Ernesti and Maria lived in a very small house in Tanzania, in East Africa. The year was 1984. They were very poor.
One day they received news that they were to receive a cow from a charity organization. They were very happy.
Ernesti's and Maria's cow arrived, and a calf was born shortly thereafter. It was the custom to give the first offspring to a neighbor, and they gladly shared their good fortune.
Maria and Ernesti now had plenty of fresh milk to drink and extra bottles of milk to sell. They felt successful and prosperous.
As the years passed, six children were born to Ernesti and Maria. And in eight years' time, the cow gave birth to seven more heifers (females) and one bull.
The family sold some of the animals at the market and to their neighbors. They kept their original cow and two heifer calves. They used the cows' manure to improve their fields and increase their crops. Now Ernesti and Maria had both vegetables and milk to sell.
The couple saved their money, and as the children grew older, Maria and Ernesti began building a bigger house for their large family to live in. When the house was almost ready, a heifer was born that had no tail.
Everyone laughed at the strange calf. How would she be able to swish the flies from her back? The neighbors told Ernesti that he should get rid of the tailless cow.
Ernesti said, "No. I have received many blessings from my cows. Now I can return these blessings."
The heifer who had no tail grew strong from all the good grass Ernesti fed her. He took her for long walks. The neighbors laughed every time they saw her. Ernesti and the calf simply ignored them.
When she was a year old, the cow became pregnant. The months passed, and everyone waited and wondered if the cow who had no tail would have a calf without a tail.
The day of the birth arrived. All the neighbors sat quietly in the pen, waiting to see the new arrival. The cow who had no tail was very quiet. Finally she lay down and mooed loudly.
Ernesti and all his neighbors held their breath. They knew the calf was on its way.
The mother cow mooed again, and soon the new calf lay on the straw beside her. Everyone was anxious to see what she looked like.
First Ernesti cleaned up the calf, as he had done many times before. Then the cow who had no tail stood up and began to lick her new baby, encouraging her to rise. The calf stood up on wobbly legs, and everyone started to cheer. The calf had a long, swishy tail.
The cow who had no tail seemed happy and very proud of her new calf. She stood protectively over her baby as the calf began to nurse.
As they watched the mother cow and her baby, all the neighbors realized that Ernesti had been right.