Ghost Stories

Cow's Head

An Ukrainian Ghost Story 

retold by

S. E. Schlosser

Oksana lived in a small house on the edge of town with her father, her stepmother and her stepsister. Oksana's stepmother disliked Oksana, favoring her true daughter, Olena.

Soon after her father's remarriage, Oksana found that all the housework fell to her while Olena idled her days away. Oksana's father was a timid man, and could not bring himself to defy his wife. So Oksana wore Olena's cast off clothes, and her hands grew red and chapped from scrubbing in the cold, while Olena attended parties, growing lazy and spoiled.

One year, when the winter snows were particularly fierce, Oksana's family ran out of money. Oksana's stepmother began nagging her father to send Oksana away, because they could not afford to keep two girls. Reluctantly, Oksana's father agreed. He took Oksana to a cottage deep in the woods and left her there.

Oksana was very frightened. The woods were said to be filled with demons and monsters. But Oksana was also practical. She entered the cottage with her small bundle and found a fireplace, a lopsided table and a rusty old pot. Oksana put away the loaf of bread, the knife and the slab of cheese her father had given her. She folded the blanket and laid it near the fireplace. Then she collected wood and built a fire.

Oksana knew the bread and cheese would not last her all winter. So she made a snare using the thin, flexible branches of the trees and caught a snow rabbit to eat. She also dug under the deep snow, and found some roots and berries for food.

By dark, Oksana had melted water for drinking, and used the rest to make a stew. So Oksana ate well. Then she lay down near the fire for the night, listening to the wind howl and pretending to herself that she was not frightened of the woods.

It was midnight when the knock came.

Knock, knock, knock.

It echoed hollowly through the dark cottage. Oksana woke with a start, her heart pounding in fear. It came again.

Knock, knock, knock.

Oksana thought of the monsters. She hid under her blanket, praying the thing would go away.

Knock, knock, knock.

Oksana rose, grabbing a branch. She crept towards the door. The wind howled eerily down the chimney. Oksana swallowed and swung the door open. There was nothing there. Her heart pounded fiercely as she stared out at the snow whipping about in the light of her small fire. Then she looked down. Oksana let out a shriek of terror and leapt back, dropping her stick. It was a demon. An evil spirit.

It had no body!

"Who are you?" Oksana stuttered, clutching the door with shaking hands.

"I am Cow's Head," it replied.

Indeed, Oksana saw at once that it was. The head was brown, with curved horns and strange, haunted eyes.

"I am cold and hungry. May I sleep by your fire?" the Cow's Head asked. Its voice was cold and lifeless.

Oksana gulped down her horror.

"Of course," she said.

"Lift me over the threshold," demanded the Cow's Head hollowly. Oksana did as she was bidden.

"Place me near the fire."

Anger warred with compassion inside her, but compassion won. Oksana put it next to the fire.

"I am hungry," said the Cow's Head. "Feed me."

Oksana thought of her meager food supply. The stew left in the pot was for her breakfast. She fed it to Cow's Head.

"I will sleep now," it said. There was no softening in its attitude toward her. Nonetheless, Oksana made it comfortable for the night, giving it her blanket and sleeping in a cold corner with only her cloak to keep her warm.

When she woke in the morning, Cow's Head was gone. Where it had slept was a large trunk, filled with the most beautiful gowns she had ever seen. Under the gowns lay heaps of gold and jewels.

Oksana stared blankly at the riches in front of her. Her father's voice roused her.

"Daughter, I am come."

Oksana forgot the trunk in her joy. She ran into his arms. He had defied her stepmother to come and bring her back to their home.

"Papa, come see!" Oksana exclaimed as she pulled him into the cottage. Her words tumbled over each other as she explained.

Her father took her home. She was honored in her town for her compassion and her bravery, and won scores of suitors. She married soon after her return from the cottage.

Hearing Oksana's story, and seeing the riches she had received, Olena went to the cottage in the forest and spent the night there. But when Cow's Head appeared, she was too lazy to serve it. In the morning, all her gowns had turned to rags and her possessions to dust.

But Oksana lived to a ripe old age in happiness and prosperity.


Spooky Books by S.E. Schlosser

Spooky New England (The Bridge)
Spooky South   (Tailypo)
Spooky Southwest  (Pecos Bill)
Spooky New York  (The Hessian)
Spooky California  (The Serpent)




very good!!!!!!!

haha funny.

that was really coool!!!!

