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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 4 , 2002 - Issue 60


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The Easter Bovine

by Geoff Hampton
In a small mountain community in Eastern Tennessee called Sevierville, there lived a Cherokee man named Edgar Feathers. Edgar was a poor man who lived on a meager farm with his family. Being poor meant that he and his family went without many of the things that most took for granted.

Edgar and his wife Hattie Mae had a loving family of two daughters and one son. Their youngest daughter was five years old. Her name was lil' Mary. Their older daughter was seven years old, and her name was Beverly. Their son was eight years old, and his name was Jeb.

The family all worked hard together to try to make ends meet. Even at their tender ages, the children were hard workers, giving their horse sugar cubes, feeding wild rabbits carrots & lettuce, feeding the ducks and the turkey and milking the bovine's. The family owned several barnyard animals and they took extra special care of all of them, because they truly loved them. One of the animals in particular, a bovine named Sweetness felt close to the family. She gave the children rides around the farm and always kept a watchful eye out for their safety. She always worried about the Feathers family.

This particular bovine had gotten her name from lil' Mary. Lil' Mary thought that this bovine was so special and loving that they should call her something that reflected that quality. So, the family had decided to name her Sweetness, and nothing in the world could have been more appropriate!

Sweetness thought long and hard about how she might lift the beloved family's spirits in some small way. She wasn't alone in loving the Feathers family and wanting to do something nice for them. All of the other barn yard critters felt the same way. They all genuinely felt the love and caring that the family gave them.

One early spring morning Sweetness came up with a grand idea. She decided to call together some of the barnyard critters to see if they would be interested in helping her do something really special for the Feathers. She thought that maybe they could create some form of special offering of thanks and appreciation for the Feathers family's kindness and love.

Sweetness called a meeting for all interested barnyard critters. She organized the meeting to take place on the very next Sunday at 10:00am in the main barn. She knew that the Feathers would be at church at that time, so the meeting would be secret.

Sweetness arrived at the door at exactly 10:00am that Sunday morning long ago. To her delight, several other interested critters made their appearance also. There was Jenny Henny, a happy little hen who was the leader of the family's hen house. There was Sammy Swayback, the family's sweet old run down horse with the pathetic looking tail and the scraggly mane. There was Diane Duck, a happy, outgoing duck that lived on the Feathers farm pond. There was Peter Cottontail, a friendly, outgoing local rabbit. There was the Feathers favorite dog, Johnny Beagle. And finally, there was Gavin the Gobbler, a noisy barn yard turkey that everyone liked, but who always aggravated everyone by constantly making too much noise!

Sweetness called the meeting to order and thanked them all for coming. She asked them to think about how truly wonderful farm life had been for them all as a direct result of the Feathers family's kindness and love. They all looked at each other and nodded their heads in agreement. Gavin the Gobbler started gobbling like crazy. All of the other animals looked directly at him with stern looks on their faces. Gavin drew his head back in surprise and apologized. He explained to them that he loved the Feathers so much for all of their kindness that he just got carried away talking about them. The others shook their heads slowly back and forth in gestures of disapproval and then went back to Sweetness' question.

Peter Cottontail chimed in saying, "Sweetness, we all obviously agree with you that the Feathers are wonderful humans and they have taken very good care of us. That includes me and I'm an orphan rabbit! What is it exactly that you're thinking about? I mean, I'm sure that you must be thinking about something by calling us together for a meeting like this."

Sweetness smiled. She thanked Peter Cottontail for his input. She said, "Yes, I am thinking of something. I would like to do something really special for the Feathers to show my appreciation and love for them. I thought that maybe if any of you agreed, you could help me create something really special for them!"

Suddenly they all started chattering at once. They all thought that Sweetness' idea was truly wonderful. Then Gavin the Gobbler let loose with an awful racket of gobbling. They all stopped at the same time and looked sternly at the noisy gobbler. Gavin drew back his head in surprise and embarrassment and apologized. Then he said, "Jeez, I'm really sorry, but Sweetness' idea is so great! I ... I ... I just couldn't control myself!" They all wagged their heads back and forth in obvious disapproval.

Jenny Henny spoke next, saying, "This is such a wonderful idea! I think that we should choose a day that could be considered special. Then, if our plan is successful, maybe we could do it again next year on the exact same day! What about that idea?" she said. The others looked around at each other, their heads sort of nodding around in uncertainty.

