Ann Ingalls

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Down on the Farm

‘Twas the night before Christmas down on the farm,
not a critter was budging, no cause for alarm.

Cattle were resting, snug in their stalls,
while hay forks and rakes were propped near the walls.

Little mice skittered ‘cross cobweb-draped beams,
spoiling old tomcat’s mouse-chasing dreams.

I stretched out on straw bales, my eyes shut tight,
For Bessie would calve this Christmas Eve night.

When out in the field I heard someone sputter,
I sprang from the bales amidst all the clutter.

Curious now, to the window I sprinted.
The glow on the snow was so bright that I squinted.

The moon shone on mounds of fluffy white stuff.
It glistened but I could see well enough.

When what to my dog-tired eyes could be seen,
but a small wooden sleigh and eight sturdy Holstein,

with a little old farmer so bubbly and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick!

Headlong, these eight airborne heifers they came
Nick clicked and he chortled and called them by name:

“Now, Bossie! Now, Sassy! Now, Francie and Ellie!
On, Bluebell! On Arbelle! On, Connie and Nellie!

To the top of the silo, to the top of the mow,
Come, boss! Come, boss! Come, boss! Come cow!”

Up to the hay mow those bossies they flew,
with a load of fresh hay, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a jiffy, I heard on the roof
the stomping and plodding of each heavy hoof.

As I hid behind bales, I jerked with a jump.
Through the hay mow St. Nicholas came with a thump!

He was decked out in denim from his head to his boots,
and his plaid shirt was flannel, the stylish old coot.

Feedsacks of grain he had slung on his back,
and he looked like a hawker just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they sparkled! His chins how they jiggled!
His cheeks were like apples; his nose, how it wiggled!

His comical mouth curved up in a smile
as he tromped up and down each wide dusty aisle.

He whistled a tune and hummed its refrain
and filled every manger with silage and grain.

Then, just when I thought he would pack up and go,
I heard a loud MOO and it started to grow,

for Bessie was calving, ready to pop.
She bawled and she wailed in her pen without stop.

She quivered; she shook; she rattled; she moaned.
and down, up and down, she mooed and she groaned.

The next thing I knew, on the straw lay a calf,
a beautiful, new, black and white spotted calf!

Nick knelt in the straw and saw all was well.
So, he lifted the calf for its mother to smell.

Then, laying his finger aside of his nose,
giving a nod, through the hay mow he rose.

And I heard him shout out as he flew through the sky,
“Happy Christmas to all and to all a good-bye!”

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