Bernard and the Golden Farm
Bernard was up earlier than usual yelping and yapping, starting the day by baying at the moon. "What's got that Bernard all worked up?" wondered the hens who were up dawn, laying their eggs. "Has he gone mad?" The cows ambled to the doorway of the barn-house where they had been sleeping and wondered the same thing: "I think he's gone soft in the head," one cow said. Another said, "He's been acting crazy since Old Man Kennedy died. Must be heartbroken without the Old Man." The horses saw Bernard go by with a bucket of white paint that he had found in the shed, and one turned to another and said, "What's he up to now?"
"Up, up, up, let's go, everybody up. Today's an important day. Rise and shine," said Bernard and slowly Animal Farm (soon to be renamed Golden Farm) awoke and gathered in the yard. Everyone was stirred to action. The chickens clucked, the hens clacked, the cows moooed and the horses whinnied. It all swirled into an uneven song as Bernard hopped up on a stage made of broken boards from behind the cows' barn. Behind Bernard was a blank piece of plywood. He secured a paintbrush in between his front teeth, dipped it in the bucket of paint. At the top of the board, in big block letters he scrawled:
Welcome to a Noo Day
Old MaN kEnnedy's Dream
Welcome to The GoLden AGE
In order to ensure the peace of the farm and the well-being
Of all of its citizens we will live by these few simple rules:
1. Be who you are and not who you think you are
2. Take what you need, not what you want
3. Do what you should and not you want
4. Put in a little, get out a lot
5. Everything on the farm is ours, not yours
As the pale white paint dripped down the worn wood of the sign, the animals fell into a curious stupor as they tried to decipher the meaning of the words. Few of them could read and those who could only knew enough words to read the signs on the farm like "shed," "feed," "barn," and "exit." Bernard's words baffled them. They leaned together and whispered guesses at what they meant. A few sounded out Old Man Kennedy's name since they had seen it on his truck so many times but otherwise they were lost. Finally, one brave goose yelled out, "What does all this mean, Bernard?"
"What does this mean, you ask?" Bernard started as he trotted across his improvised stage. "This means that the unfortunate and untimely death of our Dear Mister Kennedy cannot be seen as a tragedy but more as an opportunity - an opportunity to make that man's vision come true. I have named it Goldyn Farm because this will be a golden time on the farm when we will all work together to create a stable, well-fed, well-educated and highly appreciated population."
"How do we do that, Bernard?" asked one of the horses. "It's never been that way."
"By living by these few rules," Bernard said, "one for all and all for one. We get rid of greed and laziness. We all pitch in and pull our weight!"
The crowd roared all at once.
"That's why I have already taken measures to step into this golden era!" Bernard exclaimed.
"What have you done, Bernard?" one of the hens asked from the crowd.
"Since I was tired of us doing all the work, toiling away all day while those pigs just lay around eating and snorting and playing in the mud," Bernard began, "I woke up before dawn and redistributed all the food. Everyone has a fair share now."
"You can't just take the pig's food, Bernard," one of the horses said, "and just hand it out to everyone."
"You pulled the plow, didn't you?" Bernard snapped back.
"I guess so," the horse said humbly.
"Then why should you just hand over your fair share of the food that you helped to make?" Bernard questioned the crowd.
"But it's always been that way," crowed a blackbird on a branch above Bernard.
"So," Bernard said angrily, "that doesn't mean it has to stay that way."
"But the pigs do all the brain work," one cow said. "That's why they need all the extra food."
"They take the milk meant for your children so they can do their 'brain work'? What kind of brain work can an animal who sits in his own filth all day possibly be doing?" Bernard responded.
"I don't know," the cow supposed, "but it's just always been like that, since the days of Napoleon. The pigs have always come first."
"But why," Bernard screamed, "have you ever asked yourself why?"
The crowd murmured and mumbled, asking each other why they had never asked themselves why the pigs didn't have to do anything but sit there and eat while the horses pulled ploughs, the birds dropped the seeds in the furrows, the mice dug the little rainwater ditches to feed the seeds, the cows made the milk and the chickens hatched the eggs - why?
As they were sitting there wondering about this order they had suffered under for so very long, Old George could be heard in the distance behind them. "Bernard!" Old George could be heard yelling in gruff, deep tones, "What do you think you're doing?"
Old George bullied and barreled his way through the crowd, throwing his pendulous belly and thick haunches from side to side, knocking over hens and pushing the dogs. He stopped at the foot of the stage. Looking at the rules for Goldyn Farm, he began reading them silently. No one liked when Old George was silent - that just meant he was angry and thinking - and when he was thinking, that was bad.
"What do you want?" Bernard said to Old George.
"I want my food back!" the old pig said firmly. "And I'm here to get it."
"It's not your feed, not anymore," Bernard said proudly.
"It's our feed, everyone's feed. There's a new way here on Goldyn Farm. And we're sick of doing all the work while you take all the good stuff."
"This is absurd," Old George said and stomped his trotter on the ground. "It's always been that way."
"Why?" asked a horse.
Then a hen chipped in, "Yeah, why?"
"This is horrible," Old George said. "This is a mutiny. You can't just change the order of things and expect to get away with it."
"But we did," Bernard snapped back. "It's all part of the new way."
"You've ruined the Natural Order of things!" the pig yelled back. "That's all you've done."
"Natural? What's so natural about starving the workers who support you while you sit around in your pen? Nothing, I say." Bernard stood proudly and the crowd roared.
"Silence," Old George roared and the crowd, used to the old ways, hushed up. "This is unnatural and moreover, it's undemocratic."
"Undemocratic?" Bernard said, sounding miffed.
"Yes," Old George retorted. "There was no vote. This wasn't a democratic election. This was a hostile overthrow of the government. You should be ashamed, misleading these people out of their Natural Order. It'll be anarchy. They won't know what to do with themselves. Chickens can't do a cow's job. A cow can't run like a horse. Everything will be all mixed up. Certainly, none of you thinks you can do what a cow does?"
The crowd seemed stunned. Maybe Old George was right? Maybe we couldn't survive outside the "natural order," they wondered. Who would plow the fields? Who would harvest the grain? Who would think of really smart things like the pigs always do. "Is he right, Bernard?" the hens chortled in unison. The cows wondered aloud whether Bernard had done the right thing. "What are we gonna do, Bernard?" a horse asked.
"Settle down," Bernard said. "Don't listen to him. He's just trying to rile you up and scare you."
"Okay, Bernard, what are you going to do?" Old George challenged the new leader.
"You want democracy?" Bernard said. "Democracy it is. We'll have a vote."
"You want a vote, do you?" Old George stood firm in the middle of the crowd that, just minutes before, had been on Bernard's side, but who now just weren't that sure of things.
"Yes, I do," Bernard replied.
As the Pigs were trotting back to their pen, Dick expressed his concern: "How can you beat him, George? He's too popular."
Old George had been quiet the whole way back to the pen, thinking. "I have a plan. That was step one and he took the bait. Now just make sure you bring in Murdoch."
Dick, Donald - and even Young George - looked at each other. None of the three knew exactly what this plan was, but, if Murdoch was going to be on the scene, it couldn't be any good.