'kinda like cinderella, don'tcha think?

That story was really good and I will definitely be nicer to ppl.

a good laugh mooomooo mooo

haha thats a funny one but sounds like cinderella

That story is so good! Luv it!! :) <3

haha loved it!!!!! :D

that was cool-it sounded like a fable :)

loved it

uhhhh i thought this was going to be scary, but now that i've read it, i think i've heard this story before. its fine but really does sound like Cinderella.

It's really funny!

aaaaaaaaaaaahhhh I might not go sleep tonight!

That was a cool story!! I like it!!

omg thats gr8

That is one of the ghost storys ever! Love it!!!!!

very spooky,b careful

Just like Cinderrela and VERY cool!

but silly one
just like Cinderella story

very awsome its spooky ay

MOOOO lol anyways good story

OMG that was so funny. does sound like cinderella as my mom always tells me what goes around comes around

epic :)



Kinda similar with an indonesian folklore


ha lol jk luv the story

I love the story!

that was really goood! but is this the one where people die after reading???

so creepy!

Happy ending always makes a story nicer, especially when justice prevails. :)

Spooky and the end was great

It was a little bit scary but I loved it.


oh.....such a sweet cindrella`s

omg so scary. it gave me goose bumps

very nice

:) like but not scary:(

awwwww ;] loveee ittt

That was cool, not scary serves the spoiled brat right having her stuff turn to rags and dust.

omg MY name is Alena

so cool!!!!!!!!!!!!

hahaha really good. realllly good

very nice story :)

It sounds like cinderella and snow white mixed with black magic and demons....

OOooooo! i like it so much!:D i think i might heard this story from someone else a long time ago. Or maybe it was just simular. either way. love it:)

EPIC!!!! anyone know where the cabin iz? MOO LOL

Wow I wanna go to the cottage now ;)

So cool! I was like "oh crap" at first but it waws actully a happy ending and the 'spirit' doesnt seem that evil

ya but the cow head should have been a cute little bunny

I like it. Sounds kind of like the story about golden eggs and plain eggs.

we liked that story. my nephew said it was real.

Great story! <3 it!!!

I have read a similar Russian folk tale or may be it was Ukrainian instead of cow head monster that one had the snow gnome or snow god or something and it simply involved the girl being polite even though snow god kept tormenting her with cold winds so he rewarded her with riches in contrast her step sister also came coveting the riches but was rude so snow god froze her to death

see wat being nice does

i am 11 and that story didn't scare me but it was still very very good. loved it!!


That was a good one but it sounded so much like a cinderella story but it was kind of scary I guess.

I liked that story using it for my school project. Teacher loves cows, moo. :-) lawn mower -------->....... \.=.||||||||||||

It's totally a spooky cinderella, I love it!

haha Olena soo deserved that!

the ending was kinda rushed, not very scary

sort of like hansel and gretel

this is just the retelling, the actual story of cow head is Japanese and said to be so horrifying that people die after hearing it.

dude i wish i had a cow head and wen i was nice it returned with treasure

ccooll but not scary :Dlolz

aw it was a very cool story the spoiled one deserved her clothes to turn into rags!the non spoiled deserves the cool stuff

but why a cow?!

I live on a dairy farm! (Btw thats a cow farm)


cool....more like a fairytale than a spooky story...reminded me of childhood when i used to read fairytales and smile away.... nice imagination<3

Stupid cow head

umm it wasnt that scary it was like weird just a head of a cow!!!!!!!!

Me and Tails somewhat cried when they sent Oksana away. Great story by the way.

flying cow head oohh scarry

That was not scary at all, i mean why would that be in the camp stories section.:)

Fun story,freaking awesome!

this was so tight

It really gave me the creeps :) I swear, when I read the 'Knock knock knock' part my whole face turned pale!
(BTW, reminds me of Cinderella)

Olena deserved that!

Im the cowss head! Moooooooo! Hehehe good storyy

i love this story it reminds me of mass effect 1-3 . i love tali

Famous characters Ghost Stories Folktales


Schlosser, author of the Spooky Series

About the Author: S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series by Globe Pequot Press, as well as the Ghost Stories deck by Random House.  She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of "let's pretend" quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children's Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author. Read more

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