Hunt the Cows


Jean Ritchie, the composer, wrote that when she was young, one of her chores was to “hunt the cows” twice a day (mornings and evenings) by listening for their cowbells and shooing them into the barn to be milked. (source)


(Jean Ritchie, Smithsonian Folkways)

Wake up, you sleepy heads* and go and hunt the cattle,
Wake up, you sleepy heads and go and hunt the cows.

Slower, ad lib.
The cows are lost,
The sun is warm,
I think I’ll rest, 
Till they come home.

*”lazybones” is the original


Formation: Students stand in a circle holding hands. (Optional: Students stand in a scattered formation around the room.)

When the song begins, students skip-hop or jump to the left around the circle (or jump in place). On the slower part, students stop:

  • The cows are lost = Go down on one knee
  • The sun is warm = Put the other knee down on the floor also.
  • I think I’ll rest = Lean over and rest on one elbow.
  • Till they come home = Lean down on both elbows.

Stay in this position until the teacher starts singing the Refrain again. All jump up and resume the motions of the beginning.

See also


  • Song with chords & Solfege (PDF)
  • MIDI file
  • Listen to the song

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