Peter Cottontail said, "I think that's a terrific idea Jenny Henny! We can time our special gift around a special day! The spring is a great time because it represents a fresh start and renewed hope." The others were now nodding their heads approvingly with their eyebrows raised and their lips pulled tightly in an expression of appreciation of such a good idea. Johnny Beagle howled with delight as he wagged his tail quickly from side to side in appreciation.

Gavin the Gobbler said loudly, "I love this! Let's give them some of our feed! We'll put it into some type of container and leave it out for them as a surprise! Wow! What a great idea I had!" The others looked at Gavin with looks of pity with their heads moving slowly back and forth and their faces contorted in a look of sadness. He had such a good heart, but he was so goofy! Didn't he realize that people do not eat feed?

Diane Duck spoke up kindly saying, "Gavin, you really do have a good idea. I'm proud of your generosity. However, maybe the Feathers' would like something sweet instead of our feed. Also, your suggestion about putting the special gift into a container and leaving it out as a surprise is really a wonderful idea. Maybe we could weave some baskets out of straw, which there is plenty of here in the barn. Then maybe we could put some fresh spring grass inside to make the special gift look really beautiful." The others expressed their appreciation loudly. Gavin the Gobbler was so proud; his chest was puffed out, with his head pulled back; chin down and his tail feathers fanned out in glory. While he was taking the credit for the concept, the others actually loved the idea as Diane Duck had presented it!

The Diane Duck continued, "You know, Easter Sunday seems to be one of the most special days of the humans year although I'm not sure why. They always get excited and happy as if something of importance were happening. It arrives in only three weeks. Maybe that day would be a great day to celebrate our appreciation of the Feathers kindness and love for us." The others looked around at each other; their eyes opened wide in excitement and their heads nodding in unison.

"What a wonderful idea Diane Duck!" shouted Sammy the Swayback. "I think that we can come up with something really special for the Feathers'! Maybe something like no human has ever had around here before. That would be really special, right?" he said. The others were nodding their heads up and down in approval as they looked around the barn at all of the others assembled.

Peter Cottontail said, "Wow! What a terrific idea ... I mean really terrific idea! We could prepare the special surprise gift the night before and then secretly deliver it into their house while they're sleeping. Then when they wake up, they'll see it and have no idea where it came from! I love it, I love it, I love it!" he said briskly rubbing his paws together as if he was clapping. The others were excited and grinning from ear to ear. Peter Cottontail excitedly continued saying, "You know Easter Sunday really is the perfect day. I heard that it represents the epitome of the renewal of hope for humans. It also represents the ultimate expression of love and appreciation and that's exactly what we want to show for the Feathers'! Do you all agree?" The others all agreed enthusiastically.

Sweetness said, "Let's all think about what we could create for the Feathers' and let's meet here again tomorrow morning around 11:00am when the Feathers' go in for lunch!" The others agreed and left the barn in a very excited mood.

That day went by very quickly as they wracked their brains to try to come up with something really special for the Feathers'. Poor Gavin the Gobbler was trying to think of ways to make his feed idea seem more appealing to the others.

Johnny Beagle went to his doghouse and lay down to think the whole thing over. He thought and thought and thought about what they could give to the Feathers family as a really special gift. As he pondered, he suddenly thought about the basket that he was sleeping in! He said, "Hey! I could suggest that we make a basket like mine, except with a handle to put our really special gift in! Then we could carry it easier. Maybe like the basket that the Feathers' collect their eggs in!"

Jenny Henny met with a few of the other brood hens at the henhouse. They also became excited about the idea. They came up with a way to make the basket idea look really attractive, yet provide something nourishing for the Feathers children to eat. They thought that maybe the group could make attractive designs on some of their eggs, which would look very pretty in the baskets with fresh, green spring grass to be used for beauty and cushion. They even imagined painting the designs on the eggs with their feathers.

Sweetness met with some of the other Bovines in the field. They all loved the idea also, just as they also loved the Feathers family. Sweetness explained to them about a thought that she had always kept in the back of her mind. She thought there must be some way to transform their milk, maybe by mixing different ingredients into something that the Feathers children would love to eat. Something really special. The other bovines agreed to help her develop her idea since it really sounded great to them.

Diane Duck was really proud of them all. She spoke about the idea to a few of her feathered friends on the pond and they also tried to come up with some ideas for really special gifts for the Feathers family.

