The Lift-Gourse as told by: John Vincent Prater
This is the seldom told story of the fabled Lift-Gourse and the Farmer. This story is one of moral and of consequence, a story of greed and ingratitude. A story told many times, for many generations across the lands. At the finish of the story; some may sit in wonder, others may ponder upon when they had first heard this tale and a few will simply smile and nod.
Once upon a time; in a land not so far away, or a time not so long ago, there lived a Farmer and his Wife. The two had no children, no pets, no TV (has it had not yet been invented) and no radio. What they did have was more than five thousand acres of land, five hundred head of cattle, fifty chickens, five goats, a mule and a horse. The Farmer and his Wife worked their massive Farm, from sunup to sundown, month after month, season after season, year after year. However, one day each month (the last Sunday), the Farmer would sit on his front porch and look out over his immense Farm. His wife always visited her Sister on this day. On this occasion, it was late autumn. The cattle were munching on fodder from the harvested corn field. The mule and horse scrounged about for the last blades of grass before the frost would take them. But then he noticed the goats. The goats always had full bellies. Their coats were beginning to lengthen and become thick. They were prancing about the yard, no cares, nor worries; with a never ending abundance of energy.
Then it struck him like a lightning bolt. What if?! What if he could cross a horse and goat? Even better would be a John-Mule/Horse and Goat! He would call it a Gourse. So he set about his work. Over the next several months, he tried many methods of cross breeding his animals until finally, his mare was pregnant. Of course he kept this secret to himself. The Farmers wife noticed a change in her husband, but just couldn’t make out what it was. Rather than fret over it, she ignored it and went on as usual. On the morning of the fourth Sunday, during the windy month of spring, the Farmer hurried his wife out the door for her monthly visit to her sister. He knew today was the day.
And so it happened; his mare gave birth to the handsomest Foal the Famer had ever seen. Albeit the Foal had horns, which the Farmer swiftly removed. Through-out the spring and summer, the Famer spent every waking minute with his pride and joy. The Colt was growing into a magnificent beast and was doing the work of both the Horse and the Mule. If you will, imagine the largest and strongest John-Mule you have ever seen. Well, this animal was a sight to behold. His summer coat of silver-grey shined in the sun like new money. His eyes were deeper than a Missouri well, and watched every move the Farmer made. As the harvest began, the Farmer trained the Gourse to haul the wagon and lift the huge bales of hay into the barn loft. After a few times of showing the Gourse what to do, the Gourse could walk from the field to the barn on its own. The Farmer would unhook the Gourse from the wagon and have it stand next to him. The Farmer would then throw a rope with a hook on it, over the beam above and catch it as it swung down toward him. With one end tied to the harness on the Gourse, he would hook the other end to a bale of hay. All he had to say was; “Go Gourse” and the Gourse would pull the hay bale up into the loft. The Farmer would go into the loft, pull the hay bale into place and drop the hooked end of the rope down again. He would call out, “Hook up Gourse” Yep you guessed it. The Gourse would take the hook in its mouth and hook it to another hay bale and haul it into the loft. This process went on until every single bale of hay was in its place in the loft. The Farmer was overcome with joy. His creation was perfect. The Gourse was curious and intelligent. The more it learned, the more it wanted to learn. It didn’t need to eat grain, it could eat anything on the farm, just like his goats. The Gourse was well behaved, patient, loyal, and very strong with much stamina. Even more so than his mule. After this demonstration of power and intuition, The Farmer would have to give the Gourse a more appropriate name. He decided to call it; Lift-Gourse.
By late summer the following year, the Farmer could no longer keep the Lift-Gourse a secret. Wanting to share his creation with everyone, he told his wife to spread the word. There was to be a Harvest Party at his farm on the fourth Sunday of the tenth month.
The day arrived and people from far and wide came to the Farmers home for the party. Of course, most were very surprised and perplexed. Many had never met the Farmer and many more had never been to his farm. No one could have imagined what was about to be revealed. As the people gathered, whispering among themselves, the children ran after the chickens and goats.
Then, the door of the barn opened. “Welcome everyone!” shouted the Famer.
The whispering stopped. The children were frozen in their tracks. Every head turned and all eyes were fixed on a most amazing sight. There in the doorway of the barn stood the Famer, and next to him was the most magnificent creature ever. The Famer, a giant of a man when standing full upright, was more than six and a half feet tall. He weighed in a no less than 250 pounds in his birthday suit. But, he was dwarfed by this massive, wonderfully, beautiful Horse-like, no Mule-like or was it more Goat-like animal standing next to him. As the Famer walked his Lift-Gourse out into the middle of the crowd, he introduced it by name.
“This Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls is my very own creation; Lift-Gourse!”
While the Farmer and his quests sat around the table sharing the food and drink which had been brought, he explained how the Lift-Gourse became to be. He promised a demonstration of its abilities before the party was finished. While the adults ate and drank, the children played with the Lift-Gourse, a very gentle animal indeed.
Finally it was time for the demonstration. Time for the Farmer to show everyone what his wonderful creature could do. Everyone gathered around as the Farmer lead the Lift-Gourse into the barn. There in the barn was a wagon load of huge hay bales. With the Lift-Gourse standing next to him, the Farmer threw the hooked end of the rope high up and over the hauling beam. In his enthusiasm, he had put too much energy into his toss. The hook came swooping back down toward him just out of reach. The Lift-Gourse standing calmly by, saw the hook and leaned in to catch it with its mouth. But the hook was heavy and moving fast. It hooked the Lift-Gourse squarely in the mouth. The Lift-Gourse reacted with great pain, raring up on its hind legs and thrashing its head from side to side. The Farmer attempting to calm his wonderful creature was immediately trampled to death as the Lift-Gourse fought to free its self from the hook. A moment later, after being hooked in the mouth, the Lift-Gourse freed its self and galloped away never to be seen again.
Stories are still told to this day about the fabled Lift-Gourse and the ungrateful and self-absorbed Farmer. There is an important moral to this tragic story. Can you guess what it is? The answer is in the name of the Creature.