquainted with the land than we humans. So I set out to ask our animals just how CricketCreek Farm was named.
First I asked the chickens; they are a gossiping sort. Opening their roosting boxes, I inquired, “Hey hens – can you tell me why this farm is called Cricket Creek?” They replied with a hollow stare, some clucks, and a peck or two at my pestering fingers. I took it as a “no”.
I thought a pig might be more aware of her history. “Ophelia, dear sow, any idea why they call this place Cricket Creek?” But Ophelia, seeing that I carried no buckets of whey, simply grunted, knocked over her feeding trough for spite, and retreated. Some help she was.
Dismayed but not discouraged (we apprentices are an eager breed), I had an epiphany: who better to ask than one of our dairy cows?
Sarah, a big, friendly Brown Swiss who’s been around the block, seemed a hopeful candidate. Approaching her, I gave her mammoth head a hug and asked, “Hey Sarah, please tell me if you can: how did this farmcome to be called Cricket Creek?”
She first seemed taken aback, but then glanced at me sideways, as if to make sure she heard me right. It was an odd reaction, even from a cow as odd as Sarah. “Please, do you know anything about it?” I insisted.
She then threw me a knowing stare, nodded imperceptibly, and strolled away, beckoning me to follow with her big ol’ head. I was led to a secluded corner of the barn, where there sat an old three-legged milking stool, long out of use.
“Be seated, boy,” she began, “and I’ll tell you the story of CricketCreek. Long ago, when some farmers still asked their wise cows for advice, a young man arrived to this land, desperate to raise a dairy herd which would produce the tastiest milk. Like most beginning farmers, he had no idea what he was doing. But that was OK – he had a positive attitude and strong work ethic. Why I’ve even heard that he’d churn the evening milk into butter some late nights, all by hand, meanwhile singing a tune to boot! A farmer like that was bound for success.
“But this young farmer’s luck was not so sunny. You see, he could never get even one of his cows to calve successfully. And with no new cows, the farm was doomed to extinction. It was a scary time. One night, after a long butter churn and another failed calving, with the crickets chirping loudly in the distance, the farmer muttered to himself, ‘I wish one of my cows would give birth to something, even if it were just another of these measly crickets!’
“As luck would have it, this was a June evening under a waxing moon and low humidity, which any cow could tell you is a perfect wish-making setting. And so the next morning the farmer awoke to one of his cows giving birth… to a silly, little cricket! Infuriated with his luck, the young farmer tossed the cricket into the nearby stream, just as down as he could be.
“But our land hides many mysteries. For that stream trickled down all the way from Misery Mountain, a little-known vacation spot for witches, warlocks, and dragons. Sort of like an evil spa. Evil or not, though, much magic flowed in that water.
“In the stream the cricket lived, bathing in the magical stream each morning, listening to mooing cows all day, hoping she could one day return to find her mother. Time went on and as the cricket grew up she adopted more of a bovine stature. She grew fat and tall, her body matted with thick grey hair, and her nighttime chirp deepened into a brisk moo. It took three full years, but the magical cricket had grown into a gorgeous heifer.
“Happening upon the stream one day, the farmer – who by then had resigned to retire when his herd quit producing – saw the magical beast and mistook her for one of his cows. And so some magic joined our herd by mistake, as the best magic tends to happen. From that day on, things changed. The milk tasted somehow more special, the new “cow” began calving successfully, and the herd grew from her offspring.
“Though the farmer never figured it out, we cows knew that this magical creature and her progeny have always made this farm what it is today. For that reason we began calling the farm Cricket Creek, to remind our calves that even the humblest beginnings can still lead to magical endings. You humans picked up the name from us at some point, but that’s a story for another day…”
And so I learned how Cricket Creek came to be called Cricket Creek(and why our milk is so magically tasty!). To a farm apprentice like me, Sarah’s story inspires great confidence. Though I may not know what I’m doing or where I’ll end up, it seems the world always shares a little of her magic with those who work hard towards deserving ends.