The next morning the group got together again. Some of the other barnyard critters had wanted to join in, but stayed outside the barn. They did this out of respect for the original animals that had met and created the idea the day before.

Sweetness welcomed everyone and thanked them again for coming. Everyone started talking at once. Peter Cottontail tried to bring the meeting to order by thumping his feet repeatedly on the floor and saying, "Hey! Heey! Heeey! Let's all try to act civilized here. Let's speak one at a time and see what ideas might make sense. Let's go from left to right one at a time, starting with Sweetness. Sweetness, what have you come up with?"

Sweetness smiled and said, "I have spoken to a few of my friends and we truly believe that with our milk we can create something really special for the Feathers' that will be extremely sweet and very unique. We are interested in anyone else's input and we plan to start experimenting today."

The next animal to speak was Johnny Beagle. Johnny Beagle told the group about how he had wracked his brain but hadn't come up with anything worthwhile yet.

Next was Gavin the Gobbler. He said that he still felt that their feed would make a great gift for the Feathers family. As Gavin the Gobbler noticed the disapproving looks on everyone else's face he tried to quickly expand his idea saying, "I mean, we could take the grain, mix it with some milk or something and create some type of stuff that would be fun to eat!" The others were shaking their heads back and forth in a disapproving manner. Poor Gavin the Gobbler sort of drooped his shoulders and wings and stared at the ground with a look of defeat and sadness.

Diane Duck spoke next. She said, "Gavin, again, your idea is a good one (Gavin the Gobbler perked right up with that comment!) and I think that perhaps with a little imagination we may be able to use it. I have been speaking to some of the other ducks and they are very excited about the idea of doing something really special for the Feathers'. We're still trying to come up with really good idea.

Jenny Henny was next. She told the group about the hen houses egg idea. Everyone else liked that idea too. However, Diane Duck pointed out that the eggs could break very easily and might make a real mess of the special baskets.

Johnny Beagle chimed in saying, "You know, I have seen the Feathers' put eggs into steaming water and after a short time the inside of the eggs become solid. Then I see them take the shells off and eat them. So, maybe we could do that first and then make the designs on them. That way the eggs won't break in the baskets. They will still look beautiful and the Feathers' can still eat them!" Everyone liked that idea also and they nodded their heads approvingly.

Sammy the Swayback was next. He simply said that he was working on a "secret" contribution. He smiled wryly, dug his hoof in the straw and then looked at Sweetness.

Sweetness asked, "Folks, can we agree on Easter Sunday as the day that we will deliver our really special gift to the Feathers family?" Everyone enthusiastically responded with a "yes" answer. Sweetness went on to say, "Good! Then Easter Sunday it is! We've got a lot to get done in the next three weeks so let's get started."

Peter Cottontail and Sweetness thanked everyone for their great ideas and suggested they get to work immediately to turn the ideas into reality. They all looked around while nodding their heads "yes" at the same time. They seemed to be smiling and enjoying this generous, loving project. They all agreed to meet again the next morning at 11:00am when the Feathers' had gone in for lunch to make additional plans for their really special surprise.

After the others left, Sweetness and Peter Cottontail remained alone in the barn together alone. They looked at each other and smiled broadly. They were very happy about each other's leadership in this important project. Sweetness said, "Peter Cottontail, I am very proud of you for your enthusiastic, loving input and support. I really believe that we can make the Feathers' lives just a little bit brighter with this plan. They really deserve it! I can never thank you enough for all of your help."

Peter Cottontail smiled, turned his head to the right, looked down and blushed a little. Then he said, "Sweetness, I really can't thank you enough for coming up with this wonderful idea! I will do anything I can to help you make it a huge success. I'm really looking forward to seeing the reaction by the Feathers', especially the children!"

Sweetness smiled and nodded in agreement. Then they both bid each other goodbye and went about planning for their really special Easter Sunday surprise.

Diane Duck made a special trip over to see Gavin the Gobbler to try to help him do something with his idea about the feed. Gavin the Gobbler was amazed because no one had ever taken any interest in what he did or said before. His face was beaming with a huge smile! Diane Duck had an idea that if they figured it out together would be like the feed idea. She thought that maybe they could create something sweet for the Feathers children to eat, but in a similar shape to the barnyard animals feed.

Johnny Beagle went to the henhouse to see Jenny Henny. Jenny Henny was very happy to see that Johnny Beagle would take the time to come and see her and help the other hens develop their idea. Johnny Beagle lead Jenny Henny to the main house. They were able to sneak in without the Feathers' knowing it, because the family was at the barn looking at daddy Edgar's newly completed hayloft.

