The Ram, the Pig and the Big Bad Wolf
Illustrated By: Sarah Frank
Listen while you read along! Thanks to Elderberry Tales.
ONCE UPON A TIME there was a ram (a ram is a boy sheep with big horns), and the ram lived on a farm. Every morning, a girl came into Ram's pen and gave him lots of food. You can see this Ram had a very happy life.
One morning, the girl came into Ram's pen. She gave him even more food than before and said, "Eat well, Ram. For you will not be here long. The next time I see you, it will be on our dinner plates!"
What could Ram do? He ate and ate till he could eat no more. Then he bumped his head very hard at the pen. He pushed that pen so hard it flew wide open, and out he went! Ram knew just where to go - to the farm next door where his friend Pig lived. “Pig is smart," said Ram. "She will know what to do."
"Good day, friend Ram!" said Pig, when she saw Ram.
"It may be a good day for you," said Ram. "But it is not such a good day for me."
"Why is that?" said Pig.
"I just found out some very bad news,” said Ram. “I know why I have been so very well fed at the farm.”
“Why is that?" said Pig.
"I am fed well only to end up on their dinner plates!" said Ram.
"Ah, my grits!" said Pig. "Is it really true?"
“Yes!” said Ram. "I just heard it myself this morning from the girl who brings in my food. Please tell me, what should I do?”
“Well, if that is how it is at your farm,” said Pig, “It must be true here at my farm, too. There is only one thing to do - we must get away! We must go off into the woods. Let's build a house in the woods for us to live in, and we will take care of ourselves."
"Yes, let's!" said Ram. And so the two of them set off.
After they had gone past the farm, they met a goose.
"Good day, good sirs," said Goose, "where are the two of you headed?"
"Good day to you, too," said Ram. "If you must know, we found out some bad news about why we are so well fed at the farm. We are going into the woods to set up a house for ourselves."
"Well!" said Goose, "it is much the same with me at my farm. May I come with you, too?"
"Well," said Pig, "what can you do to help? You can make a good honk, honk sound, but to build a house that takes help on the ground."
"I can too help!” said Goose with pride. “No one is better than I at picking up leaves and moss and pushing it into small spaces. When I jam this in between the logs, your house will be tight and warm."
"Well that does sound like good help!" So it was okay for Goose could join them. For more than anything, Pig wanted to be warm and cozy in their new house.
When they were almost at the woods they met a hare, who came hopping out of the woods.
"Good day," said Hare. "Where are you three headed off to today?"
"Good day to you, friend Hare," said Ram. "We were far too well fed at home, and now we know the terrible reason why. We are going off into the woods where will build a house and set up for ourselves."
"Is that right?" said Hare. "Every summer, every bush is a good house for me. But in winter I have said many times, 'If I only live till next summer, I will build a proper house.' So I have half a mind to go and build the house with you."
"But could you help?" said Pig. “I suppose if we got into trouble with some dogs, you might run off and they would chase you away."
"I can do more than that!” said Hare.
“With my teeth I can chew wood into pegs. With my paws I can push the pegs into walls. My teeth and hands are good tools and as they say, 'good tools make for good work.'"
"So they do!" So Hare joined them, too.
When they had gone a bit more, laughing and happy, they met a rooster.
"Good day," said Rooster. "You all seem to be having a good time. Where are you off to?"
"We are," said Ram, "but at home we were too well fed. Now we know the terrible reason why, so we are going off into the woods. We are going to build a house in the woods and set up for ourselves."
"Well!" said Rooster, "isn't that a fine idea! You may know that all cocks crow the loudest at home. Now if I might join such a fine group as yours, I would like to go with you."
"Ah!" said Pig, "we are sure that you have a very loud crow, but not a brick does that lay so we must say 'no.' ”
"Oh, but listen to me!" said Rooster. "A house without a dog or rooster is one without a clock. I am up early, and will be sure everyone else wakes for the day's work."
"That would be good," said Pig. For you must know, Pig was always the deepest sleeper. If there were no other way, sleep could take up all her day.
So they all set off into the woods. Soon they found a very good spot indeed. And there they stopped to build their house.
Pig cut the timber and Ram carried it home. Hare chewed the wood and pushed pegs into the walls and roof. Goose picked up moss and stuffed it between the logs. You can be sure no one slept late in the morning as Rooster would crow and crow at dawn!
When the roof was lined with bark and covered with grass and mud, the house was ready. And there the animals lived by themselves, and were happy and well. Ram said, "It is good to travel east and west, but after all one's own home is best."
You must know that a bit deeper into the woods there was a den. In that den there lived two gray wolves. One of the wolves said to the other, "Look! A new house going up!" “Ah!” said the other. “Who is setting up a new house very close to where we live?” And they licked their chops just thinking about it.
One of the wolves made up a reason to go to the new house. He went up to the house, knocked on the door, and asked for some honey for his table. But as soon as the wolf got one foot inside the door, Ram gave him such a bump into the stove that the wolf fell head first into it. Then Pig began to bite him, Goose to peck him, and Rooster crowed and crowed. As for Hare, she raced back and forth on the floor and dashed about to every corner of the house.
The wolf ran very fast out of the house!
"Well!" said the other wolf who had waited outside. "What became of the honey? For I do not see a jar or spoon."
"I am just glad to get out of there!" panted the wolf. "The most terrible creatures you can think of live in that house! As soon as I got inside the door, one of them threw me into the fire. There were two monsters who beat me and pinched me. There must have been a hunter there, too, for I heard him dashing about looking for his gun. It was my good luck that he did not find it! If he had gotten hold of me, I am sure I never would have come out alive!"
- Why did the ram and the pig ask the other animals what they could do to help build a house before they were allowed to join?
- Talk about something you did in a group that you couldn't have done by yourself.
"The Ram and the Pig Who Set Up House" is adapted from "The Sheep and the Pig Who Set Up House," a story from Tales from the Field by P. Asbjornsen (London: Chapman & Hall, 193, Piccadilly, 1874), pp. 267-272.
Adapted by Elaine Lindy ©1998. All rights reserved.
This storyline, where several barnyard animals build a home together and defend it against intruders, is a popular motif in folktales. The Brothers Grimm tell such a version in "The Bremen Town Musicians", where a dog, a cat, a donkey, and a rooster join forces. Another tale is the English-American "How Jack Went to Seek His Fortune" (North American Legends by Virginia Haviland, 1979), where Jack joins a cat, dog, goat, bull, skunk and rooster and together they scare a band of robbers from their house in the woods.