As a boy, I had a lot of chores to do. With 13 brothers and sisters, there was plenty of work to go around. One of my jobs was to ride our horse, Old Smoky, and herd the cows to pasture. The only problem was that there wasn’t much green grass for the cows to graze on. It hadn’t rained for some time, and the land was dry and dusty.
One day, I noticed a patch of green grass growing beside the train tracks, underneath the railroad water tower. “I bet the cows will like that,” I thought. I clucked to Old Smoky. “C’mon, boy.”
Old Smoky was smart, and as long as I was riding him, he did what I wanted him to with very few instructions. But if he ever escaped, it was tricky to catch him. He liked running free and avoided being put to work.
When the cows were all busy nibbling next to the tracks, I slid off Old Smoky and sat on his reins so he couldn’t get away. Soon I was busy making necklaces out of snakeweeds, and I didn’t notice the reins slip out from under me as Old Smoky wandered away.
Suddenly, I heard a heart-stopping sound—the whistle of a big, black locomotive. I looked up to see the cows scattered all over the tracks. My family was very poor, and I knew that if any of our cows were killed it would mean disaster.
I leaped toward Old Smoky, but he danced away from me. I couldn’t herd the cows to safety without a horse!
The sound of the approaching train got louder. Panicking, I remembered what I had learned from my mother and my Primary teacher. I dropped to my knees right where I was and prayed. “Heavenly Father,” I cried, “please help me clear the cows off the tracks!”
Just then, the strangest thought came to my mind: “Look at how the cows wander past Old Smoky and he doesn’t run away. Pretend you’re a cow and crawl to him.” I was already on my knees, so I put my hands on the ground, too. On all fours, I crept toward Old Smoky. He didn’t budge. I grabbed his reins, stood up, and leaped on his back. Racing like the wind, Old Smoky herded the cows away from the tracks. He seemed even faster and smarter than usual. By the time the train blasted by, the cows were safely in the pasture.
I knew that Heavenly Father had answered my prayer and spared my family from tragedy. Only He knew that I could save my herd by pretending to be a cow.
“Inspiration … comes to us as we bend our knees and seek the help of God.”
President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, “Pathways to Perfection,” Ensign, May 2002, 100.