Johnny Beagle opened the icebox. They saw eggs that were in two separate containers. Johnny Beagle, who liked eggs, that had been made solid. Jenny Henny's beak dropped open wide in amazement! She said, "Those will be perfect! Let's take one or two with us and try out our idea for the designs on the shell!" Johnny Beagle smiled approvingly and shook his head up and down in a satisfied "yes". Then he got two of the solid eggs and he and Jenny Henny went back to the henhouse. The eggs created quite a stir of excitement among the brood hens who clucked loudly in approval!

The next morning at 11:00am you could literally feel the excitement in the air in the barn and barnyard. Jenny Henny sat in a wagon pulled by Johnny Beagle with something that they were both keeping secret and covered up. As they arrived, all present began murmuring about what it could possibly be. The two of them smiled broadly with great pride as they made their way into the main barn for the special meeting.

Next, Diane Duck and Gavin the Gobbler showed up. They also had some type of secretive items that they were keeping covered up. All of the animals in the barnyard started murmuring even louder! Diane Duck and Gavin the Gobbler beamed with huge smiles and sort of bobbed back and forth with a little extra "bop" in their walk. As they walked, their heads sort of bobbed back and forth in another obvious exhibition of pride in their accomplishment.

As the original group assembled in the barn, there was so much excitement in the air that the animals could actually feel it! It was like a charge of electricity running through the air. Everyone started talking at once. Again, Peter Cottontail took charge, "Hey ... Heey ... Heeey! Let's come to order here. We'll go around the room, again from left to right. This time we'll start with Sammy the Swayback."

Sammy the Swayback pulled out his leather saddle. As he opened the side pockets with his teeth, the group saw around 50 of his beloved sugar cubes. They all smiled, as did Sammy the Swayback They all knew how much he would really like to eat those precious little sugar cubes, but he was giving them up for the Feathers family's really special gift. They all realized how exceptionally special Sammy the Swayback's gift was! He didn't have to say any words. His expression and generous gift of love said it all!

Next was Gavin the Gobbler. There were a few moans and groans as he got ready to speak. This time he was unfazed and spoke slowly and deliberately. "I am so happy today. My new friend Diane Duck and I have come up with a really special gift for the Feathers family. It looks very much like our feed pellets, but it's actually very sweet and we'd like for each of you to try our brand new conception."

With that, Diane Duck opened their little burlap sack. Inside were lots of brightly colored looking pellets. There were several "oohs" and "aahs" from the gathering. Gavin the Gobbler said, "We decided to call these little pellets malted milkballs. Please try one."

Johnny Beagle went first. He said, "My gosh! These are absolutely delicious! May I please have one more?" With that, everyone else immediately reached out for one, they sucked on them and chewed them. Everyone loved the taste and there were many approving nods accompanied by sounds of delight from around the barnyard as the gathered critters sampled Diane Duck and Gavin the Gobbler's new creation.

Then, Jenny Henny stepped forward with her chest puffed out in pride. She said, "The other hens, Johnny Beagle and I have come up with this." With that statement she unveiled the wooden wagon. Johnny Beagle reached in and took out two beautifully colored eggs. All of the other animals "oohed" and "aahed". Then Gavin the Gobbler said, "What are they? They're so beautiful!" Jenny Henny smiled broadly. She said, "These are eggs. Johnny Beagle showed me the eggs in the kitchen. They that had been put in steaming water and they were solid inside, but they can still be eaten! These will really liven up our really special gift, won't they?" Everyone responded with an enthusiastic "yes!"

Next, Sweetness revealed that Peter Cottontail had gone out into the surrounding communities and had discovered that milk could be used to make something very sweet tasting for the Feathers family. It was a substance called chocolate. She said that he had learned that by mixing cocoa, milk and some of Sammy the Swayback's sugar cubes, they could create chocolate! Peter Cottontail had even discovered that if they were creative, they could fashion the chocolate into various shapes. Then she took out some samples for everyone. They all thought that it was absolutely delicious! All of the animals started talking wildly. They were very excited.

From that day on time passed very quickly and Easter Sunday was suddenly only one day away! All of the animals had been working very hard at preparing their part of the really special gift for the Feathers family.

