The mouse, the duck, the pig and the cow

Mouce duck cow pigThere once was a mouse who lived in a farmer’s house. One day a spider told him that he heard the farmer saying that he had bought a mouse trap. But the spider did not know where it had been set. The mouse was worried. He had never seen a mouse trap and so would probably get caught in it. He went to consult his wisest friends: the duck, the pig and the cow. They heard him out, thought about the matter and responded: “The farmer bought a mouse trap; not a duck trap, pig trap or cow trap. So this matter is for you to deal with. It does not concern us.”

That night, there was a loud SLAP as the trap went off. The farmer’s wife got up to check the trap. When she reached back into the dark crevasse where she had placed the trap, she found that the trap had not caught the mouse, but a poisonous snake. Not only that, the snake was not dead and it bit her.

The next day, a few family and friends came to console her; some from a distance. The farmer wanted to serve them a nice meal, so he killed the duck.

Unfortunately, his wife did not respond to treatment and was hospitalized. So, more family members came from around the area to see her. The farmer again wanted to feed them a nice meal, so he butchered the pig.

Then the worst happened; the farmer’s wife died. Now many family and friends came for the funeral, even from far away. To make sure that they were well fed, the farmer called the butcher and had him butcher the cow. The guests were well fed.

So only the mouse was left.

The moral of this story: Help your neighbors even with problems that don’t affect you because in the end, they just might. I seem to remember reading this idea in a well-known book:

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4 ESV)


I heard this tale from a Ghanaian colleague and I have embellished it a bit from his telling. Many African peoples use stories like this to teach values to the next generation. I have been in villages where everyone sat around after nightfall listening to such stories from the older members of the family.