“There was a certain village where lived many rich farmers and only one poor one, whom they called the Little Farmer.”
I enjoyed this fairy tale much more than the one I read last week, because of its turbulent plot, use of characters, and clearer message. Wait…why do I search for meaning in each story? Has my imagination dwindled so that I can’t just love the tale without needing a moral? Is this what being an adult is?*
The Little Farmer is the poorest of the farmers in the land; the story begins with him having a wooden calf built to give the appearance of a cow in the fields. When it goes missing, he blames the herder who is ordered to give the farmer a calf as compensation. Great! Except the farmer is so poor he cannot afford to feed the calf, so after preserving the meat he heads off to town to sell the skin. But on the way, stormy weather makes the journey too difficult, and after saving an injured crow he finds shelter at the nearby mill and is given bread and cheese by the miller’s wife who is there alone.
However, the miller’s wife has plans for after the farmer lays down to rest, as another man comes calling and she pulls the components of a feast from every nook and cranny of the home. BUT, A knock on the door drives her into a panic and she hides the food, wine, and man before her husband comes in. After claiming the crow is a fortune teller, the farmer reveals the places where the feast is hidden, and then claims there is a demon in the closet (the other man). When the “demon” flees, the miller pays the farmer $300 for his crow’s ability and the farmer goes on his way.
A few more cunning events later, and the rest of the town has drowned by fault of their gullible and selfish natures, and the Little Farmer lives prosperously for the rest of his days. I was expecting him to turn out to be an antihero, but his cleverness is always for the sake of others, for Good, and usually not for himself. And honestly, if those rich, selfish farmers actually thought there were herds of sheep at the bottom of the lake they deserve what they got (read the fairy tale).
Out of the four Grimm’s Fairy Tales I’ve read so far, this one is my favorite. There’s a lot of action, there are games, animals, bully townspeople, love, and a happy ending. I haven’t found really anything on the history of this fairy tale, so I have nothing to report on that front, unfortunately. Regardless, it’s a great read!
- Aarne-Thompson classification system – 1535: The Rich Peasant and the Poor Peasant (ANECDOTES AND JOKES, Stories About a Man, The Clever Man)
- Grimm’s Fairy Tales: from Folklore to Forever (from National Geographic)
*I rhetorically ask as I eat jelly beans and popcorn for dinner