A farmer lived in a pleasant valley with his wife and three children. They usually had all they could eat from their own farm, which looked out at the mountains beyond. One year, however, the harvest was very poor and, after a while, the family had eaten most of the food. Only some hay was left in the barn. “Right!”, said the farmer, who liked to be decisive. “We cannot survive the winter by eating hay. I must load what hay we have and take it over the mountain to sell in the village. Then I can buy some food.” The farmer’s wife suggested that, because the snows had started to fall, it would be difficult to get over the mountain without some help. After some discussion the farmer decided to take child No 2 on the journey. This was because the horse was not very strong, and it would not be able to pull the haycart and the farmer and child No1, who was the oldest and the heaviest of the three children. Child No2 was just right for the job though, being a little less heavy than child No1.
Very early the next day the farmer loaded all the hay from the barn and, because it was snowing, he decided to cover the hay to keep it dry. Saying goodbye to the rest of the family, the farmer and child No2 set off toward the village. The snow was not very deep in the valley but, the higher they got on the mountain, the deeper was the snow. Every so often child No2 had to jump down from the cart and help the farmer to push the cart out of the deep snow. After a while child No2, said “Perhaps it would help if we put some of the dry hay under the cartwheels. Then the cart will not get stuck.” “That’s a decidedly good idea”, said the farmer. He gave child No2 his pitchfork to take some hay from the back of the cart and place it under the wheels, as child No2 had suggested. The hay did the trick and, as the horse pulled and the farmer and child No2 pushed, the cart rolled out of the snow. “I’ve decided that you can run back home now and send child No1 out instead”, said the farmer. “The cart isn’t so heavy anymore, so the horse will be able to pull child No1’s extra weight. Child No1 is a little stronger and will be able to help more if I become stuck again”. At this, child No2 ran off to send back child No1.
When child No1 arrived at the cart they all set off once more for the village. It wasn’t long however, before the cart became stuck again. The horse pulled and the farmer and child No1 pushed, but the cart was stuck fast. “I have an idea”, said child No1. “The horse must be exhausted by now, so let’s give him some hay to eat to make him stronger”. “That’s a decidedly grand idea”, said the farmer, “Take some hay from the cart and put it in the horse’s nosebag for it to eat”. After a while, when the horse had eaten and recovered its strength, they managed to free the cart from the deep snow and set off again up the mountain.
Before long, however, the cart became stuck yet again. No matter how hard the horse pulled and the farmer and child No1 pushed, the cart would not budge. “We must get over the top of the mountain, then it will be easy to roll down the other side to the village” said the farmer, in his decisive way. “Here, take the pitchfork to get more hay from the cart and put it under the cartwheels. Then give the horse another feed of hay for good measure”. Child No1 did as he was asked and then, after one last effort, with the horse pulling and the farmer and child No1 pushing, they managed to get over top of the mountain and roll down the other side to the village.
As soon as they arrived at the village, the farmer decided to go straight to the store to sell the hay for some food. When the store owner came out to decide how much to pay for the hay, they took off the cover, but no hay was left! “There is nothing for it”, said the farmer. “I’ve decided that we must sell the horse and cart”. So, they sold the horse and cart, just as the farmer had decided. Then they bought a supply of food and two rucksacks to carry it in. On the way back over the mountain, child No2 asked, “Dad, why haven’t any of us got a real name?” The farmer’s face became very thoughtful for a while and then he said, “I just haven’t decided which ones suit you best yet”.