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The Husband who was to mind the House

A grumpy farmer switches jobs with his wife, thinking he'll have an easy time! He was sorely mistaken! 

Once upon a time, there was a man so surly and cross. He never thought his wife did anything right in the house. So one evening, in haymaking time, he came home, scolding and swearing, and showing his teeth and stamping his feet.

"Dear love, don't be so angry; there's a good man," said his wife. "Tomorrow let's change our work. I'll go out with the mowers and mow, and you shall mind the house at home."

“Yes,” thought the husband though, “Sounds like a good deal to me!”

So, early next morning, his wife took a scythe over her neck, and went out into the hayfield with the mowers and began to work the fields. A scythe, by the way, is a blade at the end of a pole, used for cutting grass.

The man stayed to look after the house, and do the work at home.

“First of all I’ll churn the butter!” he declared.

A churn is a kind of bucket for making butter. When he had churned a while he got very hot and tired.

“I’m thirsty,” he thought, ”Time for a drink!” and he went down to the cellar to open a barrel of ale.

Just when he had pulled the cork of the barrel and was putting in the tap he heard noises from upstairs. The pig had come into the kitchen! He ran up the cellar steps, with the tap in his hand, as fast as he could, to chase away the pig, in case it went for the butter but when he got up, he saw the pig had already knocked the churn over, and stood there, grunting in the middle of a puddle of cream running all over the floor, he got so wild with rage that he totally

forgot the ale-barrel.

“You good for nothing pig! Get out! Get out!” he screamed.

He ran at the pig as fast as he could, chasing it all the way past the garden gate, which he slammed shut.

Then he remembered, he had the tap for the barrel in his hand! But when he got down to the cellar, every drop of ale had run out of the cask and was soaking the cellar floor. He tried a sip. It was disgusting!

Then he went into the dairy and found enough cream left to fill the

churn again, and so he began to churn. When he had churned a bit, he remembered, “Oh bother! The cow is still stuck in the stable and hasn't had a bit to eat or a drop to drink. It’s too far to take her down to the meadow, so I’ll

just get her up on top of the house,” because the house was thatched with reeds, and a fine crop of grass was growing there.

Now their house lay close up against a steep hill, and he thought, “If I put a plank across to the thatch at the back I’ll easily get the cow up.”

But still, he couldn't leave the churn, because there was his little baby

crawling about on the floor.

“If I leave it," he thought, "the child is sure to knock it over."

So he took the churn on his back, and went out with it, but then he thought, “Hang on! I’d better give the cow some water before getting her onto the roof.

So he picked up a bucket to draw water out of the well but, as he stooped down at the edge of the well, all the cream ran out of the churn onto his shoulders, and down into the well.

Now it was almost supper-time, and he hadn't even made the butter yet so

he thought he'd just boil the porridge. He filled the pot with water and hung it over

the fire. When he had done that, he thought, “Hang on! the cow might fall off the thatch and break her legs or her neck.”

So he got up on the roof of the house to tie her up.

He tied one end of the rope to the cow's neck, and the other he lowered down the chimney. He climbed back down and tied the rope around his own leg.

He had to hurry, because the water now began to boil in the pot, and he still had to grind the oatmeal.

So he began to grind away. But while he was hard at it, the cow began to slip off the rooftop, and as she slipped she dragged the man up the chimney, by the rope. He got completely stuck, with just his head sticking out the bottom of the chimney.

As for the cow, she hung halfway down the wall, swinging from side to side.

She could neither get up or down.

The wife, who was working in the fields, looked down at her neat freshly cut pile of straw and wondered when he would come to fetch her. She was starving! But he did not come! I wonder why?

At last, she thought she'd waited long enough, and went home. But hen she got there and saw the cow hanging from the roof, she ran up and cut the rope with her scythe.

As she did this, down came her husband out of the chimney.

And so when his old wife came inside the kitchen and stepped into the dirty puddle of cream, there she found him standing headfirst in the porridge pot.


  1. What was the man's task for the day while his wife worked in the fields? Answer: A. Churning butter

  • A. Churning butter

  • B. Milking the cow

  • C. Building a fence

  • D. Harvesting wheat

  1. Why did the man chase the pig out of the kitchen? Answer: A. The pig was eating the butter

  • A. The pig was eating the butter

  • B. The pig was drinking the ale

  • C. The pig was playing with the baby

  • D. The pig was trying to climb onto the roof

  1. Why did the man decide to bring the cow onto the roof? Answer: B. To help her graze on the thatched grass

  • A. To keep her away from the garden

  • B. To help her graze on the thatched grass

  • C. To give her a better view of the valley

  • D. To prevent her from falling asleep

  1. What happened when the man tried to draw water from the well? Answer: C. The cream spilled into the well

  • A. The bucket broke

  • B. The well was dry

  • C. The cream spilled into the well

  • D. He fell into the well

  1. How did the man end up stuck in the chimney? Answer: D. The cow dragged him up with a rope

  • A. He climbed up to rescue the cow

  • B. He was trying to fix the chimney

  • C. He fell while grinding oatmeal

  • D. The cow dragged him up with a rope

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