Jenny Henny. Along with the other brood hens and Johnny Beagle had assembled a beautiful assortment of the eggs with the solid center. They were beautifully decorated with pretty colorful designs all over them. They were so proud of their art work!

Diane Duck and Gavin the Gobbler had been very busy making the malted milkballs. They had assembled a beautiful collection of them for the Feathers family. They too were very proud of their work!

Sammy the Swayback had worked with Sweetness, Peter Cottontail and some of the other bovine's to get the chocolate ready for the Feathers' gift. They had made the chocolate into all different shapes representing all of the different barnyard critters. They also had made five separate baskets for each person in the Feathers family. The baskets were beautiful and had a soft cushion of fresh spring grass in them to cushion the eggs and create a pretty look. Each basket was different, but each had a high handle and a flat bottom. They were very colorful and truly things of beauty. They were very proud of their work also!

Peter Cottontail called for them all to meet in the barn again at 8:00pm that evening. By that time the hard working Feathers family would be in bed, exhausted from another hard days work. The critters all brought their treasures to that final meeting.

Peter Cottontail and Sweetness greeted everyone at the door and thanked them for coming and for their generous and thoughtful help. Everyone knew to be silent as not to awaken the Feathers family. As they walked in, they saw the baskets and the chocolate. They all said, "Wow!" Then they noticed that there were chocolate forms that looked just like each one of them! Gavin the Gobbler said, "No way! That ... that ... that's me!" and without realizing it, began to gobble and flap his feathers all about in a noisy fashion.

Peter Cottontail said, "Shhhh!" Gavin the Gobbler drew back his head in embarrassment and apologized.

Everyone was really excited. Peter Cottontail suggested that they all work together to get the baskets ready. They immediately did as he asked. It was a remarkable sight. The animals all were filled with a joyous feeling for what they were doing. They knew that they had selected the right day. Easter Sunday was the perfect day to deliver this wonderful, really special gift of love and appreciation for the Feathers family.

Once the baskets were assembled, everyone just sort of sat and gawked at their wonderful, really special gifts with huge smiles on their faces. Then Peter Cottontail spoke, saying, "What we have done together here for the Feathers family is wonderful beyond words. Just think about how much this project has made us feel completely renewed, filling us with indescribable feelings of joy, love, togetherness and accomplishment and yet we're the ones giving the gift!" Everyone's heads were nodding approvingly as he spoke. Then Peter Cottontail continued, saying, "Just think about that for a moment. This really special gift, intended for the Feathers family has actually brought us all closer together. We worked together with such a feeling of cooperation! This truly is something that we should do each and every year for the Feathers'. Everyone was shaking their heads in agreement as he spoke. They also thought about what he was saying and how right he was. It was a truly wonderful feeling!

Then Peter Cottontail finished, saying, "I have a special gift that no one here knows about and I'd like to put into these baskets along with a special note that I have created." As they looked, Peter Cottontail went behind one of the barn stall doors and brought out a burlap sack. As he opened it, they saw five stuffed bovine dolls. He picked the special cards that he had created and each one had the name of one of the Feathers family members' name on it, along with, "Happy Easter! From the Easter Bovine!" They all loved it.

That was the very first Easter Sunday of giving for Peter Cottontail and the others. The Feathers family was overjoyed! It had filled their lives with tremendous feelings of thanks and deep feelings of appreciation for "The Easter Bovine". They of course had no idea who had really done this for them, but their sense of appreciation was overwhelming.

The Easter Sunday "giving" program had been a tremendous success and they all agreed that they would indeed do it again next year. As the project became quite a local topic of discussion, Peter Cottontail went on to expand Sweetness' idea to include other poor families in the Sevierville community in the years that followed. The joy and excitement that it created was very gratifying.

Eventually the program grew so large and successful that Peter Cottontail took it all over the world! As the program grew, Sweetness insisted, against Peter Cottontail's wishes, that he modify the program to become the Easter Bunny program instead of the Easter Bovine, since he was doing almost all of the work. Ultimately, he did as she wished, but he and the others would never forget the original Easter Bovine, for without her there would have never been the joyous gift of giving and sharing really special love and appreciation for each other through the gift of giving on the wonderful, glorious day known as Easter Sunday!


Print and Color Your Own Easter Bovine
Easter Bovine

Copyright 1997 Geoff Hampton - Geoff Hampton is an internationally known author, speaker, motivator and business consultant. He is also the Marketing Director for Indian Voices newspaper and can be reached by E-mail at

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